Maui, Hawaii

Tag: volcano

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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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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A wedding at Kula Botanical Gardens

A few weeks ago a friend asked me to provide the piano accompaniment at a wedding at Kula Botanical Gardens. In fact, my very first wedding on Maui. You know how you go through ‘wedding-periods’ where everyone you know or their kids are getting married? We’ve been in a wedding drought, or perhaps it’s just that ‘our’ weddings have been too far away for us to attend.

Kula Botanical Gardens
the beautiful view from Kula Botanical Gardens

Years ago before moving to Maui I played piano professionally. While I dabbled a bit in teaching piano, my real love was in piano accompanying. I accompanied at recitals, competitions, concerts, played at weddings and background music at dinners… I loved it. Since moving to Maui I haven’t really had many opportunities to play piano. I do play at church from time to time and have accompanied for some school choir concerts, but… I’ve found other things to keep busy with I guess. Like our condos…

The wedding was held at Kula Botanical Gardens, a beautiful 8 acre property on the slopes of Haleakala.

One friend played flute while another sang, I borrowed a keyboard and was quite proud of myself to be able to figure out cables and speakers. No, I’m not about to becoming the new Maui wedding pianist, but it was fun morning and I’m glad we got to do this.

If you haven’t been to Kula Botanical Gardens – go check it out! It’s located at approximately 3600 ft elevation, just past the Kula Country Farm stand, just after you’ve turned left to head towards Haleakala National Park.

A little teaser… they also have a small coffee farm. Their coffee is grown at 3600 ft, which is apparently the highest altitude coffee is grown within the US. According to the owner (Warren) their plants actually don’t grow in dirt, but in a mixture of volcanic ash and organic matter.

Other upcountry things to check out…
Kula Botanical Gardens
cute entrance to La Provence

On our way home we stopped at the Kula Country farm stand for some fresh strawberries. Then a little pitstop at La Provence for some baked goodies (next time I’ll go earlier, they were somewhat sold out).

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Beautiful Makawao Forest Reserve Hike

Makawao Forest Reserve
Map of the trail system. We walked from the parking lot to the first picnic bench on the right side of the trail loop (and back). Looking forward to exploring more.

We’ve been meaning to go hiking in the Makawao Forest Reserve. This past weekend we finally made it there. Compared to the Olinda hike, this is quite an extensive trail system and is actually set up for mountain bikers. Some of the trails are strictly for bikers, so do pay attention to the signs.

The hike itself is a 6.5 mile loop in the forest. We didn’t go nearly that far, but hiked past the two sets of ramp areas for bikes and then through the ravine. I really enjoy seeing this different (non beach) side of Maui. There are tall pine trees and beautiful trees with stripped bark.

This trail is covered with leaves and often wet. Do bring sturdy shoes, slippahs are not appropriate here.

Makawao Forest Reserve
I attempted to take a vertical panorama shot of this tree. I guess you’ll just have to go see for yourself. The forest is beautiful!
Getting to the Makawao Forest Reserve is a little adventurous.

From Kihei you are looking at about a 50 minute drive. Driving on Makawao Ave (from the Haleakala Hwy), go straight through the 4 way stop with Baldwin and then take your first right after the church and cemetery. Pass the Piiholo Ranch Ziplines and when you come to a Y intersection, turn left (Waiahiwi Rd). The road gets narrower, windy and there are very few signs. There will be a few ‘no outlet’ signs. Eventually you turn right onto Kahakapao Road (don’t go straight onto private Piiholo Ranch property). Eventually you get to park gates (open 7am-7pm). Now the road is quite narrow with some pretty good ‘dips’ in the road (they are marked, slow down). Pull into the second parking lot on the right (after the horse trailer parking lot). It’s a fairly large parking lot with good signage.

Bring your own snacks and water along. There is a port-o-potty.

Do not leave any valuables in your car.

If you are interested in mountain biking it, there are a few bike rental places on Maui – Krank Cycle is likely easiest as it is right in Makawao.

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Changes to Haleakala Sunrise viewing and Waihee Trail Closure

haleakalaUPDATE: the Haleakala National Park website has this great FAQ section.

