Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

Island Art Party

Last night was girls’ night out with a few friends. The activity of choice was an art party at Kihei’s own Island Art Party. Confession – I haven’t painted since art class in high school with exception of a finger painting ‘mom and me’ event with our youngest child a few years ago. I used to be pretty decent in art class, and at the art party they give you step by step instructions, so how hard could it be?

Kihei
Kihei’s Fourth Friday town party

It was the fourth Friday of the month, which means it’s Kihei’s monthly town party in central Kihei at the Azeka Shopping Plaza. I haven’t been to one of these in years. It was fun – a good number of local artisans selling t-shirts, soaps, jewelry, honey and even Maui-made candy. There were several musician areas with a variety of music being played and then of course a food-truck alley. We arrived early (around 5) to ensure good parking and enjoyed happy hour at Shearwater Tavern.

Island Paint Party
sneak picture during one of our breaks

Island Art Party is located right in Azeka, so that worked out perfectly. With it being Fourth Friday, they had a special on – $45/person or $25 for kama’aina (with State of Hawaii or military ID). The class was full, so it was a good thing we had made reservations. If you go on their website, they have a monthly calendar and you see exactly what the class will be painting each evening (and some daytime slots). Honestly, I didn’t like the project selected for last night. It was called ‘mystic jellyfish’ and, in my opinion, looked pretty awful. But, it was a night out with friends, so my attitude became ‘modify as needed and toss it out when I get home’. Plus it was a sale night, so whatever!

We arrived, were ID’ed (for the kama’aina discount and to purchase a drink from the bar) and ushered to our reserved seat. Everything was ready, except we needed to get our paint from the paint station (the instructions told us how many squirts of each paint).

We all started with a blank canvas, a few brushes and a plate of acrylic paint.

The Partista (party artist) gave us step by step instructions on what to do. I did modify mine a bit and honestly, ended up pleasantly surprised.

My slightly modified background (I added blue).
Island Art Party
My finished jellyfish painting

It was fun! We’ve already checked out next month’s calendar. I think we’ll try a sunset painting next time around.

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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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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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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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A few pre-Christmas happenings on Maui

I still remember my first Christmas here on Maui. Having lived with seasons all my life, I admit it was strange not having cold weather and snow in December. But eventually you get used to ‘no snow’, poinsettias growing in flower beds, fresh tree-ripened fruit year-round and year-round beach weather. And just because we don’t have miserable weather this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pre-Christmas spirit of things.

Christmas
my flower bed poinsettia
Here are a few pre-Christmas events you may enjoy

December 3 – Maui Pops Orchestra concert. 3pm at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center

December 9 – Lighting of the Ulupalakua Christmas Tree at Maui’s own upcountry winery – Maui Wine. 4:30-8:30pm. Enjoy family fun activities, live music, an outdoor movie (The Grinch) in the cool crisp air of Haleakala. They will also be hosting a wine tasting. On a side note, wine tastings are no longer complimentary at Maui Wine – however, I’m told the quality and servings have improved.

December 10 – 6th Annual Maui Mompreneur Showcase & Supply Drive – craft fair held 9am-2pm at the Maui Seaside Hotel ballroom. They will also be collecting school supplies for Kahului Elementary School which last week had a fire destroying five classrooms.

On Christmas Eve the Grand Wailea welcomes Santa as he arrives by outrigger canoe. Get your picture and treats 9-11am

If that’s too early, he also arrives on Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani from 12-1pm on Christmas Eve.

A few other non-Christmas events

Whale Watching has begun – book a whale watch, or visit the Humpback Whale Sanctuary for information on how to spot whale activity right from the beach.

Maui Town Parties – every Friday check out a different town party. Wailuku (1st), Lahaina (2nd), Makawao (3rd), Kihei (4th) and Lanai (5th). Do check out the website for more information.

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Drowning on Maui

Drowning on Maui – what an upbeat topic, I know. No, there is unfortunately no pun intended. This is just a public service announcement, reminding you about the dangers of snorkeling and water activities. Not just here on Maui – anywhere really.

