Some of us travel to transform the places we visit, while others travel to be transformed.

In the north part of the island of Kauai, Hawaii, a drive down Highway 560 west from Ha’ena will lead you to a short trail on the left side of the road (past Ha’ena Beach Park). Following this trail leads uphill to a series of three caves.

The last of these is the remarkable Waikapalae Cave, otherwise known as the “Blue Room.”

When our guide tells us to jump into the frigid-cold pool at the opening of the cave, I am, shall we say, skeptical. Not a water bunny by nature, I’m fairly uncomfortable in water that doesn’t have a cement swimming pool beneath it. Nevertheless, I strip down to my bathing suit and jump into the icy water, assured by our guide that something special awaits us. Here’s hoping it’s not electric eels!

Goose bumps speckling our skin, my fellow swimmers and I paddle to the back of the cave as instructed, where we’re told to hold our breaths and dip our heads under a lip in the cave. What greets us on the other side is gasp-inducing. The small “room” in which we now find ourselves is glowing an iridescent blue, the result of sunlight reflecting off the calcite rocks in the cave. It’s gorgeous, and surreal, and the reason I travel: to get in touch with the divine, both in nature and within myself. I feel an overwhelming gratitude – that such a place exists in the world…that powers greater than me have gifted this sight for us to enjoy… that I have been “allowed” to come here. The Blue Room is a sacred place; one can easily imagine a local shaman coming here on a vision quest, in search of answers to life’s questions. Myself, I’m feeling anything but blue in this room. I’m feeling elated, and not a little gob smacked.

When was the last time you found yourself filled with shock and awe? Were you able to articulate the feeling? How did it transform you? What could you take back with you into your “real” life?