Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

Sunset atop Haleakala

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 (more on that in another post) 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.

Haleakala’s crater 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 is $25, an annual pass is $50).

a silversword plant – these are endangered and grow only on Maui. A step on their root system will kill them, so don’t get close.

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.

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Kula Lodge

I had an errand to run today near Kula Lodge. Kula Lodge is at the 3200 ft elevation. As you drive up our volcano (Haleakala), you will find that the roads get narrower, the speed limits drop and the views become increasingly spectacular.

The Kula Lodge is the highest sit-down restaurant on Maui with an outdoor pizza oven and stunning bi-coastal views. This is also home to the Curtis Cost Gallery – his Maui scenery paintings are just spectacular. You can also stay at the Kula Lodge, though we’ve never done it.

One of my favorite things to do (though I haven’t done it for a while), is to kick off an evening of stargazing with pizza at the Kula Lodge. It’s time we did that again.

The poinsettia hedge in the parking lot is starting to bloom. It is mid-November. Where did the year go?

Kula Marketplace

As I was a bit early, I stopped at the Kula Marketplace gift shop to look around. Always on the look out for new Made in Maui products and goodies. Today I found a few: a new to me hotsauce by Volcano Spice using Maui grown scorpion peppers. I love the HI Spice Smoke Scorpion sauce, so I’ll have to taste-test these two. I love the color.

I also found these coasters which I thought would make fun Christmas presents.

Kula Lodge
Christmas coasters

I may have mentioned a time or two how much I love upcountry Maui. I don’t know what I love more – the scenery and the views, or cooling off from Kihei’s heat!

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Ocean Vodka’s fy gin

A few weeks ago my husband Sig took friends visiting from Germany for his favorite upcountry drive. He came home with a bottle of Ocean Vodka’s fy gin.

As of right now there is no information about this new fy gin online, so yesterday I stopped at Ocean Vodka to ask a few questions. Really, I should have signed up for the tour, but I was in a rush, so I asked one of the gift shop ladies for a little more information. I am really not a gin connaisseur but the main thing I gleaned from what she told me is that it is infused with lavender, lime, and ginger. The company is continuing on with their cool blue bottle concept.

I also found this info on Tripadvisor from someone who obviously HAS been on the tour:

The gin is called „fy“ which is taken from the local (pidGIN ) language for „five“. There are five botanicals that are responsible for the taste, the bottle is a very well transparent designed „container“ that has five sides and it is the distillery‘s fifth product. It gets five out of five points from me…

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60633-d13147941-r717497568-The_Hawaii_Sea_Spirits_Organic_Farm_and_Distillery-Kula_Maui_Hawaii.html

Hawaii Sea Spirits

fy gin
Entrance sign to the organic farm and distillery

Disclaimer: everyone I know refers to this farm as Ocean Vodka. However, the correct name for the organic farm and distillery is Hawaii Sea Spirits. Their first product was Ocean Vodka which is sold in its iconic blue bottle. They also make three types of Kula rum and now fy gin. All products are made from organic sugar cane grown right here on Maui.

I highly recommend stopping by their property and going for a tour. Their vodka and rums are available at stores around the island and even on the mainland. Fy gin is for now only available in their own store on property.

Upcountry Drive

Sig’s favorite upcountry drive includes: Ocean Vodka and the Surfing Hawaii Goat Farm next door. Then a drive up windy Omaopio Road to Kula Hwy where you pass the Kula Farms farm stand (yum). Then on to Ulupalakua Ranch’s General Store for a fresh Maui-grown burger. After lunch, a stop at the winery across the street (the rest room is just behind it, so you’re walking right by anyway).

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Craving Poke

Of late it seems I’ve been craving poke. As I scroll through the pictures on my phone, I came across 3 recent pictures of poke. A-hem.

What is poke?

Poke is raw fish – usually ahi (tuna) – cut up, marinated and served very fresh. There are many varieties. A poke bowl is poke on warm rice. You always eat poke as soon as you buy it. Do not keep leftover for another meal. This is raw fish. Consume as soon as possible.

My recent poke choices

The first was a poke bowl at Gannon’s Red Bar. Gannon’s is one of my favorite restaurants. I love the setting in the club house of the Wailea Gold and Emerald Golf Course with a lovely view of the ocean and Molokini. Lunch there is always lovely, but so is the happy hour at the Red Bar. It runs I believe from 4-8pm. Depending on the number of visitors on the island, you will need to make reservations.

Gannon’s Red Bar poke bowl – definitely the fanciest

My second poke bowl was just last week. I was running errands and needed lunch to go. The poke bowl at Eskimo Candy was calling my name. Eskimo Candy is sort of out-of-the-way, located in an industrial area near Kihei’s middle and elementary schools. They have some of the freshest seafood on island, and THE best poke bowl. I got there after the lunch crowd, and they only had two kinds of poke (instead of the usual four). They put something on their rice – not sure what – but it’s good. And the seaweed salad gives it a punch of color and awesome texture.

