Maui, Hawaii

Tag: weather

Small town rodeo

Modern day paniolos – this weekend’s rodeo was ‘small-kine’ (just a little) muddy

This past weekend the Maui Roping Club hosted Maui’s 63rd annual rodeo in Makawao. Typically this rodeo is held in and around the Fourth of July, this year just a few days later. The two day event kicked off with a parade down Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Rodeo festivities themselves started at 4pm on Saturday and again at 1pm on Sunday.

Maui has an interesting ranching history. In fact Captain George Vancouver, who had accompanied Captain Cook on his third expedition which is when they ‘discovered’ Hawaii, gifted several long-horn cattle to King Kamehameha in the late 1700s. At the time the king placed a kapu (ban) on killing/eating the cattle. As a result by the 1830s herds of cows apparently destructively roaming the island(s). This prompted King Kamehameha III to bring in Mexican cowboys to help contain the herds. These cowboys spoke Spanish (Espanol) and became known as paniolos – which is what cowboys on Maui are known as to this day.

Ranches were developed in the late 1800s. On Maui the Haleakala Cattle Company was formed in 1885 and what is now the Ulupalakua Ranch also started a ranching operation around that time. Both these ranches are still in existence today. You can go visit the Ulupalakua Ranch – their general store and winery (Maui Wine) are one of our family’s favorite upcountry lunch destinations. The Maui Wine tasting room has a room dedicated to the Ulupalakua Ranch history with plaques and photographs.

For a time ranching was the 3rd largest contributor to Hawaii’s economy. Raising cattle in Hawaii is trickier than on the mainland, due in large part to the shipping factor. Bringing in feed is very expensive, as is the cost of exporting the meat back to the US mainland. Maui beef is therefore mainly grass-fed. The droughts in recent years caused Maui ranches to drastically reduce the size of their herds. However, do look for Maui beef in local stores and restaurants – it is delicious!

The little kids with their bright stick lollipops definitely stole the show

But back to the rodeo… it was a fun small-town event where everyone seems to know everyone. Unfortunately it had been raining off and on, so it was a bit mucky. However drizzle does make for the most beautiful rainbows.

drizzle makes the most beautiful rainbows
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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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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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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.

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.

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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Tropical Storm Darby to arrive on Maui tonight

2016 Darby
Tropical Storm Darby

If you are on Maui or coming to Maui in the next day or two, please check the news. Tropical Storm Darby is approaching, reaching Big Island today and scheduled to hit Maui tonight.

What is a tropical storm? A tropical storm is the pre-cursor to a hurricane. Yes, June-November is hurricane season in the Pacific. This has to date been a rather quiet hurricane season, but we do have to be vigilant.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Season has the Saffir-Simpson scale of storm classification posted:

  • Tropical Storm – winds 39-73 mph (34-63 kt)
  • Category 1 – winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt)
  • Category 2 – winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt)
  • Category 3 – winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt)
  • Category 4 – winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt)
  • Category 5 – winds 156 mph and up (135+ kt)

As cyclones/hurricanes go, this is a relatively small one, but can pack heavy rain and winds.

For the best local Maui-specific information please check Maui Now and Maui Watch (best on their facebook sites).

What to do? Prepare for power and potable water outages – store water for washing and drinking, make sure your electronics are charged, you have gas in the car, and have food and prescriptions for a few days in case stores are closed.

Stay out of the ocean during and for a few days after the storm. Storms stir up the water, coupled with dirty run-off from land, it increases the risk of infection but also shark-attack. Once the water is no longer murky, you should be good to resume beach activities.

It may end up being a bit of a non-event, depending if Big Island deflects the storm as it has in the past few years. But best be safe than sorry.

If you are traveling to Maui, double check the flight status with your airline before heading to the airport.

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Oh thank heavens El Nino is over!

I saw a headline on HawaiiNewNow this morning that El Nino is officially over. Can it be?

What is El Nino? El Nino is a weather pattern that warms the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Warm sea surface temperatures increase the likelihood of storms and hurricanes. Yes, the Pacific has a hurricane season also – it lasts from June-November.

This was one of 2015’s tropical storms – Hilda.

This most recent El Nino pattern started in 2014, though according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) it didn’t fully develop. In 2014 we had around 7 named tropical storms/hurricanes pass by Hawaii. In 2015/16 we got a full-blown ‘Super-El Nino’, one of the three strongest on record. In 2015 it sent us in Hawaii 15 named storms. Honestly, as a resident it was a little stressful as one storm after the other rolled past. Several got close and we hauled in lanai furniture at our home and the four condos and buttoned down the yard. Thankfully there was no damage here in Kihei, though one of the storms in 2014 did cause some damage at Ulupalakua Ranch and knocked down 60+ palm trees at the Wailea golf courses.

last night’s sunset at Kalama Park

While we were fortunate and the 2015 storms caused no real damage on Maui, all these storms mess with the islands’ trade wind patterns, increasing the humidity and temperature. Summer temperatures in Kihei/Wailea are typically in the high 80s with perhaps two or three days in the low 90s. In 2015 we had an unusually warm and humid summer.

So the good news is – summer of 2016 should be a calmer and less humid summer! I am excited and relieved. Yes, we may still have tropical storms and hurricanes – scientists are predicting around 5-7 but those would be spread out across the entire Pacific.

