Lunar Love: Moon-Related Travel Experiences Are on the Rise
Being enthralled by the moon is hardly a phase.
Throughout history and around the world, the glowing ball in the sky has been worshiped, studied, painted, photographed, feted, landed on, feared, blamed for werewolves, used for navigation, agriculture, and hunting, and name-dropped in hundreds of songs, stories, films, and TV series. Everyone from Ancient Greeks and Mayans to multiple modern-day Native American, Inuit, and African tribes has had legends involving or explaining it, its cycle, and its various sizes and colors. In astrological circles, it represents our deepest personal needs, basic habits, and our unconscious mind as well as fertility, our inner child, and our inner mother. At the very least, it controls the tides and is mesmerizing to look at.
Next week, Earth's satellite is inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to skip school and work, travel thousands of miles, and spend similar amounts of dollars just to witness the celestial orb block out it's shinier sky-mate and cast its shadow down below as it makes its way from coast to coast.
Lucky for you, moon mania doesn't have to end with the total solar eclipse as there are plenty of places and programs that allow travelers to celebrate the myth, mystery, and majesty of the moon year round.
Howl at the Moon Downward Dogs
Some people believe that there is great power pouring off the moon when it's in this peak position of maximum sun illumination. To harness that amplifying energy for the good of mind, body, and soul, dust off your Moon Salutations and join a cooling, quieting, and calming stretch sesh at any number of hotels including The Westin Maui Resort & Spa or Portland's Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel.
Listen to waves crash from Dubai beaches during Madinat Jumeirah's monthly 90-minute yoga practice devoted to the svadhisthana chakra, the chakra most open to lunar vibes. Southern California's Terranea Resort holds its bright night classes on the property's coastal bluffs. You can feel extra good about nama-staying fit at this Pacific Ocean paradise because they donate your $20 fee to a local nonprofit. The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort coordinates classes for full moons as well as new moons, the Fall equinox, and the Winter solstice.
The name and entire pampering philosophy at the Luna y Mar Spa at The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is inspired by the moon. Upon entering the facility, guests drink a moon face potion, the ingredients of which are picked based on the current station of the moon. For example, if a new one is on the rise, the elixir will be filled with salt and spices and other flavors to awaken and invigorate the body and mind. Treat yourself to one of the signature concoctions to represent four lunar phases (awakening, nourishing, calming, and restoring moons) and their connection to the earth. The rituals aim to realign clients' systems and spirits with nature's rhythms.
Floats Your Boat
If your next trip to New Orleans aligns with a full moon, hop aboard a moonlight paddle with Canoe & Trail. Each Saturday on or before the full moon, a guide takes a group of 25 to 30 out for a four-hour relaxing row in the Louisiana swamps and bayous. Enjoy the nocturnal symphony and search for the orange-red eyes of resident gators. BYOK (kayak) or BYOC (canoe) earns a discounted ticket price.
For an on-the-water, under-the-full-moon trip that requires less stamina, set sail off the California coast aboard one of Santa Barbara Sailing Center's cruising yachts. Enhance your full-moon float with a charcuterie board from C'est Cheese or by hiring a chef to customize a dinner menu and local wine pairings.
Dean Martin hit the nail on the head when he crooned, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore." After all, the moon is often associated with base desires and fertility, and many vacation hot spots offer activities intended to fan those frisky flames. The Moonlight to Remember experience at Grand Solmar Land's End Resort & Spa in Cabo San Lucas reads like a sexy-time checklist. It kicks off with a chocolate truffle tasting and foot washing ritual. Next, a massage is done with warm butter specially formulated to elevate libidos, and then duos are swept away to an open-air cabana for more decadent bites and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
When the moon casts a strong enough glow, the Kuö Spa at Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose offers a package with Champagne, strawberries, and a hydrotherapy treatment in an alfresco hot tub. But first, it's a coffee massage amid 30 acres of Arabica trees in the on-property plantation.
Miami's only outdoor spa, which is at The Betsy-South Beach, mixes rubdowns, strewn rose petals, music, and votives in a service that ends at midnight as clients greet a new day.
The man in the moon is a guest of honor at the midnight weddings held at Thailand's luxurious Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi. Celebrations start with dinner for 30 and continue with an open-air ceremony lit by spacey sparkle and candles, which are important symbols of enlightenment and unity in Thai culture, a Champagne toast, cake-cutting, and the launch of a wish lantern into the heavens. Furthering the solar system connection, each couple will have a star named in their honor. If you schedule your matrimony around the first full moon day of the third lunar month, you can also catch events surrounding Makha Bucha, a Buddhist holiday which features thousands of monks chanting, burning incense, and partaking in a massive candlelit procession.
Moonbathing: Good, Clean Fun
Find calm in the Caribbean with a tropical twilight twist on the Japanese practice of forest bathing at the intimate Paradise Beach Resort in Nevis. Guests are guided up a volcanic peak (Mount Nevis) to find moments of zen under the tree canopy — forest surprisingly covers nearly half of the island's 36 square miles — and in freshwater creeks and hot springs. Post-excursion, the bathing bliss can be prolonged in each villa's outdoor shower. Less spiritual but equally soothing is the moonbathing experience at The Palms Turks and Caicos. Grab a lounge chair in the sugary sand of gorgeous Grace Bay Beach and indulge in mini aromatherapy massages, cocktails, and snacks around 9 p.m.