Eskimo Candy poke bowl – normally there would be 4 types, but after lunch they were down to 2 varieties plus seaweed salad

Then yesterday Sig suggested I pick up fried chicken for a quick dinner from Foodland. It was on sale, 10 pieces for $9.99. I don’t know about you, but fried chicken doesn’t exactly pique my interest when…… everyone knows Foodland has the best poke……. And so, I picked up the shoyu (soy sauce) poke. So good.

Foodland has THE BEST poke. Go try and buy

I don’t know about you, but I’m craving poke. Tonight’s leftover pizza just isn’t working for me…

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Upcoming Maui Events

I keep seeing advertisements for upcoming Maui events, and I keep thinking – oh, I should post about that…. so here you go.

36th Annual Kula Festival ~ Sept 21, 2019, 9AM-4PM. It’s roasting hot in Kihei this summer. Head upcountry and check out this one day event hosted by St John’s Episcopalian church.

14th Annual Maui Ukulele Festival ~ Sept 28, 2019, 1PM-6PM at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. This is another fun FREE event. Bring a blanket or beach chairs and some games and enjoy a free ukulele concert. Food for purchase at local food trucks.

Annual Maui Fair ~ October 3-6, 2019 at the War Memorial Complex. This is the only fair with rides on Maui, a favorite among locals. I always hear about the amazing local food here!

Maui Marathon and Half Marathon ~ October 10, 5AM-2PM. There are people who come to Maui just for this event! Careful if you are driving from Kihei to Lahaina that day as there will be runners on the road!

6th Annual Maui in Maui County Festival ~ November 1&2 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. This is an amazing place to stock up on Christmas presents and souvenirs. Everything is made locally. This year there are 140 local vendors signed up, plus food trucks and live music. If you’re on Maui, don’t miss this!

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Upcountry Walk

This weekend one of the kids needed to be upcountry for a 7 AM cross country run. To put this in perspective, we needed to leave our home in Kihei at 6:10 AM to meet at Grandma’s Coffee House which was their chosen meeting point. The coach chose one of my favorite upcountry walks for the run, so I made coffee and headed up the mountain with my athlete.

We made fantastic time, getting there early. I left the teens to do their run and started off on a walk, stopping regularly to take pictures of trees, flowers and of course the view. It is just breath-takingly beautiful upcountry. And cool. I am always warm, so I particularly enjoyed cooling down a little from Kihei’s heat.

The narrow, winding and hilly road is lined by traditional lava rock walls and offers gorgeous views.
Look to the left, down the mountain, and see Kihei, the ocean and West Maui Mountains in the distance.
upcountry walk
Look to the right and enjoy the meadows on Haleakala’s volcanic slopes, looking for cows, horses and goats.
upcountry walk
It is the tail end of jacaranda season, but there were still blooms to enjoy.
upcountry walk
I always smile when I see these peeling trees shedding their bark.
upcountry walk
Colorful blooms along the side of the road
upcountry walk
These giant leaves were catching discarded jacaranda blooms.

Grandma’s Coffee House

After my beautiful walk (and the team’s run), we all gathered at Grandma’s Coffee House for some breakfast. This is a small mom and pop shop, one of few restaurants in the area and consequently a bit of a gathering place. The coach struck up a conversation with an older gentleman reading his paper. Turns out he’s Grandma’s son. His own son, Alfred Franco, now runs Grandma’s Coffee House. He talked story with us for a while, telling of the coffee growing/roasting they do.

I had a small black Americano – one of the best coffees I’ve had in a while – and a pineapple coconut muffin. It hit the spot!

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Video walk throughs of two condos

I must admit, I am more active on Facebook than on this blog. If you are on Facebook, do follow us at Maui Oceanview Condos. Recently I did two video walk throughs of our condos (on Facebook), showing potential guests what the condos look like. The posts were pretty popular and generated a lot of hits. I thought my blog readers may enjoy seeing the condos also.

Seeing a video of a condo gives you a different perspective than just looking at pictures. Now keep in mind – these are my amateur videos taken on my phone. Nothing fancy, in part a little blurry. But I hope you enjoy.

Maui Kamaole I-103

The first is of our Maui Kamaole I-103 condo. We still have some 2019 availability remaining for late summer and fall. Would love to have you come stay. This is a 1030 square foot condo with a large master bedroom with attached master bath and a very large living room which features a Murphy hide-a-bed (it folds in and out of the cabinetry). The lanai off the living room has a nice oceanview. This condo is in South Kihei, just up the hill from Kamaole 3 beach park and about a 10-15 minute walk from shops and restaurants.

Video walk through of our Maui Kamaole I-103 condo

Kihei Surfside 405

The second video walk through is from our Kihei Surfside 405 condo. This is our one bedroom, 1 1/2 bath oceanfront property with the amazing ocean view. This condo has I think one or two weeks left late August/September. Note, it has no A/C, so do consider that before booking. Summer highs can be around 93, night-time lows around 83 that time of year. We usually get good trade winds, but if they go away, it’s humid. Of course we have high quality ceiling fans and extra fans. As you can see from our calendar, this condo is very popular with our guests.

video walk through of our Kihei Surfside 405 condo

I’ll take videos of our other two condos soon. We’d love to have you stay – check out our condos for your next Maui trip!

