One Love at Bali Cottage
For most of my adult life, I have dreamed of the perfect love. I envisioned traveling the world hand-in-hand with my soul mate playing music, embarking on fabulous adventures, and enjoying romance on the road. Every man I dated had potential to be the one, but something always went awry. Flying solo, I found myself alone with my dreams to travel, write, and sing. So when the publisher of the The Vacation Rental Travel Guide invited me to meet her in Hawaii, I jumped at the chance! I packed my bikinis and laptop in a hot pink suitcase, grabbed my psychedelic peace ukulele, and set out for the lush romantic shores of Hilo, Hawaii.
Ms. Nelson e-mailed me pictures of the homes we would be reviewing. She would stay in the House, and I would stay in a separate one-bedroom space on the same lot called the Bali Cottage. It looked lovely online, but the photographs did not express the sacred splendor and romantic allure I felt the moment we drove through the iron bamboo gate. After meeting Iliahi, one of the owners, it became apparent that her Buddha-like nature and multicultural experience was infused into the exotic artistry of the home.
Iliahi met us in Pahoa, a town 19.8 miles south of Hilo. This short, bronze-skinned woman gave us a big smile, hug, and Aloha, which loosely translated means, “I give you my breath.” She placed a white fragrant plumeria behind our ears and donned us each with a shelled necklace — then hopped back into her jeep. She and her husband led us a few miles down a rolling, paved coastal road to the Bali House and cottage.
Upon seeing this temple, a sense of childlike joy and deep gratitude filled my being. Is this where I am going to stay for the next ten days? I felt like Dorothy arriving to the magical island of Oz.
Tea Pot for Two
Iliahi gave us a tour of the cottage. A two-story structure, the cottage is constructed from imported woods with a kitchen and dining area in the bottom story and a full bedroom and bathroom upstairs. Adorned in Buddhist, Hindu, and Hawaiian carvings, statues and artwork, this sacred space is beautified with black, gold, and cream colors. Bamboo curtains and flowing drapes cover the windows.
The kitchen includes a propane stove, refrigerator, and cookware. A small table sits in the center of the room along with two chairs. A black futon rests against the west wall with curtains elegantly tiered over an antique mirror. One peaceful corner of the room has been arranged for meditating with a large stone Buddha head resplendent with a fresh Hawaiian Plumeria tucked behind one ear. Two black pillows are aligned before the statue. The number two seemed a key decorating theme at the cottage, for it began to pop up everywhere. There was even a tea pot with the phrase “Tea Pot Two,” written on it. I was beginning to sense that this space was quite the romantic getaway.
Bali Love Nest
Iliahi led us outside and up to the bedroom suite. We climbed a small flight of stairs onto a terrace that lines the bedroom and provides a gorgeous view of the ocean. A table for two rests against the bedroom window. As we entered the cabin-like suite, my heart flung open. It was so beautiful and my new home for the next week and a half. High vaulted ceiling with a lotus shaped fan, this bedroom is adorned in the same black, gold, and cream color scheme as downstairs. Smooth curtains drape over the windows and doors that arch above the queen size bed.
A matching antique dresser set provided me a place to unpack. A rectangular rug, thoughtful Eastern artwork, and placards with inspirational words are placed around the room. A large three-paneled, Buddha artpiece hangs on one of the walls and a small Buddha statue sits in lotus position on a ledge on the opposite wall.
From the romantic, sacred bed, the sunrises over the Pacific. The room comes with Wi-Fi, a stereo, and TV with CDs and videos for multiple entertainment options. The bathroom includes a large tiled shower and basket for personal beauty items and hair dryer. Ili left a complementary bottle of mango champagne on the dresser with two glasses. This was perhaps the most romantic place I’d ever stayed, but there was one missing ingredient — that special someone to share it with.
The cottage is surrounded by a magical garden with an abundant array of colorful flowers, trees, and fruits. The scent of the local gardenias is erotically fragrant. Papayas and pineapples are bursting from the ground. The native purple colored pineapples are supposed to be the sweetest and juiciest kind — as my new local Hawaiian friend says, “It’s like a food orgasm.” A two-person hammock tucked under swaying palm trees provides a wonderful spot to relax and unwind with your sweetheart. The two-person hot tub nestled beside it, provides a romantic setting to star-gaze and listen to the Coqui frogs sing their bird-like mating call at night.
