Another month of our new ‘life without tourists’ has come and gone. Here we are a week into June. It has been 2 1/2 months since most our guests left for the mainland. Our last guests extended their stay a little and left early April. Surreal.
Hawaii State has thankfully stabilized its Covid-19 cases. The State has been reopening, as of last week restaurants are allowed to reopen for modified dine-in service. Some have, but others haven’t. My personal fave, Gannon’s, announced they are not reopening until life without tourists ends. Another friend told me their (Gannon’s) monthly rent. As the number is unconfirmed, I won’t post it here – but suffice it to say, my $120 for lunch every few months is not even a drop in the bucket. I understand.
We are anxiously awaiting June 16th – the day the inter-island 14 day quarantine is finally lifted. This is generally seen as one of the precursors to the mandatory 14 day quarantine from the mainland being lifted.
The roads are becoming busier as locals stop self-isolating. I find this ironic. I work part-time at a medical office and one of my jobs is to make appointment confirmation calls. Patients swear to me they have been staying at home, self-isolating. Then who is driving on the roads? Oh right – that’s me, I guess!
Zipline – I have never been ziplining, so that is something I’d like to try. This would be a fun birthday activity with the kids. I guess we’ll see which ones reopen and decide.
Maui Ocean Center – our local aquarium has been closed for the past few months. Once they reopen, I would like to see the new humpback whale exhibit and video in the new dome. They have incidentally repainted the blue waves along the outside of the building. Interesting.
Road to Hana – it has been closed for travel to all but those who live there since Covid-19 due to the remoteness and lack of medical facilities on that side of the island. I get it. But once they reopen, there are some hikes that I need to check out!
Look what I was able to do yesterday! Remember the lookout on the Pali, between Maalaea and the tunnel on the way to Lahaina? We were able to pull into a near empty parking lot, park and take pictures of the view!
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).
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.
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.
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)!
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!
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.
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.
Aloha all and good morning from Maui! How are you?
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This too will pass. I don’t know when. But it will.
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.
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.
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 that time of year again – hurricane season. In the Central Pacific (as in the Caribbean) hurricane season runs from June to November. However our most active months are definitely July – September.
With that in mind, we have two hurricanes currently on their way to visit Hawaii. We’re just such a popular vacation destination. I kid.
Hurricane Erick looks like it’s set to miss hitting us and is forecast to pass to the South of the State of Hawaii. However, they are forecasting dangerous surf, some wind and possibly rain.
Hurricane Flossie is on Erick’s tail, possibly arriving Sunday or Monday. She was recently downgraded to a tropical storm. has a much more direct forecasted path which currently looks like it will pass across the Hawaiian Islands, or at least very close. However, as at last night’s new forecast model, it looks like she may cut to the North of us.
What does this mean for Maui?
In 9 years of living on Maui, we have been very fortunate and have not experienced a direct hurricane hit. Numerous hurricanes have been obliterated by Big Island’s two large shield volcanoes (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). Also, hurricanes have in the past typically slowed down and dissipated prior to actually arriving. Of course, every storm is different and so you do need to watch and monitor them and be prepared.
Possible rain: to be honest, we are praying for rain. Rain would be wonderful as Maui is so dry (hence the fires we’ve been having recently). However be aware that rain can cause run-off into the ocean, creating murky water conditions at the beach. If the water is murky, stay out! There is an increased risk of getting an infection should you have any cuts/abrasions (who knows what is in the water) and sharks come closer to land to check out the run-off.
Expect storm surge and changed ocean currents. Besides getting pummeled by unpredictable wave action, ocean currents can drag you unexpectedly out to sea. Best to stay out of the water. If you must, go to a beach with life guards present and ask them for their advice PRIOR to going into the water. If in doubt, please don’t go out.
Definitely expect humidity. Storms passing Hawaii block our wonderful trade winds which often keep the worst of the humidity at bay. Without those winds, the humidity can be here in full force.
A week ago we had a pretty bad brush fire here on Maui. It started on Wednesday July 10th near Waikapu and spread rapidly across the Central Valley coming very close to North Kihei (and our Sugar Beach condo). The fire ended up burning 9000 acres of brush land. This is mostly former sugar cane land.
As you may recall, A&B finished their sugar cane operations on Maui with their final harvest in December 2016. Since then the land has mostly been fallow, with sugar cane regrowth, weeds and of course kiawe trees growing wild. During their sugar cane operation A&B would irrigate the fields regularly, keeping them nice and green until about 2 years in, when they would have controlled burns and then harvest the sugar cane. These controlled burns would of course generate their fair share of ash particularly in North Kihei. Locals called it ‘Maui Snow’, black ash on cars and roads in the morning. However, A&B would then work up the fields within a few days and things would settle down again.
Last year A&B sold 41,000 acres of sugar cane land to Mahi Pono, a joint venture between a California agricultural group and ironically one of Canada’s largest pension funds. They have very slowly been starting to work up some acres and planting. Unfortunately it’s been an incredibly slow process. We were so used to the green central valley. It’s been brown and dry ever since cessation of the sugar cane operation now. In fact, there have been brush fires the past few summers, prompting the landowners to work up or disk buffer zones near roads as a form of fire break.
On July 10 the fire came so close to North Kihei, our guests at our Sugar Beach condo were evacuated. The Mokulele Hwy (now known as Veterans Hwy) and North Kihei Road to Ma’alaea were both closed due to the fire and heavy smoke and people missed their flights (including me – we had an inter-island flight to Oahu for a hockey tournament). The community pulled together, opened shelters and eventually everyone got to where they needed to go.
In wonderful news, there was no damage to inhabited buildings at all. To our knowledge, noone died in the fire. The police have an ongoing arson investigation for both this fire and a smaller fire which was started between the new Kahului Safeway and Target and the Sugar Cane factory on July 11.
What to expect when you come to Maui?
You’ll noticed the burned area in the central valley as you fly in – in fact, I would love to see your pictures! You’ll see the burned area as you drive across the central valley. You will see the dust blowing badly in the central valley and into North Kihei during certain times of the day. Here in South Kihei we are still getting some ash on our lanai.
However, fire fighters brought the fire under control within two days and are working to put out any flare ups that occur. We are so thankful for these men and women!
Our Sugar Beach condo is fine – no damage. There is still a lot of dust, we apologize. Join us in praying for rain. I’m not sure what else to do to help calm the dust down.