Hā Ola Village fuses traditional Hawaiian culture with health and wellness

By Hawaii.com Team

Photo: Makani Tabura

What if you could spend your trip to Hawai‘i learning about traditional Hawaiian cultural practices while focusing on your own health and wellness? 

Hā Ola Village on the Waianae coast of O‘ahu is leading the way for traditional Hawaiian healing through an approach you won’t find anywhere else.

At Hā Ola Village, you walk for your health and to deepen your understanding of Hawaiian culture, through lush gardens and winding trails, with sweeping views of pristine ocean coastline in a sanctuary away from bustling beaches and shopping centers.

Created under the guidance of the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Center’s Elders Council, Hā Ola Village offers kama‘aina (locals) and visitors from all over the world the opportunity to learn ancient methods of self-care by exploring 1.5 miles of gardens and trails with 300 different plant medicines, petroglyphs, water features and works by local artists.

Enjoy the stress relief of hula and the relaxation of lomilomi (Hawaiian massage therapy); learn about la‘au kahea (spiritual healing), or la‘au lapa‘au (herbal medicine). You will see noni, for instance, on your walk — a commonly used medicinal plant with a pungent smell. Its fermented juice is used to help treat diabetes, high blood pressure, heal wounds and even kill head lice. Or the kukui (candlenut tree) — ancient Hawaiians used kukui sap as a laxative. It’s also a skin moisturizer and is used to help prevent stretch marks.

Through interactive kiosks and video touch screens, you not only learn to spot other plants like kalo, ti leaf, and awapuhi (ginger) along more than a dozen trails but also how Hawaiians used these plants in cultural practices to promote wellness.

Photo: Makani Tabura

Hā Ola — which means “breath of life” — is the life force that sustains all living things. A visit to Hā Ola Village is an experience for your mind, body and soul in keeping with the traditions of ancient Hawaiians, who made time during the year to focus on their health and wellness during the makahiki season. During makahiki (a period of four months during the year), there was no work and no war. That was the time for rest and rejuvenation and for restoring mental, physical and spiritual health. Hawaiians believed that by strengthening the individual, you made the entire community stronger.

The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Center, started by a council of Hawaiian healers, is a property that encompasses both a western medicine campus and a Hawaiian healing center. With help from the surrounding community, the center has spent two decades transforming the hillside above its medical clinic buildings from barren rock to the trails you see today. Hā Ola Village lives to perpetuate, practice, preserve and share Hawaiian culture with the world.

Explore Hā Ola Village on self-guided walks free of charge from sunrise to sunset, but for a more immersive experience, guided walks and interactive cultural activities, call (808)92H-AOLA (924-2652) to schedule your visit.

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