Maui, Hawaii

Category: life on Maui

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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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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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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Upcountry walk

We enjoyed having family visiting this Christmas. Among other things we went for walks – we all enjoyed this upcountry walk.

I sure enjoy being upcountry – the cooler temperatures, the beautiful bicoastal views, the lava rock walls and the vegetation! Hope you enjoy…

upcountry walk
looking down towards Maalaea

 

upcountry walk
pasture land and grey skies

 

upcountry walk
beautiful bicoastal views

 

upcountry walk
a narrow road leading nowhere – or does it?
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Upcountry Farmer’s Market and hot sauce

I’ve been meaning to check out the upcountry farmer’s market for a while now. It’s a Saturday morning event, I’m not sure what time it starts, but do know that it ends around 11AM. My mission – to replenish my stock of HI Spice hot sauce.

Yes, HI (the abbreviation for Hawaii) Spice hot sauce is locally made small batch hot sauce. The owners live in Kihei, their commercial kitchen is in Wailuku (as a side note – I’ve picked up from their kitchen before – it smells divine). You can buy their sauce online and at a few local stores – the Maui Tropical Plantation has it, as does 808 Bistro in Kihei, and I’m told someone at the Shops at Wailea carries it too… but it’s cheaper when you can buy direct ($10 vs $15 at the stores).

Upcountry Farmer’s Market
Saturday morning upcountry farmer’s market

From Kihei the drive will take about 40 minutes. When you come up the Haleakala Hwy, continue on the highway until the Long’s Drugs intersection (just past Carden and King Kekaulike high school). Turn right, then take your first left and find parking. The farmer’s market takes place in a parking lot past and to the right of Long’s. There is some street parking, an empty field. Please don’t park in the store parking lot.

This upcountry farmer’s market is different from the ones in Kihei. Yesterday there were 40+ vendors, many claiming to sell organic or no-spray fruits and veggies. You can buy orchids, hot foods, kombucha and many other foods and drinks I’ve never heard of. You will also find more eclectic vendors – a few years ago there was a ‘Gothic’ veggie stand, yesterday two younger men had a Temple foods stand. I still wonder how one raises Gothic vegetables, but maybe I don’t want to know.

Yesterday I was a woman on a mission, with little time to spare. I found the HI Spice stand and bought five bottles of my favorite hot sauce. They have various kinds but my favorite is their Smoke Scorpion hot sauce. If you like hot sauce, you’ve got to give it a try! Yum.

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Monthly warning siren testing

Maui’s new warning sirens

If you’ve been here around the first of the month, you should be familiar with the monthly warning siren testing that takes place. Loud sirens sound at 11:45AM on the first day of every month. This checks that the sirens are operational and is meant to be a reminder to all that tsunamis can happen.

Starting tomorrow (Friday, December 1st) the State is adding an additional ‘wailing’ siren test to the monthly routine. This is called the attack warning siren and will sound in conjunction with the tsunami warning siren on the first day of every month at 11:45AM. I am told it will be a wailing tone that goes for about a minute. Click here for a sound sample as reported by MauiNow.

As an FYI, the tsunami siren test is a 45 second steady tone. During an actual tsunami warning, it goes for 3 minutes.

What should you do when you hear warning sirens?

If it’s the first of the month and at 11:45AM, it’s just a test. No further action needed.

These older warning sirens have for the most part been replaced.

If you hear these sirens at any other time, you need to take action. If it’s the tsunami siren, you need to head to higher ground immediately. It could be a locally triggered tsunami and you may have just a few minutes to get to safety. Tune in to radio or TV for further instructions. Depending on where the earthquake happened, we sometimes have up to 10 hours notice (no the sirens won’t go off that far in advance).

Locally triggered tsunamis? Yes, tsunamis are triggered by some earthquakes. While Hawaii is far removed from fault lines, we do have volcanic activity which causes earthquakes (generally they are rather small and I don’t recall experiencing a locally triggered tsunami in the past 7 years on island).

If it’s the attack warning siren, that indicates that a nuclear attack is imminent. Head indoors, close doors and windows and turn on radio or TV for further instructions for a pending emergency. Having said that, I assume you’d have to be find a local station?

