Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Forest bathing “Shinrin-Yoku” on Hawaii Island

Forest bathing in Volcano, Hawaii
We love our daily walks through fruit and palm trees and along the coast.  We recently read about Shinrin-Yoku or “forest bathing, which may explain the rejuvenating effects we get from our walks. When we stroll along tree lined paths, the sights, smells, and sounds drains away our stress and improves our mood.

In 1982, the Forest Agency of Japan started the Shrinrin-Yoku program to encourage people to get into nature to improve their health.  Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki of Chiba University found that after walks in the forest people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol as compared to those after the same walk in a laboratory.  Research showed lower blood pressure and pulse rate in addition to lower levels of cortisol.  Additional studies showed that spending time in a forest reduced psychological stress, depression, and hostility while improving sleep and increasing vigor and liveliness.

Though many of the hikes on Hawaii Island have no trees, there are some great forest trails that we know about if you want to try “forest bathing”.  Below is a list of our favorite forest walks around the island:

Volcano- Within Volcanoes National Park we love the cool, refreshing, forest walk from Kilauea Iki Crater parking lot to Thurston Lava tube parking lot.  Outside the national park gate, the Kipuka Puaulu Bird Park is a loop trail through an old growth forest of koa and ohia trees.  The trailhead is at the end of Mauna Loa Road (off Highway 11) in Volcano.
Canopy of trees in Lava Tree State Park
Puna – Lava Tree State Monument, on Highway 132, has a canopy of trees along pathways through the stunning park.

Hilo -  Liliuokalani Gardens on Hilo Bay has trees with grassy expanses along pathways with gorgeous views every direction.  The  sidewalk along Banyan Drive has a canopy of  trees above.  Hilo’s Zoo, on Stainback Drive,  is away from the crowds with tree lined paths and colorful flowers. 

Honomu - Akaka Falls State Park has a nature walk with trees and waterfalls, perfect for a forest walk. 
Trails through the forest in the Bond Estate, North Kohala

North Kohala – Near Hawi, the 54 acre Bond Estate on Iole Road has hiking trails through lush forests, perfect for meditative walks. 
Paths in Waimea Nature Park

Waimea - Ulu La`au, which means “garden of trees” is a 10 acre park in central Waimea (Kamuela), a place to bathe in the forest.

Puako Petroglyph Trail under Kiawe trees

South Kohala - The path within the Puako Petroglyph Reserve (accessible from Holoholokai Beach Park) meanders through a forest of Kiawe (Mesquite) trees.  

Kailua-Kona - The Walua Trail is a wonderful place to escape from Kona’s traffic and walk among the trees and foliage. The trailhead for Walua begins at Lako Street (off Highway 11) just below the Kona Vista Subdivision.

Let us know your favorite place for “Forest Bathing” on the Big Island of Hawaii.


mv morejon said...

we like to walk mindfully through the kalopa native forest in paauilo. it's very serene and rare. this forest was nearly destroyed for eucalyptus plantings but was saved by local grassroot opposition. it's a close representation of what the native hawaiian forest environment used to look like before western contact.


Unknown said...

Try forest bathing in a rain forest! Book your walk with a certified forest therapy guide in Honolulu, through Forest Bathing Hawai‘i. www.forestbathinghi.com