Rainforest Retreat

This B&B cottage offers peace, quiet and an erupting volcano

By: Bill Harby

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 Reiki-trained healer.)
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 Lodge.

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