Maui, Hawaii

Tag: beach

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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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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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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How about some windsurfing lessons?

This past week the kids had a break from formal book learning and instead were out and about on Maui, experiencing and trying new things. One of the options was windsurfing lessons. The company the school contracted with is HST Windsurfing and Kitesurfing. This company offers private lessons but also does group lessons and kids camps in the summer months.

windsurfing lessonsThe lessons take place at Kanaha Beach Park which is right behind Kahului airport. To get there, you loop around the airport and then turn at the car rental facility. Just keep driving past the new cellphone waiting area and turn right at the T intersection. Then you take the third (and final) turn before the gate and drive all the way in to the right. When you have reservations, that’s where they meet you. Note, you do need to make reservations!

What do you need?

You will need a swim suit, sunscreen, water and a snack. They provide the rest. They have large beginner boards and small sails (they have other gear for the more advanced). They also provide wetsuit shirts (this time of year the water is a little cold, for us Maui people at least), water shoes and all beginners (kids especially) wear life jackets.

The instructor-student ratio was good (1/3). The instructors were right in the water with them. What particularly impressed me was that the instructors knew all the kids’ names by the beginning of day two of the camp.

Most of the kids in our group had not windsurfed before. I was amazed to see them on the board, learning to catch the wind, steer and manoeuver (clearly not windsurfing terms – I know nothing about this either).

Other things to know

Kanaha Beach is located on Maui’s North Shore and this area is popular with wind and kite surfers. There is also a homeless encampment on one end of this beach park though we couldn’t see them from where the kids were surfing. As always just use common sense.

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BOOKED February opening at our Sugar Beach condo!

Sugar Beach lawn
Ahhhh… what a place to enjoy the view and work on your tan!

Thank you. This opening has now booked and is no longer available.

We’ve had a cancellation at our Sugar Beach condo. Yes, this means a rare February opening during the height of humpback whale watching season!

The dates available are February 18-28, 2017 and we ask for a 7 night minimum to fill this gap.

Our condo is located at North Kihei’s popular Sugar Beach Resort. It is a ground floor condo, facing into the courtyard, just 50 steps away from 5 mile long Sugar Beach. What a place to go for your morning (or sunset) walks! This is also a great place to watch the whales!

This is a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom condo with a 2 year-old California-king sized bed and a queen pull-out sofa in the livingroom. It sleeps up to four guests. Check here for much more information!

We would love to have you stay at our condo! With this being the height of whale season, these dates won’t last long!

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Frequently asked security questions

I thought it might be helpful to address some of your security questions. If you have any others you’d like me to address, or if you have first hand experience with any of these (and better answers), please let me know.

This post is not to scare you. Maui is a very safe place to visit. But, please use common sense, just as you would at home.

What do you do with your phone and keys when you go to the beach?
keawakapu
I love sunset at the beach!

Is it safe to just leave them with your towel? Honestly, don’t take anything of value to the beach. If you must bring your phone (I know, it doubles as our camera, book, etc), make sure someone stays with your stuff when you go in the water. Or, pick up a water proof case, either at home or at the ABC store. I know of people who have used ziploc bags to protect their phones when going paddle boarding. Would I? Probably not… If you are staying at one of our condos, we have keyless entry, so it’s just the car key you need to worry about.

Is it safe to leave valuables in the rental car?

Would you leave valuables in the car where you live? Probably not. If you must, maybe because you can’t check into the condo til 3 or 4pm or because you have a late flight and couldn’t get a late check-out, place everything in the trunk of the car and do not open the trunk to get things out (in case anyone is casing your vehicle). If you are renting a jeep, there is no trunk, everything is visible (and accessible if it’s a soft-top). In six years of living here, we haven’t had a vehicle break-in, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

A few years ago I wrote this post on ‘What to do about late check-out at your condo?‘ Have a read. Did you know, most flights to Canada and a surprising number of flights back to the mainland leave in the evening? Check-out at our condos is at 11 AM.

Is it safe to leave valuables in the condo?

