Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Further loosening of Covid rules

Remember the good old days, when I blogged about things to do on Maui? I really look forward to no longer writing about Covid updates, but they are important for right now, so here is the latest. The State is loosening the Covid rules. A little.

To preface, all those who have NOT been vaccinated IN the State Hawaii still need to do their pre-travel Covid test. Once 60% of Hawaii’s residents have been fully vaccinated, the State will announce a lifting of the pre-travel testing for US mainland and Alaska residents. So hang tight. And schedule your pre-travel tests, in accordance with the official State website.

This week (June 15) you no longer need to take Covid tests when traveling between islands, regardless of your vaccination status. So for instance, if you are spending some time here on Maui and then hopping over to one of the other Hawaiian islands, you no longer need to pre-travel test before that island hopper flight. Yay. But, you do still need to pre-travel test to come to Hawaii. For now.

A little complication

To complicate things a little, as of June 15 those who are fully vaccinated (vaccines administered and logged) in the State of Hawaii do NOT need to pre-travel test when arriving on the mainland. This mainly applies to Hawaii residents. They do still have to upload their vaccination card into the Safe Travels app. I’m sure this will add a wrinkle or two at the airport.

Are you confused yet? Sorry about that. But please check out the State’s official website re the current rules and loosening restrictions.

Looking for more Maui information?

Have you checked out Tripadvisor’s Maui forum? This is a great place to get specific information from recent travelers and locals.

The other day I was checking our Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo around sunset. Look at the palm tree shadow being reflected on the building by the sunset lighting. I thought this was pretty cool.
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Reopening of the Maui Tropical Plantation

We were so sad to see the Maui Tropical Plantation close and unfortunately lay off most of its employees last June (2020) due to Covid. It has been wonderful to see the restart/rebirth of this wonderful facility this spring.

Kumu Farms, a farm stand selling their own produce did stay open for the duration of the shut-down. Cafe o Lei took over the Mill House restaurant and opened their fourth location on island (the others are Cafe o Lei in Kihei, Ami Ami in Kihei, and Cafe o Lei at the Dunes golf course in Kahului). I have yet to eat at their Mill House location, but judging from the food at their other locations, I’m sure it’s fantastic. It definitely scores high for atmosphere!

Kumu Farms had an exciting announcement recently – together with Maui ‘Oma Coffee Company they took over the closed Maui Tropical Plantation gift shop and transformed it into a farm market (vs the higher end ‘ABC-type store’ it had become pre-pandemic). I’m supposed to check it out with my neighbor on the weekend, but I couldn’t resist and stopped in this morning. Oh my.

Once again we can stroll around the beautiful property, enjoying the beautiful landscaping, duck pond and funky sugar plantation factory ‘lawn ornaments’. Love this place.

The zipline has reopened, and, yes, you can once again book and go on tram tours, learning about Hawaii’s fruits, vegetables and plants.

Unfortunately the other little shops in the courtyard next to the pond have not reopened at this time.

Maui ‘Oma Coffee

You learn something new every day. I have always loved the name Maui ‘Oma Coffee. Oma in German means grandma. But today I learned that ‘Oma (don’t forget the ‘okina’ at the before the O) means ‘to roast’ in Hawaiian. They supply some of Maui’s restaurants with custom roasted coffee – such as Merriman’s, Mamas Fish House, Duke’s etc.

What is an ‘okina, you ask?

An ‘okina is considered a formal consonant in the Hawaiian language. It is a glotol stop, like when you say uh-oh. For example, you write and say Hawai’i (not Hawaii – be sure pronounce the extra I).I will not pretend to know much about ‘okinas, but my friend Google has much more information.

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Glorious Wailea walk and a flying dress

I admit – we haven’t been walking as much as we used to. March hit and with it, a crazy number of check-ins and check-outs as tourism is back, baby! We’ve been busy. Yesterday we pulled into the Ulua beach parking lot next to the Andaz, ran into the owner of Maui Flying Dress and then walked from 5:45 and walked til 7pm. We walked in front of Wailea Ekahi, Wailea Beach Resort (Marriott) and the Grand Wailea to the Four Seasons and back. Both the Marriott and the Grand Wailea luaus were in full swing, so we enjoyed watching and listening to the shows as we walked past. It was a gorgeous evening for a walk.

near sunset in front of the Wailea Beach Resort (Marriott)

What is Maui Flying Dress?

