Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Sunset atop Haleakala

I love watching sunset, watching the colors change. But there’s nothing quite like watching it at the beach. Except perhaps from atop the highest mountain.

Yesterday we dropped our turkeys off at an upcountry imu (more on that in another post) and then continued up the mountain. We got there just before sunset which was great as it allowed us to see the crater valley which is spectacular in itself. I almost think it’s better in the morning though, when the sun really shows off all the different colors in the valley.

Haleakala’s crater valley

We had passed through some clouds on our way up to the summit (10,023 feet elevation), but it cleared up just past the National Park gates (yes, this is a national park – 3 day entrance fee is $25, an annual pass is $50).

a silversword plant – these are endangered and grow only on Maui. A step on their root system will kill them, so don’t get close.

Sunrise viewing is hugely popular on Haleakala, so much so that a few years ago the park instituted a reservation system. If you want to go see sunrise, make sure two months prior you go online and buy a ticket. Tickets are cheap – only $1.50/car (however, you ALSO need to purchase or have along your national park pass to enter the park). But they are day-specific, so you do need to go on that day (this limits the total number of cars to 150, which is the number of parking stalls up there). They do release a few additional tickets two days prior, so that’s always an option also. Note, park wardens will not allow you into the park between 3-7AM without this special ticket.

I’ve never driven up for sunrise. I would prefer to see if it’s cloudy or clear before I drive all that way (rather than taking my chances leaving at 3AM to get to the summit in time for a possible sunrise).

Yesterday the top parking lot was full, but there were plenty of parking spaces in the crater parking lot.

Stargazing with cows

We stayed at the summit until it was quite dark and then drove back down the mountain. Just past the national park gate and forest, we encountered cows on the road. Yes, there are signs warning of cows, do watch for them as they like to munch grass right next to the road. In fact, I’ve come across cows lying on the road in the evening (which is nice and warm from the sun).

We parked in a pull-out near some cows, turned off the car and stood next to it, gazing up at the stars. It was so dark, we couldn’t see the cows, just hear them snorting and munching their grass. As you know, we used to own a dairy farm, so we loved that. It was a beautiful evening.

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Kula Lodge

I had an errand to run today near Kula Lodge. Kula Lodge is at the 3200 ft elevation. As you drive up our volcano (Haleakala), you will find that the roads get narrower, the speed limits drop and the views become increasingly spectacular.

The Kula Lodge is the highest sit-down restaurant on Maui with an outdoor pizza oven and stunning bi-coastal views. This is also home to the Curtis Cost Gallery – his Maui scenery paintings are just spectacular. You can also stay at the Kula Lodge, though we’ve never done it.

One of my favorite things to do (though I haven’t done it for a while), is to kick off an evening of stargazing with pizza at the Kula Lodge. It’s time we did that again.

The poinsettia hedge in the parking lot is starting to bloom. It is mid-November. Where did the year go?

Kula Marketplace

As I was a bit early, I stopped at the Kula Marketplace gift shop to look around. Always on the look out for new Made in Maui products and goodies. Today I found a few: a new to me hotsauce by Volcano Spice using Maui grown scorpion peppers. I love the HI Spice Smoke Scorpion sauce, so I’ll have to taste-test these two. I love the color.

I also found these coasters which I thought would make fun Christmas presents.

Kula Lodge
Christmas coasters

I may have mentioned a time or two how much I love upcountry Maui. I don’t know what I love more – the scenery and the views, or cooling off from Kihei’s heat!

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Ocean Vodka’s fy gin

A few weeks ago my husband Sig took friends visiting from Germany for his favorite upcountry drive. He came home with a bottle of Ocean Vodka’s fy gin.

As of right now there is no information about this new fy gin online, so yesterday I stopped at Ocean Vodka to ask a few questions. Really, I should have signed up for the tour, but I was in a rush, so I asked one of the gift shop ladies for a little more information. I am really not a gin connaisseur but the main thing I gleaned from what she told me is that it is infused with lavender, lime, and ginger. The company is continuing on with their cool blue bottle concept.

