Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

Tour the Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery!

Maui’s own vodka distillery, Ocean Vodka, purchased and started an 80 acre organic farm on Maui last year. This family owned business has been making vodka in an industrial part of Kahului for the past 7 years or so, but have outgrown their facilities. This April they had the grand opening of their brand-new facility on Oma’opio Road (right next to the Surfing Goat Dairy).

CJ was our tour guide yesterday. As he showed us around the property (the nursery, sugar cane fields and then lastly the building itself), you couldn’t help but hear the pride he has in this business. Their new building has enough photo-voltaic panels to produce double what their energy requirements are (the extra going back into the electric grid). They also have a 1300 ft well on property used for irrigation.

new factory, self-sufficient with photovoltaic energy panels and a 1300 ft deep well

This family also strives to preserve many of the over 50 varieties of Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane plants.

a few of the sugar cane stalks grown on their organic farm

I learned that most of the commercially grown sugar cane on Maui is GMO, which produces the sugary syrup in its stalks between 18-24 months of age (at which point the whole plant is harvested by controlled burn).

Ocean Vodka‘s sugar cane is non-GMO, meaning the plant will continue to produce sugary syrup in its stalks for 20-40 years. The mature stalks are harvested by hand while the plant continues to grow new shoots (this must be very labor intensive).

Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane field with coconut tree mulch
resident rooster showing us the baby sugar cane plants in the nursery area
sacred Hawaiian sugar cane which used to be reserved for ali’i (chiefs’) consumption

What makes this vodka unique? It is certified 100% USDA organic, the only vodka in the world made from organic sugar cane. Ocean Vodka is also the only spirit in the world made with deep ocean mineral water (which is pumped from 3000 ft off the coast of Kona, Big Island).

I really enjoyed this tour – and went home to pour myself some Ocean Vodka. It is really good.

They offer tours 7 days a week, 5 times a day – just send them a quick email so they know to expect you.

Keep an eye out for it – Ocean Vodka is currently sold in 25 states and yes, also in 3 Canadian provinces. It is also the exclusive vodka served by Hawaiian Airlines since 2007.

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Rain day in Kihei – you’re kidding!

It rained a bit yesterday late afternoon in South Kihei – our family got so excited! No, we don’t miss the rain from when we used to live in BC’s Fraser Valley, but sometimes it’s nice get a bit of rain. Kihei averages about 12 inches of rain a year, but for the past three years or so there’s been a real drought in Kihei (and a lot of Maui, for that matter). I think last year we had about 5 inches of rain in Kihei. It’s been really dry.

Anyway, yesterday after dinner we went for a walk around the neighborhood in the refreshing ‘just rained’ air. Our youngest brought along an umbrella, it’s a novelty for him to be able to use an umbrella. Guess what – we got caught in rain and he actually got to use it (he also discovered that the pavement can be slippery when wet). It started pouring for a few minutes and we sure got wet. It was lovely!

Imagine my surprise that it’s raining this morning again! Our kids are hoping that school is cancelled today! Really? Yes, sometimes when it rains, school is cancelled because of danger from flash flooding. Even when they don’t cancel school, you can count on half the kids not showing up to school. But like I said, with 12 inches of rain a year, it almost never happens!

So what to do on a rain day in Kihei? Here are a few ideas for you…

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A beautiful morning for a new coffee

The trade winds are back – this is cause for celebration! Yesterday morning when I woke up it was still 79F in the house even though we left windows open… that’s too warm for me. Now that the trade winds are back, the house cools off again in the evening. It’s nice to start the day cooler than we finished it off the previous evening.

I spent yesterday morning in Lahaina watching the ‘Ulalena production. As I had driven myself (as opposed to riding the school bus with my son), I enjoyed stopping for a cup of coffee at the Mauigrown Coffee Company Store in Lahaina, right next to the smoke stack (and a Shell gas station). Although I’ve driven past it several times, this is the first time I’ve gone in. I sure enjoyed browsing through their little store area, checking out all the different coffees and choosing a bag of coffee to bring home. I ended up with their Estate Blend, a medium roast of their Typica and Yellow Caturra varieties. It’s a nice mellow coffee – I sure am enjoying it this morning.

As I’ve been told Mauigrown Coffee Company gets their beans at Kaanapali Coffee Farms. If you are driving along the Sugar Cane Train line, turn right where their Kaanapali station is, but instead of turning left into the parking lot, keep driving up that road and you get to a new subdivision (5-7 acre lots with big homes, each growing a share of the co-op’s beans on their acreage).

When in Lahaina – go check the store out! This family business is open Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday).

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‘Ulalena

Today I attended a special matinee performance of the ‘Ulalena show together with an audience of Maui’s school kids.