Isn’t it crazy that things have deteriorated on the world stage that we need to plan for this?  The last time these attack sirens were tested was in the 1980s. Is the State expecting a nuclear attack? Politicians think it’s unlikely. And yet, State planners are running through scenarios so that they are prepared in case something were to happen. It’s good to have a plan. Hopefully we will never need to use it.

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Imu roasted turkey – Hawaiian style!

Thanksgiving really snuck up on us this year. Last week I realized Thanksgiving was just around the corner and thought – the last thing I want to do is babysit a turkey in the oven. Then a friend posted about her school’s Hawaiian studies fundraiser – an opportunity to have imu-roasted turkey!

imuWhat is an imu? An imu is a temporary underground oven where you cook meat underground. The students dug a large pit by hand in one corner of the school property. Then they built a fire with local kiawe wood, surrounded by (porous) lava rock. Once the rocks are red hot and the fire burned down, they spread spread out the rocks, lay banana tree stalks and leaves on it. They placed the foil-wrapped meat packs on top of that, covered them with banana leaves, wet guinea-sacks, and finally with a tarp. Then the tarp was weighed down along the edges with dirt to help keep the heat in and other things out.

Here are the instructions we received:

Please deliver pans between 400 -700 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.  The imu is located near the upper soccer field.  We have a staging area behind the backstop.  We plan to close the imu at 8:00pm on Wednesday night and open Thursday morning 8:30-9:00 a.m.  Here are some instructions for preparing the turkey.

imu1.     Thaw Turkeys.  You can put the turkeys in the fridge on Sunday night. If not, you may thaw turkey in a cooler on Monday and leave in there until the turkey thaws and prepare turkey on Wednesday afternoon.

2.     Put turkeys in a heavy-duty disposable aluminum pan (the ones with handles makes it easier to handle).

3.     Season turkey to your liking.  For example, rub Hawaiian salt all over the bird including the inside.  Next, rub oyster sauce all over the bird including the inside. Again, seasoning is up to your taste. There are many ways to prepare the turkey.  Hawaiian salt is the most common.  Last year we attempted a vinha dʻalhos turkey.  We donʻt recommend this type of turkey for the imu.

4.     Double wrap the whole pan in aluminum foil.

5.     Bring pan to the imu. Weʻll tie string and identify the pans with a name tag.

6.     Arrive Thursday morning 9:00-1030 a.m. to pick up turkeys at same location.

rainbow

It was pouring rain on the drive upcountry yesterday, but I was rewarded by beautiful rainbows. I dropped off my turkey, then this morning I drove up and arrived just in time for the imu to be unearthed. I sure enjoyed it.

turkeys for imu
Labeling turkeys before they go in the imu.
imu
The imu had a tent over it, just in case it started raining.
imu
Uncovering the imu, one layer at a time.
imu
Banana leaves under the guinea sacks
imu
Turkeys underneath the banana leaves
Imu-roasted turkeys waiting for pick-up
imu
My turkey after its imu-experience

 

How is our turkey? It is amazing! The turkey is a little smokey and has a slightly different flavor – I imagine from the banana leaves. The meat just falls right off the bones. Yum!

My unpacked turkey – it smelled so good and was so tender
imu
Our carved turkey. I placed it in the fridge and will re-heat it at dinner time
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Maui’s Goats at Work

Goats at work
very clever…

Yes, you read that right! Maui has a new weed control program. Actually it’s a pilot weed control program. As of a few days ago there is a herd of 50 goats eating weeds along the side of the Honoapi’ilani Hwy (near the Maui Tropical Plantation). Naturally as former dairy farmers we had to go check it out.

No, we did not stop, though we may have slowed down to take the picture.

It is pretty cool though. This is a new pilot program – the Department of Transportation here on Maui has partnered with Beyond Pesticides and Goat Green to manage weeds on the shoulders of some highways.

What? I will admit I had visions of temporary fencing right up on the shoulder of the highway and goats escaping, or worse being stolen. Unfortunately that (the stealing) happens here on Maui. Why would anyone steel a goat? Beats me.

goatsWhen we drove by, the temporary fencing was actually set back quite a ways and the herd of 50 goats rather difficult to see in all the weeds. Nonetheless, there they were, doing what they do best – eating weeds and fertilizing the weeds…. oh yeah that…. I’m not sure just how successful this program will be – it seems to me, the goats may just be increasing their demand in that way.