Have you driven up Haleakala for sunrise? Confession, in 6 1/2 years of living here I have not drive to the summit for a Haleakala sunrise. A couple reasons for this. I am not that interested in taking a 2 1/2 hour drive in the dark from Kihei, only to find out Haleakala is clouded in. Also, I am told it is complete mayhem up there, often with no places to park. No thanks.

Apparently others are similarly concerned. This past year the National Park Service held several town hall meetings, surveying Maui County residents on how best to address the crowded and overrun sunrises. Here is what they came up with (Maui Now article with much more info).

Beginning February 1st, 2017 everyone wishing to enter the national park for a Haleakala sunrise must make advance reservations. Check out this website, choose your date and pay $1.50. Print out your confirmation and bring it along with your photo ID. Also, you will need to purchase admission to Haleakala National Park ($20 for a several day re-entry or $25 for an annual pass).

Starting February 1st the national park is allowing only 150 vehicles plus one tour bus to enter the park for sunrise (between 3-7am), which will guarantee parking for all. Please remember to be respectful of the fragile vegetation (stay on the path) and any cultural activities taking place.

Note: as of now this reservation can be made up to 60 days in advance and is non-transferable. Reservations cannot be made at the national park gate, so please make sure you do this BEFORE you drive.

If you plan to enter the park AFTER 7AM you will not need a reservation. Then you just drive up and purchase admission or use your National Park pass.

Personally, my favorite time to drive up Haleakala is during the day to admire the amazing crater valley and take in the view. There are several hikes you can do (just be aware of the 10,000 foot elevation and thinner oxygen levels). I also love driving up at night to go stargazing (I have found the best viewing to be at a pull-out at about 6000 ft, just before you enter the forest before the national park gate). If the moon is small and the mountain is not clouded in, do try it! The stars are amazing. You’ll need to wait until about an hour after sunset for the stars to start popping. Unlike sunrise, there are very few cars at night.

Waihee Ridge Trail closure

The popular scenic Waihee Ridge Trail is temporarily closed from January 3-February 28th for some much-needed maintenance. For more information, please check this MauiNow article. Do check before you go in March that the trail has really re-opened, as everywhere, there can be unexpected delays.

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Active Volcano Tour on Big Island

I know, this is a Maui blog, but sometimes people ask – where do you go on vacation? This weekend I took my kids to Big Island (the Island of Hawai’i) to see its active volcano Kilauea from a helicopter! What an adventure!

Hawaii’s volcanic history

The Hawaiian Islands have been created by the movement of the Pacific (tectonic) plate over a hot spot in the crust where lava erupted and formed volcanoes/islands. Of the inhabited islands, Ni’ihau is the oldest volcano remnant, then followed by Kauai, Oahu and Maui Nui (Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Kaho’olawe). Big Island is comprised of five volcanoes – Mauna Kea is the tallest (13,796 feet) and is considered dormant. It is home to the world’s largest observatory. Mauna Loa (13,678 feet) is still considered active, with its most recent eruption in 1984, streaming towards (but not reaching) Hilo. Check out this schematic which explains it well.

active volcano
Creation of the Hawaiian Islands
The active volcano

Kilauea is Big Island’s newest (above ground) volcano. It holds the distinction of being the world’s most active volcano, with non-stop activity for the past 33 years. That’s right – there has been something going on here for the past 33 years. Sometimes active lava flow, sometimes just rumblings. For the past year it has had an active lava flow, ‘gently’ making its way down and reaching the ocean.

We booked the Circle of Fire helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian. Seeing the volcano from the air was amazing. We started by checking out Rainbow Falls (in Hilo), then flew up along the most recent lava flow from Mauna Loa (from 1984) to Kilauea crater where we saw plenty of steam and some red hot lava!

active volcano
Birdseye view of Kilauea crater (with a flash of orange lava)

Then off to the Pu’u O’o vent where we saw more lava and from where currently lava is flowing (under a black crust) to the ocean, creating new land as it goes.