We know Lawrence and Regina from our kids’ school. They are the owners of the Maui Flight Academy here on Maui. Lawrence is the flight instructor, Regina handles the bookings. Over the years this has kept them very busy. But then Covid happened. Spoiler alert: flight school is back in business and they are busy!

Lawrence has always enjoyed photography, Regina is a former model, and this past year they created a new business ~ Maui Flying Dress. They meet you at the beach near sunset, set up lights and cameras and do a photo shoot with a beautiful flying dress. It’s not for everyone, but it sounds like they have a fun and a busy gig going! Do check out their Maui Flying Dress website and Instagram for many more details. (Personally, I am curious about a beginner flight lesson).

Where to start this Wailea beach walk?

I know I have talked about this walk a lot in the past year. We have walked it at least once a week. Unless you are staying in one of the resorts/condo complexes along the Wailea beach (or resort) walk, there are four options:

  • Ulua Beach parking lot (just south of the Andaz)
  • Shops at Wailea parking lot
  • Wailea Beach parking lot (access is just south of the Grand Wailea/just north of the Four Seasons)
  • Polo Beach parking lot (just past the Fairmont Kealani)

The beach parking lots are all free – which means they are first come first serve. By late afternoon there is usually plenty of parking as the beachgoers have left for the day. The Shops at Wailea had actually implemented a fee system in 2019 I think, however since Covid they dismantled the gates and you can again park free. I assume at some point they will reinstate the parking fees. Our pre-covid go-to would be to bribe the kids with a waffle cone at Lappert’s and then cut through the Marriott (now called the Wailea Beach Resort) to get to the Wailea beach walk.

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Cancellation of the post-arrival testing

Early May Mayor Victorino put new post-arrival testing in place for all arriving on Maui. To many it seemed over the top, as most arriving also do a pre-travel test 72 hours prior to arrival. However, the mayor was under some pressure from many residents to prove that reopening tourism was safe. There are many residents who were insisting that travelers were bringing in new Covid variants (they have to come from somewhere, so there is some truth to this). As of tomorrow (June 4, 2021), this post-arrival testing is being cancelled. Please note, you still have to do the pre-travel test (Safe Travels program).

What were the results of the post-arrival testing

Between May 4-31 nearly 93,000 people received a rapid test upon arriving in Kahului airport and 26-29 travelers tested positive. The positives were then given a PCR test to confirm, and of those 5 tested positive – 3 visitors and 2 residents.

The news article does not state if the positive residents had done the pre-arrival testing. While most of those arriving in Hawaii are taking the pre-travel test to avoid the mandatory quarantine, there are some residents who choose to do the 10 day quarantine rather than deal with the testing. Additionally, the article does not address if those who have exemptions from the pre-travel testing (flight crew, essential workers etc.) were being tested.

Not all arriving on Maui were subject to the post-travel test. Travelers were exempt if they showed valid proof of full vaccination (plus 14 days). Also I’m told the post-arrival test station was closed when some arrived.

Safe Travels program (pre-travel testing)

Hawaii does still have the pre-travel testing requirement to bypass the mandatory 10 day quarantine. Unfortunately at this time there is no exemption for those who have proof of vaccination. Please make sure you are checking the official State website for your information. There are a few scam ones out there. Note, there is no charge or fee for the Safe Travels program, with exception that you do have to pay for your Covid tests (directly to the provider).

The official websites are:

  1. https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/
  2. https://travel.hawaii.gov/

Is Maui tourism back to normal?

Maui’s daily arrival numbers are back to near ‘normal’. A recent news article showed that we are actually right around 2018 visitor numbers, 5% down from the previous high of 2019. However, it is a bit of a different experience.

  • The State recently dropped the outdoor mask mandate, but we do still wear masks indoors and when close to others.
  • Rental cars continue to be in short supply. I am told 40% short. Book yours now. Please show respect and do not book Uhauls and the likes (it certainly complicates things for residents).
  • You will need advance reservations to get into many restaurants – Restaurants and stores are still operating at reduced capacity. Or just get take-out.
  • As with elsewhere in the service industry, employers are having a difficult time hiring employees, such as waitstaff and cleaners.

