Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Sports are back!

If you love sports, I assume you’ve been enjoying the NHL Stanley cup playoffs, basketball, baseball and the now restarted NFL season. We were of course cheering for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley cup playoffs. Sadly they are out, but it sure was fun to watch hockey again. It is really strange to watch games without fans and with piped in cheering.

Thankfully Hawaii’s Covid numbers are improving again. Maui’s numbers are steady at 0-5 cases/day after the earlier spike among staff at Maui Memorial Hospital. We are thankful.

As a result, things are starting to loosen up again and guess what – Maui sports are back! Kinda. Covid-style.

Public tennis courts reopened a few months ago, but not for group lessons. The tennis courts are our Kamaole Sands and Maui Kamaole condos are open, but with restrictions.

Soccer has resumed, but for practices only. There are no games – which means that our weekends belong to us! No soccer tournaments (I know I should display less enthusiasm, but those of you who know, know).

Kids’ hockey practices resumed this past month and last week the rec/adult hockey league jumped through enough hoops to be allowed to have practice/scrimmage time. There are of course a lot of extra rules and there is a lot of cleaning involved, but – yeah after 6 months #HockeyNightInKihei is back!

sports
the rink, with a sand dune between the ocean and South Kihei Road

Last night I went to watch one of our kids play a scrimmage at Kihei’s oceanfront inline hockey rink in Kalama Park. Actually it is Maui’s only skate rink and it is open air. Pre-Covid the rec league and adult league games were always played at night. Now that per County rules they have to be out of the park by 7pm, rec league practice is late afternoon Friday afternoons. This conveniently coincides with sunset.

Here are a few pictures from last night. I wasn’t allowed into the bleachers area (for sanitation reasons), but I had rink-side standing room next to the fence! It was fun watching my goalie son in action again. And it’s really nice to see the familiar faces and visit with hockey acquaintances again. We’ve been part of this tight-knit community for eight years now. Love the Maui Inline Hockey Association!

sports
hockey is played on inline skates and in board shorts
sports
ready for action
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Pre-travel testing News!

We got some good news today! The State of Hawaii is rolling out it’s pre-travel testing program which would allow visitors to avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine.

Don’t get too excited too quickly. There are still many things to figure out – but at least there is a plan! I’m telling you, as a vacation rental owner, it’s been pretty bleak the past six months. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

morning

Please read all about it here at Hawaii News Now and if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, please do keep a close eye on the news for further announcements.

So far I see a few problems:

  • You have to be able to get pre-travel testing 72 hours before travel (I’m told often you need to be showing symptoms to get a test).
  • You need to get your negative test results back prior to your trip (this also could be a problem).
  • If you don’t get your test results back on time, you will need to quarantine upon arrival until you get your negative test results.
  • Per County of Maui rules, you cannot at this time quarantine in a vacation rental but would need to stay in accommodation on the ‘approved list’.

Here is a pre-travel testing flow chart issued by the State of Hawaii that shows some answers.

Also, check the Frequently Asked Questions on the State of Hawaii’s Covid page for many answers.

Let’s wait a little and see what else the State comes up with. I for one am encouraged – at least they are finally talking about having a plan…. six months after the pandemic shut down Hawaii tourism.

Is this the answer to Hawaii’s economic woes?

No, let’s face it. I don’t see visitors streaming back en masse with the current Covid uncertainty. However, at least those who want to travel will have an easier time doing it. I foresee visitors taking advantage of discounted prices to stay for longer periods of time and working remotely (hottest travel trend?).

What about our Canadian visitors?

Good question. At this time the Canadian government has not eased their 14 day mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers returning to Canada. (Trust me, I am watching for this – I would love to go visit family again).

Sig went to Costco today and look what he found…. while not Canadians per se, he did buy some Canadian bell peppers.

pre-travel testing
it may not be you, but Canadian bell peppers have made it to Hawaii!
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Hottest Hawaii travel trend

It’s been six months since Covid-19 brought Hawaii travel to a standstill. As we anxiously await Hawaii Governor David Ige’s announcement of when tourism can resume to the Hawaiian islands, here is a trend to consider.

Yes, we are getting inquiries again. The big trend I’m seeing is longer-stay inquiries. Specifically we are seeing one or two month inquiries. At this time it’s mainly younger professionals, looking to escape the West Coast wild fires, or just work remotely from Maui since they are working remotely anyway. We’ve also had families whose kids are doing school remotely inquire.

Can you work remotely from Maui?

Well, why not? The main hurdle you will face is the State of Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine. Starting October 1 there is supposed to be a workaround, a ‘test negative pre-travel to avoid quarantine’ option. I hate to say this but….. it doesn’t sound like the State has the details worked out yet (what are they waiting for???). We will see if it gets further delayed (we were supposed to have this option August 1).

UPDATE: Per today’s KHON News story, the governor says ‘tourism’s return October 1 is unlikely’. Sigh.

Should you need to quarantine, you will need to do your quarantine in one of these places per the County of Maui mayor. Once your quarantine is finished, you can move to a vacation rental of your choosing.

What to expect on Maui?

Well, Maui isn’t exactly the way you may remember it from your last trip. The disappearance of tourists has meant the closure or at least reduction of hours at many stores and restaurants. Many activities have shut down. We hope some of them will be able to restart their businesses once tourism resumes. Instead of having a fully packed and planned agenda, plan on a relaxed beach vacation. The businesses open will be thankful to serve you.

Why not end your work-day at the beach?

Are there any deals?

You bet! At this time we are offering 20% discounts on weekly, 35% discounts on monthly rentals. We may be able to give a better deal, depending on when you are planning to come? Please do get cancellation insurance. We will not refund due to Covid, however, if the State of Hawaii does not have a ‘test to avoid the quarantine’ option for your travel dates, we will give you a refund.

Guests!

We are thrilled to welcome guests back to our condos. Today I cleaned and prepped our Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo for tomorrow’s arrival. We are thrilled to have them! Enjoy this walk-through video I shot today.

A pre-arrival walk-through. We are thrilled to welcome guests back to our condo!

We can’t wait for Hawaii travel to resume!

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Wailea’s best walk

A number of years ago someone told me to advertise our Palms at Wailea condo‘s proximity to the Wailea Beach Walk. The distance to the beach, you mean? (It’s about a 10 minute walk) No, the Wailea Beach Walk – Wailea’s BEST walk!

On further investigation, I discovered what they meant. In my opinion, this is Wailea’s best walk. Specifically, the Wailea Beach Walk is a paved walking trail that runs from the Andaz resort on Keawakapu Beach all the way to the Fairmont by Polo Beach.

wailea's best walk
the beach walk fronting the Wailea Marriott

The best part about this walk is the amazing ocean view. The worst part….. the crowds. As it runs oceanfront of all the resorts, it is a busy place. Except these days. Did you know it’s been nearly five months since Maui’s tourism shut down thanks to Covid?

Usually we park at the public Polo Beach parking lot just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani and walk north. Yesterday we took advantage of available parking at Ulua Beach (just south of the Andaz) and walked south.

A map of the Wailea Resorts, courtesy of the Wailea Resort Association

We walked past Wailea Elua (condos), the Wailea Marriott Resort (I always see turtles bobbing for sea weed here), the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. At that point we turned around and walked back to the car. From the Andaz to the Fairmont and back is about a 1 1/2 hour walk, or longer if you stop along the way to enjoy the views.

The Wailea Beach Walk was pretty empty yesterday as there are still virtually no tourists on island. As long as you look out over the beaches and ocean it’s a beautiful place. But I couldn’t help looking at the empty resorts and thinking of all the unemployed people struggling to make ends meet while the world deals with Covid.

When will tourism resume?

That is the million dollar question. Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine continues for now, severely restricting incoming travel. At this time Hawaii is trying to get its own Covid numbers back under control. There is some talk of bubble tourism which would allow tourists to return to an ‘all inclusive’ style vacation, unable to leave the resort. While this would help the participating big hotels, it would do little to help all the mom and pop tourist shops, restaurants, condo businesses etc.

So we continue to wait and see. It’s been five months without tourism.

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And here we go – another inter-island quarantine

How are things going Covid-wise in your neck of the woods? Here, after months of good numbers, the Hawaii governor has re-instated the inter-island quarantine AND pushed back the start ‘avoid quarantine by showing a negative test’.

We were doing well with low numbers, thanks to an island-wide shutdown and the mandatory quarantine. Then we got complacent as things opened back up. On Oahu the numbers have been increasing rapidly, with new cases numbering 200+/day in the past week.

Last week Hawaii Governor Ige (pronounced Ee-geh) instituted a new inter-island mandatory quarantine. It will run August 11-31, 2020. Oahu is also doing a partial shut-down, while Maui and the other neighbor islands are staying their current course. We’ll see what happens.

Negative test to avoid quarantine

Did you know, starting October 1 those traveling to Hawaii can circumvent the mandatory 14 day quarantine with proof of a negative Covid-19 test. The tricky part is, you will need to take the test 3 days prior to travel. This date has now twice been pushed back. We sure hope October 1 is a firm date.

Quarantine Options

The Maui County mayor has recently announced that visitors may no longer quarantine in vacation rentals. Should you need to quarantine, you will need to book a hotel or stay in a long-term (6+ month rental) or someone’s private home. Fun!

Canadian guests

A week or two ago Canadian media outlets were running stories that Canadians will be allowed to travel to Hawaii once the mandatory quarantine to Hawaii is lifted. I haven’t seen this on any of the official sites here in Hawaii, so I’m not sure if it’s true. For now Canadians still have a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon re-entry from the US into Canada.

Cancellations of upcoming trips

Since everything is so up in the air with Covid-19, I have temporarily pushed back the ‘balance due date’ to 30 days prior to your arrival (from the usual 60 days). If you need to cancel your upcoming stay, please do so prior to the due date and please give as much notice as possible so we can reopen dates for others (mainly staycations).

Once you have paid your balance in full, your stay becomes non-refundable even for Covid-19 reasons. We always recommend trip cancellation insurance. As I understand, the only trip cancellation insurance that covers COVID-19 cancellations is a CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) policy. Please study the terms of any cancellation insurance carefully to know what is and isn’t covered.

Newsletter

If you would like to be added to my newsletter mail list, please send me a message, either here or directly through email. I foresee sending newsletters every few months and you may always unsubscribe if you don’t find the information useful. As always I invite you to check our blog for updates and things to do on Maui. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you are interested in reading about.

I would love to have you follow us on social media

Wishing you a beautiful day from Maui!
Aloha!
Cara

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My favorite upcountry walk

My favorite easy upcountry walk is Thompson Road. It’s a picturesque one lane road above Grandma’s coffee house in Kula.

School is starting again here on Maui (we will see how that goes), so I forced the kids to go on a family walk. Yes, they would have preferred to stay home with on their devices, but such is life. Family is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy, or at least that’s what I tell them.

How to get to this upcountry walk

From Kihei, you drive direction Kahului, then turn left on Hansen Road by the old Sugar Cane Factory. I don’t know about you, but I like to look at it while passing by, to see what’s going on. This past year the big pile of coal (for power production) has finally been hauled off. I wonder where it went.

You turn right onto Hana Hwy, then immediately onto Haleakala Hwy. Haleakala Hwy becomes Kula Hwy which you follow ‘forever’. You drive through Kula, past the Waldorf School, the Kula Farms stand – sadly they were closed this Sunday. You continue past the second Haleakala Hwy turnoff, past St John’s Episcopal Church and eventually end up at Grandma’s Coffee House. They were sadly also closed this Sunday.