 

active volcano
Lava meets the sea where the steam rises) – you can see newly formed landmass in the ocean

Blue Hawaiian’s staff in Hilo was very professional, the helicopter clean and in good condition. I would very much recommend them. In fact, this is my second Blue Hawaiian tour – check my blog about my West Maui Mountains and Molokai helicopter tour with them.

A few thoughts…

In the past few years Big Island has torn up several hurricanes, drenching the Puna district, but tearing the hurricanes apart and shifting them away from Maui (we are so thankful). I somehow envisioned these mountains to be visually more impressive, maybe more mountainous. But it turns out, just like Haleakala, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea have gentle slopes which makes their size very deceiving (especially Mauna Loa). They are shield volcanoes, their shape has to do with the composition of the lava that flows out (see here for a better explanation).

active volcano
approaching Big Island by airplane from Maui – those mountains don’t look that impressive…
Recommendations

Initially we were only going to fly to Big Island for the day. However, someone reminded me that Hilo is on Big Island’s rainy side… what if the helicopter ride was cancelled due to weather? Yes, they will reschedule, but when flying over only for the day, you don’t have much flexibility. We opted to spend the night in Hilo which allowed us to explore the National Park on our second Big Island day. Turns out our flight day was perfect with blue skies. Day two was rainy.

Here is a short (blurry) video clip of the activity at the crater taken from the Jaggar museum outlook.

Admission to Hawaii’s national parks is $20/car with re-admission for one week. We chose to buy the 3 park annual pass for $25 which allows us to check out all three of Hawaii’s national parks (including Haleakala here on Maui).

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Hiking in a Pine Forest

waihou trailThis weekend our family went hiking on the Waihou Springs Trail. Actually we had planned to go to the Makawao Forest Reserve, but after doing a bit of reading, decided this one would be more up our alley. It is designated for hikers only, and is a short 2.5 mile loop hike (as opposed to 5.7 miles) with no bikes. Perfect.

To get there, you drive to Makawao, and then turn right (up the hill) at the only four way stop in town (Makawao and Baldwin Ave). When you turn right at this intersection, you are actually on Olinda Road. You follow Olinda for 5+ miles into the Waihou Springs State Forest Reserve. The road is narrow and winding and in parts quite steep (go slow). After passing the bird sanctuary you will see parking for it on the right hand side of the road (by an experimental pine forest).

Waihou trail
pine needles on Maui?
pine cones on Maui!!
pine cones on Maui!!

The hike itself is a relatively easy walk through the forest. Watch out for tree roots. There are a lot of pine needles and later leaves on the path. If it’s wet or muddy, I imagine hiking here would be very slick. We didn’t quite walk down to the Waihou Spring (a side-trail off the main trail) as the path was narrow and steep and a little more excitement than we had in mind for a Sunday afternoon walk.

We picked the perfect afternoon – it was dry, the sun was shining. Within the forest it was about 72F (perfect weather for walking or hiking).

The kids tried to talk us into dinner at the Makawao Steak House or at minimum the Stop Watch (sports bar in Makawao). Instead we stopped at Costco, bought steak and bbqed it at home. A perfect afternoon!

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Maui’s Pau Vodka and Beach Bar Rum

pau vodkaThis morning we checked out the Hali’imaile Distilling Company in Hali’imaile, upcountry Maui. They are the makers of several great products – Pau Vodka, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, Paniolo Whiskey and Maui Moon (flavored) Vodka. When driving up Haleakala Hwy, this is the first town on the left hand side, also famous for the Hali’imaile General Store (a Bev Gannon restaurant).

Believe it or not – Maui is home to some great alcohol… We have several distillers (Ocean Vodka, Hali’imaile Distilling Co, Haleakala Distillers), brewers (Maui Brewing Company, Kohola Brewery) and even a winery (Maui Wine at Ulupalakua Ranch). That’s right – Maui is not just known for its beaches 🙂

pau vodka
Some of these oak barrels are filled with their Paniolo Whiskey, some with just water to keep the oak barrels in good shape. The mustache is the whiskey’s logo.

Hali’imaile Distilling Company is set right between Maui sugar cane fields and 1300 acres of Maui Gold pineapple fields. Unfortunately the pineapple fields are somewhat hidden – further behind the Hali’imaile General Store (across the road and back a ways).

