Escape to Paradise! (With a Sense of Urgency)

Are you someone who is curious about how parts of the world were created? Do you seek out adventure and get excited over something incredibly unique? There is a perfect spot for anyone who is fascinated with indigenous peoples and their culture, where history is frozen in time and frozen in Lava.

In a recent special issue of Newsweek, "100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear," the magazine released a list of some of the most spectacular places on earth. It is reminder that they are magical places and ultimately world treasures.

As a result of climate changes and human interference, many of these natural wonders will cease to exist in their present state by the end of this century. Not only will we suffer as humans, but many species of plants and animals will cease to exist as well. In addition, due to modernization, the native cultures which are the foundation for contemporary life will also disappear. Because of the extreme earth changes going on from tsunamis and volcanic eruptions to the oil spill in the Gulf, many people are feeling a sense of urgency to visit their dream spots now.

After a recent visit to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii I was made aware of the conscious effort to revive the culture and history of its people. Many are hearing the call, with a sense of urgency to get back to their roots and find the true wisdom through the Hawaiian culture and heritage.

In addition there is volcanic activity at Hawaiian National Park located on the youngest and highest point on the island. It is home to the most frequent and early observable volcanic activity found anywhere in the world.

There are two spectacles: one is the Mauna Loa (the largest volcano in the world) and the other is Kilauea. The latest eruption occurred in March, 2008. It opened the Halema'uma'u crater. Not only is there an active volcano, but a diverse array of plants and animals, including endangered species situated in 7 life zones. The nature of the volcano is unpredictable, so visitors may be privy to a light show of red hot lava descending down to the Pacific. The best way to experience this spectacular event is by a private helicopter tour. You can take a step back in time and experience our planet in its youngest and purest form. You will see landscapes created by volcanic activity which appear as if you are on another planet. In this same park, you will see areas of rainforest where you can immerse yourself in the spectacular foliage with native bird species that are endemic to Hawaii.

In contrast to the lava rock, the highest peak rises to 13,677 feet at the summit and descends to sea level. This island is a cacophony of micros climates and eco-diversity. You will experience this exotic land and yet it is still part of the Unite States of America. In addition, there is a sense of tranquility and peace you may not find anywhere else. There is a purity of the native culture and heritage submerged in an ever-changing and emerging environment. The native people have come to respect and cherish the ancestral inheritance that has been passed down for centuries.

A great way to see the historic sites of the island is to set sail on Body Glove Cruises to Captain Cook Monument on the Historical Dinner Cruise to Kealakekua Bay. In three hours you will have a history lesson on the most exotic state in the union, with much more fun, facts, stories, legends and cultural arts than a classroom. In addition to an interpreter, marine naturalist, live Hawaiian entertainment, food and drinks you may get lucky and be escorted by a pod of dancing dolphins, called spinners! The excitement never ends. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Kona Historical Society for the preservation, restoration and education of the culture and history of the Kona Coast. On this 17 mile Kona Coast cruise, you will be personally guided along hundreds of points of interest, cruise including Kealakekua Bay & Captain Cook Monument.

While this island may not be everyone's idea of Paradise, if you are someone who wants to experience the aliveness of our planet and who wants to take advantage of a live volcanic activity -- without the extreme consequences (e.g. Iceland) this is one place you won't want to miss. There are now growing breeds of thrill seekers who are fascinated with extreme and exciting earth conditions.

If you want to get more up front and personal schedule a private trek with Warren Costa, owner of Native Guide Hawaii at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Check out the website to schedule a choice of eco-tours. Don't forget to include a visit the Kazumura Lava Tube. You will have a personal tour through contrasting landscapes from a lush rainforest to a once molten stream of lava leading up to the view of the active Kilauea caldera and Halema'uma'u Crater. "Native Guide Hawaii is not just an Eco-tour company; it is a means of gaining cultural awareness and insights into Hawaii that you can only get from someone within the Hawaiian culture. Other tour companies may have Hawaiian or 'local' guides, but we are native Hawaiian owned and operated." The brochure states that you can discover the ruins of ancient Hawaiian villages, explore wild lava tubes, and learn about the Park's natural history, geology, and ancient legends from a native Hawaiian perspective.

For the absolute best bird's eye view of this remarkable phenomenon, Paradise Helicopters will seal the deal. Picture yourself hovering above bright red streams of liquid lava flows, and you may feel as if you have entered a "stargate portal" into the ancient past. You are privy to in-the-moment transformations of a once verdant and fertile rainforest into a black tar-like terrain. It is a once in a lifetime experience you cannot miss!

With a sense of urgency, I'm planning my Bucket List now.