Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

New Year’s Eve Whale Watch

It has been a few years since I went on a whale watch. I must say, the last one was epic and I’ve just been afraid no other whale watch would measure up. Nonetheless, my parents visited over Christmas and I decided to treat them to a whale watch. If nothing else, I figured it would be a treat to see Maui from the water.

I booked a 2 hour whale watch with the Pacific Whale Foundation departing out of Ma’alaea Harbor. There are several options, including rafts that depart right out of Kihei Boat Harbor, but I figured sitting higher up (second deck) of a boat, you’d likely see better.

I chose the 9AM morning departure on New Year’s Eve. Mornings are always calmer, but I knew we weren’t up for a 7AM departure, so 9AM was just fine.

It was a beautiful day at sea, blue skies but somehow the sun managed to find clouds to hide behind so we weren’t roasting too badly. We saw 6 whales and my parents loved it. One of our favorite parts was when they lowered the underwater microphone and we could hear the whale song from whales within a several mile radius. So cool and unique.

Was it as epic as the whale watch 6 years ago? Well no – that one was in prime whale season (Feb/March) and likely a once in a life time experience. But I really enjoyed the whale watch nonetheless.

Why a whale watch vs watching from shore?

If you know what to watch for from shore, then watching from the beach or your oceanfront condo’s lanai can be fun and satisfying. However, if you’ve never gone whale watching, book a trip on a whale watch where you will have a marine biologist explain all about humpback whales, their behavior and help you see the whales. Plus, with any luck you’ll see whales much closer than from shore.

Happy New Year

I happened to be at our Kihei Surfside condo at sunset on New Year’s Eve. I sat on one of the stone benches right next to the water, watching and waiting for sunset to happen. Unfortunately there was a thin band of clouds just at the horizon, so the sun sunk behind the clouds rather than the horizon. However, just after it had sunk, a whale breached in the distance, just to the left of the sunset. It was an epic way to end out 2018!

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Have you been to the Iao Valley?

It’s been a while since we last drove to the Iao Valley. This is the wettest accessible part of Maui, with the wettest part at the far end of the valley (Pu’u Kukui) averaging 386 inches of rain/year. Compare that to Kihei’s 8-13 inches/year.

A few years ago there was a severe flood in the valley, washing away a portion of the park and parking lot. It has since been re-built/reinforced.

Iao Valley itself carries great historical significance to Hawaiians. It is a valley leading into a collapsed and extinct volcano. It was a special place for the Hawaiian ali’i (royalty). The valley was also the site of one of Maui’s bloodiest battles in 1790 between the ruler of Hawai’i Island (Kamehameha the Great) and the people of Maui (led by Kalanikupule). Ultimately Kamehameha succeeded in his quest to unify all the Hawaiian islands under his rule.

The Iao Valley is a state park with paid parking. To get there, drive into old town Wailuku. Pass the old church and the Bailey Museum (I highly recommend checking the museum out) and continue up the mountain. Soon the road splits in two, you take the right road which dips down into the valley, and then follow it to the end where you will come to the paid parking lot. Parking is $5. You can walk up stairs to a lookout and also walk a short loop through the rain forest to the Iao Stream where you can often see locals enjoying the water.

For some this valley and the water in the stream hold spiritual significance, so do be respectful.

Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

Just before you reach the Iao needle parking lot, there is a turnoff to the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. If you have time, stop here and check it out. It celebrates some of the cultures of Maui’s immigrants (specifically Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Portuguese and New Englanders). There is also a nice picnic area with numerous pavilions and bathrooms. Unfortunately this garden has been neglected and fallen into severe disrepair. However, the plaques are interesting to read and tell of Maui’s history.

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Tin Roof take-out lunch

What is your favorite take-out food? Are you a fast-food kind of person, or do you prefer better quality? Sometimes our lives are so busy, we don’t have time to sit down and eat a decent meal. Maui’s own Top Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof restaurant is the answer to that problem when on Maui.

Sheldon Simeon had already had a few other restaurants going on Maui – Star Noodle in Lahaina, and then a restaurant at the Andaz -when he started his own mom and pop shop, Tin Roof, over 2 years ago. It’s simple good quality take-out food at affordable prices.

Tin Roof is located in a Kahului strip mall along Dairy Road. They are open only between 10AM and 2PM. There are several restaurants in this strip mall, so know that parking is difficult to find. It’s probably easiest to send one person in to grab the food while the others stay in the car and circle around the block.

To reiterate, the Tin Roof is a take-out place with only a few seats should you need to wait for your food. It’s tight and crowded inside. Again, it’s easiest when only one person runs in to grab the food. But trust me, the food is amazing.

Here is how best to order lunch. Go on their website (super easy on your phone) and check out their menu. There are a 4-5 entrees and a chefs special, a few add-ons, and some ‘other grinds’ (grinds being food). Select what you want, additional options (such as rice, add-ons etc), add to cart, select the time you want to pick up and pay right on your phone. Then at your designated time, go to their restaurant and pick it up from the counter. Yum!

Yesterday I picked up an order of mochiko chicken on hapa (half white half brown) rice with an add-on of pickled onions. My $10.42 meal was ready to pick up when I got there.

By the way, this summer Sheldon Simeon opened another restaurant at the Shops at Wailea ~ Lineage. It’s located at the top of the shops, next to the grocery store, close to Lulu Lemon and Louis Vuitton.

Rachel Ray’s U’i Gallery

While in the neighborhood I stopped at my acquaintance Rachel’s art gallery – the U’i Gallery – which is right next door to Tin Roof. I needed a few more of her beautiful calendars and mugs! If you’re shopping for souvenirs or gifts, do check it out! Rachel’s younger daughter Kahalau was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Since then they have been fighting for her life. They have been working on a reduced schedule, but I believe are open daily from 11-2 or so. 

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Family style Christmas recitals on Maui

I love this time of year – getting together with friends and family, the lights, decorations and all the Christmas music, reliving memories. Yesterday we attended two family style Christmas recitals. I know – it seems like a little much, but both were held in really neat locations and we went to support family and friends.

Keawala’i Church in Makena

The first was a local piano teacher’s piano recital held at the historic Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena. If you have the opportunity to attend a church service or a concert at this church, do. This church was built in the mid-1800s (exact date unclear to me) out of coral and wood. Nowadays we know not to even step on the reef, but back then people sometimes used coral as a building material. The walls are a foot or more thick and white washed, and there are beautiful native wood floors. The church itself is quite plain, and yet just beautiful. Decorations consisted of two Christmas trees and poinsettias – plain but beautiful. Outside the church you can find a small cemetery (please be respectful) with a beautiful view of the ocean. Check here for an interesting history of the church.

This is an operating church and no, it is not open to visitors during non-service hours. If you stop by when it’s closed, just admire from the road.

The Grand Wailea Resort

In the evening we attended another concert in an entirely different setting, the Grand Wailea hotel lobby. A friend and his neighborhood ukulele band (mainly retirees) performed various Christmas and Hawaiian songs with a few other audience favorites thrown in. It was a family style Christmas concert – our friend is one of the higher ups at the Grand Wailea performing for his employees and friends, another employee danced hula to several of the songs. The band recruited members of the audience to play tambourin now and then. It was overall a lovely evening.

The setting in the Grand Wailea is of course beautiful. Totally different than at the church, the Grand Wailea hotel is one of the fancy hotels here in Wailea and decorated to the nines. If you have the opportunity, do wander through the hotel grounds. Check out the giant ginger bread chair in the lobby, the beautiful decorations and (my favorite) the more than 7 miles of Christmas lights wrapped around trees in the driveway.

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December 2018 Happenings

Is it just me or has this year just flown by? This weekend we enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal with friends, disappeared the fall decorations and set up the Christmas tree. The kids are protesting that it’s too early to  have Christmas decorations set up, and yet… I have 13 cups of pureed pumpkin (the lovely pumpkin our Palms at Wailea guests left behind a few weeks ago is now waiting to be baked into muffins and loaves). And…. here is the real kicker, Sig and I attended a Christmas choir concert today. The concert was lovely – I sure enjoyed it. It was the Maui Choral Arts Association‘s annual Peace on Earth Christmas concert in the Castle Theater at the MACC. The MACC is the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, location to many concerts on Maui. They have both an indoor and outdoor venue.

Looking for something non-beachy to do in the next few weeks. I just had a quick glance at Calendar Maui and here are a few things that struck me as interesting.

 

Lee Brice in concert – November 28th

Hawaii International Film Festival – November 29th – December 2nd (Castle Theater at the MACC)

4th Annual Maui Songwriters Festival – November 29th -December 1st

Holiday Pops Featuring Henry Kapono by the Maui Pops Orchestra – December 2nd

Elf the Musical – now through December 12 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku

Maui Jim Maui Classic Basketball – December 14/15th hosted by Oregon State

The Messiah – December 15/16th at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku

Steven Tyler in concert – December 27th at the MACC

 

Of course, you could also ‘just’ chill at the beach! Whatever you do, we hope you have a wonderful Maui stay!

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Imu roast for Thanksgiving!

We were fortunate to be able to participate in an imu again this year. An imu is an underground oven, a traditional Hawaii style of cooking. For much more information and ‘how to’, check out this link. When you go to a luau, typically a whole pig is roasted in an imu and unearthed during a special ceremony. One of the schools built an imu as a fundraiser – a few parents, teachers and the kids did all the work, while I happy bought my tickets, dropped off my prepared turkey yesterday evening and then picked it up again this morning. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy! It’s a really neat experience.

A few tickets? Well…. I thought we’d do a turkey and some pork (two wrapped containers) but as Sig pointed out – we had two turkeys in the freezer, so why not just cook them both? The good news is – our Christmas turkey is carved, packaged and in the freezer!

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raw turkey glam shot!

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my turkey rub – butter, poultry spices, garlic, salt and pepper – not traditional Hawaiian, but the way I like it

 

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First students dug a pit, stacked keawe wood, surrounded by lava rock. Once the fire burned down, the rocks fell onto the fire/ashes. Then they layered banana stalks, turkeys, banana leaves, wet burlap bags and a plastic tarp, weighed down with dirt around the edges.

 

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the imu pit in the morning

 

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unearthing the imu

 

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imu with tarp off (you see the burlap sacks)

 

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opening the imu

 

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the first turkey to come out

 

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unloading the imu

 

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turkeys and other meats/vegetable dishes with the imu in the background

 

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the emptied imu

 

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glam shot – imu roasted turkey. One of our friends calls it ‘haole’ turkey (haole being a Hawaiian term for Caucasian). Being cooked in an imu means no browned crispy skin

 

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carved turkey with pan drippings

 

How is it?

The meat is deliciously moist. It has a bit of a unique smell – a bit smokey from the keawe wood fire, and a little different from the banana stalks/leaves. It is absolutely delicious. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in an imu, do! Also, word to the wise, choose a smaller turkey. Our friends’ 20 lb turkeys still needed to spend some time in the oven while the meat just fell off the bone on my 13 lb bird.

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A few craft fairs coming up

maui's november eventsConfession – I love craft fairs. I remember a few decades ago going to a huge Christmas craft fair in Calgary. It was amazing. I did all my Christmas shopping there that year, and must confess I hold craft fairs up to this high standard.

Having said that, there are two craft fairs coming up that have caught my eye.

Moonlight Mele

This event is being hosted October 20th from 5-8pm by the Maui Historical Society at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Okay, it will be small – the advertising itself says ‘intimate’. But, the setting for this craft fair in itself is neat. And… they will have live music by Uncle George Kahumoku. One of my favorite local photographers will be selling her amazing cards there. Do check out Shelley’s cards at Alohi Images – she just announced she has new designs coming soon, just in time for Christmas card season! Admission is $5.

Made in Maui County Festival

The second craft fair I cannot wait for is the 5th annual Made in Maui County Festival. This is Maui’s largest (and best) craft fair – okay, very close to the annual Seabury Hall Craft fair just before Mother’s Day. This year it takes place Saturday November 3rd, on the big lawn at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. 15 food trucks, over 140 vendors, live music…. Admission is only $5. Be sure to bring your reusable shopping bags. Some of my favorites are…

  • Maui Fruit Jewels
  • HI Spice – amazing locally made hot sauce
  • Alohi Images (Shelley’s beautiful cards)
  • Sparrow Seas and Jonerz Art (husband and wife team, jewelry and wall art)

All products offered for sale must be made, manufactured, grown and/or created in Maui County. Although products may include source materials made/found in the State of Hawaii. Absolutely no ‘made in a third world country and sold as a local product’.

Admission is $5. Be there! What a perfect place to buy your Maui souvenir – or start your Christmas shopping!

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Canada’s new marijuana laws and the United States

Effective October 17th, 2018 marijuana will be legal in Canada. I haven’t paid much attention to this news story as neither Sig nor I are interested in drugs. It’s been over 8 years since we left Canada moving to Hawaii – and so while we peripherally monitor Canadian news, a lot of it doesn’t necessarily affect us.

However, if you live in Canada, please be aware that while numerous states within the US have legalized cannabis, it is still very much a federal offense to be in possession of or use cannabis. There could be serious consequences at the border.

Also note, marijuana is NOT legal in the State of Hawaii. We do have medical marijuana permits, but you need a permit specifically from the State of Hawaii to use medical marijuana here (out of state, and out of country are not accepted).