Yes, Maui is here and it is beautiful. Please be patient while we work to get back to normal.

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How to make a plumeria lei

When we first started coming to Hawaii in 2002, I fell in love with plumeria blooms and their scent. Did you know, the actual tree is rather odd-looking, usually knobby and with long large leaves. Plumeria come in many colors and yes, they can be strung together to make amazingly scented plumeria lei. Unfortunately for me, I have hay fever, and plumeria do set me off. However, thanks to Covid, my filter mask and nasal spray kept my nose ok.

One of our sons is graduating highschool this year – Class of 2021! – and so for the past 6 weeks I’ve been attending hula lessons in preparation for the traditional moms hula dance. Have you ever danced a hula? In 11 years of living here, I have not. In addition to learning the hula, someone had a brilliant suggestion – we should all make flower lei to present to our children after the dance. Oh sure…. I will admit to a little panic.

Fortunately one of my friends (fellow mom of senior) knows how to make lei. We have several white plumeria trees in our yard, and my friend had the needles and the know-how. What could go wrong? We got together for a practice session this past weekend, and then this morning was lei-making time. I went out at 6:30AM to pick the blooms, as my google search had instructed me to do. When you pick the blooms, the sticky white sap drips both from the tree and blooms – be careful as it is hard to get off. Plumeria don’t seem that fragile, but the more you touch them, the quicker they will bruise and wilt.

My friend arrived shortly after and we set to work. We measured a 4 1/2 feet of thread (we used double thread) and threaded our needles. She had a 4 inch crafting needle, I just used a regular needle. Then we pulled the needle through the center of the flower down through the stem and strung our lei. My next door neighbor has beautiful multi-hued (pink and yellow) plumeria, so we made a bit of a pattern – five white, one colored. Once completed, we tied the strand together. Because of my big hair, I kept my lei long, my friend shortened hers a bit. See my candy lei post for lei giving/receiving etiquette. You want the lei to hang down your front but also your back (not around the neck per se).

We are so pleased with how our plumeria lei turned out. We put them in ‘contraband’ plastic bags and flicked a little water over them before loosely tying the bags and placing them in the fridge. Don’t squeeze the air out of the bag.

Contraband plastic bags?

In 2011 Maui banned single use plastic shopping bags. You can still get small style bags in the produce and meat department, but at the til everything is paper or recyclable bags.

Hula?

Yes – we danced our hula at the graduation luau today. Usually this would be an evening event and we’d have danced outdoors on the lawn, however, due to Covid the hula and slideshow were done indoors (where they could control the lighting).

Here is Sig’s hula video. I am wearing a blue/white flowy shirt from Blue Ginger (Shops at Wailea – love this store) and black capris. And yes, I’m wearing my plumeria lei. We all wore our masks (this definitely helped with the hay fever from the plumeria scent). At the end of the dance, we presented our lei to our kids. It was lovely.

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How to make a candy lei

With graduation season upon us, I decided to make candy lei. As you know, lei-giving is a huge tradition here in Hawaii. For kids it seems the most popular lei are definitely candy and money lei.

Did you know – the plural of lei is lei. You don’t add an ‘S’ at the end of the word.

Candy lei – rather than flowers, you include candy. Money lei – it involves intricate folding of dollar bills and tucking/tying them into the lei.

I did some online research for my lei. There are many ways to do this, here is how I made mine.

My candy lei step by step

  1. Cut 4 1/2 feet of 2 inch poly tubing. Remember, as you fill/tie your lei, it shortens. It needs to be long enough to comfortably slide over the recipient’s head. The poly tubing was an order error – I thought I had purchased net tubing, apparently not). The poly tubing worked just fine.
  2. Cut ribbon in 5-6 inch pieces
  3. Organize your candy bags in front of you. Pro tip – in Hawaii chocolate melts very easily, even when in the shade. I purchased Skittles, Dumdums, Jolly Ranchers, Starbursts and as a nod to those who prefer ‘healthier’ options, Welch’s fruit gummies (you know, the Costco box).
  4. Slide the first candy into the tubing and tie it into place on both sides with double knotted ribbon. Then add the next candy and repeat. I ended up using approximately 13-14 candies per lei. I did not end up being able to use the Welch’s as the little packets had too much air in them. I did briefly consider poking a hole in the packets so they’d compress and fit, but…. I remember telling kids to carefully inspect their Halloween candy, so I didn’t tamper with them.
  5. Tying the two ends together to finish off the lei was a little trickier – the ribbon slid right off. I ended up holepunching both ends of poly tube twice and stringing ribbon through.
  6. I attached a little 2021 graduate tag and and curled all the ribbons

What do you think? I made 38 of these lei. Can’t wait to hand them to the graduates this weekend!

