I have a confession to make – I’m a bit of a food truck snob. Maybe snob isn’t the right word. Maybe it would be better to say I have a bit of a phobia of food trucks. On one hand they intrigue me, on the other…. I wonder about food safety and hygiene. After all, how big can their water tank really be? I like hand washing.
Regardless, Sig is away this week and I didn’t feel like cooking, so we went to check out the food truck court in Central Kihei. It’s a neat place. It’s set up on an empty lot behind Azeka mauka, near Fork and Salad, Roasted Chilies, Coconuts Fish Cafe etc. I figured, these food trucks have been here for at least a year or more, surely they’d have been shut down if there were a problem. Right?
I was pleasantly surprised. We picked up a few items from a few food trucks. I think the best part was the variety of choices. Fish, burgers, local food, vegetarian, shave ice and deserts, and of course coffee.
What did we order?
We ended up picking up pulled pork and a fish taco from Da Nani Pirates and hurricane fries from Vidad’s Local Kine Grindz. They were delicious. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so scary after all. And I did see a lot of other items I want to try.
High school paddling season is coming to an end on Maui. In fact, today is the state championship regatta on Big Island. The winning teams from Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Big Island all compete for the state title.
This was my family’s first experience with outrigger canoe paddling. Turns out, it’s quite the sport.
Our high school’s team had 50+ kids participating, boys, girls, mixed, JV (junior varsity) and Varsity teams. They practiced daily after school, either at Kahului Harbor where the cruise ships dock (the water is kinda nasty, definitely not a swimming beach) or in the school’s weight room. Then Saturdays they had paddling regattas. The actual event would start around 8:45AM with an opening ceremony. This would include Hawaiian chanting and always the singing of Hawaii’s anthem Hawai’i Pono’i. The regatta (and ensuing meal) would usually be over by 1PM.
While our kids have participated in a variety of high school sports, this has definitely been the most Hawaiian experience. Students and parents arrived at each regatta at 7AM to prepare and serve breakfast to the team. Sometimes it consisted of muffins and fruit, other times parents went all out with fried rice. After the regatta was completed, we’d serve lunch also – the two times I was involved it was shoyu (soy sauce) chicken and then sweet and sour pork, cooked in a campfire setting. I must say, in a way it reminded me of our German heritage – keep everyone well fed at all times 🙂
Did you know?
Canoes weigh about 400 lbs. This means everyone pitches in whenever a canoe needs to be moved. Canoes can be connected with two beams to create a double canoe (you take off the outrigger for this) – which then weighs 800 lbs.
They are teams of six. The rear member is the steersman. The first three paddlers are the strongest with the best form.
Want to give paddling a try?
Curious to give outrigger paddling a try? Both the Kihei Canoe Club across from the North Kihei ABC store and also the Maui Canoe Club just North of Sugar Beach Resort have visitor paddling opportunities. Check out their websites for more information. Disclaimer, I don’t think they feed you, but you could head over to the Sugar Beach Bake Shop after your morning paddle for a second breakfast.
Did you know – Hawai’i used to be a monarchy? You can still tour the palace – Iolani Palace – in downtown Honolulu. Compared to European palaces, it is a small affair, but nonetheless, it is the only royal palace in the United States.
One of our sons has been playing hockey for… well, forever. He started playing as a 10 year old because, after all, it’s the Canadian thing to do. When he first started, I knew nothing about the sport. In all truthfulness, I still don’t understand much of it. But it’s fun to watch.
Did you know that Kihei has a hockey rink? No, it’s not an ice rink. It’s inline. Maui Hockey has a youth league with kids ages 5-16 and an adult elite, adult rec and 35+over league.
The rink is located at Kalama Park in Kihei, right along the ocean-front bike path. Games and practices are evenings (it’s just too hot to wear all your gear in the hot Kihei sun).
When are the games?
If you are in the mood to watch a little, here’s the schedule:
Monday night: 8:15-9:45 PM rec league (2 games)
Tuesday night: 7:45-9:45 PM adult league (2 games)
Thursday night: kids games start at 5:30, 35+over league begins 8:30-9:45 PM
Lights out is a hard 10PM per County rules.
