How do you cut a pineapple? There are of course different ways. I learned mine from the tag on a Maui Gold pineapple!
I’ve had a lot of fun over the years growing pineapples in my flowerbed. I by no means have a green thumb. Sig keeps our yard at home looking beautiful, with the help of teenager lawnmowers (love having teenagers!).
Over the years I’ve posted pictures of our flowerbed pineapples which grow from tops here on this blog. Here is one with the new pineapple bud rising out of the plant.
Today I made two videos, both at our Maui Kamaole I-103 condo’s kitchen. One how to cut a pineapple, the second how to prep a pineapple top for planting. I hope you enjoy!
How to cut a pineapple
How do you like to eat your pineapple? You could eat the pieces just like this. Or you could use our condo’s Vitamix (each of our condos has one) to make a pineapple smoothie, or start a pina colada. You are in Hawaii, after all!
Did you know, the island of Lanai used to be the location where Dole grew all its pineapples. Labor grew to expensive and so they relocated their farms to South America and/or South East Asia. But no fear, Maui Gold has their farm upcountry in Hali’imaile. As you drive from Haleakala Hwy towards Baldwin Ave (past the Hali’imaile General Store), you will pass their Pineapple vodka operations (on the left) and pineapple fields on the right (you need to crane your neck a bit to see them past the wild grass). Please be respectful and stay out of the fields.
Here’s something I have never done before – scuba diving! Fortunately for you, our brother-in-law is a diver and he has shared a few of his videos from this trip’s dives.
This is Paul’s third time diving on Maui. His preference is to dive from shore with a dive partner. Unfortunately for him, we don’t have any divers at our house, so he books group dives. He’s been diving for 11+ years now, but it is always a good idea to have a dive partner when you go in the water. Just in case you run into trouble. Incidentally the same also goes for snorkeling.
He has booked group dives with Scuba Shack, Maui Diving and this year, Dive Maui, depending on where he wanted to dive. He brings his own gear, but you can rent from the many dive outfits on island.
This week Paul went on two scuba diving trips. His first was an off-shore dive in Lahaina. The second was a dive in the Molokai channel. The Molokai Channel dive was incredibly choppy with 15-20 foot waves. While conditions were less than ideal, he saw a rare whale shark!
What is a whale shark?
Did you know – a whale shark is the largest living fish and can grow up to 40 feet long. Thursday’s whale shark was likely around 22 feet long. Unlike other sharks they are relatively harmless to humans, feeding mainly on tiny plankton. It is pretty rare to see whale sharks in Hawaii. Note, humpback whales are mammals as they give birth to their young. Whale sharks eggs hatch while still inside the female (strange?).
Running into trouble in the ocean
Did you know the most common cause of visitor death on Maui is drowning? In the past few weeks there have been two incidents of drowning on Maui. On July 23 a California visitor fell off a cliff at Wainapanapa State Park (along the Road to Hana). On July 16 a scuba diver was pulled out of the water at Makena Landing. He had been swimming with a friend, but lost sight of him. Unfortunately these incidents are not uncommon on Maui. Sometimes it’s lack of common sense, but often it’s accidental. Our condolences to the families.
If you’ve driven up Haleakala, you may have come across a sign for Hosmer’s Grove. The turnoff is almost immediately once you drive through the national park gate, to your left. You can camp here, though I’ve heard it can be pretty cold especially if it rains. You are after all at 7000 ft elevation. Next to the campground is a short half mile loop trail.
In the 1800s explorers decimated Hawaii’s native sandalwood forests, logging and shipping them off as exotic woods. In some cases, such as Kaho’olawe, cutting down the forests dramatically changed the weather patterns. Early 1920 a guy named Hosmer planted an experimental forest, introducing 86 types of non-native trees. Today 20 species still grow in Hosmer’s Grove, ironically within the national park. Not all of the shrubs are non-native. There is a section with native-to-Hawaii shrubs, including a blooming green sword, which has some similarities to the silver swords you find at Haleakala crater.
How to get there
It’s a 38 mile drive from Kihei, and should take just over an hour and a national park entry fee to get to Hosmer’s Grove. Last year I purchased an annual park pass for my Haleakala sunrise expedition. We’ve used it three times this year, but somehow didn’t make it to Hosmer’s Grove. When I suggested going on a family hike yesterday, Sig was game. I even told him it was just inside the national park. However it’s been a long time since he’s been to the park ~ probably since 2012 when we drove to Haleakala summit to see Venus cross in front of the sun (an amazing experience). He hates windy roads. To be fair, it takes about an hour to get to the Waihou Spring loop trail (also a contender for yesterday’s hike), so this wasn’t that much further, and not much less windy.
