Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Train at the Mill House Bar

I’ve written about the Maui Tropical Plantation‘s transformation the past few years. I’ve even posted pictures of the very cool historic train inside the Mill House Bar. I finally got to eat there!

lahaina
A train in a bar? Yep! Only on Maui 🙂

When we first started coming to Maui on vacation, the Maui Tropical Plantation was always on our ‘things to do’ list. The main attraction was their duck pond for our kids. After a number of years it unfortunately closed to the public, only to have been reopened a few years ago under new ownership. The new owners have done an amazing job of the place. I love how they’ve taken old sugar cane factory parts and converted them into lawn art and garden decor. An homage to Waikapu’s rich sugar cane history. Admission to the grounds is free, and I highly recommend you go check it out. And yes, the gift shop (which is large and good) also sells $2 duck food baggies.

maui tropical plantation

The Tropical Plantation also features the Mill House which is a high-end farm-to-table restaurant and bar. I’ve always admired the bar from outside – particularly checking out the historic train inside the bar (how cool is that!). The other day I finally got to eat there – happy hour and pupu (appetizers). The food was great, service good, the ambiance amazing. Specifically we had a squash pizza, ceviche and bao bun tacos.

mill house bar
pupu at the Mill House Bar

mill house bar

What’s up with the train in the bar?

The locomotive is known as the Claus Spreckels – the second locomotive purchased for the Kahului-Wailuku railroad in 1881. It transported passengers and freight on a 13 mile (!) line. It is on long-term loan from Maui’s A&B Sugar Cane Museum. Be sure also to check out King Kalakaua’s train car (also on display in the bar)

mill house bar
more information on the Claus Spreckels train in the bar

Other things to check out at the Maui Tropical Plantation: a coffee roaster, ice cream, several smaller shops, a tour of the property. Do note that most of these places close at 4pm. The Mill House also hosts it’s weekly Chef’s Table event. At $150/person my friend tells me it’s an amazing culinary event.

 

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Small town rodeo

Modern day paniolos – this weekend’s rodeo was ‘small-kine’ (just a little) muddy

This past weekend the Maui Roping Club hosted Maui’s 63rd annual rodeo in Makawao. Typically this rodeo is held in and around the Fourth of July, this year just a few days later. The two day event kicked off with a parade down Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Rodeo festivities themselves started at 4pm on Saturday and again at 1pm on Sunday.

Maui has an interesting ranching history. In fact Captain George Vancouver, who had accompanied Captain Cook on his third expedition which is when they ‘discovered’ Hawaii, gifted several long-horn cattle to King Kamehameha in the late 1700s. At the time the king placed a kapu (ban) on killing/eating the cattle. As a result by the 1830s herds of cows apparently destructively roaming the island(s). This prompted King Kamehameha III to bring in Mexican cowboys to help contain the herds. These cowboys spoke Spanish (Espanol) and became known as paniolos – which is what cowboys on Maui are known as to this day.

Ranches were developed in the late 1800s. On Maui the Haleakala Cattle Company was formed in 1885 and what is now the Ulupalakua Ranch also started a ranching operation around that time. Both these ranches are still in existence today. You can go visit the Ulupalakua Ranch – their general store and winery (Maui Wine) are one of our family’s favorite upcountry lunch destinations. The Maui Wine tasting room has a room dedicated to the Ulupalakua Ranch history with plaques and photographs.

For a time ranching was the 3rd largest contributor to Hawaii’s economy. Raising cattle in Hawaii is trickier than on the mainland, due in large part to the shipping factor. Bringing in feed is very expensive, as is the cost of exporting the meat back to the US mainland. Maui beef is therefore mainly grass-fed. The droughts in recent years caused Maui ranches to drastically reduce the size of their herds. However, do look for Maui beef in local stores and restaurants – it is delicious!

rodeo
The little kids with their bright stick lollipops definitely stole the show

But back to the rodeo… it was a fun small-town event where everyone seems to know everyone. Unfortunately it had been raining off and on, so it was a bit mucky. However drizzle does make for the most beautiful rainbows.

rodeo
drizzle makes the most beautiful rainbows
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Sunset picnic

It was another beautiful day today. After a day at the office I headed over to our Kihei Surfside condo to prepare it for tomorrow’s guests’ check-in. It was much too beautiful a day to go home, so I headed over to the Island Market at the Shops at Wailea to pick up some dinner.

sunset picnic

I sampled some of the poke and picked up two types of poke and an ocean salad. Poke is raw marinated fish – often ahi (tuna). Ocean salad is strips of kelp and sea weed with a slightly sweet salad dressing. This may not be your idea of a picnic dinner – but if not, they have a great deli section with many take-out options.

sunset picnic
The Island Gourmet Market is an ABC store with a great deli section.