Lei giving and receiving etiquette

  1. When giving a lei, it is customary to kiss the recipient on both cheeks. Alternatively you can bow while presenting the lei to the recipient for them to place it themselves (this seems more appropriate during Covid times)
  2. Always accept a lei with a smile when it is given
  3. Wear the lei on your shoulders, with half of it hanging down your front, the other half down your back
  4. It is considered bad luck to re-gift a lei that you have received
  5. Should you be unable to wear it (too fragrant, interferes with what you are doing etc), place the lei in a place of honor.
  6. To keep a floral lei fresh, place it in a plastic bag with a sprinkling of water and some air, and place it in the fridge
  7. Some will return a lei to where it came from, such as hanging a plumeria lei on a plumeria tree. Do keep in mind that the string/fish line will cause problems for animals
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Outdoor Mask Mandate Lifted

Yesterday Governor Ige lifted the outdoor mask mandate for the State of Hawaii. Naturally we are to use common sense. Larger gatherings are still not allowed. And, private outdoor venues may still require masks.

Note, in the State of Hawaii we are still required to wear masks indoors (including public transportation). The new rules apply to all, vaccinated or not.

It will definitely be nice not to have to worry about the outdoor mask mandate and it’s enforcement when walking the Wailea resort walk (our fave).

At this time 49% of Hawaii’s eligible population (ages 12 and up) are fully vaccinated, with more waiting for their second dose. As school lets out this week in Hawaii, there have been many popup vaccination clinics around the State.

Other Maui updates:

It’s graduation season – kids are finishing up their school year this week. We’ve been cautiously celebrating graduations around Maui. Last week Maui High, Baldwin and Lahaina Luna all hosted graduation ceremonies. I’m told graduates were allowed two guests each at the ceremony. We’re definitely seeing more subdued celebrations, but it’s still better than 2020.

my candy lei for graduation celebrations

Rental cars continue to be in short supply and crazy expensive. I haven’t heard the Maui numbers, but on Kauai roughly 40% were shipped back to the mainland/sold. We have numerous guests who have not been able to secure a rental car. If you have a trip planned and want a rental car, please book that ASAP.

Unable to get a car? There are taxis, uber and lyft (though I’m told the ride-share services aren’t always available), the Maui bus service. We are still waiting for Turtle Tracks to re-start in South Kihei/Wailea – they used to provide a hop on, hop off shuttle service. We’ve seen people rent scooters, bikes, Uhauls and toy cars that barely seem street legal (do double check before you rent). I stumbled across this blog on 11 Tips to get around Maui without a car.

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May 2021 Updates at our Maui Kamaole condo!

Our six month guests recently checked out of our Maui Kamaole condo. Spur of the moment I decided to update the look while getting the condo vacation rental ready.

We renovated this condo in 2016, installing a new kitchen, new main bath and updating the bedroom furniture. Now I decided it was time for some new living and dining room furnishings. This is a small island with limited furniture stores and on-island inventory, but I got lucky! I found a new sofa at Homeworld. The chairs are from Lifestyle Maui (you may recognize them – we have the same chair at our Kamaole Sands condo). The dining table, chairs and accent tables are from Bedmart. I also replaced the mirror and sofa art. Over the years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the large flower painting above the sofa. It came with the condo when we originally bought it in October 2010. I have enjoyed the blooms but the branches on the right and the brass frame have always made me cringe a little. Glad to have replaced it. And no, the new painting isn’t actually just grey – it’s just that my phone camera isn’t showing the colored accents.

I always love seeing the before and after shots. Have a look!

This condo has a distant oceanview directly from the kitchen and living room.

Looking from the kitchen to the lanai with the oceanview in the distance

I’ve got a tentative date with Flora the photographer to update our condo pictures in a few weeks and will post them when ready.

Wait – you had six month guests?