Yes, it’s kinda silly to drive an hour to go for a 1/2 mile walk. It would have made more sense to combine the walk with sunrise or sunset or just driving up to the crater. But like I said, my park pass was about to expire, and I’m in no rush to buy another $55/annual pass just to go on a 1/2 mile walk.
Haleakala National Park
Yes, we have a national park here on Maui. The park gates sit at 7000 foot elevation. From the park gates it takes about half hour to reach the summit area and the viewing platform for crater valley. Haleakala is a dormant volcano, but technically the crater is a valley with many smaller cinder cones in it. It is a beautiful, out of this world experience. Keep in mind, once you leave Kula and before you get to the park gates is ranch land and you will encounter cows – possibly on the side of the road, but sometimes also on the road (the asphalt heats up nicely during the day and cows like to warm up on it in the evening).
The entrance fee is $30/private vehicle with admission valid for 3 days (there are some park areas accessible along the Road to Hana, so you may want to plan accordingly). Should you be visiting Big Island during your Hawaii trip, you may want to consider the Hawaii Tri-Park annual pass for $55. This pass gives you admission to all three Hawaii national parks (two on Big Island, one on Maui).
Last year our family embarked on a number of new to us hikes around the island. We enjoyed exploring our island, especially without tourists around. I can imagine some of these hikes are significantly busier these days. There are a number of excursions you can book. Acquaintances own Hike Maui which picks you up from your condo/resort and takes you on guided hikes. Check them out!
Turtles are also included in Hawaii’s protected wildlife. Our family moved to Maui 11 years ago. When we first moved here, it was pretty rare to see turtles at the beach. In the past decade turtle sightings have become more common which is wonderful! However, please do not approach and definitely do not touch turtles. A number of years ago there was a crazy story about people trying to ride a turtle. Isn’t that a Disney thing?
Did you know there are five turtle species in Hawaii? The most common turtle species are green turtles and the endangered hawksbill turtles. A number of years ago we were able to witness the scientific unearthing of a hawksbill turtle nest. It was an incredible experience.
Coral reefs and reef fish
Snorkeling and diving are two of the most popular activities here in Hawaii. But did you know, stepping on the reef can cause significant damage to the coral? Please do not step on the reef and please also do not touch the coral or fish living in the reef. Do take pictures instead!
Yes we also have some not-so-endangered wildlife on Maui. In fact, wild boars and axis deer are considered invasive species and are hunted for population control purposes. Chance are great you will not see a wild boar, but do keep a lookout for them especially if out hiking. While generally human-shy, they will come down into populated areas in search for food. On occasion I have seen them as road kill on the side of the road. Last winter we actually had five baby pigs that came down the gulch and ran around our neighborhood until someone finally caught and relocated them.
Have you driven past the Maui Golf and Sports Park at Maalaea Harbor and wondered what that was? Minigolf on Maui? Surely that is too small a place to be worth going to?
When you walk into the Maui Golf and Sports Park you will be surprised. This wedge-shaped property is incredibly well designed to fit two 18 hole minigolf courts, extreme trampoline, a small climbing cliff, mini volcano and – the piece de resistance – bumper boats.
Over the years we have hosted a number of kids’ birthday parties here. While minigolf is a lot of fun, really, all they want to do is ride the bumper boats and use the super soakers to spray their friends and parents watching from the sidelines.
it’s Maalaea, it will be windy. Wind can be deceptively cooling – remember to use sunscreen so you won’t burn.
wear something that can get wet and bring a towel/change of clothes. After a round of minigolf the bumperboats are super refreshing. You could technically stay dry, if you convinced everyone not to use their spray guns, and if you kept the boat out of the waterfall. But where’s the fun in that?
Yes, they have two large bathrooms with plenty of room to change.
Other birthday considerations
This week’s birthday festivities included
mango-custard filled malasadas
a Cold Stone icecream cake
dinner at Outback Steakhouse (Roundtable Pizza was a close second choice)
Mango malasadas? I stumbled across a pop-up bakery (Coppa’s) on Facebook that made these to order. They were filled with a mango custard. They were very delicious.
Malasadas are Portuguese-style donuts, made fresh to order. Typically you can get them plain or with a custard filling, or guava jam filled (at Komodas). Our family has a birthday (and special day) tradition of picking up malasadas for breakfast.
I’ve had the new whale exhibit at the Maui Ocean Center on my to do list for a while. I love the Maui Ocean Center and the ‘new’ white dome has intrigued me for some time now. I knew it was a 3D experience about humpback whales, but that’s about it.
Last year the Maui Ocean Center closed when Covid hit. With tourism at a complete standstill, there were just not enough customers to be open. Fortunately this spring they reopened the aquarium. Here we are, half way through the kids’ summer break, so today was the day to go check out the center and it’s whale exhibit! The last time we were at the Ocean Center was in January 2019, one month before the new whale exhibit opened.