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I just love those purple jacaranda trees!

If you’ve driven upcountry Maui, you probably will know what I’m referring to: those beautiful purple flowering jacaranda trees.

Jacaranda trees are actually not endemic to Hawaii but are native to South America. If you go for an upcountry drive, they are just starting to bloom. They are so beautiful.

Maui’s only paint party place, Island Art Party, is located here in Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei. Yesterday’s paint theme was ‘upcountry drive’ which included some of the beautiful purple blooms. I’ve been eyeing up this painting for some time now and lucky me, my friend suggested we go painting.

If you’ve never gone to one of these paint parties, no worries. It is a fun social event, where they give you step by step instructions on how to paint the painting (everyone paints the same thing). Worst case, you throw out the painting when you’re done. Best case, you have an amazing souvenir of your stay on Maui.

Here are a few pictures of my painting. I’m about 90% happy with it. But I had a fantastic evening!

Do check out their website for their event calendar. Island Art Party has new owners and is currently waiting for their liquor license (no alcoholic beverages available at this time). They are hoping it’s a matter of weeks. On the walls and unused tables you can admire upcoming art projects.

Island Art Party
Upcoming art projects – isn’t that sunset sail one (3rd from right on bottom) amazing?

Seabury Craft Fair

If you are on Maui around Mother’s Day, do check out Seabury Hall’s annual Craft Fair on Saturday, May 11th (the day before Mother’s Day). It’s a fantastic craft fair with juried crafts, a wonderful food section, kids games etc. But in my opinion the best thing about this craft fair – it’s the setting: beautiful bicoastal views, white tents under purple blooming jacaranda trees on a beautiful college prep campus. Don’t miss it! Parking across the road at the rodeo grounds is free, admission is $5.

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Waihou Spring Hike

Last weekend we went on a family hike. One of my favorite hikes on Maui is the Waihou Spring Trail in Olinda. I should qualify, usually we just do the 1 mile loop in the pine forest and call it a day. It’s an easy stroll and generally not busy at all. There is an off-shoot from the loop leading to the Waihou Spring Trail which we always walk down. But – there’s always a but – then you get to a danger sign, warning you of certain death.

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The experimental pine forest

The thing about hiking upcountry Maui is that it very often rains up there, so the switchback trail to the springs is often wet. This past Sunday however it was dry. Add to that, we had family along that are generally more adventurous than we are, so we thought – well, why not. Down a series of switchbacks we carefully walked to the bottom of the gorge where we found a sweet waterfall with caves behind it. And a rooster. Don’t ask me what the rooster was doing in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the gorge. I didn’t see any chickens around. I can only presume he got lost, or accidentally went down there. Who knows. The hike out of the gorge was steep, but we all made it back out and lived to tell the tale! I would not recommend this hike if it’s wet.

hike
You’ve been warned – I would not go down this trail unless it’s completely dry. It’s a steep one.

Where is the Waihou Spring Trail

This trail is located upcountry Maui. To get there, drive up to Makawao. Turn right onto Baldwin and just follow the road up the mountain. The road will get narrower and narrower. Slow down, take your time and enjoy the views and watch for traffic. Eventually you pass the Maui Bird Conservation Center (to your left) and enter into a pine forest. You will shortly see parking on the right side. It will take you about an hour to get here from Kihei.

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the waterfall at Waihou Spring
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A trip to the Maui Ocean Center

When we first moved to Maui over eight years ago, our family held annual passes to the Maui Ocean Center. Over the years we have loved coming here to visit the fish. Our family’s favorites are the octopus, lion fish and the sharks and rays.

a shark and ulua swimming past the window

As our children got older and life got busier, we stopped coming as often. This past week we had family visiting and decided it was time – time to go visit the fish again!

If you have snorkeled in Hawaii, you will know many fish in our reefs are endemic to Hawaii. Endemic meaning, only found in Hawaiian waters. Most famous of these endemic fish is perhaps the humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apua’a fish, also known as the Hawaiian trigger fish.

The Maui Ocean Center is a small aquarium featuring only fish and sea creatures found in Hawaiian waters. The Living Reef building showcases fish seen while snorkeling our reefs. The Open Ocean with acrylic ‘glass’ tunnel holds a 750,000 gallon tank with a collection of sharks, rays and ulua. Twice a day a naturalist scuba dives in the tank for a question and answer session about the animals in the tank. It is really cool.

the naturalist telling us about the ray

There is also a turtle lagoon and most recently a large area focused on native history and Kaho’olawe (the ‘forbidden’ island in the distance past Molokini).

New humpback whale exhibit

Coming soon – maybe in February now! The Maui Ocean Center has been working on its the new humpback whale exhibit. I am very curious about the new white dome which will feature a 3D humpback whale experience.

If you’ve never been to the Maui Ocean Center – check it out. The best deal is to pre-purchase your tickets on the website. If coming as a family, make sure you select the family pass option for best rate.

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