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“A Wonderful Unique Experience”
Review of Kalani

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Kalani
Ranked #2 of 11 Specialty Lodging in Pahoa
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
The Sea Ranch, California
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“A Wonderful Unique Experience”
Reviewed September 1, 2012

This may be one of the most unique vacations I've taken. The jungle is magnificent, people genuine and helpful and the commitment to a deep, soulful experience is profound. After a week I felt my spirit was cleansed, brighter somehow.

It is worth noting that the pool area is usually a clothing optional experience.

Room Tip: The upstairs wrap around room in the Tree House building is fabulous.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank thymetobe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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233 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (56)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • German first
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English first
Toronto, ON
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2012

I have never in my life visited the same place twice. But I cannot help but return to Kalani. I've been to 44 countries, stayed at properties across the full spectrum - nothing has created the sense of loyalty and fondness that I have developed for Kalani.

What brought me back? And will bring me back yet again?

1. The friendly atmosphere. It is authentic. Aloha spirit, as they say - but it's not forced, it's genuine. The volunteer staff is truly kind and heartfelt. You know you're somewhere different - you immediately feel like you are being taken care of by friends or family.
2. The environment. Every time you turn around you see something different - the colours of the flowers, amazing plants, an avocado hanging from the tree (and they encourage you to just pick one and bring it to lunch, so to grab a flower and put it behind your ear.) The Point, with it's hypnotic view. It just feels so ALIVE.
3. The food. It's what I'd buy myself at home - that level of quality - but prepared by chefs. The fruits and veggies are amazing, I see breads I buy back home in their pantry, they have almond butter and several milk alternatives such as almond or rice milk, a creative variety of cold beverages with each meal, and good vibrant healthy food, well labeled for those who have dietary restrictions like me. It's Whole Foods quality, for the most part. And so, I'd come back for the food alone.
4. Classes are great - and I absolutely love the yoga/class studio. I'm a swimmer, so I appreciate the 25m pool, resort pools usually are horrible, this one is workable.
5. I've done a couple of the adventures - really friendly, enthusiastic tour staff - and really love the lomi lomi massage.

The thing that stands out the most for me is that by staying there, my money doesn't go to some corporation. They speak very passionately about supporting local (and apparenty the amount that stays in Hawaii is very high, including sourcing local food/produce), and that not only do I get to enjoy my time there, but it is supporting good things in the community.

As someone who works in the non-profit sector where social enterprise is all the rage, here's a place that's been doing it, and making a difference in their community, for decades. I am absolutely fascinated with the model - it's brilliant.

If you read my other reviews, you'll see that I'm generally supportive. The little things don't bother me. If you look for little things, you'll find them anywhere - including here. But that said, if you are looking for mai tais and the sanitized resort experience with free-flow alcohol and mass-produced food - this is NOT the place for you! It has its moments. Just like the real world. Just like home.

Never been the same place twice, until now. And darnit, I can't help myself - I'll be back again!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank AthleteTO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed August 17, 2012

I've fallen completely head over heels for this place. Like many other reviewers comment, there's a certain magic to Kalani. It defies all sensibility. I'm actually quite a conservative guy.. but I'm open enough that this magic found its way in, and drank in all the yoga, Hawaiiana classes, tasty food, adventure, and lush environment I could get.

Sitting in the hot tub looking at the incredible stars, how could you not reflect on life? Falling asleep to the sounds of nature, waking up to the sunrise over the ocean - how can you not feel blessed?

I'm most amazed that this place runs so well with the volunteer staff - most everyone seems happy and helpful. They want to be there and it shows.

Try:
Watsu - absolutely incredible floating bodywork treatment;
Tide pools - best snorkeling I've experienced anywhere;
Yoga - the classes are great, and the rainforest and ocean are visible from the studio;
Hula and Huna - great Hawaiian classes;
Bagged lunch service - for no extra charge and the lunch is really good!

I was surprised around every corner, got swept up by it all - and if I find myself in Hawaii again, I'd definitely be back and stay in one of their eco-cottages.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank TravelingScott25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pahoa, Hawaii, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 14, 2012

My family and i live close by and my daughter likes to stop by there for ice cream, and shop around the little shop. We have walked around and everyone we came across was very friendly. it does sadden me to see negative things being said about the jungle part of it and roughin it. We live in the jungle, we enjoy our little frogs singing all night. we enjoy the sounds of the ocean the crickets playing their music and the flowers and fruits and veggies grown wild in our yard. I grew up in san Francisco and the city has its beauties as well. But nothing compares to the beauty of the jungle. This place is where you go to let go of the hustle of everyday life. to breathe in fresh air and let yourself be with nature. no need for cell phones or computers, why would you want to even use them when you are surrounded by all this?
A big thank you to everyone who volunteers there in making it a wonderful place to go.
Mahalo and aloha

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank WendyTorments
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2012

