Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

Big Beach

photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

Big Beach (also known as Makena Beach and Oneloa) is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Located in Makena – one of the last beaches before the old lava flow, it is South Maui’s biggest beach, 2/3s of a mile long and 100 yards wide. It has life guards, port-a-potties, but no showers. And it has some dangerous currents. Life guards will tell you, it’s a gorgeous beach, but this is not a good swimming beach for inexperienced swimmers and kids…

As I checked out the Maui News this morning, I see life guards were gainfully employed rescuing 16 beachgoers at Big Beach on Friday when they had some high surf from a South swell.

To quote the article… ‘People were caught in the rip current and couldn’t get back in,” said county Ocean Safety Operations Chief Archie Kalepa. “As you know, Makena is kind of a dangerous beach, even for the most experienced swimmer. Always seek the advice of a lifeguard before entering the water if you are unsure. Best rule is always: When in doubt, don’t go out,” Kalepa said.’

Have fun out there, but stay safe!

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Kite boarding

Have you tried kite boarding (aka kite surfing)? The other day we were sitting with a number of other people in the oceanfront hot tub at our Sugar Beach condo. A teenager and his dad had been watching one of them kite board and they were full of questions. Turns out the kite boarder has been doing it for about 16 years and is an instructor. While I admit most of the conversation went in one ear and out the other (for me at least), a few things stuck. Take a few lessons to begin with so you know what to do, and learn how to self-rescue. Self-rescue? Ok, I’ll admit, I’m a little intrigued…

I watched this guy kite boarding off Sugar Beach yesterday!
We’ve had several kite boarding guests stay at our Sugar Beach condo. The resort has storage facilities you can rent to store your gear while here on vacation. According to what I’m seeing online, the kite boarding season is mainly May-September. There are apparently a few kite boarding schools on Maui’s North Shore (in or near Kahului) you can take lessons at, if you’re interested.
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Are you looking for a bike to rent?

Have you thought about renting a bike while on Maui? While I don’t know how handy it would be for going grocery shopping (probably not at all), there is some great biking to do here. One of our cousins brings his own bike along when he comes to Maui. Last week he biked all the way from our Palms condo in Wailea to the top of Haleakala (just over 10,000 ft elevation)! I didn’t know you were allowed to bike inside the national park gates other than for the annual Cycle to the Sun event (the road has no shoulder once you get inside the park), but apparently you can, as long it’s not with a commercial group. You may want to confirm that with the park.

There are several rental places in Kihei, one near Kalama Park, South Maui Bicycles. We’ve bought a couple of bikes there and they do our bike maintenance for us. Always very friendly and efficient service. They rent out adult bikes and gear (but not kid bikes). 
Another place is Boss Frog’s – they have three locations in Kihei. 
While bicycle helmets are not mandatory on Maui, they are always a good idea! South Maui Bicycles includes a helmet in each bike rental. And another piece of advice – steer clear of the keawe trees’ thorns, they will do a number on your tires!
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Sports-fishing on Maui

Have you gone sports-fishing on Maui? If yes, I’d love to hear your recommendations. In fact, if you have a great experience on an excursion or at a restaurant, shoot me a quick email. I’m always looking for something new to try or recommend to our guests. Also consider writing an online review on yelp or tripadvisor – these days online reviews are hugely important, especially for small local businesses.

A friend of a friend went out with Die Hard Sport Fishing with Captain Fuzzy last year and this year again. This boat is based in Lahaina, and from reading the reviews, it’s something you definitely want to pre-book. He highly recommended it and came home with a cooler full of fish. Last year he went near the end of his trip and ran out of time to eat it all (we were the lucky recipients of some of his leftover fish!)

photo borrowed from Tripadvisor

If you go on a fishing excursion, check if you get to keep some of the fish – if yes, you might want to schedule it for the beginning of your trip, so you have lots of time to enjoy your catch! I recommend freezing the extra fish so it stays fresh.

Have you tried any other sports-fishing trips? Let me know what you thought!

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Enchanting Floral Gardens in Kula

Have you checked out the Enchanting Floral Gardens in Kula yet? It’s on my list of places to visit…

stunning protea, Enchanted Floral Gardens website

They have recently reopened under new ownership. It is 8 acres of botanical gardens, featuring over 1500 species of tropical and subtropical plants. You can stroll through the gardens, have a picnic or buy something at their cafe/gift shop.

Go for a drive and check them out! They are located at the 10 mile marker on Hwy 37. Admission is $10/adult with child and senior rates available. Open daily from 9am-5pm.

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Tour the Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery!

Maui’s own vodka distillery, Ocean Vodka, purchased and started an 80 acre organic farm on Maui last year. This family owned business has been making vodka in an industrial part of Kahului for the past 7 years or so, but have outgrown their facilities. This April they had the grand opening of their brand-new facility on Oma’opio Road (right next to the Surfing Goat Dairy).

CJ was our tour guide yesterday. As he showed us around the property (the nursery, sugar cane fields and then lastly the building itself), you couldn’t help but hear the pride he has in this business. Their new building has enough photo-voltaic panels to produce double what their energy requirements are (the extra going back into the electric grid). They also have a 1300 ft well on property used for irrigation.

new factory, self-sufficient with photovoltaic energy panels and a 1300 ft deep well

This family also strives to preserve many of the over 50 varieties of Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane plants.

a few of the sugar cane stalks grown on their organic farm

I learned that most of the commercially grown sugar cane on Maui is GMO, which produces the sugary syrup in its stalks between 18-24 months of age (at which point the whole plant is harvested by controlled burn).