Generally yes. But, know that there are others who by necessity have access to the condo. The owner, the property manager (in the case of our condos, we are the owner and property manager), the cleaning lady and the manager of the complex you are staying at (they need to have access in case of emergencies and for the quarterly pest-control treatments). If you are staying at our condos, we have personal safes for you to use (I have an override key should you forget the code or the battery randomly dies). Otherwise, I recommend just placing your valuables in a drawer or at least out of sight. It’s happened a few times where I’ve had to go into one of our ground-floor condos (with guest consent) to repair something, and seen the blinds wide open and laptops, ipads, phones and once even a wallet just laying out. When staying in a ground floor condo especially, please don’t do that. It’s asking for a break-in. At minimum close the blinds when you leave.

Is it safe to walk at night?

You may have noticed, it is really dark on Maui at night. Why is this? Power is super expensive here and street lighting isn’t cheap. On the plus side, it makes for some great star viewing. Generally the tourist areas especially are quite safe to be walking at night. But use common sense. I also strongly recommend taking a flashlight. A few years ago I didn’t see the edge of the sidewalk – ouch. I was walking with crutches for over a month.

All in all, Maui is a pretty safe place to be. But like most places, we also have drug and homeless problems and crimes of opportunity do happen. A little common sense will help you have a great vacation – I’d hate for you to have a negative experience because of something preventable.

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Maui geocaching

Did you get into the Pokemon Go craze this past summer? I am apparently behind the times. This summer I downloaded the geocaching app on my phone to try some Maui geocaching. I know, this app has been around for years and some of you won’t believe I am new to the game. On the other hand, some of you probably haven’t heard of geocaching either. No worries, you aren’t alone.

duckpond
A duck pond? in Kihei?

Geocaching is a real-world treasure-hunting game using GPS coordinates and an app on your phone. You choose which cache you want to find, follow the directions on the app to get close, read the hint and then look for a physical cache. Some caches have small trinkets that you can exchange, others just a log to mark your find. Check out the geocaching website for much more information!  I think it’s a lot of fun – you’re going on an adventure right in your back yard!

where in Kihei is this path?
where in Kihei is this path?

Kihei (and Maui) have a number of free geocaches. But if you sign up for their premium account (yes, I did – after all, it’s ‘educational’ for the kids), there are a whole bunch here in Kihei alone. Since downloading the app this June, our family has knocked out a few of the local geocaches. It’s been fun doing this with the kids. It makes going for a walk a lot more interesting. My hope is that they will become more aware of their surroundings as we do this, looking for treasure of their own! Hey, I can dream!

We found one at a duck pond in Central Kihei, one in a rock wall, one on a guard rail, another with a great sunset view near Keawakapu beach. We have also had a few ‘no finds’. Sometimes caches are discovered by ‘muggles’, people who are not aware of the game, who toss them because they think they are trash.

Caution

You do need data on your phone to go geocaching. If you have a Canadian phone plan, check on that. It may be a really expensive hobby to do while traveling in the US thanks to roaming charges. We have Tmobile with unlimited data in 100+ countries, so we were good to give it a go while traveling this summer.

keawakapu
Now THAT is a nice reward for finding a geocache!
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Hurricane Madeline and Hurricane Lester

There are two hurricanes headed towards Hawaii. Hurricane Madeline is scheduled to arrive Wednesday/Thursday while Hurricane Lester will be here for the weekend.

It’s hurricane season in the Central Pacific (June through November). Hey Cara, I thought El Nino was over and this was supposed to be an easier summer. Yeah, I thought so too.

Hurricane Madeline has now been upgraded to a Category Four storm and is headed for Big Island, currently showing to veer off to the South of us. It is scheduled to hit Big Island Wednesday, which means it could be impacting us on Maui then or by Thursday.

hurricane madeline
Hurricane Madeline’s current track

She is closely followed by Hurricane Lester (currently still in the Eastern Pacific), which is currently a Category Three storm and scheduled to arrive in Hawaii Friday/Saturday. Note, this storm is still a ways off and a lot can happen between now and then.

hurricane madeline
Hurricane Lester’s current track

 

