Chris Hoffman emerges from a tangle of towering palm trees in the rain forest along Maui’s famed Road to Hana. He’s carrying a stalk of sugar cane, which he breaks open and then passes around. In its raw form, Hoffman explains to the group of hikers he’s leading, sugar cane juice can be dabbed onto a cut or scrape to speed up healing.
Take a walk in the rain forest with Hike Maui, or with an independent botanical guide like Hoffman, and you’ll quickly discover the countless medicinal properties of Maui’s lush plant life.
As Hoffman weaves his way through the humid jungle, he extols the virtues of homemade Hawaiian remedies used for centuries: oil from the kukui nut for skin ailments, the noni fruit and leaf to stabilize blood sugar or to stave off infection, wild ginger to treat nausea, and many, many more.
For those who want natural healing without the rain forest hike, there is a more pampered approach. The Awili Spa, in the island’s newly opened Andaz Maui at Wailea, takes a Omakase (“faith in you” in Japanese) approach to all of its customized spa treatments.
Clients meet with an “apothecary consultant,” who introduces them to an array of foraged local herbs and plants to create a personalized scrub, oil or lotion that is then used in treatments ranging from facials and body wraps to therapeutic massages. The perfect all-natural escape. —Lisa Monforton
Other locally inspired spa experiences
They call it the Rain Massage, but there’s no getting wet—just increasingly languid as you feel the smooth, warm rain sticks being “rowed” across the bunched muscles of your body. Aromatherapy scents and the soothing sound of rain—rain sticks are hollow cactus tubes filled with pebbles, which create a sound like soft rain—accompany this 50 minutes of bliss at Agave, The Arizona Spa in the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sourced with desert ingredients (including the cactus tubes), the Rain Massage feels like you’re tapping into the history and spiritual healing rituals of the area. —Pam Fieber
Vancouver Island Blends
On Vancouver Island, people make it a point to seek out local products. So it’s no surprise that the Pacific Mist Spa at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort in Courtenay makes extensive use of premium indigenous ingredients. The spa’s signature Pacific Mist Hydropath therapy takes you through a recreated West Coast shoreline path with eight sculpted caves and pools. After you’ve been water-jetted and soaked in the various pools, a personal tidal bath awaits where you can indulge in a custom-blended salt scrub made with sustainable wild sea vegetables from around Porcher Island, B.C., and Canadian-sourced essential oils. —Diana Ng
A visit to Fern Tree Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for its signature massage begins with lounging in a comfy chair and soaking your feet in Cerasee leaves, a local herb and blood purifier used in tea. After the soothing foot massage, it’s time for a full-body massage in a private room where crushed pimento berries (the same berries used in the island’s famous jerk chicken) are mixed into an essential oil with ginger and orange to increase circulation. The invigorating treatment ends with a spritz of Jamaican rum, naturally. —Jennifer Allford