Iliahi referred to the cottage as the honeymoon suite since many people come here for their honeymoons. One couple even intentionally conceived their first child in the cottage. With guilty pleasure, I read all the romantic accounts in the guest book.
Great romantic juju … but how was I, a woman, who had gone through a number of short-lived romances and losing confidence for that perfect somebody, going to enjoy such a love nest? So many times in the past, I had felt disappointed and frustrated. Like many, I had traversed the many roads of online dating and other ridiculous ways to supposedly meet the love of my life.
Every day I awoke to see the sunrise over the ocean and meditated on the big “LOVE” sign placed above the window. I wondered what this thing called love is all about.
Naked Yoga Men at Kehena Beach
My first exploration of this question came from doing morning yoga at Kehena Beach — the gorgeous black sand, clothing optional, beach across the street from the Bali Cottage. Sturdy shoes are needed to climb down the steep incline, but it is well worth the rocky descent. The view is spectacular and the sand smooth. I found myself hesitant to strip off my bikini to do a full “downward dog” in the buff. However, I couldn’t help but note a few naked men who did all sorts of bends and twists in the nude. They seemed completely comfortable with revealing the temple of their body no matter the shape or age with seemingly no shame. Good reminder, I thought. Remember to love the body, with or without clothing.
Love Potion at the Market
We ventured to the local bazaar a few miles south of the cottage to experience Hawaiian food, art, and music at Uncle Robert’s Night Market, which kicks off Wednesdays from 6-9 pm. It felt a little like the bar scene from Star Wars. With these many different characters, I sensed a force bringing them together. The barbecue booth bumps up against the organic fruit and veggie drink booth. The Christian butter women (I was sampling their passion fruit butter) were unlikely neighbors with the rough and tough tattoo artists. The ukulele group performed a mix of Hawaiian country and rock tunes. We left before their finale — Mustang Sally I was told. Everyone gets up on the floor for a big dance fest. There was such a juxtaposition of energy here and the one force bridging all of us was Love.
I wandered over to the aromatherapy booth and sampled a variety of fragrances. The handsomeman behind the counter gave me a generous squirt of the ever erotic Love Potion. I naively inquired what you do with this spray. He said,”Do you have to ask?” In answer to my question, he gave me an equally generous platonic hug spiked with the fragrance of romance.
One Love at Kalani
One and a half miles north of the cottage, we stumbled upon heaven. It’s actually called the Kalani Educational Retreat Center; Kalani means heaven on earth in Hawaiian. It offers a variety of workshops, dance, yoga, meditation and Hawaiian cultural classes. Kalani quickly became our convenience store of choice with its selection of sandwiches, coffee, kambucha tea, and chocolate chip cookies. A small gift section includes books, cards and bumper stickers. A bumper sticker with the words “One Love,” grabbed my attention. I bought it hoping the sticker would infuse me with more love juju for my Hawaii adventure.
I attended three classes at Kalani. The first one was a fitness and dance class. Led by a loving presence, the young woman’s name is Marika. Broken down, Marika translates to mother of the ocean and soul. I met Marika a few minutes before the other goddesses piled in for class. Tall and blond with a smile that reached from here to Oahu, she exuded joy and provided loving guidance.
For another class, Deborah joined me for a gong bath at Kalani. A combination of yoga and chanting, the class ended with a “sound bath” from a large gong. Our final experience included a two-hour ecstatic dance fest, a popular free-form movement dance, where people experience the One Love of sacred movement.
Love at First Strum
I’ve spent many nights snuggling in the arms of my my guitar, writing songs of unrequited love, desired love, and heart dramas. I brought my ukulele secretly hoping to find some sexy Hawaiian uke player who would entice me with some traditional Hawaiian songs. But each time I strummed my current ukulele, I could not feel the deep love that music usually brings me. I mentioned to Deborah that I might want a new ukulele, a new instrument of love. We were planning a day trip to Hilo and since it is birthplace of the ukulele, I felt that I was sure to fine a new ukulele to love.