 

I then headed back to our Kihei Surfside condo and had an ocean-front picnic.

You honestly can’t beat this view.

sunset picnic

My picnic dinner was delicious.

 

And sunset was beautiful.

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Big Island’s lava flow

It’s hard to miss Hawaii in the news these days. Big Island’s Kilauea lava flow is making headlines around the world. The pictures and video footage are incredible. Unfortunately some of the media coverage has been misleading, leading people to believe all of Hawaii is under siege.

Another owner at the Palms at Wailea complex told me yesterday that a family had cancelled due to the volcanic eruption on our neighboring island. She had done her best to convince the family that their Hawaii vacation was safe, but they cancelled, losing thousands of dollars in airfare and accommodations (guess what, the cancellation insurance told them no – they weren’t covering cancellation due to an event far removed from their stay). Bummer.

So, some clarification – what is this recent lava flow on Big Island all about?

Taking it back to the basics – Hawaii is comprised of multiple islands. Our condos are located on Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. Hawaii’s islands were formed by volcanic eruptions out of the ocean floor. The Island of Maui itself has one extinct volcano (West Maui Mountains) and one dormant volcano (Haleakala – its most recent eruption dating back to the 1480s). Big Island – to the East of us – is comprised of five volcanos, of which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered active. Mauna Loa most recently erupted around 30 years ago, Kilauea has been having continuous volcanic activity for the past 35 years.

lava flow
Here is a helpful schematic I found on Facebook.

 

A year and a half ago I took our boys to Big Island for a helicopter tour of Kilauea and the Pu’u O’o Vent. It was fascinating. Here is a trip report from that experience.

What are the conditions on Maui – is Maui at all affected by the volcanic eruption?

I live in Kihei (in South West Maui) and these are the current conditions: the sky is blue, the air is clear, there is no effect from Kilauea’s current antics. The ocean temperature has not risen here (yes, this has been asked), we cannot see the lava, in fact, it’s business as usual here.

Can that change? Yes – the only effect that we may see is vog (volcanic air pollution). This is something we have experienced from time to time in the past 35 years since Kilauea has (most recently) been active. Hawaii’s prevalent trade winds are currently blowing the vog west and out to sea. However, every now and then the trade winds do subside. When that happens, southerly (Kona) winds can blow the vog up to Maui. The sky will appear hazy and we have the most amazing sunsets, but most people will hardly notice. If you have asthma, you will want to take precautions.

Should you be avoiding Big Island?

It depends. Yes, you should absolutely avoid the eastern-most corner (the Puna district of Big Island) as local residents are dealing with their own trauma. However, many other parts of Big Island are absolutely safe. In fact, I just read that the annual Iron Man Tournament is slated to go ahead next month (it takes place on the West coast of Big Island). Here’s another graphic I found on Facebook.

For good coverage on Kilauea’s lava flow I recommend Hawaii News Now.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Big Island’s affected residents. Praying for safety and that the current eruptions stop soon.

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Dale Zarrella art at the beach

This morning Sig and I went for a walk along Kamaole 1 beach. I love to kick off my shoes and walk on the packed sand, letting the ocean touch my feet as the waves come in. Sig not so much. However, he humored me as we went to investigate Dale Zarrella’s latest carving.

Dale Zarella
looking South from Dale Zarrella’s work station

We walked North towards Charlie Young where Maui sculptor Dale Zarella has his ocean-front work station on a rock outcropping. The scenery has changed a bit. Last time I walked by there, he took me and a friend to see his gallery tucked in behind his older-style bungalow. Today a tall construction fence blocks off the area where at least one condo building is under construction. Unsure what’s being built on his lot. Maybe he sold it – maybe he is building a new house. If so – good for him!

He is still working there, though. This morning there were two blocks of wood – the first tarped off. It was hard to get a decent picture of the second with his platform in the way, I shouldn’t complain but just be thankful that he allows others to come look.

Dale Zarrella
Do you see the embrace? The figure on the left, a mermaid, on the right a human perhaps?