The other good news is…. there is a 70% chance a La Nina (El Nino’s cool weather twin) will follow and you’ll have a ‘real’ winter on the mainland. Don’t you hate coming to Maui on vacation when it’s warm at home? Time to start booking those Maui winter getaways before all the good condos get snapped up!!

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What to do on a rainy day in Kihei?

rainy dayThis morning we woke up to an unusual weather phenomenon in Kihei! It’s raining! Do you know how unusual a rainy day is in Kihei?

Kihei and Wailea lie in the rain shadow of Haleakala. Most of our rain clouds come from the other side of Haleakala (the green rainforesty Road to Hana side). The rain falls on the lush green North/East side of Maui, while Kihei and Wailea get about only 8-11 inches of rainfall a year. Suffice it to say – Kihei residents get a little excited when it rains. Kids run outside to play in the rain, adults contain their enthusiasm by sitting on the lanai with their coffee. Many even bust out their ‘winter clothes’ (long pants and sweaters) and claim it’s cold. Cold? It’s all relative – try low 80s.

Of course, we realize you weren’t planning on a rainy day for your Maui trip, so what to do?

Go for a drive. Did you know, Maui has 30+ different micro climates. Chances are really good that it isn’t raining a short five minute drive from where you are.

Go shopping.

  • Shops at Wailea – they now have paid parking, however the first hour is free. After that, make a minimum purchase of $25 at most shops (including restaurants) and get a parking voucher (don’t forget to ask)
  • Maui Tropical Plantation – this place has been reinvented and is pretty neat. Check out their stores, but also the very cool Mill House bar (with a train engine inside), coffee house and restaurant.
  • Shops at Maalaea
  • Lahaina

Go to the movies at Queen Kaahumanu Center or Maui Mall in Kahului.

Go for lunch.

Go for a walk – it’s just warm rain, pick up an umbrella at the convenience store.

Check out ‘fishes’ the Maui Ocean Center.

What NOT to do when it’s raining?

Please stay out of the ocean, particularly if the water looks brown and murky. Several reasons for that, it could be run-off from land (particularly if it is raining heavily upcountry), it could be run-off from overflowing cess pools (gross). Additionally, sharks tend to come closer to shore to check out the run-off. Just stay out until the water clears up again.

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How hot is Kihei in the summer and do you need air-conditioning?

One of the questions asked today on the Tripadvisor Maui Travel Forum was – will we melt without air-conditioning in August? Good question.

The warmest months on Maui are definitely August and September. That being said, typically daytime highs in Kihei and Wailea are in the high 80s with evening lows in the low 80s. This is cooler than a lot of other places on the mainland.

However, the past two years we’ve also been affected by the El Nino weather pattern which has given us warmer and more unstable weather. Last summer we had 9+ hurricanes pass by the islands (thankfully they did not make landfall on Maui) and our temperatures hovered in the low 90s with high humidity. While the hurricanes did not cause damage, they did alter the wind patterns.

Maui Kamaole
one of the A/C compressors for the split-system at our Maui Kamaole condo

I personally like my A/C. Three of our condos are air-conditioned, however, our Kihei Surfside condo is not. Don’t even get me started on this – the building has only one electrical meter and A/C is expressly forbidden in the bylaws (something we would love to change). There is a great breeze, we have great ceiling fans and most of the year it is fine, but August and September especially are warm. Having said that, we have several repeat Septembers guests who keep coming back – apparently they like it! But, if you like it cool, please rent a condo with A/C.

As a homeowner, I ask that you please conserve energy when possible. Electricity on Maui is expensive. About 2/3s of our power is diesel generated (the rest is solar and wind which is also expensive). While electricity prices have come down due to the oil slump (from 40 c/kwh to 28 c/kwh currently), they are still multiple times higher than elsewhere in the country.

Here are three easy ways to help:

  • Turn off the A/C when you leave the condo – the condo does cool quite quickly when you turn it back on again.
  • Close all doors and windows when running the A/C so we don’t cool the great outdoors – trust me, this happens more often than you’d think especially with families 🙂
  • Do not turn the A/C below 70F. It will not cool the condo faster, but instead overexerts the compressor, causing it to freeze up and fail – yes, we’ve had this happen a couple times. A/C repair guys are in high demand in summer and it can take a week to get a guy out (supply/demand) leaving you with no A/C in the mean time. Also, with this being an island, it can take a week or two to get parts in.


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How about rappelling down a waterfall with Rappel Maui?

Are you content with sitting on the beach or going for a beach walk? Or are you an adrenaline junkie? If you crave an adrenaline rush, you may be interested in Rappel Maui. One of our neighbors was telling me about this new business that she has recently become involved in. Personally, I am a beach walker, but this does look pretty cool!

When you drive along the Road to Hana (believe it or not, I have never done this), there are many hikes and waterfalls you can check out. Rappel Maui takes this to the next level, giving you the opportunity to explore some of these vertical terrains with use of fixed ropes. Specifically, some of their runs involve rappelling down water falls. Rappel Maui provides you with all the gear and teaches you how to do this. No experience is necessary, though I would check with them regarding restrictions prior to booking.

Curious? Jody was so excited about this, that I had to look it up and watch some youtube videos. Here is a good one from a few years ago, showing the process.

Note: the Road to Hana is on the rainy side of Maui. When it is raining, creeks and water falls can become quite dangerous. Rappel Maui has alternate locations they use when necessary.

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