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Seven Tips for Traveling Solo

“Are you all by yourself”?
“Is it just you”?
Only one tonight”?

If you’ve ever traveled by yourself, then you’ve probably faced one of the questions above, all of which seem to imply that you’re somehow, shall we say, lacking, for being unaccompanied. But the truth is, many solo travelers, like myself, are perfectly happy to be alone. Who doesn’t want free reign over an entire hotel room, or the chance to do everything on your list and nothing you don’t want to do, or the power to set the pace of each day?

Based on a recent trip to wonderful Waikiki, here are some of my tips for solo travelers:

Giving Back to Hawaii

Early-morning light shone upon Oahu’s cliffs and waves as I hiked atop Makapu’u with MaryLou Hata Foley of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and Naomi McIntosh of NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Both are native Hawaiians and painted a picture for me of this very same trail in winter, when the sparkling waters below buoy the breaching flanks of great humpback whales as they make their pass through Pacific waters.

The three of us were discussing the notion of responsible tourism, and how a traveler can go beyond just moving through a place taking pictures, but instead treat a place as living and breathing, as something unique, and as something worth protecting. But how to foster an attitude of stewardship in island visitors who just want to relax with a mai tai? As it is right now, tourism is Hawaii’s number-one industry, but ironically that tourism is harming the very treasures that people travel to Hawaii for in the first place. In response, a few pioneer hotels and tour companies have taken it upon themselves to implement more responsible practices, often in some highly creative only-in-Hawaii ways.

View from Makapu’u.

Rejuvenation and Healing: 3 Islands, 3 Massages

You’ve heard of Swedish massage (kneading), deep-tissue (poking), Shiatsu (pushing), and hot-stone massage (balancing), but Hawaii’s lomilomi massage blends natural island ingredients and traditions for the ultimate in rejuvenation and healing. On a recent trip to Hawaii, I sought out massage treatments on three different islands, done in three different ways.

To get a sense of what lomilomi massage is all about, imagine the arm movements of a hula dancer—they’re rolling and flowing, spiritually dedicated, gentle yet strong. Lomilomi feels as if someone is going through the motions of hula on your back, and literally means “loving hands.”

Photo: Stone table steam treatment at the Wyland Waikiki’s Spa Pure.