Ocean Vodka‘s sugar cane is non-GMO, meaning the plant will continue to produce sugary syrup in its stalks for 20-40 years. The mature stalks are harvested by hand while the plant continues to grow new shoots (this must be very labor intensive).

Hawaiian non-GMO sugar cane field with coconut tree mulch
resident rooster showing us the baby sugar cane plants in the nursery area
sacred Hawaiian sugar cane which used to be reserved for ali’i (chiefs’) consumption

What makes this vodka unique? It is certified 100% USDA organic, the only vodka in the world made from organic sugar cane. Ocean Vodka is also the only spirit in the world made with deep ocean mineral water (which is pumped from 3000 ft off the coast of Kona, Big Island).

I really enjoyed this tour – and went home to pour myself some Ocean Vodka. It is really good.

They offer tours 7 days a week, 5 times a day – just send them a quick email so they know to expect you.

Keep an eye out for it – Ocean Vodka is currently sold in 25 states and yes, also in 3 Canadian provinces. It is also the exclusive vodka served by Hawaiian Airlines since 2007.

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Rain day in Kihei – you’re kidding!

It rained a bit yesterday late afternoon in South Kihei – our family got so excited! No, we don’t miss the rain from when we used to live in BC’s Fraser Valley, but sometimes it’s nice get a bit of rain. Kihei averages about 12 inches of rain a year, but for the past three years or so there’s been a real drought in Kihei (and a lot of Maui, for that matter). I think last year we had about 5 inches of rain in Kihei. It’s been really dry.

Anyway, yesterday after dinner we went for a walk around the neighborhood in the refreshing ‘just rained’ air. Our youngest brought along an umbrella, it’s a novelty for him to be able to use an umbrella. Guess what – we got caught in rain and he actually got to use it (he also discovered that the pavement can be slippery when wet). It started pouring for a few minutes and we sure got wet. It was lovely!

Imagine my surprise that it’s raining this morning again! Our kids are hoping that school is cancelled today! Really? Yes, sometimes when it rains, school is cancelled because of danger from flash flooding. Even when they don’t cancel school, you can count on half the kids not showing up to school. But like I said, with 12 inches of rain a year, it almost never happens!

So what to do on a rain day in Kihei? Here are a few ideas for you…

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A beautiful morning for a new coffee

The trade winds are back – this is cause for celebration! Yesterday morning when I woke up it was still 79F in the house even though we left windows open… that’s too warm for me. Now that the trade winds are back, the house cools off again in the evening. It’s nice to start the day cooler than we finished it off the previous evening.

I spent yesterday morning in Lahaina watching the ‘Ulalena production. As I had driven myself (as opposed to riding the school bus with my son), I enjoyed stopping for a cup of coffee at the Mauigrown Coffee Company Store in Lahaina, right next to the smoke stack (and a Shell gas station). Although I’ve driven past it several times, this is the first time I’ve gone in. I sure enjoyed browsing through their little store area, checking out all the different coffees and choosing a bag of coffee to bring home. I ended up with their Estate Blend, a medium roast of their Typica and Yellow Caturra varieties. It’s a nice mellow coffee – I sure am enjoying it this morning.

As I’ve been told Mauigrown Coffee Company gets their beans at Kaanapali Coffee Farms. If you are driving along the Sugar Cane Train line, turn right where their Kaanapali station is, but instead of turning left into the parking lot, keep driving up that road and you get to a new subdivision (5-7 acre lots with big homes, each growing a share of the co-op’s beans on their acreage).

When in Lahaina – go check the store out! This family business is open Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday).

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Today I attended a special matinee performance of the ‘Ulalena show together with an audience of Maui’s school kids.

‘Ulalena is a show offering a glimpse into Maui’s history and mythology, using drama and dance, Hawaiian songs and chants. Most is sung in Hawaiian, but we had a flyer (probably the ‘school version’ of the program) describing what takes place in each scene (definitely look over that before the show starts for better understanding). The performance was very well done! 
Here is a one minute video to give you a taste of ‘Ulalena (click here if it doesn’t load).
The show takes place indoors at the Maui Theater in Lahaina (just off Front Street, close to Bubba Gump’s). As a mom, I’d say the show is quite family-friendly.
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Aboard the Atlantis Submarine

The grade 4 classes at our elementary school were treated to a field trip aboard the Atlantis Submarine last week!

The Atlantis Submarine (photo courtesy Pride of Maui)

My son LOVED the adventure. The highlights of the tour were:
– feeling the change in altitude when sinking to a depth of 116 ft below sea level
– seeing the spotted eagle ray in nature (as opposed to the aquarium)
– checking out the ‘shipwreck’ (a boat anchored to the ocean floor in 1995 to create an artificial reef)
– learning how things look with diminished light when you are so far under the surface (did you know the edges of your teeth look orange?)
– seeing goat fish and learning about corral
– watching the Atlantis’ tug boat

imaginations run wild when you get to see an old sunken ship!

For him, the best part was experiencing the submarine shooting out from the water, it was a huge thrill.

The Atlantis Submarine is anchored off-shore at Lahaina Harbor. You take a shuttle-boat from dock and board the submarine using a ramp.

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