A Hawaiian vacation can be about more than indulging at a luau, exploring volcanoes and lounging at the pool. Sure, each of those activities are worthwhile. However, you can take your experience to another level by developing your relationship with the ocean when you visit a soothing tropical paradise, which is surrounded by uncommonly refreshing and reinvigorating warm, perfectly salted water.

When visiting the Kaanapali Alli at Kaanapali Beach Resort you would be remiss if you didn’t take part in a traditional Hawaiian ceremony called a hiu wai, which is essentially a saltwater cleansing.

The activity, which has been described as transcendent by hiu wai practitioner Frederick Torres, occurs when the sun is rising above Kaanapali Beach Resort. The hiu wai has been held the first day of every month and the Thursday before Easter every year since 2009 thanks to Torres, who is also the Kaanapali Alli’s operations manager.

When you take part in the hiu wai you experience something very special,” Torres says. “For Hawaiians, salt and water symbolize a way of purifying your spirit and it energizes your soul.”

Guests enter the water just before daybreak to bathe in the healing waters of Waikiki. The ceremony commences with traditional Hawaiian chants. Body, mind and soul are cleansed.

“You go in to this with the mindset of letting go of all of your negative thoughts, vibes and emotion,” Torres says. “You let go of anything hindering you from living life to the fullest. You face the horizon and you release all that is troubling you. People are shocked at how different they are once they leave the water.”

Torres has been taken aback at times after the hiu wai as well. During a recent session he helped a guest overcome by emotion after his hiu wai experience. “I’ll never forget what I experienced with this gentleman,” Torres says. “This man was sobbing. I thought I did something wrong but that was not the case. I asked him if he was all right and he said, ‘Finally I’m free of my grieving.’ He had lost his wife, mother and grandmother all within a six-month period. He was with his daughter for the hiu wai and they were so emotional and ultimately happy. I was thrilled for them but I’m just a facilitator. It’s not me. It’s the ocean, which can cure what you wouldn’t expect. The ocean is powerful. It’s a natural entity of life. It was the beginning. Water surrounds us and has such an impact on us.”

Another way of connecting with the serene waters, which wash up on the picturesque Hawaiian shores is through the four aquatic “S’s.” You can swim, snorkel, scuba or surf along the coast off Kaanapali.

“Being active in the water off it only makes things better,” Torres says. “I love the hiu wai but as long as you’re doing something along the water or in the water, that’s a good thing for you. That’s particularly the case here (at Kaanapali Beach Resort). The ocean is powerful and it has such restorative powers.”

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Kaanapali Beach Hotel Ocean Activity Manager Iokepa Nae’ole agrees with Torres. “The ocean gives me so much energy,” Nae’ole says. “And there’s no place I feel as comfortable. I’m more comfortable swimming alongside the sharks than I am walking the streets with people. It makes sense since we come from the water. That’s where life began. Not everybody wants to swim but when you visit the Kaanapali Beach Resort, you should find a way to connect with the ocean.”

A popular form of bonding with the ocean is paddle boarding. For those who enjoy the sand but aren’t as crazy about the surf, a terrific option is beach yoga.

Even though some people gather at Puu Kekaa (commonly referred to as Black Rock) for a leap into the ocean, it’s a great place for yoga and the site is one of the most spiritual places on the island, according to Nae’ole.

“Puu Kekaa is one of the most special places on the island,” Nae’ole says. “I feel a connection with my ancestors at the end of our hotel’s beach. Puu Kekaa never used to be an attraction for someone to dive off it like it is today. It is where departed souls jump off into the next realm. It’s a beautiful spot where you can sit and just connect with the ocean. I’ll do whatever I can to connect with the ocean. It’s the giver of life and it feeds us spiritually. We should connect with the ocean; that’s especially so when you visit Kaanapali. There’s no place like it in the world.”

Kaanapali Beach Resort is a completely self-contained vacation destination on a three-mile stretch of beach. Whether you want a romantic getaway or a fun family vacation, you will never be at a loss for something fun to do in Kaanapali.