One of my favorite parts of working at Kona Kai is giving tours to our guests. Since guests must request to join the tour (we won't force you), there must be some initial interest, but as the tour progresses I observe a noticeable increase in guests' enthusiasm and interest. They want to know more about each plant and find it fascinating how useful and potentially useful plants have been and continue to be. Guests have been very responsive not only to ethnobotanical information but also purely botanical observations, which is great to see. For example, I might point out that in some species, there are male and female plants, whereas in others, both male and female reproductive parts are on the same plant. Sometimes our guests have simply not looked thoroughly enough and I can show them interesting things in unusual places, such as elegant Zamia (coontie) cones, which are often hidden underneath their foliage. After a recent tour, one of the participants told me that during the time he had already spent at Kona Kai, he had walked the property looking at the plants but had not really "seen" at all. He thanked me for the experience the tour gave him, which he said added much deeper levels to his experience of our property and changed the way he perceived plants and the natural world as a whole. Kona Kai is an excellent place for realizations and revelations like this to occur because many guests are able to distance themselves from much of the "noise" of the outside world and, whether they know it or not, become more in-tune with the nature that surrounds them here. It feels as though your body, mind and soul are all resonating in perfect harmony with your surroundings at the end of a week of deep relaxation and decompression here. You find yourself noticing things you hadn't noticed before about our natural world, such as the fact that each breath we take is made possible by plants. The more you experience nature in this way, the more you are impacted profoundly and feel that deep, resonant connection with something much bigger than yourself, something that you realize lives and dies to support and sustain us in so many ways.
The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort