Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

A great Molokai read

Have you heard of Kalaupapa on Molokai? In the 1800s Hawai’i experienced an outbreak of Hansen’s disease (aka leprosy). It is one of the imported diseases to which native Hawai’ians had no immunity. In order to quell the contagious disease, the government in 1866 adopted a policy of forced isolation, sending patients to fend for themselves on the Western end of Molokai, in what is now known as Kalaupapa National Historical Park. I just can’t imagine. With time certain family members and also religious groups (notably Father Damien) moved into the settlement to care for the sick. Believe it or not, this forced isolation continued until 1969 with some 8000 patients confined there. To this day some of the former patients choose to remain in Kalaupapa.

Travel to Kalaupapa National Historical Park is restricted – I have never been. Please research this before attempting to visit.

Costco on Maui is currently carrying two books by author Alan Brennert, one of which (Moloka’i) tells the tale of a young girl who at age 7 is banished from O’ahu to Moloka’i. It is a historical novel (fiction) and really quite a fascinating read. And yes, a tear jerker. The story intrigued me and has inspired me to hit up the local library and look up more (actual historical) information about Kalaupapa.

As a side note, the second book by Alan Brennert at Costco, Honolulu, is also an excellent read about a Korean woman who comes to O’ahu as a picture bride in the early 1900s.

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Travel memories

one of the pictures from our family’s June
travel adventures… one of our souvenirs,
hockey sticks (can’t buy them on Maui).

Do you have anything special you do to capture the memories of your trip? Most of us take pictures, but what do you do with them? Last year our family took a special trip and I made the kids keep a travel journal. Every day they had to write a page (or more), and then they got to take turns using the camera to take pictures of all the cool new things we saw and experienced. When we came home, the learning continued as they got to create their own photo book on Shutterfly (which I thought was more user-friendly, though more expensive than Costco), combining their favorite daily pictures and a description of the day from their travel journal. As a mom I thought I was being so smart. The kids felt so tortured. But their travel photo books turned out awesome! So awesome, that this year we’re repeating the process. But this time the little guy is doing one too. This could be interesting.

My acquaintance and favorite Maui author Toby Neal is writing a travel blog. She is traveling from Seattle to Alaska with her husband this month, and documenting her trip on her blog. I love her books and have been following her blog for the past few months now. Check it out!

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What do you do on check-out day?

airport check-ins

Oh check-out day. When planning a vacation, most of us don’t plan for check-out day. What time is check-out? What time does our flight leave on the last day? What are we doing in between? If we don’t plan for it, that last day can be a bit of a downer (and not just because we’re heading back home and to reality).

Most flights back to Canada (and some US mainland flights) are red-eye flights, meaning they leave between 9 and 11pm.

Standard condo check-out time is at 11am, and most days our cleaning and sometimes maintenance staff is scheduled to arrive at 11am to prepare the condo for the next guest.

So what do you do about that ‘magical’ 10-12 hour window where you are homeless with no place to put your luggage? Maybe you are lucky enough to have a rental car with a large trunk, then your luggage is at least not visible to the casual observer (doubtful if you have a convertible and definitely not if you have a jeep). Generally it is not a good idea to keep any valuables in your car though. It just seems to be asking for trouble.

Is there a place you can store your luggage? Not really. I have read on Tripadvisor forums about people wanting to rent a locker at a self-storage place for the day, but I don’t know if anyone has actually done it or how it worked. You can’t leave it at the condo as there is often another guest checking in that afternoon. The front desk on property does not have storage facilities (nor insurance) to hold onto guests’ luggage. I am not aware of any luggage storage at Kahului airport (OGG).

You may be able to get late check-out, but this really depends on the condo’s rental schedule, the cleaner’s schedule, the maintenance schedule etc. And as an owner I won’t commit to late check-out until a few days prior to your check-out when I have a better handle on all the scheduling.

The best bet (and this is what we always did prior to moving to Maui) is to rent the condo for an extra night. So if your flight leaves Monday night, book the condo til Tuesday. Yes, I get it, it’s an extra cost. But look at the benefits:

  • you can enjoy your last day and can pack up closer to your flight time
  • no problems storing your luggage (it’s at the condo)
  • no need to wear mainland clothes until it’s actually time to go to the airport
  • you can shower after a day at the beach or of activities, feeling refreshed and non-cranky prior to heading to the airport
  • a quiet place to rest (especially great with little kids)
Can you book that extra night at half price since you’re not staying overnight? Unfortunately no. Our cleaner doesn’t do night cleans, so she won’t be able to clean until the next morning.
What are some trip ideas for those who don’t book an extra night? Well, some guests go for an upcountry drive, up Haleakala (bonus, it’s cooler up there, so those mainland clothes won’t feel so hot). You could spend a few hours at the Maui Ocean Center (bonus, it’s air-conditioned). Even if you’ve checked out, you can still use the condo’s pool (and the public/guest-use bathrooms) for the rest of the day. 
What do you do on your last day? I’d love to hear!