It sure has been a strange year. Just a few months ago we were steeply discounting high season just to get some bookings to pay property taxes and those steep monthly homeowner fees. Yes, this past fall we had several sets of guests come and work remotely out of our condos, all the while enjoying Maui. It was a win win for them and us. They got to work and play, we had income during the very slow Covid months. However, we are happy to be back to regular style vacation renting.

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New post-arrival test starting May 5 for Maui

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Maui’s mayor is instituting a (hopefully temporary) post-arrival test on May 5, 2021.

The current process is that up to 72 hours prior to the last leg of your flight to Maui, you need a negative Covid test which is then uploaded into the Safe Travels App. Only NAAT tests done by the State’s ‘trusted partners’ are valid (please see the official website for the most accurate details).

As Maui’s new Covid infection numbers had not been going down in recent months, the mayor is instituting a second test. The second test is a rapid test which will be done at Kahului airport, free of charge for travelers.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • if you have proof of being fully vaccinated (both doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of J&J) you are exempt (you DO STILL NEED TO DO THE PRE-ARRIVAL TEST). Proof of vaccination means presenting your original CDC vaccination card or certificate of vaccination downloaded from the CDC’s Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS).
  • the rapid antigen test administered at the airport is free. Results are expected to take 15-20 minutes.
  • if you test positive, you will be asked to return to the airport for a second test, a PCR test this time. You will be notified right away if the confirming test is negative. If you refuse the second test or it comes back positive, you will need to quarantine for 10 days at your own expense. NOTE: by law you cannot quarantine in a vacation rental but would need to stay somewhere on the County’s ‘approved list‘.
  • kids aged five and under are exempt from the post-arrival test
  • see the County of Maui’s website for more details

Where is the State of Hawaii at with their vaccination passport

The State will be phasing in a vaccination passport program. This vaccination passport program will eliminate the need for the pre-travel testing when showing proof of being fully vaccinated.

Phase 1: testing exemption for inter-island travel for those who have been vaccinated within the State of Hawaii

The State is just starting the program, so as of May 11

  • if you have been fully vaccinated at a facility within the State of Hawaii
  • and it’s been more than 2 weeks since you were fully vaccinated
  • upload a copy of your vaccination certificate to the Safe Travel App (starting May 7)
  • these will be manually verified with the State health records

The State is starting the program small – in-State vaccinations are easiest for them to verify.

At some point (possibly in summer), they hope to open the vaccination passport program to those vaccinated in other states.

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Maui Chocolate Factory

Do you love chocolate? I love sweets and chocolate is one of my go-to treats. Did you know Maui has several cocoa growers?

This weekend’s Maui News has an article on Ku’ia Estate Chocolate. In fact, last summer someone gave me some Ku’ia individual chocolate pieces. The pieces I got were dark and absolutely delicious. For much more information on Ku’ia Estate Chocolate, how the owner got started 10+ years ago, do read the very interesting article in the Maui News! They work hard to give back to the community – in fact, last summer’s gift was from a fundraiser for a local charity. Ku’ia Chocolate offer tours and tastings. The factory/store is located at 78 Ulupono St in Lahaina.

A picture of my Ku’ia gift I posted on our Instagram last summer. Do you follow us on Instagram or Facebook?

Other cocoa growers on Maui

Doing a quick cocoa farm search on google, I’m coming across two other cocoa farms. Kupa’a Organic Farm is located upcountry in Kula and offers coffee and chocolate tours. Hana Gold Plantation is located in Hana. I’m not seeing tours offered, however have seen their chocolate in stores. I’m pretty sure there are more – send me a note if you know of any others and I’ll add them!

Have you ever been to a cocoa farm? I haven’t here on Maui, but a few years ago we visited a small cocoa farm while on a cruise off Honduras and Mexico. Their bars were definitely calling to me (and calls to me still).

My very favorite

While I definitely appreciate the dark variety – particularly the fact that it’s something I savor and enjoy slowly, my favorite is milk chocolate. Having grown up in Austria, the land of amazing deserts and coffee, my favorite is Milka. It’s so smooth, I can eat that whole bar in a matter of minutes. That’s why it’s best to not open it until I have a couple kids nearby. Ha!

On a related note, have you tried Maui’s coffees? Which is your favorite?

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