Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Kihei Surfside review and recommendations

Kihei Surfside
Another sunset at the Kihei Surfside – love this place!

This past week we had repeat guests who had previously stayed at our Palms at Wailea condo with their family stay at our oceanfront Kihei Surfside condo. They wrote us a lovely Kihei Surfside review in our guestbook, together with some of their experiences while on Maui:

Cara & Sig,

Location Location Location!

This is our third stay at one of your condos. First time at Kihei Surfside. We thought the first two times at the Palms at Wailea were amazing, but WOW! Do we love this condo!

We spent our 30th anniversary here celebrating with the luau at Te Au Moana at the Marriott. Highly recommended.

Our favorite things to do: we bought snorkeling equipment at Snorkel Bob’s at South Kihei Kamaole Center – Corey was fantastic! Kihei Caffe for breakfast, gotta try the cinnamon buns and Mac Nut Banana Pancakes (portions are huge, share). Moose McGillicudy’s, Fabiani’s on Lipoa – awesome Italian and bakery. Cool Cats Cafe in Lahaina – great fries.

Most of all we ate here at the condo, enjoying the beautiful view. Lots of activities to do especially the Glow Bocce Balls at night. Rent them out of the office (office staff is amazing!!). Just loved the community here – meeting people at the BBQ, listening to the men blow the conch shell. Enjoying beautiful sunsets, laying and relaxing on the beautiful green lawn by the ocean. Very peaceful and stress free!

We can hardly wait to come back again!

Snorkeling – Makena Bay, Makena Beach Landing, Kapalua Bay, get there by 8AM.

This condo is a must! Sig and Care once again you’ve outdone yourselves! Thanks so much for everything. God bless you and your family. Mele Kalikimaka, L & G.

~ Mahalo for the Kihei Surfside review. We are so happy you had a great anniversary trip!

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A few pre-Christmas happenings on Maui

I still remember my first Christmas here on Maui. Having lived with seasons all my life, I admit it was strange not having cold weather and snow in December. But eventually you get used to ‘no snow’, poinsettias growing in flower beds, fresh tree-ripened fruit year-round and year-round beach weather. And just because we don’t have miserable weather this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pre-Christmas spirit of things.

Christmas
my flower bed poinsettia
Here are a few pre-Christmas events you may enjoy

December 3 – Maui Pops Orchestra concert. 3pm at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center

December 9 – Lighting of the Ulupalakua Christmas Tree at Maui’s own upcountry winery – Maui Wine. 4:30-8:30pm. Enjoy family fun activities, live music, an outdoor movie (The Grinch) in the cool crisp air of Haleakala. They will also be hosting a wine tasting. On a side note, wine tastings are no longer complimentary at Maui Wine – however, I’m told the quality and servings have improved.

December 10 – 6th Annual Maui Mompreneur Showcase & Supply Drive – craft fair held 9am-2pm at the Maui Seaside Hotel ballroom. They will also be collecting school supplies for Kahului Elementary School which last week had a fire destroying five classrooms.

On Christmas Eve the Grand Wailea welcomes Santa as he arrives by outrigger canoe. Get your picture and treats 9-11am

If that’s too early, he also arrives on Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani from 12-1pm on Christmas Eve.

A few other non-Christmas events

Whale Watching has begun – book a whale watch, or visit the Humpback Whale Sanctuary for information on how to spot whale activity right from the beach.

Maui Town Parties – every Friday check out a different town party. Wailuku (1st), Lahaina (2nd), Makawao (3rd), Kihei (4th) and Lanai (5th). Do check out the website for more information.

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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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Imu roasted turkey – Hawaiian style!

Thanksgiving really snuck up on us this year. Last week I realized Thanksgiving was just around the corner and thought – the last thing I want to do is babysit a turkey in the oven. Then a friend posted about her school’s Hawaiian studies fundraiser – an opportunity to have imu-roasted turkey!

imuWhat is an imu? An imu is a temporary underground oven where you cook meat underground. The students dug a large pit by hand in one corner of the school property. Then they built a fire with local kiawe wood, surrounded by (porous) lava rock. Once the rocks are red hot and the fire burned down, they spread spread out the rocks, lay banana tree stalks and leaves on it. They placed the foil-wrapped meat packs on top of that, covered them with banana leaves, wet guinea-sacks, and finally with a tarp. Then the tarp was weighed down along the edges with dirt to help keep the heat in and other things out.

Here are the instructions we received:

Please deliver pans between 400 -700 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.  The imu is located near the upper soccer field.  We have a staging area behind the backstop.  We plan to close the imu at 8:00pm on Wednesday night and open Thursday morning 8:30-9:00 a.m.  Here are some instructions for preparing the turkey.

imu1.     Thaw Turkeys.  You can put the turkeys in the fridge on Sunday night. If not, you may thaw turkey in a cooler on Monday and leave in there until the turkey thaws and prepare turkey on Wednesday afternoon.

