It’s all about serenity at the Volcano Rainforest Retreat
nestled in the lush rain forest of Hawaii’s Big Island, with
amazing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and its erupting Kilauea
volcano just down the road. A rustic “peace pole” near the
property’s entrance sets the tone: May Peace Prevail on Earth.
To get to my cozy, 200-square-foot cottage “Sanctuary” one of four
cottages on the property I walked a narrow trail. As I traveled
along the path, I pushed aside the occasional fern frond,
discovering intriguing knickknacks at my feet a polka-dot ceramic
frog, a shiny blue bowling-ball-size globe, a tiny brass Buddha.
Overhead, a native forest bird sang in the branches. Along the
trail, I caught glimpses of the three other cottages. Each cottage
feels secluded thanks to a veil of jungle ferns, gnarled native
ohia trees, moss-covered logs and strands of fragrant ginger lilies
conceal them from view.
Sanctuary has no key. Double doors slide open and you step into a
room dominated by a queen-size bed. A sense of balance gives the
room a feng-shui feel, from the slippers by the bed to the skylight
in the ceiling. If this hexagon were a spinning top, it would not
wobble one iota.
The walls are mostly tall windows framed by unpainted cedar.
Urbanites may feel like they’re looking at wraparound flat-screen
TVs tuned to the Nature Channel which is the closest they’ll come
to a television at Volcano Rainforest Retreat. A little sink is
surrounded with just enough counter space for a toaster oven, an
electric tea kettle and a box of teas. A cabinet underneath holds a
small cooler filled with breakfast goodies Kona coffee, organic
fruit juice, soy milk, yogurt, muffin, bagel and boiled egg.
Sanctuary is the only one of the four cottages here without a
fridge (or a phone).
As I plopped down on the bed and made myself at home, with the
huge spherical paper lantern overhead like my own full moon, I
began to notice the subtle detailing. A small mango coffee table
was bedecked with curios: two tiny Tibetan chimes, five colored
pencils arranged in a bouquet, and yes, the obligatory reverential
quartz crystal. Shelves held other treasures: one statue of Buddha
and another of a wooden frog king reading a book, sprays of orchids
and anthuriums, aromatic candles, a handcrafted photo portfolio of
a boy monk and his elephant. Anchoring the room was an ornate,
cast-iron gas stove for cold nights.
The CD collection, “Sedona Suite,” leaned toward the meditative,
as did the library, which included not only mini-editions of
Walden, The Way of the Jewish Mystics and the Bhagavad Gita, but
also The Best Places to Kiss.
These grace notes made it clear that Volcano Rainforest Retreat is
more than a business for owners Kathleen and Peter Golden. They
live on the property in a cedar decagon they sometimes use for
groups doing spiritual or personal growth workshops. (Kathleen is a
The spiritual and the sensual melt together in what I think is
Sanctuary’s most sublime feature, the private outdoor
Japanese-style redwood furo bath. Soaking in the deep, hot tub
surrounded by forest now that’s sanctuary.
Volcano Rainforest Retreat
P.O. Box 957
Volcano, HI 96785
Hits: Clients will have to drag themselves away from this
immersion experience to explore amazing Hawaii Volcanoes National
Park, which is just 10 minutes up the road.
Misses: Not the place for folks who don’t like getting their
designer clothes stained by a wet fern frond on the trail. Fine
dining in Volcano Village is limited to one restaurant, Kilauea
Be Aware: The Sanctuary cottage has only a toaster oven and
electric teapot and coffeemaker. The other three cottages do have
cooking facilities, but clients should buy food and wine before
coming up the mountain.
Plugging In: No Internet, but no worries. This is not a place
where clients will want to stare at the glare of their laptops.
Clientele: Nature lovers, volcano explorers and others seeking
peace and quiet.
Rates: From $125 (Sanctuary, single occupancy) to $260 (Bamboo
House, double occupancy) per night plus local taxes. Two-night
minimum, with exceptions when available.
Commission: 10 percent