Come for the beautiful scenery, stay for the unique experiences

Everything about taking a trip to Hawaii is magical. The scenic nature, pristine beaches, untouched wildlife, and beautiful weather are the main draws. But what if there was something even more ethereal to add to your Hawaii travel list? Enter: an underwater ballet. As someone looking for any excuse to escape the cold New York winters, I jumped at the chance to see what it was all about. After a quick 30 minute drive from the Kona International Airport, I arrived at the Fairmont Orchid and opted to spend my first afternoon swimming in the array of private pools to soak up the sun before enjoying a sunset dinner. The multi-course meal highlighted local ingredients and even included berries that were picked by the chef herself.

At the end of the night, I retired to my room. It was filled with neutral tones and had a balcony that was perfect for watching the sunset (or sunrise). The custom scented Le Labo toiletries and large soaking tub were a welcome refuge after a day in the sun. Not to mention, the service at the resort was top notch, which made my stay even more memorable.

I woke up with sunrise the next morning, headed to the on-site beach, grabbed some snorkeling gear, and jumped into the crystal clear waters of Pauoa’s private bay for some snorkeling. Sea turtles bobbed their heads up and down beside me as I watched multicolored fish swim in the brightly colored corals below. The backdrop of the beautiful Hawaiian landscape every time I poked my head out only added to the experience. This is how my entire stay went, serene experiences, even more magical due to the nature that surrounds us.

Along the bay, a small lookout for honu (Hawaii sea turtles) awaits. A bit far from the shore, pods of whales and dolphins can sometimes be seen jumping through the sea. Walking the grounds, on and off the trails was also a feast for the eyes. Every path was lined with pastel orchids, koi ponds, and small waterfalls. The resort also has two golf courses and an entire ten-court tennis complex.

The Spa Without Walls, a spa with completely open-air treatment rooms, is another highlight. Filled with the serene sounds of the ocean as a soundtrack, the treatments are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. For 60 blissful minutes, I closed my eyes and fell asleep while a special technique was used to get rid of all the tension built up in my muscles.

The seven on-site restaurants offered delicious fruits and vegetables, along with Hawaiian specialties and lots and lots of fresh fish. For breakfast, Orchid Court was a popular place with both a la carte and buffet options. Hale Kai, the poolside restaurant that focuses on fish dishes like a poke bowl and fish and chips, was a favorite at lunchtime, while Binchotan Bar was a fabulous option for dinner. We experienced a traditional Hawaiian luau experience, which is one of the most popular dining experiences at the resort.

To make my time at the resort even more special, I experienced the limited edition underwater ballet experience. For 60 minutes, I watched ballet dancer and renowned underwater artist Kristina Makushenko perform synchronized swimming films in and out of the water. She was completely in the water with a setting in the middle of the ocean, and the music could be heard for the duration of the show, regardless of whether you were looking above or below the water. To put it frankly: it was a scene straight out of a movie. It opened my eyes to experience Hawaii in a new way and made my stay at the Fairmont Orchid even more memorable.

The underwater ballet performance itself was held at the hotel as part of a larger campaign called Beyond Limits. It was launched by the hotel owner group, Accor, in order to push the boundaries and provide guests (like me) with memorable experiences that are off the beaten path and highlight the unique facets of the destination. For example, they also had a symphony inside a cenote (natural well) in Mexico, an oxygen bar perched at 7,000 in the Canadian Rockies, and other experiences for different properties in their repertoire along the way.

But this show was the icing on the cake of an already idyllic trip to paradise. Not sure how my next visit could top perfection, but I’m already planning my return.