I loved this place. It is truly a paradise, one that celebrates all the best of what Mother Nature has to offer: The contrast of lush tropical rainforest and newly formed land from black lava, trees laden with ripening fruit and colourful flowers that you are encouraged to pick at your leisure, the crashing power of the Pacific, and amazing natural attractions nearby. As Kalani’s very apt motto suggests “Find Yourself Here”, I came for just that and was not disappointed. After one week, I was renewed in body and soul. The food was delicious, thoughtful and plentiful, the volunteers welcoming, and the yoga instructors were the real deal. As someone who never really was a huge fan of yoga, I found the classes here varied and profoundly inspirational without being preachy.
I spent my first four nights in a tropical loft that was brand new and quite luxurious. After a few days away visiting the Kona side of the Island I happily retuned to Kalani this time to a tree house which was more rustic but pleasantly breezy with it’s traditional screen windows. I slept well in both rooms and actually found that I missed the chirping of the coqui frogs when I first returned home.
The pool was beautiful and I particularly enjoyed taking a hot tub at night while gazing up at the stars. As someone who chooses to keep her bathing suit on in such situations, I found the clothing optional aspect perfectly comfortable.
I had a combination deep tissue and lomi lomi massage from Maxwell and it was incredible, well worth the $90. Improv with Drew, healing circle with Stuart and the arts performances were also wonderful and the ecstatic dance on Sunday mornings allowed a glimpse into the local bohemian culture as well as providing a liberating work out. I also suggest taking in the live Hawaiian music Friday nights a mile or so down the road.
As a single heterosexual woman I felt at ease and safe the whole time, though I do suggest bringing a flashlight as it does get very dark at night and not all pathways have lighting. I found the volunteers and other guests friendly, open and coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and situations. When I was there I heard a volunteer describe Kalani as a “happiness bubble” and I have to agree whole-heartedly. I can’t wait to go back.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Andrea W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HOlualoa, HI, the big island
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 10, 2012

Kalani is in a beautiful spot in the Puna area, but it is very rustic. The prices are too high for what you get and since they have so many volunteers it just does not make sense to charge that much!
I still would return to experience the yoga, and classes they offer. But it is really not that quiet at night due to frogs and drumming that I heard, so hard to completely relax.
I would recommend this place with a warning that it is more rustic than the price infers and there are many bugs including frogs that live all around the place. They do give you ear plugs and you can sleep well since you are hiking, swimming and exercising all day. It feels like summer camp to me which is good, unless you thought you were at a resort!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank LilikoiInn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, CA
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2012

If you would have told me that my favorite place in the world would be a rustic retreat center in the middle of the Hawaiian rainforest ten years ago, I would not have believed you... but this city girl has completely turned Jungle Jane... :)

This place is wonderful. The food is great. I even got to experiment and tried being gluten-free for a few days to see if my body preferred it. The grounds are lush and gorgeous, and the pool is clothing optional and available 24/7 save the couple hours two days a week they do maintenance and check the water. I have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night, so it's nice to be able to wander over to the pool to swim and soak in the hot tub. I always felt safe walking around at any hour of day or night. As a single woman travelling on her own, safety is always a concern, and I never worried for anything at Kalani.

The camping area is surprisingly very quiet of people noise. The coqui choir lulled me to sleep at night, and at 5am, the chirp of frogs is replaced by the chirp of birds. I loved living so close to nature, and it made me happy to be able to hear the crash of the waves on the cliffs across the street from the property.

My favorite thing about Kalani is it's proximity to so many adventures. There are gorgeous tidepools to swim and snorkle in just a few miles down the Red Road. In the opposite direction, you can see the glow of the lava fields at night, and for the truly off road types, you can go do a lava hike and poke molten lava with a stick.

Love this place! I want to go back and I just left!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank saucysalsera
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kalani

Property: Kalani
Address: 12-6860 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Rd, Box 4500, Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI 96778-8019
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Pahoa
Amenities:
Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 11 Specialty Lodging in Pahoa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Kalani 2.5*
Number of rooms: 65
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kalani is the largest retreat center in the state of Hawaii, nestled on the yoga coast in one of Hawaii's largest conservation areas for over 35 years. We feature more than 40 classes a week, including our renowned yoga and meditation programming, Hawaiian culture classes, and dance (hula, modern, and aerial.)Our location on the Big Island of Hawaii is 5 minutes from Kehena Beach, a clothing-optional black sand beach where wild-spinner dolphins frequently swim; 15 miles from spectacular lava-viewing; and nestled in luscious rainforest, which helps feed our organic kitchens with abundant fruit and vegetables. Kalani is known as a power spot - Shiva Rea calls Kalani "one of the most potent and nurturing retreat centers in the world." Kalani is a 501(c)(3) charity. Your stay here will support the preservation of Hawaiian culture, transformation, and within the poorest district in Hawaii. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kalani Oceanside Retreat Pahoa
Kalani Oceanside Retreat Hotel Pahoa
Kalani Hawaii/Pahoa

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