In Hilo, a large banner with the words “Ukuleles for Sale” posted to Agasa Furniture and Music Store beckoned me. As I walked in a Luna Ukulele with floral etching immediately lured me to the back of the store. A delightful Philipino woman named Irene popped out like a fairy and introduced herself. “Irene, like Goodnight Irene,” she said with a twinkle in her eye and a giggle. She handed me different instruments from the small music corner of the store.
Did you know that the ukulele was originally constructed in the Iberian Peninsula from acombination of several instruments and brought to Hawaii by sailors in 1880? The story goes that the name Ukulele, which means “jumping flea”, was created when a Hawaiian saw a Portuguese immigrant jump off the ship with his instrument in hand. The bobbing man looked, from a distance, like a jumping flea. I also learned that Irene’s store had been around since 1945, founded by her father who came from the Philippines to play music and work in the cane fields.
She shared her father’s favorite quote with me, which was, “You want to live long, play music.” On this magical, musical journey to Hilo, I fell in love with a sweet new concert uke! It was love at first strum.
As much as we loved the Bali complex, we wanted to venture further. We took a day trip to Akaka falls, a spectacular waterfall under 20 miles from Hilo. Equally awe-inspiring was our spontaneous visit to Akaka Falls Gift Shop at the intersection of Hwy 220 and Hawaiian Belt Road. At this eclectic boutique we delighted over the homemade jewelry, drums, and a variety of other inspiring, creative gifts.
A bright-eyed, dark-haired woman came bounding out from the back of the store to introduce herself. She shared the amazing story of her healing path through cancer and beyond, what she refers to as her “bonus life.” As part of her story, she retreated to the back corner of the store returning with a precious brightly colored bird perched on her finger.
When Deborah asked, “What kind of bird is this?” the shopkeeper replied, “These are Love Birds. There are over 300 different species of love birds in Hawaii. “That’s a lot of love, I thought. This joyful lady brings her birds into homes of abused children to teach them how to open their hearts to love again. My eyes watered. Deborah and I both took turns holding the delicate creatures and my heart flew open. She showed us a bird couple, and explained that when kissing, “their profile forms the shape of a heart.” I felt energized by her joyful presence and I wasn’t the only one — a number of people made themselves comfortable on the couches in the back. I bought a little wire angel with a heart, a reminder that, like these birds, there is always a song of love singing from our hearts.
Hawaiian Love Song
One morning, I awoke from a vivid dream. Walking up a street, I spotted an open aired train car in front filled with water. A man with long dreadlocks surfaced from the water and made eye contact with me.
“Who are you? I asked.
“I am love.” he answered.
“Why do I block myself from loving me?” I inquired.
Before he could respond, I woke up. The answer to my question came from writing about my romantic adventures while staying at the Bali Cottage. Each person, place, and event showed me new ways to love. Ultimately my experience here affirmed that the one love that connects us all does not come from the outside. This love comes from our hearts every moment. My ultimate partnership is with the divine.
Blessed by the most romantic travel experience ever, I say Mahalo to Tim and Ili for opening their hearts and home. Each day I fell more in love with Hawaii. So with gratitude, I offer this Hawaiian love song.
Your islands dance in the ocean
The ocean sings to the breeze
Songs of peace and tranquility
Your palm trees sway as the sun sets
And the frogs sing their mating call
Mahalo, Mahalo for the gift of it all
Hawaii aloha to you
Hawaii aloha to you
You are a new friend of mine
I’ve spent some time
On your beautiful black sandy shores
I rose at dawn to see the sun smile upon
Your waters so sacred and pure
Hawaii aloha to you
Pele spouts her passion
To remind us of the fire inside
And to keep the flame of love burning
And your deepest dreams alive!
Hawaii Aloha to you!
Mahalo, Mahalo for the gift of it all.
We have placed the Bali Cottage in the category of Value Conscious Vacation Rentals because of the incredible value for the price. The Bali Cottage is equally deserving of the Super Romantic category and the Beach Area Vacation Rentals category as well.
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