Blind travelers feel the aloha spirit in Hawaii

By Stephanie Lum - bio | email

WAILUKU, Maui (KHNL) - The aloha spirit is alive and well here in Hawaii. It's a saying that goes a long way for a group of blind travelers who recently visited the islands via cruise ship.

These travelers take in the lush tropical scenery through touch, smell and sheer imagination and through all of that, they say they don't have to see, to feel the aloha spirit here in the islands.

Early in the morning, the group of about 30 gathers for breakfast ordering from specially-made braille menus filled with all of the day's specials. They're with Damar Travel and Cruise; a tour company that specializes in providing safe travel for the blind.

"You don't feel like you're being treated differently," said Kim Campbell visiting from Maryland. "It's just like you are going on a tour and you're getting a little extra enhancement and description of our surroundings."

One the highlights of their trip; a lesson in hula and Tahitian!

"Some of us feel Hawaii through the beauty through our eyes," said Marsah Schuman of Damar Travel and Cruise. "They feel Hawaii through the gentile touch of a Hawaiian ambassador. So what we did is have some of the great Hawaiian ambassadors stand behind them and become one with them and they move them and move their hands."

They also learned to use Hawaiian musical instruments like the uli uli and puili and basic steps like the kaholo and ami.

"Well it's kind of fun but quite difficult when you can't see you kinda' make up your own moves!''' said Donna Hunt from Nebraska.

They may not be master hula dancers but these first-timers say they are filled with the spirit of hula and that's all that matters.

Many of them have traveled from as far as the east coast to come to Hawaii. They say it's proof people with loss of vision should not be afraid to venture out and make the trip.