Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

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 – Mauis’ 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
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RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 kitchen and look down the hallway
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RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 kitchen sink with backsplash tile
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RENOVATION photo 8/30/2019 peeking into the bedroom (the plantation shutters will be installed next week)
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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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Kamaole Sands Renovation

As reported in June, we are proud new owners of Kamaole Sands 2-206. We bought a one bedroom two bathroom condo with a beautiful ocean view. The inside of the condo was in pretty original condition and this meant – renovation time!

Everything must go. We told our well-connected realtor to please pass the word that everything in the condo must go, and so it seems some hard-working housekeepers came and helped themselves to furniture, appliances, dishes, linens etc. Yes, I suppose I could have hauled it home and done a garage sale, but I just didn’t have the time or energy.

We went on our own family vacation in June and then once we got back, our contractor Armando got started on the renovation. Armando was our contractor at both our Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole renovations and he is awesome. Great with communication, on schedule, on top of things. We are honored to have him on our project again.

They tore out the tile flooring and cheap laminate, the shower/tubs, toilets and cabinetry. They’ve covered over the popcorn ceiling, dropped the kitchen ceiling to accommodate can lights, added some in the bathrooms and hallway nook. They’ve put in new plumbing, a new walk-in shower and a new corner stall shower in the two bathrooms. The A/C people have ducted and re-insulated the wall for the two split-system A/C units (one in the living room and one in the bedroom). The painters have primed the condo, now just waiting for the chosen paint color to be applied.

Late this week they’ve been installing the new white cabinets. I can’t wait for the cabinets to be finished so I can better visualize the living room space. It’s hard to plan furniture when you’re not entirely sure where the kitchen/bar ends and the living room begins. Is there space for a dining table and chairs, or will we just go with the bar area? This is a question yet to be solved! Yesterday my son and I measured everything extensively and I think I have a better picture of what will work.

We are planning to have our Kamaole Sands renovation to be completed within the next few weeks and the condo ready to rent after Labor Day weekend. How about it? We’d love to have you! The condo isn’t listed on our website – yet – but you can shoot me an email and I’ll get you information. To date ALL dates are available. Rent September/October 2019 for the bargain rate of $159/night plus cleaning ($150) and 14.417% tax.

Why Kamaole Sands?

We have been looking at this condo for several years now. It is a popular resort across from Kamaole 3 beach, just 2 complexes away from our Maui Kamaole condo.

Kamaole Sands is located in sunny South Kihei, across the street from Kamaole 3 Beach Park. This is a 15 acre property with water fountains, a common pool/hot tub, gym, 4 tennis courts and Hawaii’s largest living orchid wall. It comes complete with a 24 hour desk, on-site concierge, and a complimentary Wednesday mai-tai party.

We hope to welcome you here soon!!

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This year’s best Maui coffee

Last weekend I attended the 12th Annual Maui Seed to Cup event at the Maui Tropical Plantation. I enjoy drinking coffee, but admittedly I am not very knowledgeable on the subject. It was a beautiful though very hot day and my main goal was to find this year’s best Maui coffee.

Surprisingly – or maybe not – this year’s best Maui coffee turned out to be one I’ve seen and drank before. This year’s winner (from Maui coffee growers) is Olinda Organic Farms with their Red Catuai variety. They came in 3rd in the Hawaii State-wide cupping competition. Do give their beans a try if you find them! According to their Facebook page they are sometimes at Pukalani’s Saturday farmers market.

In second place for Maui (8th overall for the State of Hawaii) was a new to me coffee – Maui Mountain Homegrown Coffee. As it turned out, this was the first coffee stand my friend and I had approached for a sample. After the owner had been presented her award, I returned to her booth and asked which coffee roast had come in second place for the cupping competition. As mentioned, I don’t know much about this. She told me for the cupping competition all growers submit unroasted (green) beans which are then all roasted the exact same way (a very light roast) and then tested. Interesting. Her submission was 65% Red Catuai, 35% Typica beans.

best Maui coffee
Maui’s second place grower – Maui Mountain Grown Coffee. Congratulations!

I picked up a bag of her beans and am presently enjoying them at home! Very delicious! I highly recommend!

best Maui coffee
smells so good

Here is a list of the top ten winners from the 2019 State of Hawaii Cupping Competition.

Another of my favorite roasters was also at the festival, Maui Grown Coffee. Their roaster, I’m told, is one of the most knowledgeable in the business. They have a store in Lahaina, under the old sugar cane factory smoke stack. My favorite there is the Lava Flow. They allow you to sample their coffees prior to buying.

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