2.     Put turkeys in a heavy-duty disposable aluminum pan (the ones with handles makes it easier to handle).

3.     Season turkey to your liking.  For example, rub Hawaiian salt all over the bird including the inside.  Next, rub oyster sauce all over the bird including the inside. Again, seasoning is up to your taste. There are many ways to prepare the turkey.  Hawaiian salt is the most common.  Last year we attempted a vinha dʻalhos turkey.  We donʻt recommend this type of turkey for the imu.

4.     Double wrap the whole pan in aluminum foil.

5.     Bring pan to the imu. Weʻll tie string and identify the pans with a name tag.

6.     Arrive Thursday morning 9:00-1030 a.m. to pick up turkeys at same location.

rainbow

It was pouring rain on the drive upcountry yesterday, but I was rewarded by beautiful rainbows. I dropped off my turkey, then this morning I drove up and arrived just in time for the imu to be unearthed. I sure enjoyed it.

turkeys for imu
Labeling turkeys before they go in the imu.
imu
The imu had a tent over it, just in case it started raining.
imu
Uncovering the imu, one layer at a time.
imu
Banana leaves under the guinea sacks
imu
Turkeys underneath the banana leaves
Imu-roasted turkeys waiting for pick-up
imu
My turkey after its imu-experience

 

How is our turkey? It is amazing! The turkey is a little smokey and has a slightly different flavor – I imagine from the banana leaves. The meat just falls right off the bones. Yum!

My unpacked turkey – it smelled so good and was so tender
imu
Our carved turkey. I placed it in the fridge and will re-heat it at dinner time
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Halloween and other events on Maui

plumeria

Can you believe October is nearly over? This year is just flying by! This Tuesday is Halloween, and the biggest party to be found is on Front Street in Lahaina. Festivities begin at 4:30PM with a Halloween Parade, costume contests and a general party atmosphere (see here for more details). There will be road closures and parking lot closures in Lahaina, so do your research if you are driving up there, or see if you can buy a shuttle ticket, according to the website there are still some available. Do remember not to drink and drive – I’m sure the police will be out to enforce the law.

Here is a list of other Halloween events on Maui, courtesy of Maui Now.

Also happening this week…. This coming weekend is the Fourth Annual Made in Maui County Festival. I am really looking forward to this event which takes place on the lawn at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. It’s a great place to meet local artists, crafters but also some commercial grade operators. The organizers are selective in regards to the vendors which brings up the quality. Last year I discovered HI Spice, a Kihei hotsauce producer – their Smoked Scorpion hotsauce is really good. My friend Shelley will have a booth of her beautiful Hawaii-inspired photography cards there again this year (Alohi Images).

November 5-11 is Wailea Restaurant Week. Twenty-two Wailea restaurants offer 3 course prix-fixe menus (ranging in price from $29-$59). No tickets required, but reservations are recommended. Just be sure to ask for the Wailea Restaurant Week menu. By the way, if you decide you’d rather eat off the regular menu, that is fine too. This is a great way to try a new restaurant or two for a reasonable price. Drinks are, of course, extra. Wailea Restaurant Week takes place twice a year (also in May).

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Last minute opening at Palms at Wailea #503

Palms at Wailea #503 lanai
Your huge wrap-around lanai, the large lawn and an oceanview in the distance

We’ve had a cancellation at our lovely 2 bedroom 2 bathroom Palms at Wailea condo from November 8-19, 2017! We’d love to have you!

This fully remodeled ground floor condo is a 10 minute walk from Keawakapu beach. It is fully stocked with beach gear, linens and dishes and even includes a Vitamix for your tropical beverages of choice!

The discounted rate is $239/night, if you can stay 7 nights or longer, I’ll rent at $229/night. Rate is plus cleaning and tax! Book now and come to Maui for a last minute getaway!

Palms at Wailea #503
Welcome to our condo, Palms at Wailea #503, the spacious living and dining room

 

Palms at Wailea #503 bedroom ensuite
Master bedroom with master bath which includes laundry
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It’s Pumpkin Patch time

Can you believe we are halfway through October? That means it’s pumpkin patch time. Did you know, Maui has a pumpkin patch? It’s cute!

pumpkin patch

The best part about it – you drive 45 minutes upcountry, enjoy bi-coastal views and cool off while you’re at it!pumpkin patch

Even if you aren’t here this fall to enjoy the pumpkin patch, you can still drive upcountry to enjoy Kula Country Farms which has a great farm stand.
pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

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Coming in 2018…. an increase in the transient accommodations tax

I’ve had many a discussion with our kids about taxes and why one has to pay them. Yes, we all like to complain about taxes, but in truth, if noone paid tax, we’d have to find another way to fund the basics we all want to have taken care of for us.

Yes, even in paradise (or should I say especially in paradise) we pay our share of taxes. State lawmakers have been struggling to find a way to pay for Oahu’s light rail transit system especially since costs spiraled out of control. Yes, it turns out it has been a bit of a boondoggle. Opinions range from ‘shut the whole thing down’ to ‘raise taxes’ and various versions in between. After failing to deal with it in the spring legislative session, lawmakers came together in August for a special session specifically to deal with the light rail transit system.