What should you expect?
The past few years all our hurricane warnings have ended up being non-events in Kihei area. Yes, we have gotten humidity, but rain and wind have been negligible. The Big Island usually blocks and tears storms apart, with the high mountains messing with their wind patterns. Big Island has been dumped on and seen some damage the past few years. I in no way want to minimize this. But while we feel very badly for them, we are hoping the systems change course or see a similar thing happening again.
In the mean time: be prepared
1. check the hurricane information in the binder in your condo (if you are staying in one of our condos).
2. be prepared by filling the rental car with gas, making sure you have water to last you several days and food supplies. Often in a storm power can get knocked out and in a bad situation, it can take a few days for it to be restored (make sure all devices are charged, check the batteries in the flashlight – bedroom closet, let us know if you need batteries, we have lots). Our water treatment facility on Maui is located in the flood zone, so that can also be an issue. Emergency people say to have at least a gallon of water per person per day for several days on hand, so you can drink and wash. (fill jugs and pots and go buy some gallon jugs if need be). Check that you have enough food to get you through a few days in case you can’t make it to a grocery store (or they are closed). Have some cash on hand (again in case of power outage).
3. stay out of the ocean once the storm hits and for several days after. Not only do we get a lot of run-off from the islands when it rains a lot, but these big storms can change the dynamics within the ocean (currents etc) and it increases the risk of shark attacks. Best to just enjoy the ocean from shore.
4. stay informed. While the main news on TV focuses largely on Oahu, you can get Maui specific news online: MauiNow and MauiWatch on facebook are good sources.
5. just before the hurricane is scheduled to hit, bring in all the lanai furniture and secure (close) the windows.
If you are staying at one of our condos, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
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How to treat a sunburn

We recently returned from a family vacation off-Maui. After several weeks away, we had lost most of our suntan! You know what that means when you get back to Maui! Yup – a sunburn!

On our first beach day back I burned horribly. The kids were wearing water shirts and were just fine. Too bad I am too vain to wear them too.

sunburn
We have a collection of sunscreen in our cupboard (I am not endorsing any of these, though I do like the Neutrogena Sport Face).

I know many tourists burn badly when they come to Maui. Maui is located at 20.7 degrees latitude, the sun is much more intense here than the US mainland and Canada. Particularly for the first few days of enjoying the wonderful Hawaiian sun, you need to make sure you heavily lather on that sunscreen (and renew it every hour or two). If you have rented a convertible (those Mustang convertibles are quite popular), BEWARE. That’s a sunburn waiting to happen right there!

A few sunburn remedies

I’ve polled some of my friends as to their best sunburn remedies. I would love to hear your favorites. Of course, the best thing would be to actually avoid the sunburn altogether. That is another topic.

sunburn
A few sunburn remedies in my bathroom

Aloe Vera  ~ I was surprised how many of my friends use aloe.

  • pick an aloe leaf and apply the juice directly to the burn. Of course, you are traveling and will most likely not find an aloe plant you can pick.
  • aloe gel – I asked, like the BananaBoat Aloe Gel? While one friend uses that approach (she keeps it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold), apparently there is an aloe gel you can get at a health food store (Whole Foods or maybe even Hawaiian Moons here in Kihei)
  • aloe cream or ointment  – check out Maui Vera at the ABC Store (or Amazon).

Coconut Oil ~ Coconut Oil seems to be really popular with locals – I’ve heard of people using it as hair conditioner, moisturizer, eye makeup remover etc. I’ve never tried it! One of my friends adds several drops of peppermint oil to hers (again, something you get at the health foods store).

Cool moist Towels ~ after you’ve burned, put cool moist towels on the burned areas to help pull the heat out of the skin.

Moisturize ~ we all know what happens after a sunburn… the peel! Moisturizing helps minimize the peeling skin. Ideally use a thick unscented moisturizer like Cetaphil.

Stay out of the sun ~ I know, you’re on vacation, but do give your skin a chance to recover.

Have you ever had an itchy sunburn?

This happened to me – about 48 hours after the sunburn it got incredibly itchy. I admit to self-diagnosing rather than checking with a doctor, but according to this website, it may be ‘Hell’s Itch’. Ouch.

Advil ~ this has been my best friend this week, I do confess.

Vitamin A&D Cream ~ one of the online forums mentioned this. I picked some up at Target, it’s a petroleum jelly and is quite soothing on my sunburn.

From a landlord’s perspective (yes, I wear that hat too)…. please don’t apply ointments and creams and then lay down on the sheets or sit on the couch…. they do stain and ruin the sheets.

Do you have a favorite sunburn remedy? Please share it! A special thank you to my friends who contributed ideas for this blog post.

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