This past week there were two instances of visitors drowning while snorkeling at the reef just off Keawakapu Beach in South Kihei. No, there weren’t any sharks involved (to my knowledge). From what I’ve read in the media, both victims were snorkeling with their spouses (having a buddy system is very good). In both instances, one spouse returned to shore safely, then realized their partner wasn’t with them. Both victims (one on Friday, another on Saturday) were brought to shore and received CPR from other beachgoers until emergency services got there. Our condolences to the families.

Here are the two articles, one happened Thursday, the second Friday. Both visitors were in their 50s, no mention of them having had pre-existing health conditions.

Is drowning common? Well…. yes this is paradise, but it’s not Disney, and unfortunately that means stuff does happen…. from what I see in the news, it’s usually people cliff diving or the more middle-aged (and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all) people snorkeling. Cliff diving, well, ’nuff said….. but many don’t realize that snorkeling is actually a strenuous activity, especially for those who aren’t good swimmers or maybe aren’t as healthy as they wish they were.

Should you avoid the water altogether? Probably not. But do be careful and know your limits. Please be cognizant of your ability. Never swim alone – always go with a buddy and stay with a buddy. What an awful way to end your vacation.

More ocean tips

Here is an ocean safety video released in 2015 by Maui County. I believe it is on a loop at the airport and also airs regularly on the Maui Visitor Channel (channel 7).

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Kapalua’s Dragon’s Teeth

Dragons Teeth
entering the mouth of the dragon

We recently went for a drive up to Lahaina and Kapalua. One of my favorite things to do there is to check out Dragon’s Teeth. It is also known as Makaluapuna Point. This is a rock formation formed by a lava flow on Maui. The rock has a somewhat different composition than say the lava flow at La Perousse, and has been weathered by the ocean.

I was commenting to my family that it looks like it’s had some additional weathering from the elements since we were there last a year ago or so. I was also disappointed that someone had etched their names into one of the teeth. Really? Why destroy the natural beauty of this place?

Dragons Teeth
this is the entrance to the burial ground. Please be respectful and stay out.

Please be aware that you pass a native Hawaiian burial ground on the way to the formation, so please do stay on the path (the burial ground is gated off on the right – please do not trespass).

To access Dragon’s Teeth, drive through Kapalua and turn left on Office Road (the exit for the Ritz Carlton). At the end of Office Road hang a right and park. Then head down the golf course (there is a marked path on the right side) towards the ocean. It leads you right to the rock formation, which, in case you were wondering, kind of looks like a mouth full of teeth when you first enter it. You will want to wear decent shoes for this walk and really watch your step.

Dragons Teeth

Bring your beach gear

While you can’t access the ocean from the rock formation, popular DT Flemings Beach is just to the right of it in front of the Ritz. You can access it from the same parking lot by taking the trail in front of the Ritz, however there is better access if you head on back to the main road, turn left and take the next exit.

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Iao Valley is finally reopened

Almost a year ago popular tourist destination Iao Valley State Park experienced heavy flooding, washing away some of the trail system, a portion of the parking lot and damaging people’s homes and yards. As a result, the entire area has been blocked off for nearly a year as the State worked to stabilize the area again. While their efforts are not yet complete, the State recently re-opened the park on a temporary basis while they wait for some further permitting to be approved. Yes, the State Park will close again in the next few months to continue the work.

Iao Valley
the new Iao stream bed – last September’s flooding changed the course of this stream, washing away much of the area.

Yesterday our family drove to Wailuku to check out the historically significant Iao Valley State Park with its Iao needle and the stream.

The Iao Needle

This is the location where in the late 1780s Kamehameha I from Big Island conquered Maui, the beginning of a series of wars to unite the Hawaiian Islands under himself. The battle is said to have been particularly brutal with many casualties on both sides. When in the valley you can imagine the fighting and how the screams must have echoed in the narrow canyon.

While there, do read the signs for more information about the historical significance. This site is sacred to many native Hawaiians, so please do be respectful of your surroundings while there.

