Remembering a Past Belly Dancing Retreat on the Big Island, 1995

By Delilah

In 1995 we held a Summer Solstice retreat at Kalani Hanua Ocean Side Beach Resort. My guest instructor was Z Helene and the theme was Dance of Elements: fire, water, earth, air, and ether. Each day was devoted to a different element and we had five different costume contests!

When we went to the Volcano, we convinced the park rangers to move the orange barricade aside so we could videotape ourselves doing a dance in front of the active lava flow rolling into the sea in the background (of course, we were a safe distance away). It was an exhilarating experience. The wind was really strong and blew our veils and skirts in the air like flames. The sand was virgin black obsidian glass crystals birthed from the process of hot lava hitting the salt water. It was extra abrasive under our feet and glistened in the sun. Listen to Armando’s poem on our Voices of Bellydance page.

There are different kinds of lava. Some forms of hardened lava look like characters you expect to talk to you and then another kind called Pele's hair appeared as fine as weavers threads. You can really see how life races to rebuild itself after a lava flow. It barely cools and things are growing and adhering to it. You can see the evidence and measure the stages of natures tarnaciousness by the date markers on the different lava flows within Volcano National park. Very fascinating!

We enjoyed the warm ponds just down the road from Kalani and right on the beach. The steam vents were my personal favorite. They are a fascinating and very rare phenomena that truly deifies description, but I’ll try. . .

You pull the car over to the side of the road and walk toward a misty bushy area with wild orchids tangled in the tall grass. Then you see a miniature volcano that looks like a large tee pee. Actually there are a cluster of them hidden in the mists. Then you find an opening and it’s hollow like a tee pee with a hole at the top where the lava once escaped; now the hot steam vents. It’s natures little steam room. The heat is coming from the live lava flow, way, way down under us inside the ground. This is really special. I remember Steve, Claire, Judilyn, Bianca and I sat in one of the vents and Steve played his ney and we all sang. Our skin was really clean and soft afterwards.

Among some of our other adventures — Betsy, Claire, Mirayah, Blue, Steve and I went to the Southern end of the island to a rare green sand beach (which was pretty spectacular) and danced into the sea. The picture of Betsy Bickel on our sound bites page was taken of her while she was buried in the sand there. It was really green! It is made from ground up citrine crystal and looked like coke bottle glass in our hands. It looks gray-green from far away.

Speaking of green, our group did a ritual dance into a green lake called House of the Moon on Summer Solstice Day. It was actually a bottomless lake made by a volcano crater completely surrounded by the lushest of vegetation. This was just 10 minutes down the road from Kalani Hanua and a 10-15 minute hike into the jungle.

Steve, Laura Rose, Victoria, and I went to the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel to swim with seemingly happy, yet captive, dolphins at Dolphin Quest. It was an expensive and very rushed, hands-on experience. However, we hung out and watched them all day and that was amazing. We each kissed a dolphin on the belly. That was special.

Laura Rose playing with a dolphin

Another time Steve, Beth and I had a great wild dolphin encounter at Kahana beach, almost just across the street from Kalani Hanua. It was a few years back. We got up at the crack of dawn and waited. We drummed and called to them and then we swam out on boogie boards to meet them and they swam all around us in a circle! Now, that was even cooler. Of course they didn’t let us kiss them, but they did come up very close underwater and peer into my diving mask and look me in the eye ! Very special indeed!

I hope you can come join us on the Big Island, I can’t wait to go back!


Claire - Water


Laura Rose





Delilah and Z Helene Show time
Z Helene and Suzy Betsy
Volcano Dance Day Suzy
Big Island Belly DanceBig Island Dancers
Blue BeachBelly dance on the rocks
Drumming for DolphinsKahana Beach
Inside the EarthLava Tube

Steve, Delilah, Laura Rose and Victoria