 

The tour

pau vodkaWe booked the tour online, showed up at our time and paid the entry fee of $10/person (which includes three samples at a tasting). The distillery tour was about 30 minutes long, the tour guide enthusiastic. This is a small-kine operation. They were just in the process of bottling some Pau Vodka on a small-scale bottling line. But hey – small batches are often best! The Vodka is made from Maui-grown sugar infused with additional molasses. The rum is made from Maui Gold pineapples (grown in Hali’imaile, and juiced for them by the Ulupalakua winery).

pau vodkaAt the end of the short tour we had fun checking out the merchandise and sampling our favorite product. It was still morning – but it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

Which was my favorite? I bought a bottle of cognac infused Pau Vodka. Yum.

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This weekend check out Maui’s premier craft fair!

The Seabury Hall Craft Fair is arguably Maui’s premier craft fair. It is set on the beautiful private prep school campus high above Makawao with beautiful bi-coastal views. This time of year is particularly beautiful with upcountry’s signature purple-blooming jacaranda trees in full bloom! The best part is – it’s the day before Mother’s Day, so you can pick up something for mom, or even let her choose! It’s also a great place to pick up locally made souvenirs and thank you gifts!

Maui's premier craft fair
Seabury Hall campus

It is held this Saturday, May 7th from 9am-4pm. Admission is $5/adults, children 12 and under are free. I believe parking is $5 (across the way at the Oskie Rice Arena) and $10 for premium (on campus) parking. Can’t make it this year – it is always the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

For the adults there are over 100 local crafters and artist booths (no made-in-China here), a silent auction, rummage sale, restaurant alley, bake shop, live music, and of course the beautiful views. This really is a special peaceful place.

Maui's premier craft fair
blooming jacaranda tree

The kids zone includes two giant slip and slides, bounce castles, face painting and many games.

How to get there? Take the Haleakala Highway upcountry to the Makawao turnoff. Turn left and follow the road to Makawao’s only four way stop (Makawao Ave/Baldwin Ave). Turn right (you will see Casanova’s and Poli’s Mexican at that corner). Continue driving up Haleakala, past pastures (check out the cows – this is farming country!) and great old trees. The school will be on the right side with additional parking on the left. Seabury Hall’s address is 480 Olinda Road, Makawao.

The craft fair is a financial aid fundraiser for this prestigious college prep school.

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Free Admission to Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary this summer. That’s right! This national park pre-dates Hawaii even being a state (1959).

Haleakala National Park
cinder cone in Haleakala’s crater valley

This week is National Park Week and in celebration of that, there is free admission to Haleakala National Park from April 16-24, 2016. Have you been on the fence about checking out Maui’s resident volcano? This is your week to do it and save the $10/car admission fee!

But what’s there to do on Haleakala? Let me tell you about our mountain! As you may know, the Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanic activity with Maui being the second youngest in the island chain (Big Island is still growing courtesy of its active volcanos – Kilauea has been active since 1983). Maui itself has two volcanoes – the West Maui Mountains being the remnant of extinct volcano Mauna Kahalawai and dormant volcano Haleakala which boasts an elevation of 10,023 ft. Haleakala’s most recent eruption occurred sometime in the 1400s which caused the lava flow down to La Perousse Bay (check it out!). Haleakala has a stunning crater valley – that’s right, there are many cinder cones within the valley. The colors in the valley are just amazing. But, be aware should you hike into it, when the wind picks up, that’s ash flying around you. Bring a bandana or something to cover your mouth and nose.

Saturday April 23rd there will be a special centennial celebration with special junior ranger programs, walks, talks and short volunteer opportunities. Among other things you can plant one of Haleakala’s rare silversword plants (this is the only place in the world they grow).

Don’t enjoy the crowds? Hey – you and I have more in common than you’d think!

  • admire a stunning sunrise or sunset from up high
  • go star gazing (stars begin to pop about one hour after sunset)
  • go hiking – either in the crater or one of many other hikes on Haleakala
  • bring a camera and enjoy some photography

In related news, the US Postal Service is releasing a special edition Haleakala National Park stamp!

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