Did I mention, this rail system is only on Oahu? Sigh. Oahu is smaller than Maui but with a population of over a million, and it is known for its traffic congestion. In fact, one of their highways is in parts 6 lanes across. I don’t begrudge them a transit solution. I guess I just wish our guests’ tax dollars went towards funding one of the many special projects we need done here on Maui instead.

The end result of the special session is an increase in the State’s transient accommodation tax (TAT) from 9.25% to 10.25% effective January 1, 2018. This is Hawaii’s version of a hotel tax and applies also to all vacation rentals. Just FYI, time shares pay a higher percentage still.

In addition to the TAT, you also pay general excise tax (GET) on everything purchased in Hawaii (all goods, services, and yes, also your vacation rental). The GET is 4.167%. So the new total tax goes from 13.417% to 14.417%.

How much will this really affect you? If your vacation rental is $1000/night, the added tax works out to $10.

In the overall scheme of things, it could be worse (lawmakers had been discussing increasing the TAT by 5 points instead of the 1 we got). I suppose we should be thankful.

So remember, should you make it to Oahu – go ride their light rail transit system! Once it’s finally completed, that is. Current estimated completion date is sometime in 2025. Maybe.

Can you avoid paying the tax?

All legal vacation rentals in Hawaii by law have to submit both taxes (the TAT and GET) to the government. By law they need to post their tax IDs on all their advertising (look for it). If you come across a landlord or property manager not charging the tax, be very careful. Chances are great this is a scam – an illegal rental (which could be shut down at any time) or a con-man trying to get your money. Wouldn’t that be an awful way to start your vacation – arriving on Maui with no place to stay!

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October’s events on Maui

Can you believe it’s already October? This year continues to fly by. Here are a few October’s events to check out if you are here this month.

October's events
the pumpkin patch at Kula Country Farms is open
Kula Country Farms

Their annual pumpkin patch is open again! They also have a small corn maze and farm-style mini-golf course. Check out their facebook page for more details. They are usually closed on Sunday – not sure about the schedule during pumpkin season. This is also a great opportunity to buy yummy locally grown fruit and vegetables!

95th Annual Maui County Fair

This year’s fair is October 5-8 at the fair grounds in Kahului. It starts off with the annual parade Thursday late afternoon, and then is open Thursday and Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday all day/evening. The orchid show is supposed to be amazing. And then of course there are rides, food and much more…

Moonlight Mele Concert

This Hawaiian music concert is hosted by the Maui Historical Society at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Admission is only $5 per person, children 12 and under are free.

12th Annual Ukulele Festival

October 14-15 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Festival. I have friends who go every year – it sounds like a lot of fun!

Maui Marathon

This takes place October 15th. Watch out for runners on the road between Kahului and Kaanapali!

Halloween Haunted House of Horror

This must be a new event – starting October 20th and running through Halloween in the old Hard Rock Cafe space at the Outlets of Maui in Lahaina. Don’t forget to get your parking validated when you buy something at the Outlets!

Halloween in Lahaina

This is an annual event that takes place on Front Street in Lahaina. Yes, there are shuttle buses that run between Kihei and Lahaina, so look into that and get your tickets  (for the bus) early. The event itself is free.

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Four things that will make or break your vacation rental business

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since we dove head-first into the vacation rental business, buying four condos in five months. At the time we knew rather little about what we were doing. Sure we had been long-term rental landlords for years, so we knew about property management. But vacation rentals are a completely different ball game. There are many lessons learned in the past seven years.

We were fortunate to have several people guide us as we entered the world of vacation rentals. The owners of Kihei Surfside and Sugar Beach each gave me an information download over lunch of what they had learned in years of vacation renting. The first year we worked closely with a vacation rental company at Kihei Surfside – they were a great resource. Very importantly we were fortunate to retain a fantastic cleaning lady from day one who has brought her expertise and knowledge to our business.

Four things will make or break your vacation rental business

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Guests want the condo to be clean and they want it to be well-maintained. This is really a no-brainer. But did you know the majority of condo owners live off-island? Both cleanliness and maintenance slip big-time when you don’t have a hands-on on-island owner to check and stay on top of things. As on-island owners we walk into our condos between all bookings. Our wonderful cleaner Cindy has been cleaning our condos for seven years now. She is a perfectionist and together with Beth (an amazing artist – we have a number of her paintings hanging in our condos) does her best to keep our condos in top shape given the time constraints she works within. Sig (my husband) is our maintenance man – also a perfectionist he enjoys going into the condos and making little (or big) improvements, tinkering with things to get them ‘just right’ for the next guest. If you stay at one of our condos and something needs fixing, please call him and if urgent, he will take care of it within the day, or add it to his ‘to-do list’ for the next check-out.

Sig & Cara Birkholz
Cara & Sig – owners of Maui Oceanview Condos

Good Communication

In today’s online world we expect quick and good communication. I try – I really do try to respond to your inquiries as quickly as possible. Sometimes life happens, but do know that I am on it.

Integrity

Isn’t this key with everything in life? Please read our reviews (on this website, our web listings and our guestbook entries). They speak for themselves.

Do we have it all together? Does anyone ever? We do try our best with our vacation rental business and hope that you have a wonderful vacation when you stay at one of our condos!

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