Just before Grandma’s the road forks off to the left. Turn up there, take your very first right (it’s nearly immediate). This is Thompson Road. There are three pull-outs on the left. Park in one, get out and walk.

upcountry walk
Thompson Road

The upcountry walk

The road itself is patchy asphalt. Our youngest brought his new skateboard along which helped curb the complaining. I love looking at the huge plants, the insanely large bush of bird of paradise (it’s got to be 8 feet tall or more). There are lava rock walls, horse pastures, rolling hills.

Please be respectful of local residents who live here. Residents passing through always smile and wave, so do the same. It took us about an hour to the end and back. Well, that’s not entirely true. Thompson Road curves left and heads up the mountain – we’ve never gone up there.

But the best part about this upcountry walk – it was a full 15 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than in Kihei. Loved that!

upcountry road
This made me laugh. Along the road I found this. A locked gate with a no-trespassing sign and a bottle of hand sanitizer next to it. If you MUST trespass, at least be clean. Sign of our times.

For more of my favorite Maui hikes, click here.

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Front Street in Covid Lahaina

Sig and I had an errand to run in Lahaina today. After our errand, we parked as we always do in the Hilo Hattie’s parking lot on the Northern end of the Front Street tourist strip to see what Covid Lahaina looks like. By sheer habit, we wandered into the Adidas outlet. Sig always finds something there for the kids. Hilo Hattie’s has moved out of their street front location into the space directly behind Adidas. I wanted to go in, but the doors were locked while staff were on a half hour break.

After our obligatory Adidas purchase, we wandered through the deserted Outlets of Maui towards Front Street. It’s sad to see. This shopping center was once bustling, then died only to be revitalized a few years ago with a number of outlet stores. Now it’s pretty dead again. The big box stores were open, the smaller shops closed.

We walked past our first homeless gentleman towards Front Street. The former Hard Rock Cafe is being renovated, and there is a (strangely) newly opened Waikiki Brewing Company. The Adidas girls told us they serve bbq and is supposed to be good.

We’ve had king tides this week, so the sidewalk was wet from being sloshed with waves. Bubba Gump (Sig’s favorite restaurant) was open but on brief glance, I saw only one person at one of the less favorable tables. It was 5pm. This place would normally be bustling with people. The gift shop appeared to be closed. On the wall just past Bubba Gump’s there were four or five homeless people, just chilling. Another was talking to the security guard across the way. From there on most of the shops were closed, some boarded shut. A couple restaurants were open, such as the Lahaina Pizza Company. I have a few musician friends who used to play there, I had always meant to go and hear them play live, but never have made it.

Honestly, we turned around and walked back to our car. Front Street was depressing. While I generally don’t like how commercial it is, particularly not the high pressure face cream places, this was really sad. Acquaintances used to have jewelry places along Front Street, and year’s ago we’d heard of the $30,000/month rent payments. No wonder everything is closed.

The empty Banyan Tree – Covid-style

The good news

I like to think positive when I at all can. In my opinion it is so much easier to walk through life with a positive attitude. So here is the good news. It only took us 40 minutes to get to Lahaina today, very unlike normal non-Covid driving conditions. And there was very little traffic on the road. And our meeting went well.

But, I wonder when tourism will reopen again.

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Quarantine extended!

Unfortunately we knew this was coming, but today Hawaii Governor David Ige made it official. The ‘negative Covid test to avoid quarantine’ exemption has been pushed out to at least September 1, 2020. Mandatory 14 day quarantine extended. Sigh.

Here is a link to my previous post about the mandatory 14 day quarantine and that there was going to be a testing option. Travelers could take a test 3 days prior to travel, have negative results, and avoid the quarantine.

Unfortunately there are problems with that. For one, local politicians and Hawaii residents have the jitters thanks to the surge in cases on the mainland. We are being told there is a shortage of testing kits because of the mainland surge. Many travelers and mainland owners are reporting problems getting tests (without having Covid-19 symptoms) and timely results which would be required at flight check-in. Finally, public school is slated to begin the first week of August and allowing tourism at the same time would make it more difficult to see if new flare-ups are community-based or due to travel (or so I’m told).

In short, it’s a bit of a kaffuffle.

