Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

New Year’s Eve Whale Watch

It has been a few years since I went on a whale watch. I must say, the last one was epic and I’ve just been afraid no other whale watch would measure up. Nonetheless, my parents visited over Christmas and I decided to treat them to a whale watch. If nothing else, I figured it would be a treat to see Maui from the water.

I booked a 2 hour whale watch with the Pacific Whale Foundation departing out of Ma’alaea Harbor. There are several options, including rafts that depart right out of Kihei Boat Harbor, but I figured sitting higher up (second deck) of a boat, you’d likely see better.

I chose the 9AM morning departure on New Year’s Eve. Mornings are always calmer, but I knew we weren’t up for a 7AM departure, so 9AM was just fine.

It was a beautiful day at sea, blue skies but somehow the sun managed to find clouds to hide behind so we weren’t roasting too badly. We saw 6 whales and my parents loved it. One of our favorite parts was when they lowered the underwater microphone and we could hear the whale song from whales within a several mile radius. So cool and unique.

Was it as epic as the whale watch 6 years ago? Well no – that one was in prime whale season (Feb/March) and likely a once in a life time experience. But I really enjoyed the whale watch nonetheless.

Why a whale watch vs watching from shore?

If you know what to watch for from shore, then watching from the beach or your oceanfront condo’s lanai can be fun and satisfying. However, if you’ve never gone whale watching, book a trip on a whale watch where you will have a marine biologist explain all about humpback whales, their behavior and help you see the whales. Plus, with any luck you’ll see whales much closer than from shore.

Happy New Year

I happened to be at our Kihei Surfside condo at sunset on New Year’s Eve. I sat on one of the stone benches right next to the water, watching and waiting for sunset to happen. Unfortunately there was a thin band of clouds just at the horizon, so the sun sunk behind the clouds rather than the horizon. However, just after it had sunk, a whale breached in the distance, just to the left of the sunset. It was an epic way to end out 2018!

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Have you been to the Iao Valley?

It’s been a while since we last drove to the Iao Valley. This is the wettest accessible part of Maui, with the wettest part at the far end of the valley (Pu’u Kukui) averaging 386 inches of rain/year. Compare that to Kihei’s 8-13 inches/year.

A few years ago there was a severe flood in the valley, washing away a portion of the park and parking lot. It has since been re-built/reinforced.

Iao Valley itself carries great historical significance to Hawaiians. It is a valley leading into a collapsed and extinct volcano. It was a special place for the Hawaiian ali’i (royalty). The valley was also the site of one of Maui’s bloodiest battles in 1790 between the ruler of Hawai’i Island (Kamehameha the Great) and the people of Maui (led by Kalanikupule). Ultimately Kamehameha succeeded in his quest to unify all the Hawaiian islands under his rule.

The Iao Valley is a state park with paid parking. To get there, drive into old town Wailuku. Pass the old church and the Bailey Museum (I highly recommend checking the museum out) and continue up the mountain. Soon the road splits in two, you take the right road which dips down into the valley, and then follow it to the end where you will come to the paid parking lot. Parking is $5. You can walk up stairs to a lookout and also walk a short loop through the rain forest to the Iao Stream where you can often see locals enjoying the water.

For some this valley and the water in the stream hold spiritual significance, so do be respectful.

Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

Just before you reach the Iao needle parking lot, there is a turnoff to the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. If you have time, stop here and check it out. It celebrates some of the cultures of Maui’s immigrants (specifically Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Portuguese and New Englanders). There is also a nice picnic area with numerous pavilions and bathrooms. Unfortunately this garden has been neglected and fallen into severe disrepair. However, the plaques are interesting to read and tell of Maui’s history.

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December 2018 Happenings

Is it just me or has this year just flown by? This weekend we enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal with friends, disappeared the fall decorations and set up the Christmas tree. The kids are protesting that it’s too early to  have Christmas decorations set up, and yet… I have 13 cups of pureed pumpkin (the lovely pumpkin our Palms at Wailea guests left behind a few weeks ago is now waiting to be baked into muffins and loaves). And…. here is the real kicker, Sig and I attended a Christmas choir concert today. The concert was lovely – I sure enjoyed it. It was the Maui Choral Arts Association‘s annual Peace on Earth Christmas concert in the Castle Theater at the MACC. The MACC is the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, location to many concerts on Maui. They have both an indoor and outdoor venue.