When Mexico falls under the spell of the full moon, vacationers staying at The Explorean Cozumel can hop in a Jeep and roll around the island free of charge. While gawking at the round wonder and twinkling skies, the driver will drop knowledge about the native flora, fauna, and culture. Because learning always makes us hungry, a bonus of this four-wheeled adventure is that it can end with a private bonfire and sandwiches.
Full moon meditations are almost as popular an activity as yoga. There are two ways to enjoy the monthly meditation at Tucson's JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Arizona: poolside on solid ground or floating on a raft while gazing out at the distant, peaceful city lights below. Floating meditation after dark, this time in a bathhouse's geothermal pools, is also one component of aqua vibrations at the Spa Solage in Napa Valley, CA.
Horseback riding through 790 acres of verdant Argentinian vineyards at winery-meets-resort Casa de Uco is the perfect way to spend a Wine Wednesday. Ride to Pampa del Durazno to see stunning views of Andean peaks silhouetted in the moonlight before nibbling on a gourmet picnic accompanied by a fruity Malbec.
Imagine that drop pictured above. Now imagine it in the dark, and that's a pretty good guess at what it would look like if you dared to join monthly full-moon runs at California's Ziplines at Pacific Crest. Clipping and zipping at sunset and beyond over the entirely tree-based forest runs in the San Gabriel Mountains adds extra thrills even for the most brazen adrenaline junkies. Or so we're told.
The monthly OG full-moon party draws up to 30,000 revelers, most donning body paint and bikinis, to the crescent-shaped Haad Rin beach on Thailand's Koh Phangan. At dusk, thousands of lamps are lit, DJs start spinning, and the small island turns into a full-blown rave where fire-eaters and jugglers mingle with dancers and gap-year wanderers.
Closer to home, the Royal Blues Hotel in Deerfield Beach, FL, has organized foodie fiestas in honor of the sturgeon moon and the corn moon. Themed caviar (at the former bash only), cocktails, and a-maize-ing appetizers (clearly for the second gathering) will be served while live music fills the restaurant's outdoor patio. Attendees of full-moon rooftop soirees at Miami's 1 Hotel South Beach and New York's 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge can partake in tarot card and chakra readings or talk wellness and celestial spirituality with a reiki therapist.
Become Spa-sha Fierce through the luxury facial at Scottsdale's Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, the decadent desert retreat JAY-Z and Beyoncé secreted away to after their private 2008 wedding. The treatment utilizes the power of both glowing balls in the sky as precious stones and crystals used to stimulate circulation and skin firmness are bathed and reenergized in the Arizona sun and then laid outside during full moons in order to cleanse them of the energy buildup.
Take a Hike
Night hiking is second only to night swimming in our book. Sometimes hitting a trail at night, even one you have already conquered in daylight, is rewarded with unique sightings like a moonbow. One of the best spots to see this optical delight is during the full moon tour of Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfall, through Zimbabwe's andBeyond Matetsi Rover Lodge.
A similar colorful refraction of lunar light on mist occurs at Iguassu Falls in Brazil. The walking tour at Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, the only lodge located inside the national park where the cascade is located, offers a walking tour that sets out at dusk. Test your senses and your teamwork on a blindfolded night hike through Pennsylvania's Allegheny Mountains with Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Head out once a month in Ojai, CA, a recognized spiritual vortex and boho enclave, with the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa when the full moon rises.
Lucky Lunar Lawn Decor
In 1860, a sea captain returned to his Bermuda home and built a moongate on his property like one he had seen on his voyage in a Chinese garden. The ornamental feature made of local limestone caught on, and now there are more than 40 on the mysterious isle. While many are at private homes, you can see one up close at the botanical gardens, public parks, and many hotels like the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club or The Reefs. If the legend is to be believed, newlyweds who walk through one hand-in-hand will be blessed with enduring happiness and everyone else should make a wish while passing under one.
Gaze and Graze
Sometimes enjoying the spectacle that is the solar system is as easy as simply looking up. Guests take to the rooftop with a NASA ambassador during the Hyatt Regency Maui's Tour of the Stars to interpret the sky unaided as the ancient Polynesians (and Moana) did before moving into serious stargazing with astronomy binoculars and The Edge. (To be clear, it's a mighty 14-inch reflector telescope and not U2's guitarist.)
When the moon is visible, the talk is more satellite-centric and the rainbow glasses, which allow participants to view moonlight in its constituent colors, come out. Couples can book a late-night private viewing complete with bubbly and chocolate-covered strawberries. On the other side of the US, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, offers a similar star tour although it's a fireside chat on the Florida beach with s'mores and the resident astronomer. Private sessions can be set up in the dunes for, you know, lovers.
Around the world, there are plenty of festivals dedicated to the moon. Some are traditional and cultural like China's Mid-Autumn Festival. The holiday dates back to the early Tang Dynasty (617-907 CE) when families would come together to make offerings of osmanthus-flavored wine, spherical fruits, and mooncakes to the moon when it was at its biggest and brightest to express thanks for a bountiful harvest. These days, it is the second biggest celebration in the country after Chinese New Year. It falls on the Oct. 4 in 2017.
Many US Chinatown neighborhoods like the ones in San Francisco and Chicago hold similar events where the mooncake, originally made with embedded egg yolks and lotus seed paste, often gets a modern makeover. Others are held purely for fun, like New York's Full Moon Festival on Governors Island. This annual bacchanal, which will be in its eighth year in 2018, was patterned after the aforementioned Thai party and features bands, DJs, art installations, and food.