Hawaii: State of Grace

She may be America's youngest state, but Hawaii has cultivated culture and traditions for over 1,500 years.
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Maui

Ah, Hawaii. For decades, visitors have been enchanted with this paradise of lush rainforests, cerulean waters and fiery volcanoes, where the evenings are balmy and the air is scented with plumeria (frangipani). Mark Twain characterized this Pacific archipelago as “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” America’s 50th state is also embraced for its vibrant culture infused with aloha, the sacred Hawaiian word for love, grace and welcome.

Hawaii’s appeal is rooted in its rich heritage. The islands nurture an ancient and enduring culture, initiated by early Polynesian settlers and followed by the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Filipino sugar plantation workers who immigrated in the 1880s, establishing Hawaii’s multi-ethnic population.

After barely surviving a lengthy suppressive period during its annexation in the late 19th century, Hawaiian culture blossomed like an exotic flower after it became a U.S. state in 1959.

These days, eager tourists — 8.6 million in 2015 alone — flock to Hawaii to experience its beaches, music, dance, food and, of course, spas. Oahu and Maui are the most visited of the archipelago’s eight major islands, and their respective neighborhoods of Waikiki and Wailea are home to spas committed to honoring the islands’ history and practices with Polynesian and Asian treatment techniques and rituals, not to mention a bounty of indigenous botanicals such as lilikoi (passionfruit) and frangipani.

Read about 4 gorgeous Hawaiian spas in our August digital edition!