KOHALA COAST, Big Island Each year, some 2,000 pounds of rocks from
the Big Island are pocketed by souvenir-happy tourists, according
to figures from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Over the past year,
Waikoloa Beach Marriott, an Outrigger Resort on the Kohala Coast,
has been doing its part to bring those rocks back home.
Locals say that, according to ancient legend, the Hawaiian
volcano goddess Pele puts a curse on people who take lava rocks as
souvenirs. The unwitting thieves sometimes find that bad luck
follows them home. While the belief may have been concocted simply
as a way of discouraging the removal of property, people in the
Hawaii travel industry often receive lava rocks in the mail from
visitors who want to put an end to their bad luck.
Last year, the kupuna (cultural elders) of Waikoloa Beach
Marriott introduced a program intended to remove the supposed
curse. Called Hoaka Hoomalu (protecting crescent), it encourages
visitors to mail their Big Island rocks back to the resort.
Waikoloa Beach Marriott spokeswoman Noelani Whittington said the
resort has collected 75 pounds of rocks since the program started
one year ago. “Some people feel they have disrespected the land by
taking the rocks, and for that purpose they have returned them to
us,” said Whittington. “We continue receiving rocks all the time.
We feel we are providing a great service for visitors.”
Waikoloa Beach Marriott staff coordinates delivery of the rocks
to the property from locations around the state, including those
that have been received by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention
Bureau on Oahu.
When looking for an appropriate spot for the returned rocks, the
hotel’s grounds crew chose a place considered spiritually powerful,
in a large outcrop of ancient lava surrounded by a garden of native
Hotel guests are invited to witness the rock ceremony, which
takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at noon. A kupuna
offers a chant to the surrounding volcanoes as he lays the rocks in
their resting place. Following the ceremony, the resort’s cultural
staff writes a personal letter to each sender, saying the rocks
have been respectfully returned to the land. In other news from the
Waikoloa Beach Marriott:
" Clients staying five nights or more receive one free admission
per room to the Kohala Country Falls Adventure. Additional tickets
for the five-hour eco-tour, hosted by Hawaii Forest & Trail,
can be purchased for $89 per adult and $69 per child ages 12 and
under. The offer applies to visits through Nov. 15, 2003.
" Couples can book the hotel’s Romance and Relax package for
$1,560, good on visits through Dec. 21. Rates include three nights
in a cabana room, champagne and chocolates on arrival, daily buffet
breakfast, sunset massage for two each day and a sunset catamaran
ride for two.
" The resort’s Golf Fore Ever package provides a garden-view
room and unlimited golf on Waikoloa Resort’s Beach and Kings’
courses. The rate of $308 per couple per night is good on stays
through Dec. 18.