Unfortunately, this further delays tourism to Hawaii and with that a kickstart to the economy and completely flat-lined tourism industry.

We wish you were here. I really do. In the mean time, we hope the US mainland is able to curb their cases so Hawaii politicians feel more comfortable with reopening to tourism. But we also hope the increasing numbers of returning Hawaii residents who traveled to the mainland this summer adhere to the terms of quarantine so that Hawaii also can keep its numbers under control.

How many people are actually arriving in Hawaii?

In case you are interested, here are the posted mainland arrival numbers for yesterday 7/12/20 as compiled by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For comparison purposes, in 2019 the average arrivals were 35,000/day.

mainland arrival numbers as posted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority for 7/13/20
  • Crew = flight crew members
  • Transit = people who are in transit to another location through Hawaii and aren’t leaving the airport
  • Military = military exempt personnel
  • Exempt = people who are exempt from the 14-day quarantine after receiving prior approval from the state
  • Relocate to Hawaii = people who are moving to Hawaii
  • Returning Resident = people who indicate on the DOT’s form that they’re returning residents
  • Visitor = people who are not in the above categories
a torch ginger bloom – not because it has anything to do with this depressing news, but because it made me smile yesterday as I checked on our Kihei Surfside #405 condo

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What to expect at a Sunrise On Haleakala

Our family has lived on Maui for ten years now, and believe it or not, I had never been to see sunrise on Haleakala. There have been a few reasons – but mainly having young children and my general dislike of crowds.

Those two blocks are no longer a factor – the kids are older, in fact I was able to bribe one of them to come along with me this morning. And as for crowds…. Haleakala National Park has limited visitors with a sunrise registration system a few years ago. And now with Covid, the park has further reduced those numbers.

What to bring before leaving the house/condo

  • winter clothes, wind breaker… you mainland folk may be used to standing in near freezing temperatures for an hour or two (don’t forget about wind), but apparently my blood has thinned from living on Maui. I was so cold – but loving every minute of it!
  • your wallet (credit card and ID, credit card only $30 for park admission, cash for Komoda’s donuts – they have a $10 minimum for credit card purchases)
  • a print out of your Haleakala sunrise reservation
  • drinks, snacks
  • enough gas to get there and back
  • Note: the last place to purchase anything on the way up would be a 24/7 gas station or perhaps McDonald’s in Kahului

Our journey to Sunrise on Haleakala

This morning we left our home in Kihei at around 2:20AM. Right off the bat, we saw a deer right next to the Piilani Hwy by the Kihei police station. I’m sure glad it stayed off the road as we passed. There was little traffic besides a black SUV also headed to sunrise.

We saw someone walking along the Veterans Hwy (formerly known as Mokulele, taking us towards Kahului). He also thankfully stayed on the bike path.

We hit our only red light at the turnoff onto Haleakala Hwy by King Kekaulike school in Pukalani. At this point the highway becomes a two lane road (with exception of a one lane bridge you come upon pretty quickly). It’s a gorgeous drive by day. As we passed through a grove of trees just before Kula Lodge area, we saw a large bird (I think an owl) flying in front of us. For a moment I worried he’d fly right into my windshield, but he changed direction, picked up speed and took off into the trees.

A little past Kula Lodge you follow the signs and turn left and at this point the roads get pretty wind-y as you really go up in elevation. Just past the tree line and past the second cattle gate, we came across a beef cow and her calf. Yes, we have in the past encountered them even laying down on the road. Definitely watch for them.

We reached the National Park gate which is just above the 6500 ft elevation mark when you come to a forested area). I picked up an annual park pass ($55 vs the $30 for a 3 day vehicle pass). We will certainly come up at least once more this year making it worth it. Note, if you have a US national park pass, bring it along as you can use it for admission. The park employee cross-referenced my name with her sunrise reservation list. Then we drove another half hour to reach the summit, passing crater valley parking lot on the way. Guess what – we were the only car there!