The whale exhibit
The Ocean Center has always had a whale exhibit. The old one had various displays and games and a Bubble Net room. The Bubble Net room was a simulation of what it would be like to be krill caught in the humpback whales’ bubble net. Our family thought this was the best part 🙂
However, in February 2019 the aquarium opened the new whale exhibit. In addition to a cool 3D film shot right here off the shores of Maui, they have a whole new updated interactive whale display. Watch this Youtube video for the best description of it.
The new whale exhibit is in a new building tucked next to the gift shop and bathrooms. The former exhibit has been transformed into an exhibit about Kaho’olawe, Hawaii’s forbidden island. One thing I learned today is that it is the first of the Hawaiian islands to have been populated. The island has been deserted for some time, and was actually used for target practice (for bombs) from World War 2 up until 1990 when President Bush signed a moratorium, halting military exercises on it. It’s an interesting exhibit, I highly recommend it.
Our family has been big fans of the Ocean Center for years. When the kids were little, we’d come multiple times a week (buying a weekly pass when we were on vacation), then 5-7 times/year with an annual pass once we moved here in 2010. When your kids are little and have a short attention span, you try to be creative in getting your money’s worth!
My favorite exhibits are the frog fish, the octopus, the flat fish, the open water exhibit (shark and ray tank) and now definitely the new whale exhibit. How about yours?
Before you go….
The Ocean Center is currently using a reservation system to better spread out guest numbers throughout the day and make social distancing a little easier. And yes, currently you will need to wear your mask both indoors and outdoors while on property. You pre-purchase your tickets online. Read the instructions closely, for instance there is a twenty minute window to arrive (if your reservation is for 10am, you can arrive between 9:50 and 10:10). Yes, they’ve raised their prices, I assume due to limiting visitor numbers and operating losses from last year. On the plus side, there is no extra charge for the new whale exhibit (there previously had been). When I looked, I was able to get same day tickets, no problem, though I assume that depends on the day.
What are some of your favorite Maui to-dos? For many it’s finding the perfect beach and spending the day. Others plan action-packed days, filled with adventure and excursions. For others it’s all about the food – finding the best island treats and meals. I recently wrote a list of my favorite restaurants. Here is a list of to-dos. This list is meant as a starting point. It by no means includes all the best things to do. We live and work here. We don’t do the tourist thing as much as we should.
This past year we’ve driven up 10,023 ft resident volcano Haleakala both for sunrise and sunset. Both were spectacular. This is my very favorite Maui to-dos. You do need reservations for sunrise (which keeps the numbers in check). Sunset has gotten quite busy as a result, so make sure you get there with plenty of time to get a parking spot. But really, going up during the day is fantastic also. There is a crater webcam and you can see what the weather is like as you are driving and change plans if things seem socked in. Gazing into the crater valley is amazing. And yes, there are many hikes. Something I (and many other locals) do not recommend, is the ‘ride down the volcano’ style bike tours. You are mainly on roads without shoulders and really have to watch out for traffic. In my opinion there are better ways to enjoy the volcano.
Whale watching (in season)
Every year humpback whales journey to Maui to both calve and mate. The journey from Alaska takes them about 6 weeks, during which time they do not eat. They spend roughly 5-6 weeks in Hawaiian waters, mainly in the shallower waters between Maui, Kahoolawe and Lanai, where they mate and calve, and then journey back to Alaska. During this whole time they are on an extreme diet of no eating (we don’t have krill). Can you imagine? Whale season runs mid-November through mid-April, though the best whale watching is January-March.
Snorkeling is not my area of expertise. So I will leave that for others to discuss, such as Boss Frog’s Maui snorkel blog (this is one of the snorkel gear rental companies). However, there is plenty of snorkeling to do both just from the beach and also through excursions. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or comfortable with snorkeling, you can still see all the local sea life! Go check out the Maui Ocean Center, our local aquarium. It is truly fantastic. At this time (Covid) you will need to make reservations. And as someone who sees many of the news announcements – if you are not a strong swimmer, please do not snorkel. And please, never snorkel alone. Always have a buddy.