Looking for something non-beachy to do in the next few weeks. I just had a quick glance at Calendar Maui and here are a few things that struck me as interesting.

 

Lee Brice in concert – November 28th

Hawaii International Film Festival – November 29th – December 2nd (Castle Theater at the MACC)

4th Annual Maui Songwriters Festival – November 29th -December 1st

Holiday Pops Featuring Henry Kapono by the Maui Pops Orchestra – December 2nd

Elf the Musical – now through December 12 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku

Maui Jim Maui Classic Basketball – December 14/15th hosted by Oregon State

The Messiah – December 15/16th at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku

Steven Tyler in concert – December 27th at the MACC

 

Of course, you could also ‘just’ chill at the beach! Whatever you do, we hope you have a wonderful Maui stay!

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Ultimate Air Maui

Ultimate Air Maui
welcome to Ultimate Air Maui

A few weeks ago we were invited to a birthday party at Ultimate Air Maui. In light of yesterday’s island-wide rainstorms I thought this would be a great place to spend some time on a rainy day with kids.

Ultimate Air Maui opened this past spring. There aren’t many indoor activities to do with kids on Maui, so their opening has been eagerly anticipated by many kids and parents alike. It is located in a large open warehouse in Maui Lani/Wailuku. The facility is new and clean and not air-conditioned (just in case you were wondering).

The evening of the birthday party was fun. The kids bounced around, there was a very attentive birthday party attendant who helped the party run incredibly smooth.

kids

The website doesn’t mention this, but there are certain specials and special events. For instance right now Wednesdays are Ohana Night – come as a family and jump $10/hour per person. They have times reserved for toddlers, Friday night teen nights and even host fitness classes. For more information check the website, for specials check out their Facebook page.

Tickets are $22/hour, $32/two hours, $40/three hours plus $2 jump socks. They do not allow outside food or drink (they do have a concession). And most importantly for those non-jumping parents or family members, there are comfy leather couches and even massage chairs.

Ultimate Air Maui
one of several sofa seating areas

I’m sure we’ll be back at some point!

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A few Maui things to do in September 2018

Coming up on Maui this weekend and in the weeks beyond….

The Maui Lilikoi Festival

Have you had lilikoi? It’s a passion fruit – I’ve written about it in the past, see here. This weekend Saturday September 22, the Napili Farmer’s Market is hosting the Maui Lilikoi Festival from 8AM to 2PM. I have it on good authority that my new favorite bread bakery will be selling their bread there also…

 

Kula Festival

On the same day, Saturday September 22 from 9AM to 4PM St John’s Episcopalian Church hosts their 36th Annual Kula Festival. We went last year to cheer on a few musicians in the Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra. Not sure if they will be performing this year again, but it is a cute upcountry local festival to check out.

 

Maui Ukulele Festival

Sunday September 28th between 1-6PM come for a free Maui Ukulele Festival of concerts at the MACC. Bring a blanket/chairs to sit, ukuleles, a game or two and your wallet for some ono grinds (good food from the food trucks) and relax to the ukulele music. Note this festival usually takes place in October – this year it’s end of September instead.

 

Oktoberfest in paradise

Yes, Oktoberfest reaches even to Maui. There are several Oktoberfest happenings here.

  • On Friday September 28th the Rotary Club is hosting their 7th annual Oktoberfest at the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina (see here for tickets).
  • On September 29th the Maui Brewing Company in Kihei hosts their Oktoberfest from 2:30-7:30PM.
  • Brigit & Bernard’s, the Swiss/German restaurant in Kahului, always hosts Oktoberfest four weekends in October complete with German beer, good food and oompah-band. I am not finding their information off hand, but give them a call for details.

 

Maui Sunday Market

Sunday evenings in Kahului from 4-8pm check out the Maui Sunday Market. This is a new event, just started this July.