I also found this info on Tripadvisor from someone who obviously HAS been on the tour:

The gin is called „fy“ which is taken from the local (pidGIN ) language for „five“. There are five botanicals that are responsible for the taste, the bottle is a very well transparent designed „container“ that has five sides and it is the distillery‘s fifth product. It gets five out of five points from me…

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60633-d13147941-r717497568-The_Hawaii_Sea_Spirits_Organic_Farm_and_Distillery-Kula_Maui_Hawaii.html

Hawaii Sea Spirits

fy gin
Entrance sign to the organic farm and distillery

Disclaimer: everyone I know refers to this farm as Ocean Vodka. However, the correct name for the organic farm and distillery is Hawaii Sea Spirits. Their first product was Ocean Vodka which is sold in its iconic blue bottle. They also make three types of Kula rum and now fy gin. All products are made from organic sugar cane grown right here on Maui.

I highly recommend stopping by their property and going for a tour. Their vodka and rums are available at stores around the island and even on the mainland. Fy gin is for now only available in their own store on property.

Upcountry Drive

Sig’s favorite upcountry drive includes: Ocean Vodka and the Surfing Hawaii Goat Farm next door. Then a drive up windy Omaopio Road to Kula Hwy where you pass the Kula Farms farm stand (yum). Then on to Ulupalakua Ranch’s General Store for a fresh Maui-grown burger. After lunch, a stop at the winery across the street (the rest room is just behind it, so you’re walking right by anyway).

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Special Edition Black Pearl beer

A few months ago I came across a special edition beer from the Maui Brewing Company – Black Pearl. The other day they had a picture of it on their facebook page – it’s back! I had to go pick it up. Check this article for more information on Black Pearl.

Maui Brewing Company
the special edition Black Pearl

I admit – I am not a beer drinker. In fact, I know very little about beer, except that I like dark beer. My go-to drink is usually a glass of merlot. But this beer is delicious.

I picked up a bottle of Black Pearl yesterday. It comes in a 750 ml bottle for $30, you can pick it up right in their pub. In fact, you can sample it before buying it right at the bar. As she was ringing up my bottle, the bar tender asked if I wanted to sample it vs the Coconut Porter. She said the Black Pearl was made from the Coconut Porter, which is then aged in a number of different barrels. Again, if you know more about beer, I apologize. But go check it out!

Maui Brewing Company

Have you been to the Maui Brewing Company? There are two locations on Maui. The original location in Kahana and the ‘new’ brewery with restaurant here in Kihei. If you haven’t been to the Kihei location, go. It is a really neat building that won an architectural design award. You can take brewery tours, sample any one of their 30+ beers on tap, play games on their outdoor patio and dine in their restaurant.

Maui Brewing Company
a glass of Coconut Porter
Maui Brewing Company
Special pizza of the day – brussel sprout bacon. Different and delicious
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Craving Poke

Of late it seems I’ve been craving poke. As I scroll through the pictures on my phone, I came across 3 recent pictures of poke. A-hem.

What is poke?

Poke is raw fish – usually ahi (tuna) – cut up, marinated and served very fresh. There are many varieties. A poke bowl is poke on warm rice. You always eat poke as soon as you buy it. Do not keep leftover for another meal. This is raw fish. Consume as soon as possible.

My recent poke choices

The first was a poke bowl at Gannon’s Red Bar. Gannon’s is one of my favorite restaurants. I love the setting in the club house of the Wailea Gold and Emerald Golf Course with a lovely view of the ocean and Molokini. Lunch there is always lovely, but so is the happy hour at the Red Bar. It runs I believe from 4-8pm. Depending on the number of visitors on the island, you will need to make reservations.

Gannon’s Red Bar poke bowl – definitely the fanciest

My second poke bowl was just last week. I was running errands and needed lunch to go. The poke bowl at Eskimo Candy was calling my name. Eskimo Candy is sort of out-of-the-way, located in an industrial area near Kihei’s middle and elementary schools. They have some of the freshest seafood on island, and THE best poke bowl. I got there after the lunch crowd, and they only had two kinds of poke (instead of the usual four). They put something on their rice – not sure what – but it’s good. And the seaweed salad gives it a punch of color and awesome texture.

Eskimo Candy poke bowl – normally there would be 4 types, but after lunch they were down to 2 varieties plus seaweed salad

Then yesterday Sig suggested I pick up fried chicken for a quick dinner from Foodland. It was on sale, 10 pieces for $9.99. I don’t know about you, but fried chicken doesn’t exactly pique my interest when…… everyone knows Foodland has the best poke……. And so, I picked up the shoyu (soy sauce) poke. So good.