My personal favorite beaches are Keawakapu beach and its neighbor Ulua beach. I also really enjoy Sugar Beach – it is a 5 mile stretch of sand, great for walking. Having said that, I typically go to the beach for an hour, splash in the water, sit in the sand a little and then head home. Others will pack up and spend the day. I would say when considering which beach to go to, you may want to consider the following
facilities (bathrooms/showers). When we first moved here, we went to Big Beach, not realizing there were no showers. Sig’s brand new truck was initiated with five bodies covered in sand. Ouch.
are you coming to surf, boogie board, swim, snorkel, walk or suntan) – conditions will vary depending on time of day, time of year, weather, surf conditions etc. Do some research.
location – do you want to walk to the beach, or are you driving to one further away
wind – the wind tends to pick up mid to late morning and then can settle down mid afternoon or so. Ulua beach seems to be more protected from the wind, so this can be a good afternoon option
A few words about the Road to Hana
This is a hugely popular all-day drive with multiple pull-outs along the way. However, it is actually the road which leads to Hana where people live and work. It is not designed as a tourist attraction. Since tourism’s rebound this spring things have gotten particularly crazy along this road, with visitors parking willy-nilly because of lack of parking. County workers have placed no-parking signs and Maui Police are now enforcing with tickets. Should you decide to drive the Road to Hana, please be mindful of parking rules and locals trying to get to and from work, grocery shopping, doctors appointments etc. Also note that some of the places mentioned in guide books or online actually involve trespassing – please DO NOT TRESPASS. While I personally have never driven the Road to Hana (I get really car sick), my son says his favorite is the Garden of Eden. And Twin Falls (which is currently struggling with parking issues). You may enjoy the Road to Hana Gypsy app which tells you more about the area and points out sites of interest along the way. I’m told it’s great (we got it when we went to Oahu a few years ago)
I am regularly asked for recommendations, what my Maui favorites are. Of course, with Covid many things have changed, so this list is in flux. Also, for restaurants – call and make reservations! Some take reservations on Open Table, others do not.
Maui Bread Co (we like to walk to this bakery – go early, it’s small and they sell out)
Kihei Caffe This place is hugely popular for their big portions. Honestly, I wouldn’t stand in those crazy lines (mainly in full sun) for breakfast. But if there is no line, I’d go! Note: they have finally opened their Lahaina location for those staying on the West side!
Nalus – they have finally reopened after a long closure during Covid. I dream of their ahi club
Cafe o Lei on South Kihei Road – one of the most reasonable lunch menus
Ami Ami (at the Maui Coast Hotel) for breakfast/dinner. They also serve food poolside – no, non-hotel guests may not use the pool, but they often have live music and it’s an easy casual atmosphere with younger kids
Cuatro Restaurant – we haven’t been for a few years. Small restaurant, their ahi nachos are so good
Eskimo Candy – they have the best poke bowl on island (disclaimer, that is all I eat here)
Pint & Cork – when we went a few weeks ago, they were not taking reservations, just first come first serve
while not a restaurant, Island Market @ Shops at Wailea has a very nice take-out/deli section for picnics
non Kihei special mentions
Tin Roof (pre-order your take-out on their website). The mochiko chicken is amazing
Maui has been warming up. This is of course hardly a surprise, it is officially summer. My problem is, I just don’t like the heat (I know, I live in the wrong part of the world). So last week I drove upcountry for a cool-er walk, some strawberries and lilikoi tarts.
It was closing in on 80F when I left Kihei around 7:30am and by the time I arrived at my favorite Thompson Road pull-out an hour later, it was a wonderful 68F. I had tried rather unsuccessfully to convince a few friends to go walking, so I was doing this solo. I grabbed my mask (just in case), sunglasses and phone and headed out on my 3 mile (roundtrip) walk. This is a narrow road with bicoastal views, lava rock walls, horses and just beautiful scenery. There isn’t much traffic, but as long as you stay to the side of the road, everyone is friendly and waves.
Sig told me to be sure to check out the French bakery while upcountry. One of the tennis moms had been telling him how amazing it was. I have a bit of a reputation for having a sweet tooth, so of course I had to stop. Turns out La Provence was a little more difficult to find than I thought it would be. It’s on a road that runs parallel (just above) Kula Hwy. However, I forgot that that parallel road is not continuous due to all the gorges on Haleakala. On the fourth attempt I got it right. La Provence is a sit-down restaurant (I’ve never done that), but also has a little hole in the wall bakery section. The lilikoi meringue tart and fruit tart were calling my name. Who am I to resist? FYI, they only take cash/checks.
Along the way I saw Kula Country Farms had a BOGO (buy one get one free) on their locally grown strawberries. Lucky me! They actually also have a u-pick, but were watering/fertilizing, so the u-pick was closed. If you are upcountry, do stop at their farm stand. The lady who runs it is the sweetest and they have great produce.
What did I do with my four packs of strawberries? Welll….. I was inspired by La Provence’s fruit tart to make an Austrian Obstboden for Father’s Day. As you may know, I grew up in Austria and have a rather particular taste for dessert. An Obstboden is a fruit flan. However, where I grew up, you didn’t fill it with pudding/custard, but instead a layer of matching fruit jam (as a moisture barrier) and then topped it with a gelatin glaze. Here’s my Father’s day cake. We ate it for breakfast. It’s basically a fruit salad!
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.