The sunrise experience

We bundled up in our winter jackets, hats and gloves, in our excitement completely forgetting to don our face masks. We were about an hour early for the show to begin but enjoyed some stargazing, though the moon was about half full, which didn’t allow us to see the Milky Way. On the plus side, we didn’t have to use our phones as flashlights as we walked around the in part cracked sidewalks. No tripping at the top of the world! Any medical care is a good hour’s drive away at the Kula fire station or perhaps tiny Kula hospital.

We could see Kihei and Kahului’s lights, as well as the faint flashing red lights along the windmills in Maalaea. We could also faintly see a few lights in the distance – I am pretty sure they would have been from Hawi, Big Island.

Haleakala Sunrise
gazing down at Kihei (left) and Kahului (right)

The skies started lightening around 5:10AM today, in the mean time another five cars had joined us. We walked back up to the lookout area (due to Covid-19 the shelter area was closed). It was a balmy 46F (7.8C) and thankfully no wind. We sure enjoyed the view, the sky changing colors above the cloud cover until finally the sun rose just before 6AM.

By sunrise another 20 cars arrived – a number of them ended up completely missing the show. We stopped briefly at crater valley and headed back down the mountain for our rewards of Komoda’s donuts in Makawao.

Would I do it again?

I’m thrilled we were able to experience a Haleakala Sunrise, even more so that we didn’t have to face the crowds so many are used to seeing at sunrise. However, I think I prefer sunset on Haleakala. Sunset doesn’t require reservations, there are fewer people, you can see if the mountain is cloud-covered prior to leaving Kihei (because it’s daytime). You aren’t exhausted from getting up super early. On that note – I would plan Haleakala Sunrise when you are still undergoing jetlag (at the beginning of your Maui trip).

Silver swords (‘ahinahina) in bloom

What a treat! It’s silver sword blooming season. These are such bizarre, delicate plants that are found exclusively on Haleakala.

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Saying goodbye to the Maui Tropical Plantation

This weekend we saw the sad announcement on social media – the Maui Tropical Plantation is closing indefinitely. While I understand given the current economic realities, it is so sad to say goodbye to this place.

We’ve been coming to the Maui Tropical Plantation since early 2004, back before we lived here, when we fled rainy West Coast Januaries and came to Maui on vacation. Besides the gift shop and restaurant, they have a beautiful lake, ducks to feed and a trolley you can take to see and learn about plants that grow here on Maui. Back then they even had a monkey enclosure (those were moved to a new home a few years later).

A few years ago the Maui Tropical Plantation was revitalized, given new life with funky Sugar Cane Factory equipment incorporated into the landscape. It is to date one of my favorite places to go, enjoy the landscape, have a coffee, shop the gift shop and grab some fresh veggies at the Kumu Farm stand. I always intended to try their beginner zipline with the kids. Their Mill House Restaurant had stunning reviews, and though I never ate there, I did eat at the train bar once (yes, it had a full size sugar cane locomotive right there in the bar). This is on the ‘must do’ list for all boy moms, after all!

What happened?

Well…. Covid happened. The island all but shut down with mandatory quarantine imposed on all arrivals and with that tourism died – temporarily at least. As with many businesses, the Maui Tropical Plantation closed temporarily, only to reopen a few weeks ago. However, I imagine there was just not enough traffic to keep it viable and so now they are closing indefinitely.

This week they are having a closing sale at the gift shop, daily 10-4 (in person only, not on the website). I arrived shortly after 10 and…. the lineup went around the building, all the way to the shops in the back. While in line I chatted with those around me (all wearing our masks, sometimes in the shade, sometimes in the bright hot sun). We are all so sad to see this special place go.

What did I get?

Unfortunately I didn’t make it into the store today. The line was moving, but too slow for me to make it in and out on time to pick up my son from Kanaha Beach Park. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s not so much that I wanted to buy something, it was more about going for one last visit. But yes, I know I would have found things I ‘need’. Like HI Spice hotsauce.

Tourism will return one day and with it, I hope, this beautiful place will be revived. For now, we say aloha and a hui hou (goodbye and until we meet again).

goodbye
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