Did you know, last season the 16U team kicked the adult rec league’s butts? It was an awesome season, but to keep things competitive and fun, they’ve been split up for this season. They are practicing as a team (together with the rest of the leagues) for an Oahu tournament this April at Kapolei’s indoor hockey rinks (what a treat!)
If you love hockey, come down to the rink on Sunday nights for a round of pick-up, starting at 7:30PM. Sign a waiver, pay $10, borrow some gear and play ! It’s a fun crowd! What else do you have going on on a Monday night? And – what could be better than playing hockey on Maui? Inline hockey, that is!
Yes, for those who want to just skate for fun, there are three open skate nights, Wednesday 6-8 PM, Friday 6-9 PM and Saturday 6-9 PM. Admission is free, skate rental is $5 (bring your own socks!). Skate night is run by volunteer hockey parents/skaters.
Here are a few of the new things happening around the island.
Nakalele Blowhole News
On Sunday morning I saw an article about Maui’s sweetheart rock having crumbled into the ocean. Of course, that’s not the actual name of the rock – I don’t know what it is, but it’s located on West Maui by the Nakalele Blowhole. I always intended to go check out but never did make it there. Too bad.
Maui Whale Day and Parade are back!
It’s back on! The popular Maui Whale Day and Parade are back this year on February 8th. The parade takes place from 9-10AM between Kamaole 1 beach and Kalama Park, then to be followed by various events at Kalama Park from 10AM-3PM. Live music and hula, a keiki (kids) carnival, educational booths and vendors.
Have you checked out the long awaited new Wailea shopping area next to Manolis (just above the Shops at Wailea)? It’s called Wailea Village and when they started building it, they were marketing it as high end shopping. Specifically of interest is the Paper Garden (a cute stationery store), Akamai Coffee’s second store location (the first is across from Times in Central Kihei). But the one place I want to check out is Maui artist Philip Sabado’s store and studio. Four years ago when we remodeled our Palms at Wailea condo, I found a Philip Sabado art rug which was at the time being sold at a framing store in Kahului (Mr Sabado’s son worked there). To this day I love that area rug. It’s bright and colorful and truly unique (compared to the typical blah Home Depot rug). I bought Sig one of his Hawaiian shirts for Christmas. I’ll have to talk him into wearing it (it’s pink). It’s really nice.
Our family likes to celebrate special days with freshly made warm malasadas. One of us recently celebrated a birthday, so I got up early to pick up a dozen from a local diner.
What are malasadas?
Malasadas are a Portuguese donut – essentially they are large donut-holes: deep-fried yeast balls, coated with sugar, sometimes cinnamon, and sometimes filled with custard or guava jam.
In Kihei there are two places to pick up malasadas. Our go-to place is the Home Maid Cafe in Azeka Plaza. They open at 6AM and will make either ‘sugar’ or ‘cream-filled’ malasadas to order before 10AM. The Sugar Beach Bakery in North Kihei also sell them, but I believe they stop making them at 9AM.
Our family always gets a dozen (for about $15), half and half (half cream-filled and half sugar). It used to be the kids preferred the sugar ones, now it seems they prefer the cream (custard really) malasadas. There’s motivation to come get them!
Note: best to eat these fresh and warm. Once they cool they just aren’t as good.
What’s the Portuguese connection?
Did you know, in the 1800s sugar cane plantations on Hawaii were in need of workers. Plantation owners started bringing immigrants from around the world to Hawaii to work. Some of these immigrants came from Portugal, while others came from China, Japan and the Philippines. Here is an interesting article about this sugar cane immigration. These immigrants brought many of their own cultural traditions, beliefs, foods to Maui.
On Maui, you can check out the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens at the beginning of Iao Valley (before you get to the State Park). While the gardens themselves are in disrepair, the signs tell the interesting Maui-specific story.
This past weekend my favorite local author Toby Neal held a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Kahului. Naturally I had to go.
I came across Toby Neal’s mystery romance novels a few years ago at the Kihei public library. I have loved reading these mysteries, set in the Hawaiian islands in many places I have been to. It makes it just so much more personal.
I met her a few years ago quite by accident and had the opportunity to chat with her. Since then I’ve followed her on facebook and when she’s blogged over the years. And I’ve read all her books on my kindle (many are ‘free’ if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited).
This past year she published her memoir Freckled – A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii. It is Toby’s incredible story of growing up as the daughter of hippy surfers on the island of Kauai, spending much of her childhood either homeless or living off the grid. It also touches on some of Hawaii’s social issues. I highly recommend it!
Unfortunately for Maui, Toby and her photographer husband Mike Neal moved to California a few years ago to take care of an aging family member. This person has since passed away, and I keep hoping they will move back to the islands. Maybe one day.
She has a couple murder mystery series. I overheard her telling another reader that her personal favorite is ‘Unsound‘. It’s been a while since I read this one, but it takes place in Haleakala crater valley. Have you ever driven up Haleakala (Maui’s dormant 10,000 foot volcano) and gazed into the crater valley? Did you know you can day hike but also camp (in designated huts)?
It’s been oddly stormy weather here over Christmas, with Kihei even getting rain showers. So we yesterda opted to go for an upcountry drive.
Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park
This is a small upcountry memorial park dedicated to a Maui resident who was interestingly involved in the 1911 Chinese revolution, overthrowing the monarchy. The fish taking a bite out of the roof cracked me up. And this well fed rooster definitely stole the show. I know I just turkey for Christmas dinner but…. I couldn’t stop admiring the size of his thighs.
Ulupalakua General Store and Maui Wine
Next up we stopped at Ulupalakua General Store for some homemade burgers from their own meat. I tried the elk, the rest of the family enjoyed the beef burger. There’s just something about an outdoor grill and eating burgers upcountry at a picnic table.
The restroom is across the way past Maui Wine. We stopped in the Maui Wine building where they have an interesting history display of the ranch. The story on this plaque struck my funny bone. I love history – it’s full of interesting stories.
Maui Wine has changed the way it runs the tasting room. You can still go for complimentary tours (we have yet to go on one, our timing is always off), but tastings run $12-$16 for a flight of wines and they have pupus (cheese and charcuterie boards are available for purchase too). They have expanded the seating area and the gift shop, it is quite lovely. Old Jail tastings are $40. Do check the website for more information.
Grandma’s Coffee House
Next we stopped in at Grandma’s Coffee House for take-out coffee and desert. They grow their own coffee and have a nice display case of homemade treats. Their lunches are also excellent.
Finally, we headed back towards Kihei, driving through rain showers and sunny patches and past this amazing poinsettia hedge right along Kula Hwy.
Christmas is the busiest time of year here, with many visitors choosing to come to Maui for Christmas.
Here are some tips when planning your Christmas vacation.
Book your condo early.
Did you know, three of our five condos are already booked for Christmas next year? Don’t despair – many condos on Maui still available for December 2020. However, the planners plan, and in order to have good selection to choose from, start the process about 9-12 months in advance. DO check the cancellation policy and do purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Book your rental car early.
Seriously? Yes. Car rental agencies on Maui always run out of cars late December/early January. This is despite the fact that they ship in extra cars (you can often see them lined up in fields near the airport). Do not plan on ‘just getting a rental at the airport’ this time of year as you may end up out of luck. This happened to our Palms at Wailea guests a number of Christmases ago.
Rental car rates do fluctuate wildly throughout the year. Book something now and then check back regularly to see if you can get a better price (see this blog post for details. It’s from 2015 but the principles still apply).
Line up your flights.
I’m not sure when the best time to buy flights is as we never travel over Christmas. However, from what I’ve been told, airlines usually release seats about 300-330 days in advance. I have seen airlines have seat sales closer to peak times (though I don’t remember noticing Christmas seat sales). I often shake my head thinking there is no way people will find a hotel or condo last minute to match up with the good airline prices. You could take your chances and wait and see if there are last minute deals and hope you can line them up with your condo rental (condo rental dates are typically inflexible), but personally I’d not leave my flights up to chance. You could end up with a beautiful rental and very expensive last-minute flights to get to it.
Then, sit back, enjoy knowing you will be on Maui for Christmas next year, and enjoy this Christmas!
It’s a little different….
When we first moved to Maui over nine years ago, we were prepared for different. After all, Maui for Christmas is just going to be different from ‘freezing rain and cold for Christmas’ which we always had on the West Coast. I remember being in awe of poinsettias planted in outdoor flower beds. And palm tree trunks wrapped in Christmas lights. And a distinct lack of Christmas lights on homes (power is expensive at 35 c/kwh so many just don’t decorate with lights). And having to run our air-conditioning at Christmas.
I’ve gotten used to the lack of a white Christmas. In fact, I love sitting on our lanai for our traditional Christmas Eve pupus (appetizers), with the railing wrapped with Christmas lights.
Our family loves Christmas. The kids look forward to their school break and of course presents. I do a lot of Christmas baking (I have to store it in my bedroom if I want to ensure it lasts more than a week – ha!), Sig does the Christmas shopping (and wrapping). I plan a Christmas dinner (usually turkey). And then of course there are all the other Christmas activities surrounding this time of year: Christmas concerts, parties, school events…. and tourists!
Did you know, the holidays are the busiest time of year on Maui? The first two weeks of December are generally calm, and then all of a sudden – right around now – you go grocery shopping at Safeway and realize, it’s high season! Families of tourists shopping for groceries, many more cars on the road, difficulties turning left at intersections….
I’m not complaining. Visitors to our island are our bread and butter.
I thought for today’s blog post, I’d post some Christmas dinner ideas – on the off chance that you are here this Christmas (or planning for next year)…
Yes, some restaurants are open for Christmas dinner. They will mainly have buffet or pre-set menus to order from. If you plan to eat out, do make reservations NOW (many, though not all, use OpenTable for reservations).
If you can’t get a reservation (or prefer not to pay that kind of money), some grocery stores offer pre-made take-out dinners. Check with Whole Foods (Kahului) to preorder your meal. Unsure if local grocery stores (Safeway, Times or Foodland offer anything this year).
Guess what, if you are staying at one of our condos, you could also just plan to eat in. Throw something on the BBQ, or head to one of the beach parks for a sunset picnic (that would be my choice).
Our favorite restaurants in South Maui
Here are a few of our favorite restaurants. Note, almost everywhere on Maui lunches are significantly less expensive than dinner. And at lunch you can enjoy oceanviews which disappear after dark.
Gannon’s – lunch or happy hour with a view
Mulligans – Irish pub with a view
Maui Brewing Company – fun atmosphere
Nalu’s – I dream of their ahi tuna sandwich
Fabiani’s – I dream of their bakery case. However, also a great Italian restaurant
I love watching sunset, watching the colors change. But there’s nothing quite like watching it at the beach. Except perhaps from atop the highest mountain.
Yesterday we dropped our turkeys off at an upcountry imu (here’s a link to last year’s imu roast for lots more info!) and then continued up the mountain. We got there just before sunset which was great as it allowed us to see the crater valley which is spectacular in itself. I almost think it’s better in the morning though, when the sun really shows off all the different colors in the valley.
We had passed through some clouds on our way up to the summit (10,023 feet elevation), but it cleared up just past the National Park gates (yes, this is a national park – 3 day entrance fee starting in 2020 is $30, an annual pass is $50).
Sunrise viewing is hugely popular on Haleakala, so much so that a few years ago the park instituted a reservation system. If you want to go see sunrise, make sure two months prior you go online and buy a ticket. Tickets are cheap – only $1.50/car (however, you ALSO need to purchase or have along your national park pass to enter the park). But they are day-specific, so you do need to go on that day (this limits the total number of cars to 150, which is the number of parking stalls up there). They do release a few additional tickets two days prior, so that’s always an option also. Note, park wardens will not allow you into the park between 3-7AM without this special ticket.
I’ve never driven up for sunrise. I would prefer to see if it’s cloudy or clear before I drive all that way (rather than taking my chances leaving at 3AM to get to the summit in time for a possible sunrise).
Yesterday the top parking lot was full, but there were plenty of parking spaces in the crater parking lot.
Stargazing with cows
We stayed at the summit until it was quite dark and then drove back down the mountain. Just past the national park gate and forest, we encountered cows on the road. Yes, there are signs warning of cows, do watch for them as they like to munch grass right next to the road. In fact, I’ve come across cows lying on the road in the evening (which is nice and warm from the sun).
We parked in a pull-out near some cows, turned off the car and stood next to it, gazing up at the stars. It was so dark, we couldn’t see the cows, just hear them snorting and munching their grass. As you know, we used to own a dairy farm, so we loved that. It was a beautiful evening.