‘Ulalena is a show offering a glimpse into Maui’s history and mythology, using drama and dance, Hawaiian songs and chants. Most is sung in Hawaiian, but we had a flyer (probably the ‘school version’ of the program) describing what takes place in each scene (definitely look over that before the show starts for better understanding). The performance was very well done! 
Here is a one minute video to give you a taste of ‘Ulalena (click here if it doesn’t load).
The show takes place indoors at the Maui Theater in Lahaina (just off Front Street, close to Bubba Gump’s). As a mom, I’d say the show is quite family-friendly.
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Aboard the Atlantis Submarine

The grade 4 classes at our elementary school were treated to a field trip aboard the Atlantis Submarine last week!

The Atlantis Submarine (photo courtesy Pride of Maui)

My son LOVED the adventure. The highlights of the tour were:
– feeling the change in altitude when sinking to a depth of 116 ft below sea level
– seeing the spotted eagle ray in nature (as opposed to the aquarium)
– checking out the ‘shipwreck’ (a boat anchored to the ocean floor in 1995 to create an artificial reef)
– learning how things look with diminished light when you are so far under the surface (did you know the edges of your teeth look orange?)
– seeing goat fish and learning about corral
– watching the Atlantis’ tug boat

imaginations run wild when you get to see an old sunken ship!

For him, the best part was experiencing the submarine shooting out from the water, it was a huge thrill.

The Atlantis Submarine is anchored off-shore at Lahaina Harbor. You take a shuttle-boat from dock and board the submarine using a ramp.

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Tour Ocean Vodka’s Distillery!

Did you know we have a vodka distillery on Maui? Did you know that it is organic and self-sustaining?

Ocean Vodka is celebrating their new facility’s Grand Opening on April 27th between 10am-4pm. Then starting April 29th they will be offering five tours a day, seven days a week. Tours will include the distillery, martini garden and gift shop. Unfortunately there will be no sampling, as Maui County doesn’t allow it (wineries yes, distilleries no).

Tours are $10/person or $25 including lunch. Children 11 years old or younger get in free.

Ocean Vodka’s distillery is located at 4051 Omoapio Road in Kula (just below the Surfing Goat Dairy).

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Local coffee…. Piliani Kope Farm!

owners Greg & Susy, and their House Blend City Roast coffee

I love finding and trying new to me local coffee.
Last week I picked up a bag of Piliani Kope Farm’s House Blend City Roast coffee. It’s a medium roast coffee, a combination of Yellow Caturra, Red Catuai and Heirloom Kanaka Kope beans. It is really good.

Piliani Kope Farm is located at 15 Wailau Place southeast of Lahaina. Their store is open from 9am-2pm or buy online.

They also offer tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays or by special appointment. Call them to schedule a tour 808-661-5479.

Tour 1: 3 hours
– seed to cup experience
– harvest season specialty tour
– tour a working farm from picking to processing
– coffee education
– talk story lunch
– roasting & packaging for take away

Tour 2: 90 minutes
– walk & talk the farm with coffee education
– roasting and tasting

tour 3: 60 minutes
– in house barn
– clipping experience
– roasting & tasting flavor profiles

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Maui’s very own Ocean Vodka

Did you know that Ocean Vodka is building a new distillery upcountry (Kula)? Starting April they will be offering three tours a day, Monday through Saturday! Reservations required – (808) 877-0009.

Ocean Vodka is made from 100% certified organic sugar cane and desalinated deep ocean mineral water. Interesting…

nice view over the building (look at all the solar panels)

Our neighbors took a drive up there yesterday afternoon, though at this time there isn’t much to see yet besides the gorgeous bi-coastal views. It’s close to the Surfing Goat Dairy.

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The old lava flow

La Perouse Bay, known to our family as ‘the old lava flow’, is definitely worth checking out! As you may know, Maui was formed by two volcanos – the now extinct Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui Mountains) and Haleakala, which you will find labelled as both active and dormant. I’m not sure how a volcano can be active and dormant at the same time, but there you have it. 

You take the main road through Wailea and just follow it to the very end. You drive through Makena and through wilderness and brush, along the ocean, past beautiful mansions… the road will get narrower and narrower and you will probably think to yourself, ‘I must have missed it’. No – keep going! When you are almost there, you will be surrounded by broken up chunks of lava on either side of the one lane road. Once through that, you pass a ranch on the left and the road ends with a parking lot on the right next to the ocean. I encourage you to get out of the car and hike around in the old lava field next to the parking lot. It is really cool, and it is free!

hiking around in the old lava rock at La Perouse Bay – you CAN do this in slippahs (flip flops)

Some say this last lava flow occurred in 1790, but according to Andrew Doughty’s ‘Maui Revealed – the Ultimate Guide book’ (5th edition, page 135), it could have occurred 300 years prior to that in 1490 also. Incidentally, this is a great guide book, I highly recommend it – look for it on Amazon, your friendly neighborhood ABC store and even Costco!

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