Foodland has THE BEST poke. Go try and buy

I don’t know about you, but I’m craving poke. Tonight’s leftover pizza just isn’t working for me…

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Treats from Komoda’s Bakery

Yesterday my son had another cross country race. This one was at an upcountry high school. As we drove up Haleakala Hwy, he asked – Mom, can you pick up Komoda’s for the team?

Komoda’s is a family run bakery in Makawao that celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years ago. Yes, it’s a hole in the wall. But it is one of our family’s favorite treat places. In particular the kids like the stick donuts. Five sugar glazed mini donuts on a stick. What’s not to love?

The thing with Komoda’s is – they open at 7AM. For best selection, you have to be there at 7AM or even earlier to get a parking spot and get in line. Mornings there is a line out the door and if you arrive much later, they won’t have much left. Komoda’s closes once they’re sold out (sometimes by 2pm). And they are closed Wednesdays and Sundays and sometimes in September when the family takes time off.

They are best known for their cream puffs and cocoa puffs. I however prefer their Coconut Danish.

Yes, I caved, I picked up 20 stick donuts for the team, a bag of dinner rolls for company we had last night. And a Coconut Danish for me.

Surprise

The best part was surprising my son with a shopping bag of stick donuts when he was only expecting a few for him and his friends. They ran 3 miles (plus their warm up miles). They worked for it.

upcountry
and they’re off – Maui’s high school boys’ track and field event

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Upcoming Maui Events

I keep seeing advertisements for upcoming Maui events, and I keep thinking – oh, I should post about that…. so here you go.

36th Annual Kula Festival ~ Sept 21, 2019, 9AM-4PM. It’s roasting hot in Kihei this summer. Head upcountry and check out this one day event hosted by St John’s Episcopalian church.

14th Annual Maui Ukulele Festival ~ Sept 28, 2019, 1PM-6PM at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. This is another fun FREE event. Bring a blanket or beach chairs and some games and enjoy a free ukulele concert. Food for purchase at local food trucks.

Annual Maui Fair ~ October 3-6, 2019 at the War Memorial Complex. This is the only fair with rides on Maui, a favorite among locals. I always hear about the amazing local food here!

Maui Marathon and Half Marathon ~ October 10, 5AM-2PM. There are people who come to Maui just for this event! Careful if you are driving from Kihei to Lahaina that day as there will be runners on the road!

6th Annual Maui in Maui County Festival ~ November 1&2 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. This is an amazing place to stock up on Christmas presents and souvenirs. Everything is made locally. This year there are 140 local vendors signed up, plus food trucks and live music. If you’re on Maui, don’t miss this!

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Kamaole Sands 2-206 Progress

Here’s an update on our Kamaole Sands 2-206 progress: our renovations are progressing a little slower than I was wishing. I had hoped we’d be finishing this weekend and then have a few days to clean and set everything up. We are planning on September 22, 2019.

Here is where we are at. The appliances have all arrived and been installed. We ended up purchasing a full-size washer and dryer, as opposed to the apartment-size washer/dryer that was in the condo. This will make doing laundry a lot better for guests and the cleaners.

Kamaole Sands renovation
This kitchen is nice and roomy. Love the glass tile back splash

Paul the shutter installer came by today to install the big plantation-style shutters. He will need to do a little tweaking as the window isn’t entirely square. Paul has a plan! I can’t wait. In the mean time the headboard (a matching barn door) is hung. I have a comfy Casper California King mattress for the bedroom.

Kamaole Sands renovation
the bedroom – waiting for the plantation shutters

We are expecting Brad and team to come and install the split A/C handlers next week.

Armando and his crew have a few small things to take care of yet, but they are basically done.

Kamaole Sands remodel
the entry cabinet, barn door into the main bath and living area in the back

Lifestyle Maui will deliver the sofa Wednesday morning. Once the shutters are installed, my teenagers will help me bring and set up the rest of the furniture. I look forward to parking the vehicle in the garage again, rather than using it as a temporary furniture warehouse!

Here are a few pictures from this evening. My oldest and I brought the hallway and TV cabinets to the condo and set them up.

Kamaole Sands 2-206
main bathroom with new washer and dryer, waiting on the custom glass shower enclosure
Kamole Sands remodel
the view from the lanai – love that the tile from the living room continues onto the lanai

Availability at our Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo

Our website isn’t quite updated yet, however if you do an availability search, it will show you if our Kamaole Sands condo is available for your dates. To date we have 3 bookings for fall 2019, with Christmas and high season completely open.