So… if you see goats alongside the road, smile. Please do not honk, don’t stop and definitely don’t park alongside the road. Goats at work, after all.

For more information about the pest control goats, check out this Maui Now article and this Youtube video.

Just can’t get enough of goats?

If you are wanting to see, pet and learn more about them – check out the Surfing Goat Dairy in Central Maui. They also have great goat cheese and goat cheese truffles!

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It’s Mango Season!

Have you ever had a juicy tree-ripened mango? Be sure to find one when you come to Maui!

mango
our mango tree

When we bought our house, we planted a dwarf mango tree. Somewhere along the line the tree forgot that it is a dwarf and has been growing like crazy. After its first five years in our yard, this year we have a deent crop of mangos. If only they were ripe.

For some reason our tree ripens about 2 months after others here in Kihei. However, the good news is that the mangos don’t all ripen at once but rather over a 3-4 month time period. Perfect! We have several months to enjoy our fruit.

Did you know, some people are allergic to mango skin? It has the same chemical compound as poison ivy. If this is you ~ I feel so sorry for you!

Since my mangos are far from ripe (it’ll be another month or two), I’ve sourced mangos from a friend. They are delicious. If you are in Kihei and would like some, I can tell you where to find them. He sells them for $2/fruit (cheaper than Yee’s which is $3.50/mango). Please, don’t buy your mangos at Costco or even the grocery store… treat yourself to a local-grown tree-ripened mango! You won’t regret it!

How to cut a mango

First set the mango on end. It is a narrow long pit so you cut parallel to the fruit.

mango
slicing into the mango

Cut alongside the pit on both sides.

mango
here I am holding the piece with the pit

Score each half of the mango, then push in at the center while pulling the edges down. You can either eat it like that, or slice the mango cubes off the peel.

mango
here you can see one half scored, the other half has been ‘pushed out’. In the back is the piece with the pit (cut the fruit around it)

Lucky me ~ I enjoyed this delicious breakfast candy this morning! Only two mangos left…

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The Lahaina Crawl and Cool Cat Burgers

Lahaina ~ once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and an old whaling village. There is definitely some history to be found in Lahaina. There are of course also many tourist traps and shops along famous Front Street. Most tourists end up driving to Lahaina. The West Side (Lahaina and Kaanapali area) is also a popular tourist destination with many resorts and condos. Some prefer South Maui, others West Maui, and that’s fine.

lahaina
the view from the outlook direction Kihei

The problem with Lahaina is the one lane in each direction highway, also known as the Pali or Honoapiilani Hwy. I would say the main problem (besides the lack of lanes) is that it winds along the Maui coastline. The view is frankly breathtaking. In fact, in parts it is so close to the ocean that during high tide the ocean will actually spray onto your car. As you can imagine, this is not good for the road….

This is THE ONLY road to Lahaina, unless you count the somewhat treacherous backroad (driving from Wailuku counter-clock-wise to Lahaina) which is really not recommended. Increased tourism, increased development, a two lane road and a gorgeous view – this road can get very backed up from people slowing down to either enjoy the view, pull into beach parks or just due to traffic signals. Locals call it ‘the Lahaina Crawl’. While the drive should take about 45 minutes, it can take twice that, even without an accident. Just last summer people were stranded in Lahaina and Ma’alaea because the road was impassible due to accidents and wild fires.

Rule of thumb, leave yourself extra time and don’t get excited when traffic ahead of you isn’t going even close to the speed limit (it fluctuates between 35 and 55 mph, watch the signs). Just ignore your speedometer and ‘go with the flow’. Unless you are the front car – then please drive at least the speed limit and watch out for those speed signs. Please.

Is there no plan to widen or relocate the road? Well….. yes and no….. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Last Sunday’s Maui News has an article about that.

Cool Cat Cafe
lahaina
our burgers at Cool Cat Cafe

A few weeks ago our family braved the Lahaina Crawl and then tried a new-to-us restaurant, the Cool Cat Cafe. It’s upstairs across from the Banyan Tree. I highly recommend. These burgers are enormous and super fresh.

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