Thousands of years ago Hippocrates discovered that sea water helped heal wounds, prevented infections, and eased pain.
Most afternoons when living in Coronado, California, my children and I would climb the dunes on The Strand. We’d carry beach toys, towels, and a picnic basket. Once we’d get to the beach, we’d play in the icy water and watch the Navy SEAL’s teams training. The young men would also climb up and down the dunes. The teams, in full fatigues, carried large rafts over their heads. They would perform their calisthenics, carry their boats to the water’s edge, hop on the sides of the boats, and row out to sea. My eldest, Marshall, at age four, idolized the Navy SEALs and would do the “work out” with them from a safe distance. He was always thrilled when the men would acknowledge his hard work. The Pacific Ocean was chilly until mid summer when we would finally take our “rafts” out to swim and ride the waves. That beach was our playground for three years.
Flying into Honolulu the first time, no matter what time of year, you are greeted with a temperature that varies between 68 to 87 degrees. One of the key design features of the original terminals of the Honolulu airport is the open air walkways. Just like any other airport, there is a bit of a walk from the gate to baggage claim. The wafting scent of nearby plumeria flowers is an appropriate introduction to the pleasant year round climate.
Most hotel lobbies and beach front restaurants are open air, showcasing the beauty of Waikiki . The views of Diamond Head are breathtaking and the sunsets are near perfect and unforgettable. It’s a natural paradise where the Hawaiian culture embraces the Aloha Spirit of kindness, compassion, and a sense of belonging. Hawaii is the perfect vacation destination and was my home for four years.
We spent very little time indoors, most houses have huge lanai’s (porches) and ours was waterfront, it looked out on Pearl Harbor. We never wore socks. Shoes and sandals were left in a pile at the door, we were most comfortable going barefooted. Inviting the outside in, the windows of our house were louvered to let in the breeze of the Trade Winds.
My children left their shoes on a shelf outside their open air classrooms. We would ride our bikes down the bike path from our house to their little Hale Keiki School. Art projects, lunch, and gym class were outside activities. Teachers played the ukulele while the students practiced their Hula dancing. Chicken Pox was passed around the school one year but for the most part, everyone was incredibly healthy.
As a family, we ate local foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fish. We spent our weekends at some of our favorite beaches on the Windward side of the island. We’d sail from Kaneohe Yacht Club to the sandbar for a swim and a picnic. Kailua was a great family weekend destination, the waves were perfect for bodysurfing and swimming. There were tide pools and the sand was pristine. We’d rent a cabin for the weekend and swim with the sea turtles at Bellows Beach.
When first moving to Maryland we spent many summer weekends at Assateague. We continued to ride bikes everywhere and swam outdoors as much as possible. As cold weather approached, my children began wearing shoes all day and spent very little time outside. Strep throat was a constant issue our first year. All four of my children were diagnosed with asthma in the years that followed. Summers were our healthiest time of the year when we swam, rode bikes, and sailed.
We spend everyday in winter indoors, we make walking outside a priority but it doesn’t compare to life near the Pacific Ocean. After doing some reading, I bought Himalayan salt lamps for each of the rooms in our house. Web MD claims that salt lamps boost moods, improve sleep, ease allergies, help people with asthma breathe better, and clean the air. I love the glow from the lamps but I’m not sure how effective they are. I feel best when I do a deep room clean and open the windows for fresh air.
During the Covid shutdown I read about the benefits of Vitamin D and being outside. I thought about how healthy we were living in Hawaii and began to walk barefooted in my garden. My children spent the majority of their days outside in the salt air and water, they thrived. Maryland is our home, we won’t be moving back to California or Hawaii. My goal has been to bring the healthy aspects of life in Hawaii to Maryland. I’m grateful to have the beautiful Choptank River within walking distance. I make it a priority to spend time appreciating the beauty of the water and its birds. On my way to work in the morning I’m greeted by the sunrise as I drive over the Malkus Bridge. The Blackwater Refuge is a favorite spot for biking and enjoying being in nature.
Seawater is very healing and has stood the test of time to support both mind and body balance. Ocean water can help ease muscle pain and arthritis. According to the Organic Edit, your number of red blood cells increase between 5 to 20% after a swim in the sea. The number of white blood cells increases even more. Sea water is a fantastic natural medicine for everyone. Whenever anyone is sick, I suggest a long soak in a hot tub of Epsom salts, which is also very high in magnesium, it always helps. Gargling a glass of water with a pinch of salt is great for sore mouths and throats.
In my research of the health benefits of seawater, I discovered that salt caves provide many of the same benefits of seawater. I googled salt caves near me and found The Salt Cave at Foremost Spa in Easton. My daughter, Jenny and I spent forty five minutes luxuriating on a reclining chair in The Salt Cave. We arrived without any expectations. It was a Saturday morning and we were both exhausted from a very long week of work. The cave glows like my little salt lamps which is very warm and welcoming. We were very cozy in our chairs covered with a blanket and listening to meditation music. I felt very grounded and relaxed. The forty five minutes passed quickly and we were advised to drink lots of water for the rest of the day.
I plan to add the salt cave to my monthly self care routine, especially during the winter months. The negatively-charged, ionized salt and trace minerals that are present in the cave’s atmosphere are said to naturally draw toxins and impurities out of the body, reduce inflammation, and improve respiratory ailments like asthma by clearing the lungs. Beside the health benefits, Himalayan Salt Therapy can lift your spirits by increasing your serotonin levels, the “happy hormones” that impact mood, sleep, memory, appetite, and digestion.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.