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A few Kamaole Sands renovation pictures

I stopped by our new Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo this afternoon. I had picked up another bathroom and hallway mirror at Lowes. Here are some updated pictures! Enjoy!

renovation
RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019, looking into the living area
renovation
RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 kitchen and look down the hallway
renovation
RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 kitchen sink with backsplash tile
renovation
RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 peeking into the bedroom (the plantation shutters will be installed next week)
renovation
RENOVATION PHOTO 8/30/2019 the bedroom with peek into the master bath
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RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 bedroom with peek into the master bath
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RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 the hallway nook
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Is my vacation rental legal and should I care

Vacation rentals are gaining in popularity world-wide as vacationers discover the advantages to renting a condo vs staying in a hotel. However with this increased popularity there is also an increased amount of concern regarding vacation rentals and the impact they have on communities and neighborhoods.

Disclaimer: ALL five of our vacation rentals are legal. They are located in designated resort zones surrounded mainly by other vacation rentals. Each one is classified as a short-term rental by the County of Maui based on their zoning. These condos are located in areas frequented by tourists, the buildings generally too expensive to buy and maintain for long-term rentals. We pay the short-term rental property tax rate to County of Maui and collect and submit transient accommodations and general excise tax to the State of Hawaii as is required by law.

Does Maui have legal vacation rentals?

Maui County has two types of legal vacation rentals. Those in approved zones (hotel/business/historic) and then those that are outside of the designated zone and have applied for and received a special bed & breakfast (or TVR – transient vacation rental) permit. There are 400 of these permits available in Maui County. When you are renting one of these properties, they should be displaying both their permit# and their tax ID on all advertising. (Source: Maui County website and here)

How do I determine if my Maui vacation rental is legal?

If you are renting a place that is NOT in an apartment building, ask for the Maui County permit number. If they can’t produce one, don’t rent it.

If your vacation rental is in an apartment building or larger resort, there is a very handy website called MauiPropertyTax.com. On it you can search by address or owner’s name. Make sure you select the correct unit number. In the assessment page it will show you what the condo is classified as – it should say ‘short term rental’. Note, short term rentals pay a significantly higher property tax than owner-occupied or even long-term rentals (zoned ‘apartment’).

What happens if I rent an illegal vacation rental?

Best case scenario – nothing. You come on vacation, everything is fine.

Worst case scenario – you arrive and realize your vacation rental has been shut down and you have no place to stay. You are out thousands of dollars and scramble to find another rental. If this happens during high season (Christmas through early April, you may end up camping in your rental car).

What are other things owners need to do to have a legal vacation rental?

Besides zoning, there are other requirements by the State of Hawaii. Owners/property managers must collect a total of 14.4167% tax from their guests and submit to the State of Hawaii. Their GE/TA tax ID numbers must be listed on all advertising and rental agreements.

Legally we also must have an on-island contact person and our guests must have this person’s phone and email address so they can reach them when there is a problem. In our case, that on-island contact is me (Cara). When you rent with us, my email and cell phone number is included in both the rental agreement and check-in information. It is also posted in each condo. When we do travel, we always provide you with an alternate contact person (the cleaning company manager).

Current real-life State of Hawaii example of what can happen when you rent an illegal vacation rental

Let me preface this news story: each County in the State of Hawaii has its own vacation rental legislation. There are numerous counties: Maui County (encompasses Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe), Hawaii County (also known as ‘Big Island’), City of Honolulu (this is the island Oahu – home to Honolulu, Waikiki Beach etc), Kauai County.

The City of Honolulu (Island of Oahu) is currently in the news for clamping down on illegal vacation rentals. Part of the problem is that they have not issued vacation rental permits since 1989. Since then many illegal vacation rentals have proliferated unchecked as the island’s government has purposely ignored the problem. Effective August 2019 the City of Honolulu has decided to clamp down on illegal vacation rentals and issue fines. This is causing a lot of vacation rental chaos ON OAHU as owners, threatened by steep fines for rentals of less than 30 days, cancel existing bookings and pull listings.

Note, this enforcement action does NOT affect Maui vacation rentals. Different county, different rules. However, as the owner of five LEGALLY operated vacation rentals on Maui, I do support Counties’ enforcement of current rules. Illegal operators put legal operators at a disadvantage. I pay the higher property tax rate, insurance costs, collect and submit the 10.25% transient accommodation tax and 4.167% general excise tax as required to the State of Hawaii. Illegal operators do not do these things and have an unfair competitive advantage.

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