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What is a Cal King bed?

I’m mattress shopping today. Our Sugar Beach condo is getting a new mattress! All four of our condos have California (Cal) king beds, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what that meant specifically. I assumed a Cal king bed was larger than a regular king bed, and I did know not to buy regular king sheets for my Cal king beds.

The super comfy BeautyRest Cal King at our Palms at Wailea condo

Today I learned a little trivia.

A regular (‘Eastern’) king bed is 16 inches wider than a queen bed. It is the same length as a queen bed (dimensions 76×80 inches). A Cal King bed is only 12 inches wider than a queen bed, but instead it is 4 inches longer than a queen bed (dimensions 72×84 inches). I personally like the longer mattress, as my feet hang off the end of a regular king/queen mattress (but not with a Cal king). Here is a handy chart with all North American mattress sizes.

we get many compliments on our comfy Cal king bed at our Kihei Surfside condo

My friendly sales man had more trivia for me (I’m not sure about the accuracy, but it’s a good story). In the ’70s water beds were quite popular. However, they weren’t popular with landlords who started forbidding water beds (I imagine because of water leaks). So, according to my sales man, the water bed manufacturers got together with the mattress manufacturers and asked if they would consider making a mattress to fit in a water bed frame. The mattress companies did, and the end result was a new mattress size with the Cal king dimensions, and water bed owners didn’t have to replace their bed frames but could just buy the new mattress. Again, as per my sales man, they sold a lot of these Cal king mattresses in California, and so that’s how the name was born.

So now you know!

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Proteas at the Enchanting Floral Gardens

UPDATE: Sadly the Enchanting Floral Gardens have been closed for a while now.

I’ve had Kula’s Enchanting Floral Gardens on my ‘to see’ list for some time now. I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read that it is a botanical garden of flowers and trees from around the world (most not native to Hawaii) and was sure looking forward to seeing them.

This past year the gardens were taken over by new owners. From what I am told things had previously been let go a bit, and now it’s quite a project to prune and trim and bring everything back to where the new owners would like it to be. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a Butchart Gardens (Victoria BC) but is more of a natural look. However, the flowers were amazing – I really very much enjoyed it. Admission is $10/adult and $5/kids. Personally, I preferred going without my kids.
Here are a few protea I saw. I loved them!




look at those curls!
this is how protea grow – in a shrub!


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Imagine growing up without knowing snow… at least we can watch movies about snow

I have the privilege of volunteering at our kids’ school here on Maui. I love being involved in the kids’ classes, getting to know their friends and classmates and watching them learn. It is also a great place to learn about culture and life here on Maui. For instance, there are a number of kids in school who have never been off the island, who have never experienced snow. Can you imagine?

So in this context, you may appreciate this: a free showing of an action-packed film all about adventures in the snow. The MACC (Maui Arts and Cultural Center) presents their monthly ‘Starry Night Cinema’ showing Warren Miller’s snow-sports film: “Ticket to Ride“.

When:            Sunday, January 12th at 6:30pm (gates open at 5pm with food and beverages for purchase)
Where:           Maui Arts and Cultural Center (outdoor event)
Cost:              FREE

These Starry Night Cinema nights are sponsored by the County of Maui as a FREE, fun and safe family events. Bring your own blanket, mat or low-backed beach chair to relax on the lawn and enjoy the festivities! Given our recent ‘cool’ weather, you may want a sweater or towel to wrap up in.

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Rain and Flash Flood Watches in Kihei – what to expect

I woke up to an unusual sound… the sound of rain! In fact, in Kihei it is so unusual that I actually got up to check. A few years ago I had woken up to a similar sound which turned out to be the crackling of a small brush fire nearby (the Maui Fire Department put that out very quickly). But tonight it really is rain. It reminded me of our ‘show-and-tell’ rain gutter on the front of our house. Every time it rains we say, ‘we should really get someone out to extend rain gutters around the other three sides of the house’. Then the rain stops and we forget about it until a few months later when it rains again.

A few nights ago forecasters actually predicted that we’d be getting island-wide rain in the next few days. As usual I ignored the forecast. We live in Kihei. Oahu’s rain forecasts never apply to us. The forecaster went on to say scientists were predicting a ‘wetter than usual rainy season’ for the Hawaiian Islands, and that the ongoing drought conditions on several of the islands would probably be lifted this winter. Except for Maui. He actually said ‘but not on Maui or the Big Island’ (seriously).

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, yikes – our Maui trip will be rained out! Nope, I can almost promise you it won’t, at least not if you’re staying in Kihei, the desert side of the island. Kihei averages about 11 inches of rain a year, though in 2012 it was only 5 inches (compare that to Vancouver BC’s 44 inch rainfall average). Here’s an interesting graph by NOAA plotting Kihei’s rainfall average this year. According to NOAA’s records we’ve had 6 days of rain in Kihei in 2013 (with rainfall averages between 0.1 and 0.5 inches), totaling 2.21 inches of rainfall for 2013 to date.

Accumulated rainfall for KIHEI #2 (HI75)
interesting NOAA graph showing Kihei’s accumulated rainfall for 2013

Yesterday the County of Maui issued an island-wide Flash Flood Watch. Should we be concerned? Depending on where you are… Here is an example of one of these warnings (and since I’m not sure if this link will remain active once the warning has passed, I’ll copy the text here).

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CONTINUED a FLASH FLOOD WATCH for LANAI, MOLOKAI and MAUI , in effect through late tonight.
A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is very dangerous. Remember that it does not have to be raining heavily where you are for flash flooding to occur. Please monitor the latest forecasts and be prepared to take immediate action if flash flood warnings are issued.

EFFECTS: An upper level trough and surface shear line will approach the state tonight, enhancing an already moist and unstable airmass. The greatest potential for flash flooding will be focused across windward sections but brief heavy showers are possible across the entire watch area.


INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather internet service can be found at

Should you be concerned? Well, as it says in the warning – watch out for water on the roads (your rental car likely doesn’t have great tires for driving in wet conditions). One thing to remember is that rain creates run-off which will make the ocean murky. Don’t go into the ocean when the water is murky (typically for a day or two after the rain)! Why not? Two reasons: 1. who knows what the run-off has washed into the water (debris, dead animals). And 2. sharks come closer to shore when the water is murky to check out the run-off. When the water is murky, they see even less clearly and that is sadly when you’ll hear about shark attacks.

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Daylight Savings Time begins – but not on Hawaii!

For much of North America Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow… are you looking forward to that extra hour of sleep?

Just a reminder, Hawaii is one of the States in the country that does not participate in Daylight Savings Time. Being relatively close (21 degrees latitude) to the equator, our hours of sunlight fluctuate by about 1 1/2 hours throughout the year, so it’s just not necessary.

So if you need to phone me, starting tomorrow we are just 2 hours behind PST (the Westcoast folk).

North America Time Zones

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Have you been to Mama’s Fish House?

There is a lot of hype surrounding dinner (or lunch) at Mama’s Fish House. Mama’s is located in just past Pai’a (just before the lookout) and has been in business for 30 years now. They are known for serving wonderfully prepared fresh fish with a beautiful view.

In all the years of coming on vacation and now living here, we had never been to Mama’s… So recently I made reservations online (directly on their website which links you to Open Table). I also made a comment in the reservation that it was my birthday, hoping it would net us a better table….

Mama’s has valet parking (and a rather small parking lot, so that’s a good thing). We dropped off our car, then walked across the beautiful grounds to the restaurant. I’ve always heard it is gorgeous, and it definitely is.

We had front row seating (right next to the window) – hey, the birthday thing worked (and for the record, it really was my birthday, no lie!)

front row seating with a great ocean view!
birthday greeting waiting for us at the table – awww

 Lunch was pricey, but we had done our homework and that was no surprise.

I had the lehi (red snapper) – it was mild and delicious
Sig had their signature dish, the crab-stuffed mahi mahi with lobster tail

apple-banana macademia nut crumble – so delicious… I will definitely need to make this with our next harvest of apple bananas.

After lunch we rolled ourselves back out of the restaurant – we definitely ate too much. But it was well worth it!

another picture outside Mama’s… yes, I am overdressed – but on Maui there aren’t that many occasions to dress up, so I went for it!
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Hawksbill turtle nest

Our neighbors invited us to join them in the unearthing of a hawksbill turtle nest this afternoon. The hawksbill turtles are on the critically endangered animal list. During nesting season, volunteers comb the beaches, looking for turtle tracks that would indicate nesting. Once a nest is found, it is staked, and watched (I’m not sure on the details). Then when the turtles are due to hatch (after about 2 months), volunteers camp out by the nest, through their presence scaring away predators… This particular turtle nest on Oneloa beach (Big Beach) had hatched a number of turtles a few days ago. This afternoon they unearthed the nest, checking for any other live turtles.

carefully opening the nest

They found egg shells, dead turtles and 6 live turtles. Once everything was recorded, they took the baby turtles to the beach where they slowly crawled towards the water, eventually being swept away by one of Big Beach’s giant waves. It truly was the coolest thing to see. Reminded me of a kids movie (Turtle Tale?) I recently watched – and yet, not.

look who we found – a little guy quite eager to head towards the ocean

the live turtles waiting for their release into the Pacific Ocean. Safe swimming, little guys!
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