Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Waiakoa Loop Trail

Another day, another hike with the kids, this time the Waiakoa Loop Trail in upcountry Maui.

I’ve been wanting to go explore the hikes at Poli Poli for a while now. Last fall my cross-country running kid had a team practice up there. It turns out, I had a completely mistaken idea of where the hikes were.

The car adventure

Of course, to preface this – you drive all the way from Kihei past the Kula Farm stand along the Kula Hwy, then turn up the mountain and, just next to Kula Botanical Gardens, turn right up Waiopuli Road which takes you what my teenager had told me was Poli Poli. It’s the bottom of a large meadow with signs featuring hang-gliding. That portion alone is about a one hour drive from Kihei.

To get to the hikes, you traverse a large meadow with a newly paved one lane road featuring many hair pin turns, then continue up through forested areas (with more hair pin turns) until you get to the first of a series of trails. The hairpin turns aren’t so bad, and there are occasional pull-outs to allow for oncoming traffic. The sketchy part is – the newly paved road has steep dropoffs on either side of the asphalt (4-8 inches for sure which is great for the car). However, this balances out with the spectacular bicoastal views.

After our car adventure, we chose to go with the first trail we came upon – the Waiakoa Loop Trail.

Waiakoa Loop Trail

The Waiakoa Loop Trail has a very small parking lot (fitting maybe 3-4 cars) next to an ominous-sounding ‘hunter check-in station’. Consider yourself warned. The road continues up the hill promising further adventurous driving, but instead you head down a dirt access road (as of today this road has some deep ruts in it, my van would not have done well on it had it been open for driving – it’s not). The trail starts off with a steep downhill section, followed by a steep uphill section (not quite as bad as the beginning steep uphill section at the Waihee Ridge Trail). After that it levels out with alternating uphill/downhill parts, but not bad at all. This coming from an inexperienced hiker.

Waiakoa Loop Trail

After 0.7 miles you get to the beginning of the loop trail. Close the gate behind you and brush your shoes to prevent carrying non-endemic plant seeds onto the trail. This hike is completely in the forest (no views beside forest). We were partly in the clouds. It was however absolutely beautiful. We heard so many birds (my dad would have had a field day with his bird watching app). We saw absolutely no wildlife on the trail (though we had seen a nene bird near the trail head).

Disclaimer, we did not walk the entire trail. The entire trail is 3.8 miles (from the parking lot). We walked about 0.7 miles past the gate and then turned around, so a respectable 2.8 miles total.

Waiakoa Loop Trail
the hikes in the Kula Forest Reserve. You are here marks where you’ve already walked the access road and gotten to the gate. The orange dot on the yellow road is the hunter check-in station where you park.
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Waihee Ridge Trail

Yesterday we hiked Waihee Ridge Trail. It was absolutely beautiful.

School is basically out for the year. Normally we would be planning a Canada trip to visit grandparents and then some additional travel to teach the kids more about ‘the world’.

However, Covid happened and so we aren’t going anywhere soon. We are faced with another 2 1/2 months of summer (in addition to the 2 months of kids doing ‘at home’ school. So in an attempt to maintain some form of sanity, we’re determined to do some hiking and exploring within the government approved parameters. Check here for some Maui hikes we’ve done in the past few years.

Yesterday’s actual plan was to hike at Poli Poli. However as we were headed towards Kahului on the highway we saw it was raining upcountry. Change in plans. I suggested we try the Waihee Ridge Trail. We’ve never done that hike and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. With next to no visitors on island, I figured chances were good the parking lot wouldn’t be full. I was right.

The drive to Waihee Ridge Trail

To get there you drive through Wailuku and Waihee and end up on the road that circles the island counter-clockwise. Not a good idea, by the way, to circle the island from this direction. If you do want to drive around the island, I’m told always to start in Lahaina and then drive clock-wise towards Wailuku from there. This road is very windy and in part one lane only. Always better to be on the inside against the mountain as opposed to on the cliff side. Note, I saw a sign that portions of this road are closed to all but local traffic (similarly to the Road to Hana).

When you get to Mendes Ranch, the road turns left and you immediately turn up the driveway on the left where there is a large parking lot. Do not stop there, continue through the gate and up the mountain to the Waihee Ridge Trail parking lot (end of driveway). There is a private residence and also the boy scouts camp (Camp Maluhia) which you pass enroute.

The trail

The trail itself begins with a steep uphill paved climb. I think it’s to discourage you from trying it. Oh my word. Once you get to the water towers (you can see them from the parking lot), you veer off onto a regular path and it gets significantly easier. You then continue the uphill climb through a forest until you get to the ridge, peering down into Waihee Valley. It is absolutely beautiful. Waihee river looks like a creek from up high, but based on the sound, you know it’s more than that. From there on I’m told we got lucky. This portion of the trail can be very muddy and slippery. We had in fact worn our hiking boots (thankfully) but the trail was dry. It continues uphill.

once we came out the forest we were rewarded with beautiful views of Kahului harbor and Kihei in the far distance
looking down into the Waihee valley

We sent the two older kids ahead with Sig and I and our youngest bringing up the rear. At some point they texted us they had made it to the top and started returning. Honestly, we called it a day at that point as our youngest was having a hard time of it.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. It is a stunning hike with gorgeous views. I loved seeing all the ferns and plants. At the beginning of the trail hike there are boot brushes with instructions to wipe shoes so as to avoid bringing non-endemic plants up the path.

Will we do it again?

Maybe. Probably. But for now we have other hikes to try, such as Poli Poli and the Lahaina Pali Trail. How about you? What is your favorite Maui hike?

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May Maui Update

It’s been a month since my last update post, so here goes. Hawaii has weathered the Covid-19 storm pretty well. On Friday we had our first day with no new cases in all of Hawaii. At least none that were tested positive.

In total for all Hawaiian islands they’ve had 629 reported cases with 17 deaths (total population of 1.4 million).

Maui County itself with a population of 167,000 (including Molokai and Lanai) has registered 116 cases with 6 deaths. Interestingly island-wide the majority of cases are reported to have been returning residents. The majority of Maui’s cases centered around a public health snafu at Maui’s only hospital (Maui Memorial).

the near empty beach fronting the Grand Wailea Resort

The State is slowly easing up on restrictions. Last weekend golf courses and county beach parks reopened (for exercise only, no sports or gatherings). This week retail and shopping malls are allowed to resume business operations (under strict guidelines of course).

The stay at home order and mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arrivals (including inter-island travel) continues through May 31, with the Senate committee in charge announcing that the quarantine will likely be extended.

Everyone is required to wear face masks when leaving their home (except to exercise). Lying on the beach/parks and congregating is not permitted at this time.

What does the mandatory 14 day quarantine involve?

When travelers arrive at the airport, they are met by the national guard or other authorities, checked for symptoms, and have to agree to the terms of the mandatory 14 day quarantine. There is an app they have to download prior to arrival and they are checked on multiple times a day (I’m told). See here for more information.

Basically, you can travel directly to the place you are staying at and then may not leave the room/condo for any reason unless to seek medical help. No shopping, no walking, no beach, simply 14 days of binge-TV-watching, reading, browsing the internet. Not exactly the vacation you planned.

Yes, the State has been enforcing and going after reported offenders. They’ve been getting a warning and then given the option of jail time to serve the remainder of their quarantine or returning to the mainland. There is talk of increasing fines.

What will happen next?

I would love to have a crystal ball as to how soon Hawaii State will reopen for business and visitors. Truthfully, this has hit Hawaii hard. For decades everyone has known that our economy needs to expand and not be so tourism-centered. With many hotels and resorts closed, all the associated businesses are either closed or operating on skeleton staffing. Affected businesses include hotels, resorts, condo owners, restaurants, activities providers, farmers, grocery stores, cleaners, maintenance people, rental car operators, Uber/Lyft drivers etc. State-wide unemployment numbers are at approximately 35% and the unemployment office has been hopelessly overwhelmed with all the applications.

all five resorts along the Wailea Beach walk are shuttered (Fairmont, Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, Marriott, Andaz)

The State cannot afford to maintain its current lock-down mode in the long run and is looking at ways to re-open for business responsibly. However, state-wide there are only 340 ICU beds ad 560 ventilators with the vast majority of those on Oahu. Besides allowing residents to once again move freely, Hawaii has been averaging 10 million visitors/year with Maui itself welcoming 3 million visitors in 2019. An influx in Covid-19 cases is a serious concern for our healthcare system.

The State is talking about marketing Hawaii as one of the safest places for your vacation. Now they just need to come up with a workable plan to reasonably keep it safe while allowing visitors to return and kick-start the economy again.

How are we impacted?

my hunny and I along the Wailea beach walk

Our five condos sit empty. Late March, April and May guests have been cancelled, rescheduled or given a credit for a future stay. The majority of June have cancelled as well with a few still waiting to see what may happen. If you have a booking at one of our condos, please reach out to me directly.

Sig has been working on some maintenance projects at both our Sugar Beach and Maui Kamaole condos. We are checking all our condos regularly to ensure there are no surprises. Of course we continue to pay our HOA fees, insurance, property taxes, advertising fees, maintenance and cleaning.

Our cleaners are maintaining the condos with regular cleans to keep them in top shape for when we are able to welcome guests to the condos again. When our wonderful long-time cleaner Cindy retired last year, we switched to Ed and his team who have stepped into Cindy’s footsteps and continue to do an excellent job cleaning, as evidenced by our guest’s review comments. Ed and his team are on top of their game and are currently working on new protocols and procedures to properly sanitize condos between guests once we are allowed to reopen. 

It’s a whole new world these days and we are thankful for all of you in these strange times. We look forward to welcoming you and your family back to Maui sometime soon! In the mean time, aloha and a hui hou no (Aloha and see you soon)!

early morning at the Cove in South Kihei
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Happy Mother’s Day!

Wishing all you moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! What are your plans? I would really like to have brunch at my favorite restaurant (Gannon’s), however they are closed and not offering take-out at this time. I guess the kids will make me a nice brunch/dinner instead. We’ve ordered flowers sent to both our moms back in Canada – that part hasn’t changed, except that I forgot to mail Mother’s Day cards. Sorry!

plumeria blooms on my morning walk

Normally this would be Seabury Hall Craft Fair weekend. If you haven’t been – do plan on being here for Mother’s Day next year. This is hands down the island’s most beautiful craft fair, taking place at the upcountry private school with bicoastal views, white tents and purple jacaranda trees. The craft fair is usually a fundraiser for tuition scholarships at the school. This year the school refunded the crafters their fees and has gone online – not to raise money – but to support the crafters and help them sell their inventory they’ve been creating for this and other craft fairs.

Do check out the list of crafters and see if anything piques your interest. If you’re on facebook, check their facebook site which shows you pictures of what you’re missing!

Hubby just asked what I’d like to do for Mother’s Day today. I think we’ll go pick up some ice cream and go for a family walk along the Wailea beach walk. We may have to be creative. My thoughts were to grab Lapperts at the Shops at Wailea and usually we would then cut through the Marriott to the ocean. But a quick look online shows that both Lapperts and the Marriott are closed. We’ll pick up ice cream at Maui Gelato and shave ice at Beach Street and head on our walk.

plumeria blooms on my morning walk
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Good Morning from Maui

Aloha all and good morning from Maui! How are you?

the island of Kahoolawe . Just seven weeks ago we were worrying about the uncontrolled wild fire burning on Kahoolawe. Seems like such a long time ago.

This morning I got up at sunrise and went for my morning exercise walk to the beach. It was a beautiful walk and a beautiful morning (incidentally it’s lightly showering in Kihei right now, where did that come from?)

looking North towards Charlie Young

The walk is beautiful. This morning there were just a few people out. One man was kayaking, another walking on the beach. At the far end of Kamaole 1 beach an man and child had some fishing lines out. I didn’t go close enough to see if they’d had any luck.

water swirling at my feet

Normally at 6:30 in the morning you would typically find several jet-lagged families up early and spending time at the beach, allowing their kids to burn some energy in the open (rather than the confined condo or hotel room). There’d be several people out on paddle boards, and several dozen walking, some slowly with a coffee in hand, others actually exercising.

looking South

Now with Covid-19, there are next to no tourists on island. Residents are sheltering in place and may only venture out to exercise, grocery shop, perform essential jobs or seek medical care. Masks are a big thing and now we you can only travel in groups of two to conduct essential activities (with a few exceptions). This weekend we have a curfew – no being outside between 11PM and 5AM. If you’ve been to Maui, I’m wondering who is actually affected by this curfew and frankly what the point is? Most are in bed during those hours.

I am wondering when we will return to normal and when visitors will be able to return to Maui. Both from a health perspective and also economically. I hope this summer. I really do.

Easter weekend

I can’t believe it’s Easter weekend. Sig keeps asking who I’ve invited for Easter dinner. Unfortunately with Maui’s ‘shelter in place’ and social distancing rules, we will not be having anyone over for dinner. I actually have a turkey in my chest freezer which we bought last November. Fun fact, did you know you can only buy turkeys on Maui in November and December? Grocery stores just don’t carry them otherwise. These means we plan ahead and pre-purchase turkey for the year (yes my dear husband insists we eat turkey Canadian Thanksgiving (October), US Thanksgiving (November), Christmas and then Easter. I am not roasting a turkey for our family of five. It can continue its hibernation in the freezer until Canadian Thanksgiving. I sure hope we’re past all this by then.

one of many hand-sized hibiscus in my neighborhood
a spider lily. These are the strangest most delicate blooms

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Quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii

Another day, more news. Yesterday the governor of Hawaii announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii starting this Thursday (March 26, 2020).

As you know from mandatory quarantines being instituted elsewhere, in Monopoly terms this means ‘do not pass go’. No stopping at grocery stores or running other errands, just go to your home or condo and order groceries in. The point of the quarantine is to protect others on island in case you have Covid-19. If you are returning home to Hawaii, you have a support system of people to help you with this. If you are coming to Hawaii on vacation – frankly, this is not a vacation. As nice as the condo is, it’s not that nice that you want to spend 14 days in it. Internet speed on Maui is pretty slow.

While it may seem harsh to some, please remember that the Covid-19 situation is a lot worse in other parts of the US. Hawaii is the most isolated center of population on earth, 2400 miles away from the nearest landmass (California). The government feels they have the opportunity but also the obligation to isolate to protect our population as it takes significant time for help and supplies to arrive, if they are even available to come.

What does this mean for you

If you are already on island, the mandatory 14 day quarantine does not affect you. However, on Maui for instance, the social distancing mandate went into effect on Friday (March 20). Return flights are being cut – Westjet I believe stops flying its regular flights today. Hawaiian Airlines has announced they are cutting their flights. My friend’s son just returned from his year abroad in Spain yesterday (yes, he is in quarantine), and I’ve been seeing pictures of very empty airplanes. Please check directly with your airline about your return flight as I’m sure other airlines will be cutting flights in an attempt to preserve funds.

If you are still hoping to come to Hawaii on your vacation, please keep a very close eye on Hawaii news. Things are changing on a daily basis. Great sources are Hawaii News Now for Hawaii news, Maui Now and Maui 24/7 for Maui specific news. If you are staying at one of our condos, please email or call me.

The government sites to check are

Loss of Aloha

There have been reports of sign-wavers near the airport, rudely telling those arriving to go home. This is embarrassing and uncalled for. However, please understand that as everywhere in the world, people are stressed and panicking about their health and our already fragile health care system. Covid-19 has been brought to the islands by those arriving from other places. Ironically the majority of cases are locals returning home, but that fact is lost on the sign-wavers.

Of course, concern regarding visitors is not helped when they are seen blatantly violating social distancing rules (keeping 6 feet distance from others).

Almost everyone I know here in Hawaii is affected by tourism. Social distancing, tourists staying home and mandatory quarantines is creating economic hardship for all on the islands.

Clearing my head

sunset beach activity

Yesterday after an early dinner I went for a walk. If we are healthy, we are still allowed to leave the house and go for walks. It’s been seemingly forever since I went to the beach for sunset. It appears others had the same thoughts as I. One local family was having a beach bbq at the County beach park (I didn’t count to see if they were following the ‘groups of 10 or less’ County rule). Many were standing or sitting on the beach, enjoying the view while a few kids still played in the water.

another day another beautiful sunset

This too will pass. I don’t know when. But it will.

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Life in our new COVID-19 reality

Aren’t these strange dystopian times we are currently living in? It is so surreal that the entire world is facing this same COVID-19 crisis at the same time. We here on Maui are fortunate to face social distancing and school closures in the tropics instead of say in winter-bound Edmonton. Maui itself has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time.

The Governor of the State of Hawaii asked two days ago for a 30 day halt to travel to the State of Hawaii to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and help slow the demand on our healthcare system. He is however unable to stop flights from arriving, that would be something the federal government would need to decree. All cruise ship stops are currently halted for 30 days (ships can refuel and resupply but noone may disembark).

Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino announced new public health emergency rules for Maui County effective this Friday March 20th at 7:45AM. As I read it, restaurants and cafes can still serve take-out (no dine-in), public attractions are to close, the Road to Hana (together with all its roadside stops) is closed with exception to local traffic (all tours including private drivers are halted). Grocery stores, convenience stores, banks and others will remain open per the article.

If you are on Maui, do read the article. Beach parks remain open, sounds like golf remains available. We are encouraged to go outside and exercise, just maintain social distancing.

the view from the Kihei Surfside hallway this afternoon. A little overcast.

What does this all mean for your Maui booking?

First, we and our condos are still here. The condos are being well-cleaned and sanitized and are ready for guests. After a busy winter season Sig is tackling some of his maintenance projects. And did you hear we replaced a number of our mattresses last month?

If you have booked your Maui vacation rental with me, please contact me directly. I have reached out to all our guests arriving through end of April to discuss the terms of your contract and reschedule your stay.

For all non-Airbnb guests, if you have a balance payment due, please contact us before making your final payment. If you are more than 60 days away from your arrival, you can still cancel and get your deposit back subject to the terms of the rental agreement. We certainly hope that travel will again be possible in the next few months.

What does this mean for us?

Well, as with everyone else in our industry we are currently experiencing many cancellations/reschedules. We will continue to pay our cleaners even for the cancelled cleans to help them remain financially afloat. We very much look forward to COVID-19 settling down and the world becoming more stable again. And we look forward to welcoming you here on Maui for your next Maui trip! Hopefully in one of our beautiful Maui Oceanview Condos.

In the mean time, one would hardly believe it’s high season. In the past two days I’ve twice been able to easily turn left from Keonekai onto South Kihei Road at the unregulated intersection. I wonder just how slow it will get…. Hopefully not for long, our tourist economy will be hurting for a long time.

Safeway update – well stocked, except I noticed there was no rice, no pasta and little fresh meat available. I did not check for toilet paper.

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Corona Virus Concerns

revised March 14, 2020

You have been busy planning your Maui trip! This is an exciting time! Please browse our Maui blog for trip ideas.

Yesterday President Trump announced a 30 day ban on travel from European Union countries with the exception of US citizens in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. It is bizarre to think this is happening.

Maui is not a port of entry for travelers from any of the higher risk parts of the world (Asia or Europe). While we understand some guests are hesitant to travel due to Corona Virus, at this time the State of Hawaii has not issued travel advisories.

At this time there have been two presumptive positive cases of Corona Virus, both on the island of Oahu. Both patients are in quarantine. As of March 14th, it has been announced that two tourists arrived on Maui with symptoms, continued to Maui where they tested positive.

If you have tested positive to Corona virus or are experiencing symptoms, please do not travel.

Kamaole 3 beach
Kamaole III Beach

We highly recommend guests purchase trip cancellation insurance and all our guests have initialed and agreed to our cancellation policy in their rental agreement. If you have purchased trip cancellation insurance, please double check if it includes ‘cancel for any reason’ insurance. To my knowledge this is the only policy that will issue refunds for trips cancelled due to Corona Virus.

We do not specifically endorse any trip cancellation insurance company as we have not ourselves had any experience with having to cancel a trip and collect. Again please carefully review the terms of your policy.

You are welcome to contact us for further information on your Maui trip. We look forward to welcoming you to Maui!

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How do you fold up those beach chairs?

my Tommy Bahama beach chair – sadly not at the beach!

You’re probably wondering what this title is about. If you’ve been to Maui, you’ve likely seen people struggling with beach chairs. They are so convenient to have and quite comfy to sit in. But when it comes to folding them up…. there is a trick to it.

Here is a little how-to video on how to fold up the Tommy Bahama beach chair as sold at our local Costco. These are convenient backpack chairs with a little cooler compartment and an additional bag to store other stuff in. No, they are not theft proof, please never leave anything of value unattended at the beach.

Once you are ready to fold up the chair, the trick is to stand behind the chair. You stand on the cross bar, lean over the chair and lift on both arm rests simultaneously. The chair will easily fold up, making it so much easier to carry and store.

Please, before you bring the chair into your rental car and/or the condo, knock off all the sand. Sand is corrosive not only to the chair itself, but also really beats up the condo flooring and closet tracks.

What other beach gear do we provide at our condos?

Each of our Maui Oceanview Condos is outfitted with 2-4 beach chairs, 1-2 boogie boards (please, use at your own risk), one beach towel per person and a cooler. Sometimes other guests will leave beach umbrellas behind, so before you go out and buy one, check the beach gear closet. However, they have a tendency to fly away unless drilled properly into the sand, so we do not provide them.

Not staying at one of our condos?

Before you run out and buy a beach chair, check your condo. They may provide them. If not, these run about $34/each at our Costco in Kahului. However, then you have chairs to dispose of at the end of your trip. You could also check with a nearby snorkel or activities store. Often you can rent them.

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Kahului Airport rental car tram

Just under a year ago the new rental car facility opened at Kahului Airport. I’ve been admiring it and the new rental car tram every time I drive to and from the airport, but to date I’ve not had the opportunity to check it out. When I arrive on Maui, I’m coming home – and as such I haven’t rented a car on Maui in nearly ten years.

Yesterday I had to pick my husband Sig up from the airport. I left home early with intention of going for a tram ride. Unfortunately the kids are too old to want to go, but once a boy mom, always a boy mom 🙂 It’s a train ride after all!!

You can check out my blog post from last year for info on the car rental facility. But here’s my report from last night.

I parked near the train house and since I had just missed the tram, I opted to walk to the rental car facility. The signs said ‘8 minutes’, but it seemed shorter. Of course, I didn’t have any luggage in tow and I was the only one walking. It’s a nice partially covered walk which will be handy for shade in the daytime and should it be raining.

As you get close to the facility, the ramp goes uphill – not a problem if riding the tram.

The lobby sure is nice. And I particularly like the old fashioned clock. The tram is reminiscent of Maui’s sugar cane train history.

tram
the car rental arrivals facility

Here’s a short video I took getting into the tram at the car rental facility

How was it?

Ok, it was fun. I enjoyed my little adventure. The ride itself isn’t terribly smooth, the cars jiggle and swing around a bit, but totally fine. The car was empty, I think I had just beat the rush as there were both an Alaska Airlines and Westjet flight arriving when I got back to the terminal. If our kids were still little, I’d pick a quiet time, park in airport parking and take them for a tram ride. I got off the tram with a big smile on my face. Yes, several people were hanging out at the OGG arrivals station – they clearly thought I was a little crazy. No matter.

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