 

Dale Zarrella
Some detail at the base of the statue ~ I see coral, a starfish…. and beyond, of course, the Pacific Ocean

 

I can’t wait to see the detail he will put into this statue. Other statues I’ve seen of his are amazing. Check them out on his website.

Where to find this? Park at Kamaole 1 beach (or across the road on the large open lot) and walk right along the beach to the very end. As you walk towards the rocky out cropping you should see a large block of wood or two perched up high. If he’s not working, he has them tarped off. If they are uncovered, he must be somewhere nearby. Enjoy – but please be respectful.

Dale Zarrella

Looking up at the sculptor’s work station

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Pineapples on Maui

Hawaii used to be known for its pineapple plantations. These days they are now mostly gone – replaced by cheaper imports from other places. However, there are still fields to be found on Maui and it seems more fields have been planted recently. Drive upcountry to Hailemaile and if you look carefully, you will see some pineapple fields. Plants are close together, creating a dense pineapple plant field. Note, please do not trespass on these fields, even if just to take pictures.

pau vodka
Hailemaile pineapple fields

From my experience growing pineapples from pineapple tops in my flower bed, it takes roughly 1 1/2 years to grow one fruit per plant – if you’re lucky.

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budding flower bed pineapple

My favorite growing stage is when they bloom. Each of those little notches on the hard skin represents where a tiny purple flower bloomed. Soooo beautiful.

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pineapple bloom in my flower bed

Costco stopped selling Maui Gold Pineapples this past year – replaced by fruit that is supposedly grown on Oahu (though I’m suspicious). However, there are a few local businesses that still grow and use Maui pineapples.

The Hailemaile Distilling Company produces Pau Vodka. Check them out in Hailemaile, go for a tour and see their tasting room. They also offer tours of their fields.

pineapple
Pau Vodka for sale at Safeway

The Maui Winery also uses local pineapple for their three pineapple wines ~ Splash, Maui Blanc and Hula. These are available at your Maui grocery stores or for sampling at the Maui Winery at the Ulupalakua Ranch.

If on Maui, look to buy a Maui Gold pineapple. Farmer’s markets should still have them available, even if Costco does not. They are unbelievably sweet and juicy.

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Maui Brewing Company

The Maui Brewing Company opened their Kihei production facility a few years ago. I took a tour of it a while ago – it was really quite interesting to see and learn more about beer. And, it included a flight of their flagship beers. Tours are offered several times daily.

Maui Brewing Company started in 2005 in Lahaina. They moved to their Kihei facility I think in 2016 (their Kahana brewpub is still open and popular also). The owners, Garrett and Melanie, were awarded the US National Small Business Person of the Year award in 2017. Quite an honor for a craft brewery in Hawaii. If you like beer, do check this place out and try a sample.

The brewing company has a tasting room where you can sample their 30+ beers on tap and their very own (non-alcoholic) rootbeer. The tasting room is popular, they have board games and a giant tic tac toe game to encourage patrons to hang out and have fun.

Maui Brewing Company
the tasting room bar

Until recently they had a rotation of food trucks parked outside the tasting room. This past February they opened their own on-site restaurant. The other day I stopped in to take a few pictures. I really like the way it turned out with a view into the brewery itself.

Maui Brewing Company
view into the brewery from the restaurant

 

Maui Brewing Company
view outside from the Maui Brewing Company restaurant

The Maui Brewing Company – brewery and restaurant is located in Central Kihei. To get there from the Piilani Highway, you turn up the mountain (mauka) on Lipoa. Drive past the Maui Nui golf course to the Maui Research and Technology Park. You will see the facility on the left hand side, across from another popular hangout – Cow Pig Bun (located in the black glass building).

looking up at the restaurant at the Maui Brewing Company
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Sunday drive

Today we took a Sunday drive to our favorite lunch spot. Can you guess where we were?

upcountry drive
one of the locals
upcountry drive
favorite burger
upcountry drive
jade blooms by the bathroom
upcountry drive
my hunny and I
upcountry drive
favorite purple flower

 

Did you guess where we went? – Ulupalakua Ranch. They have the best burgers. As so often, we ran into friends who had the same idea we had. I’m not sure if it’s that the burgers really are the best, but as you drive up there, you get increasingly hungry and are just thrilled when you get to the General Store. From Kihei it’s a bit over an hour’s drive. Long and towards the end windy, but worth it for the burgers and great view!