 

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Pueo Premier Card

It’s the beginning of a new school year and Kamalii Elementary School has issued their new Pueo Premier Card for the year. We have one of these at each of our four condos, so please do use the card to get discounts (similar or better to kama’aina) at local restaurants and stores. If you are not staying at our condos, swing by the school office at Kamalii Elementary School. They sell them as a school fundraiser for $10 cash. Mahalo for supporting local schools.

What’s on this year’s cards? Here are some of the restaurants/stores represented. Check out the picture of the cards to see them all.

  • 5 Palms Restaurant
  • Amigo’s
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Cow Pig Bun
  • Dina’s Sandwitch (sandwich store at Sugar Beach Resort)
  • Duo Steak & Seafood
  • Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse
  • Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods
  • Matteo’s Osteria
  • Maui Brick Oven
  • Maui Taco
  • Roasted Chiles
  • Round Table Pizza
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Scuba Shack
  • Shearwater Tavern
  • Three’s Bar & Grill
  • Wailea Pharmacy

Cards are good for 1 use per day per offer and must be presented at time of purchase/order. Only 1 free item (unless specified) may be received on each visit. 2 for 1s are for equal or lesser value. Offers cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Discounts at participating locations only.

kamaaina rate
picture of this year’s Pueo card – lots of discounts at local stores and restaurants

Kama’aina discounts

Speaking of discounts – what does ‘kama’aina’ discount mean? Kama’aina is the Hawaiian word for native born or ‘child of the land’. Here is an article about the meaning of kama’aina. Businesses in Hawaii are much more liberal with the application of the term when they offer kama’aina discounts to residents. Typically you need to show your Hawaii State ID or driver’s license to get the discount.

Note that though I have lived on Maui for 8+ years now, I am not considered a local. To be local, I would need to have lived here much longer.

The specials offered on this Pueo Premier Card are similar to these stores’ kama’aina discounts. In some cases these are instead of kama’aina discounts.

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Island Art Party

Last night was girls’ night out with a few friends. The activity of choice was an art party at Kihei’s own Island Art Party. Confession – I haven’t painted since art class in high school with exception of a finger painting ‘mom and me’ event with our youngest child a few years ago. I used to be pretty decent in art class, and at the art party they give you step by step instructions, so how hard could it be?

Kihei
Kihei’s Fourth Friday town party

It was the fourth Friday of the month, which means it’s Kihei’s monthly town party in central Kihei at the Azeka Shopping Plaza. I haven’t been to one of these in years. It was fun – a good number of local artisans selling t-shirts, soaps, jewelry, honey and even Maui-made candy. There were several musician areas with a variety of music being played and then of course a food-truck alley. We arrived early (around 5) to ensure good parking and enjoyed happy hour at Shearwater Tavern.

Island Paint Party
sneak picture during one of our breaks

Island Art Party is located right in Azeka, so that worked out perfectly. With it being Fourth Friday, they had a special on – $45/person or $25 for kama’aina (with State of Hawaii or military ID). The class was full, so it was a good thing we had made reservations. If you go on their website, they have a monthly calendar and you see exactly what the class will be painting each evening (and some daytime slots). Honestly, I didn’t like the project selected for last night. It was called ‘mystic jellyfish’ and, in my opinion, looked pretty awful. But, it was a night out with friends, so my attitude became ‘modify as needed and toss it out when I get home’. Plus it was a sale night, so whatever!

We arrived, were ID’ed (for the kama’aina discount and to purchase a drink from the bar) and ushered to our reserved seat. Everything was ready, except we needed to get our paint from the paint station (the instructions told us how many squirts of each paint).

We all started with a blank canvas, a few brushes and a plate of acrylic paint.

The Partista (party artist) gave us step by step instructions on what to do. I did modify mine a bit and honestly, ended up pleasantly surprised.

My slightly modified background (I added blue).

Island Art Party
My finished jellyfish painting

It was fun! We’ve already checked out next month’s calendar. I think we’ll try a sunset painting next time around.