Again, I have NOT researched this, but highly recommend you do well in advance of crossing the border into the US (and coming to Hawaii). Even though now legal in Canada, using marijuana (in Canada or the US) could have serious consequences (including denial of entry) at the border. What a bummer to find out enroute to your vacation!

Here is an interesting and informative article by the LA Times.

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Staycation at our Palms at Wailea condo

Palms at Wailea #503 bedroom ensuite
Master bedroom with master bath which includes laundry

This September we took advantage of an opening at our Palms at Wailea condo and moved in for a little staycation while tackling a two week floor installation project at our own home. After all, why try to live through a remodeling project when you can escape it (and the dust) altogether. By the time we needed to move back home, the demolition stage was over and the upstairs of our house (including kitchen) was completed.

I am thankful we had a condo to move into, even if it was a little stretch for a family of five. Our kids are used to their own rooms, at the condo they shared. I am used to my own bed and kitchen. A staycation at your own condo is always the ultimate test as a vacation rental owner. It’s not actually a vacation, but another project. What needs replacing, fixing or doing?

Palms at Wailea
new pot set

The master bed was amazing. Guests have told us they love the bed, but it was lovely to sleep in it myself, possibly better than my bed at home. I loved the shower – we remodeled the condo 3 years ago and this is one of my favorite parts of the remodel. So big and luxurious. And I love the large tile flooring – almost made me wish we did that at our home instead of the vinyl planking we chose, but then I remembered how much we hate grout lines. It took me a while to get sorted in the kitchen – different space, different places to store things. I did buy nice new pots, the old ones were getting weary. And who keeps using metal utensils on the non-stick frying pans? I have to replace them at least yearly.

Sig’s staycation projects

Sig had his own list of annual maintenance projects. He’s a perfectionist and can’t sit still, so between painting baseboards (at home) and overseeing the flooring installation, he also

  • drained the hot water tank,
  • replaced cabinet hinges (slow close),
  • acid washed and re-sealed the 350 sq ft lanai (patio) and entry,
  • did some deep cleaning,
  • replaced filters on taps,
  • arranged some service work on the dishwasher and fridge,
  • did some work on the BBQ etc. etc.

He particularly enjoyed sitting in the condo complex hottub at the end of his long days.

Palms at Wailea
Enjoying a well-deserved sunset at the pool

Despite all the work (the other condos, my office job, school for the kids, the home remodel, living in a smaller living space etc) I really enjoyed our staycation. I love the privacy of the location – we hardly noticed our neighbors – and the large green lawn with distant ocean view. For now it’s nice to be home again, but we’ll have to plan another staycation.

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Kahului Airport Car Rental Construction

A few weeks ago I was at Kahului Airport to pick up friends from their mainland trip. If you’ve had to park at the airport in the past year and a half, you will know it’s been a bit of a gong show. Parking has been cut up to 50% percent during the construction of the new car rental facility. Parking has always been a bit tight, but it’s been extreme with people creatively parking where they shouldn’t, making the parking lot even tighter than it should be. The past few weeks it has eased up, as the airport has re-opened former parking spots. Thank goodness!

What are they doing exactly?

The car rental facilities at Kahului Airport have always been off-site, with arriving would-be-renters having to catch car rental company specific shuttle buses to get to their rental counters/car pick up locations. In April 2017 construction began on a new joint car rental facility along the airport road just before you get to the terminal. There will be a solar-powered monorail line with carts that continuously run to and from the terminal, shuttling passengers back and forth. Cool, right? We can’t wait for it to be completed!

Kahului car rentalTwo weeks ago when I was at the airport I got a good shot of one of the new monorail cars which is already parked on the monorail line. Very cool. Unfortunately I have not been able to take a picture (yet) of the new car rental facility – there is just no place to pull over safely and take a picture. But it is looking really good.

From what I can find online, this project isn’t set to complete until next May, so you’ll have to wait to actually check it all out. But I for one am glad that there is an end in sight for this Kahului Airport construction project.

Flight Tracker Apps

By the way, if you are meeting someone at the airport and wondering where their flight is at, or wondering where that plane overhead is going, there are neat flight tracker apps available. I like Flightradar24 on my iPhone (I have the free version with ads). You can search by flight route, or look at certain spots on the global map. It is really cool. Check it out – what flights are tracking to your location right now?

Kahului Airport
this was our friends’ arriving flight – showing their flight route. Click on any of the airplanes or even helicopters for more information about them.

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