To get there you take the Haleakala Hwy upcountry where it becomes Kula Hwy. It winds its way along Haleakala between 2000 and 3000 ft elevation. Eventually you pass Grandma’s Coffee House (make a note to return there after lunch for desert) and then the windy part of the road begins. This is where I beg Sig to slow down so we actually arrive at the ranch hungry and not nauseous.

upcountry drive
Best upcountry place for deserts and coffee

While upcountry I discovered the purple jacaranda trees are starting to bloom. Yeah! I love their pretty purple blooms. Unfortunately it was overcast and we didn’t pull over, so this drive-by photo is a bit blurry and doesn’t entirely do the trees justice. You’ll have to drive up yourselves! The jacarandas bloom well into May.

upcountry drive
jacaranda blooms

 

 

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Maui Open Studios – explore Maui!

It’s February and that means it’s time for the free self-guided tour of some of Maui’s artists’ studios. This annual event is called Maui Open Studios. If you enjoy exploring and art – check this out. I promise you, you will find places on Maui you have never been before and meet some interesting people along the way.

Grab a copy of the print guide or browse the online PDF edition. Then each weekend check out some new favorite artists, watch them in action, talk to them about their art and maybe buy a very unique souvenir of your Maui trip!

Last weekend was their opening gala. Here is the upcoming schedule (weekends, from 11AM-6PM)

1st weekend: February 10-11 Upcountry

2nd weekend: February 17-18 West, Central, North Shore and Hana

3rd weekend: February 24-25 Kihei and Wailea

Did I mention the event is free?

 

One of my favorites

One of my personal favorites, Beth Cooper, is participating in the 3rd weekend event here in Kihei. Over the years I’ve bought a few of her paintings for our condos and many of our cards (prints of our paintings).

Maui Open Studios
One of my favorite Beth Cooper paintings provides color in our Maui Kamaole condo bathroom

 

You can also find Beth’s paintings in our Sugar Beach condo (her Tahiti scene in our living room) and at our Palms at Wailea condo (a small beach scene in the hallway). Here is another picture of one of Beth’s cards.

Maui Open Studios
one of Beth’s cards I’ve bought – when were you at the beach last?
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Death in Paradise

This past week has been crazy. In the past nine days six tourists have died in the ocean with another near-fatality this morning. No, the sharks are not to blame – these men in their 50s and 60s died while snorkeling/scuba diving. I’ve linked these short articles so you can read a few of the details.

My condolences to their loved ones. This is a tragedy. When we go on vacation, we plan for things such as bad weather, sickness, even poor accommodations. But certainly not death.

 

How common are water-related deaths?

While this string of deaths from the past week is unheard of, water-related deaths are unfortunately more common than most think. According to statistics compiled by MauiNow we average between 12-25 deaths/year by drowning on Maui, the majority of them tourists. For much more information, please check out this article filled with statistics from MauiNow.

death
This is a graph borrowed from MauiNow.

 

What should you do?

Should you avoid the ocean altogether? No. I am not trying to scare you. But, it is important to understand that while Maui is paradise, it’s not Disney. Bad stuff can and does happen, you need to understand risks and take action accordingly. Consider these suggestions:

  • If you can’t swim, you should not go snorkeling. As an alternative, check out all the local fish at the Maui Ocean Center. It really is well done.
  • Snorkeling may seem like an easy and relaxing activity, but in reality it can place a lot of stress on your heart. It is easy to ‘become panicked either from swallowing water, not getting enough air, or simply from fear due to strong currents or waves.’ According to this Maui doctor’s article, cardiac arrest is the main factor to snorkeling deaths in people over the age of 50. Please, take the time to read the article.
  • Never snorkel (or dive) alone. Always use the buddy system and keep an eye on your buddy.
  • Be aware of water and wave conditions. The waves pick up at a certain time in the morning – snorkel early in the morning (before 9) for best conditions.
  • There is some discussion online about full-face masks possibly trapping CO2 in the mask. While this is an unproven theory, ask the pros and be sure you know how to properly use your equipment, making sure it is working correctly.
  • Remember – yes, some people die in drowning related accidents. However, consider that in 2016 we had 2.6 million visitors come to the island of Maui. According to the graph above, thirteen of them drowned. While that in itself is awful, the odds are you will be just fine. However do use common sense and be careful.

 

What to do if you see someone not moving in the water?

Call for help (9-1-1), try to get help to move them out of the water as soon as possible and start CPR.

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