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Train at the Mill House Bar

I’ve written about the Maui Tropical Plantation‘s transformation the past few years. I’ve even posted pictures of the very cool historic train inside the Mill House Bar. I finally got to eat there!

lahaina
A train in a bar? Yep! Only on Maui 🙂

When we first started coming to Maui on vacation, the Maui Tropical Plantation was always on our ‘things to do’ list. The main attraction was their duck pond for our kids. After a number of years it unfortunately closed to the public, only to have been reopened a few years ago under new ownership. The new owners have done an amazing job of the place. I love how they’ve taken old sugar cane factory parts and converted them into lawn art and garden decor. An homage to Waikapu’s rich sugar cane history. Admission to the grounds is free, and I highly recommend you go check it out. And yes, the gift shop (which is large and good) also sells $2 duck food baggies.

maui tropical plantation

The Tropical Plantation also features the Mill House which is a high-end farm-to-table restaurant and bar. I’ve always admired the bar from outside – particularly checking out the historic train inside the bar (how cool is that!). The other day I finally got to eat there – happy hour and pupu (appetizers). The food was great, service good, the ambiance amazing. Specifically we had a squash pizza, ceviche and bao bun tacos.

mill house bar
pupu at the Mill House Bar

mill house bar

What’s up with the train in the bar?

The locomotive is known as the Claus Spreckels – the second locomotive purchased for the Kahului-Wailuku railroad in 1881. It transported passengers and freight on a 13 mile (!) line. It is on long-term loan from Maui’s A&B Sugar Cane Museum. Be sure also to check out King Kalakaua’s train car (also on display in the bar)

mill house bar
more information on the Claus Spreckels train in the bar

Other things to check out at the Maui Tropical Plantation: a coffee roaster, ice cream, several smaller shops, a tour of the property. Do note that most of these places close at 4pm. The Mill House also hosts it’s weekly Chef’s Table event. At $150/person my friend tells me it’s an amazing culinary event.

 

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Sunset picnic

It was another beautiful day today. After a day at the office I headed over to our Kihei Surfside condo to prepare it for tomorrow’s guests’ check-in. It was much too beautiful a day to go home, so I headed over to the Island Market at the Shops at Wailea to pick up some dinner.

sunset picnic

I sampled some of the poke and picked up two types of poke and an ocean salad. Poke is raw marinated fish – often ahi (tuna). Ocean salad is strips of kelp and sea weed with a slightly sweet salad dressing. This may not be your idea of a picnic dinner – but if not, they have a great deli section with many take-out options.

sunset picnic
The Island Gourmet Market is an ABC store with a great deli section.

 

I then headed back to our Kihei Surfside condo and had an ocean-front picnic.

You honestly can’t beat this view.

sunset picnic

My picnic dinner was delicious.

 

And sunset was beautiful.

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Maui Brewing Company

The Maui Brewing Company opened their Kihei production facility a few years ago. I took a tour of it a while ago – it was really quite interesting to see and learn more about beer. And, it included a flight of their flagship beers. Tours are offered several times daily.

Maui Brewing Company started in 2005 in Lahaina. They moved to their Kihei facility I think in 2016 (their Kahana brewpub is still open and popular also). The owners, Garrett and Melanie, were awarded the US National Small Business Person of the Year award in 2017. Quite an honor for a craft brewery in Hawaii. If you like beer, do check this place out and try a sample.

The brewing company has a tasting room where you can sample their 30+ beers on tap and their very own (non-alcoholic) rootbeer. The tasting room is popular, they have board games and a giant tic tac toe game to encourage patrons to hang out and have fun.

Maui Brewing Company
the tasting room bar

Until recently they had a rotation of food trucks parked outside the tasting room. This past February they opened their own on-site restaurant. The other day I stopped in to take a few pictures. I really like the way it turned out with a view into the brewery itself.

Maui Brewing Company
view into the brewery from the restaurant

 

Maui Brewing Company
view outside from the Maui Brewing Company restaurant

The Maui Brewing Company – brewery and restaurant is located in Central Kihei. To get there from the Piilani Highway, you turn up the mountain (mauka) on Lipoa. Drive past the Maui Nui golf course to the Maui Research and Technology Park. You will see the facility on the left hand side, across from another popular hangout – Cow Pig Bun (located in the black glass building).

looking up at the restaurant at the Maui Brewing Company

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