 

It is a gated State park (7am-6pm) and they charge $5/vehicle for parking. The foot trail is significantly shorter since the flooding, with the lower loop through the forest cut off/washed away. You can still cross the bridge and climb the stairs to the Iao Needle lookout and it looks like they are working on restoring the native plants area, though there wasn’t much taro growing yesterday.

Second Wettest Place in Hawaii

This area, particularly the head of the valley (Pu’u Kukui peak) is the State’s second wettest area with an average of 386 inches of rain a year (the wettest is on Kauai). Contrast that to Kihei’s average 8-11 inches of rain a year. Our drinking water in Kihei is piped over from this valley. In true form, it started pouring rain shortly after we had finished our walk.

For additional things to do, check out the Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Center is just down the road (free admission) which pays tribute to the different nations of immigrants who came to Maui to work in the sugar cane fields. We haven’t stopped in a number of years, at the time it needed some TLC but was still interesting.

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Sig’s favorite upcountry drive

My hunny loves to go for an upcountry drive. In fact, we used to go about four times a year – every time we had company visiting us. Finally I stopped going – it’s a beautiful day trip. It’s just – well, it takes up a good chunk of my day 🙂

Today we went for his favorite upcountry drive as a family. It was drizzling as we left our house – that seemed a bit ominous since our ultimate destination, Ulupalakua Ranch is just 3 or 4 miles above Kihei/Wailea. And sure enough, it rained lightly for the majority of our day. But it was still a beautiful drive and fun family day!

upcountry drive
agapanthus in bloom at Maui’s winery

We drove from Kihei to Kahului, taking Hansen Road by the old Sugar Cane Factory to Hana Hwy and then continuing up Haleakala Hwy (which becomes Kula Hwy). We drove all the way to Grandma’s Coffee House where we took a little detour to a side road to drive by Oprah’s house (well, one of them I’m sure). Then back down to Grandma’s Coffee, a little detour to where Oprah’s private road down to Kihei starts (no, you can’t drive it – there are several locked gates). Then we continued to Ulupalakua Ranch

Our destinations….
upcountry drive
the Ulupalakua General Store – our favorite lunch destination

Ulupalakua Ranch‘s General Store is one of our favorite places to eat. They grill burgers to order made from their own meat. There’s something about eating fresh burgers at Ulupalakua.

Then we walked across the street to Maui Winery. Two reasons – the bathrooms are over there (the burgers were a little juicy) and a wine tasting. I picked up a case of their Mele red wine. They have a brand new wine – the Kula which according to their website is a rose white wine. It was really good. Be sure to check out ‘The King’s Room’ in the tasting house which tells some of the 150+ year history of this famous Maui ranch.

upcountry drive
agapanthus bloom bursting out of its bud

Next we headed back to Grandma’s Coffee House for some coffees and carrot cake. They roast their own coffee, make great sandwiches and have delicious baking.

This time we passed Kula Field’s farm stand, turned left on Oma’opio Road (a VERY winding road) and slowly followed it down to the Surfing Goat Dairy and Ocean Vodka (right next door).

Curious – go for a drive! See a part of Maui you didn’t think you’d find!

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Spring Activities in Wailea

It’s spring and the Wailea Community Association has sent out their latest newsletter concerning spring activities in Wailea!

Here are some highlights!

Restaurant Week Wailea is next week! Twice a year a number of restaurants offer a 3 course prix-fixe menu (prices vary between $29-$59/person plus drinks, tax and tip). It’s a great way to try out a new restaurant at a reasonable price. This year there are 21 restaurants participating. Check here for the list of restaurants and menus! You do NOT need a ticket or coupon, but reservations are recommended!

WaileaThe Wailea Film Festival is coming! This year it takes place June 21-25, 2017. This is theater under the stars! What a great place to watch a movie, mingle with some stars and take in some special events. For more information, check out their website. Films have not yet been announced, so do check back on their website for more info!

A new farmer’s market at the Shops at Wailea! It will take place every 2nd and 4th Wednesday, starting June 28th 4-6pm. Look for ‘The Market’ on the main floor in the courtyard at the Shops. Remember, the first hour of parking is free at the Shops, after that make sure you pick up a parking validation from one of the many shops and restaurants.

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