Maui, Hawaii

Category: Maui to-do

Beautiful Makawao Forest Reserve Hike

Makawao Forest Reserve
Map of the trail system. We walked from the parking lot to the first picnic bench on the right side of the trail loop (and back). Looking forward to exploring more.

We’ve been meaning to go hiking in the Makawao Forest Reserve. This past weekend we finally made it there. Compared to the Olinda hike, this is quite an extensive trail system and is actually set up for mountain bikers. Some of the trails are strictly for bikers, so do pay attention to the signs.

The hike itself is a 6.5 mile loop in the forest. We didn’t go nearly that far, but hiked past the two sets of ramp areas for bikes and then through the ravine. I really enjoy seeing this different (non beach) side of Maui. There are tall pine trees and beautiful trees with stripped bark.

This trail is covered with leaves and often wet. Do bring sturdy shoes, slippahs are not appropriate here.

Makawao Forest Reserve
I attempted to take a vertical panorama shot of this tree. I guess you’ll just have to go see for yourself. The forest is beautiful!
Getting to the Makawao Forest Reserve is a little adventurous.

From Kihei you are looking at about a 50 minute drive. Driving on Makawao Ave (from the Haleakala Hwy), go straight through the 4 way stop with Baldwin and then take your first right after the church and cemetery. Pass the Piiholo Ranch Ziplines and when you come to a Y intersection, turn left (Waiahiwi Rd). The road gets narrower, windy and there are very few signs. There will be a few ‘no outlet’ signs. Eventually you turn right onto Kahakapao Road (don’t go straight onto private Piiholo Ranch property). Eventually you get to park gates (open 7am-7pm). Now the road is quite narrow with some pretty good ‘dips’ in the road (they are marked, slow down). Pull into the second parking lot on the right (after the horse trailer parking lot). It’s a fairly large parking lot with good signage.

Bring your own snacks and water along. There is a port-o-potty.

Do not leave any valuables in your car.

If you are interested in mountain biking it, there are a few bike rental places on Maui – Krank Cycle is likely easiest as it is right in Makawao.

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Changes to Haleakala Sunrise viewing and Waihee Trail Closure

haleakalaUPDATE: the Haleakala National Park website has this great FAQ section.

Have you driven up Haleakala for sunrise? Confession, in 6 1/2 years of living here I have not drive to the summit for a Haleakala sunrise. A couple reasons for this. I am not that interested in taking a 2 1/2 hour drive in the dark from Kihei, only to find out Haleakala is clouded in. Also, I am told it is complete mayhem up there, often with no places to park. No thanks.

Apparently others are similarly concerned. This past year the National Park Service held several town hall meetings, surveying Maui County residents on how best to address the crowded and overrun sunrises. Here is what they came up with (Maui Now article with much more info).

Beginning February 1st, 2017 everyone wishing to enter the national park for a Haleakala sunrise must make advance reservations. Check out this website, choose your date and pay $1.50. Print out your confirmation and bring it along with your photo ID. Also, you will need to purchase admission to Haleakala National Park ($20 for a several day re-entry or $25 for an annual pass).

Starting February 1st the national park is allowing only 150 vehicles plus one tour bus to enter the park for sunrise (between 3-7am), which will guarantee parking for all. Please remember to be respectful of the fragile vegetation (stay on the path) and any cultural activities taking place.

Note: as of now this reservation can be made up to 60 days in advance and is non-transferable. Reservations cannot be made at the national park gate, so please make sure you do this BEFORE you drive.

If you plan to enter the park AFTER 7AM you will not need a reservation. Then you just drive up and purchase admission or use your National Park pass.

Personally, my favorite time to drive up Haleakala is during the day to admire the amazing crater valley and take in the view. There are several hikes you can do (just be aware of the 10,000 foot elevation and thinner oxygen levels). I also love driving up at night to go stargazing (I have found the best viewing to be at a pull-out at about 6000 ft, just before you enter the forest before the national park gate). If the moon is small and the mountain is not clouded in, do try it! The stars are amazing. You’ll need to wait until about an hour after sunset for the stars to start popping. Unlike sunrise, there are very few cars at night.

Waihee Ridge Trail closure

The popular scenic Waihee Ridge Trail is temporarily closed from January 3-February 28th for some much-needed maintenance. For more information, please check this MauiNow article. Do check before you go in March that the trail has really re-opened, as everywhere, there can be unexpected delays.

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Maui geocaching

Did you get into the Pokemon Go craze this past summer? I am apparently behind the times. This summer I downloaded the geocaching app on my phone to try some Maui geocaching. I know, this app has been around for years and some of you won’t believe I am new to the game. On the other hand, some of you probably haven’t heard of geocaching either. No worries, you aren’t alone.

duckpond
A duck pond? in Kihei?

Geocaching is a real-world treasure-hunting game using GPS coordinates and an app on your phone. You choose which cache you want to find, follow the directions on the app to get close, read the hint and then look for a physical cache. Some caches have small trinkets that you can exchange, others just a log to mark your find. Check out the geocaching website for much more information!  I think it’s a lot of fun – you’re going on an adventure right in your back yard!

where in Kihei is this path?
where in Kihei is this path?

Kihei (and Maui) have a number of free geocaches. But if you sign up for their premium account (yes, I did – after all, it’s ‘educational’ for the kids), there are a whole bunch here in Kihei alone. Since downloading the app this June, our family has knocked out a few of the local geocaches. It’s been fun doing this with the kids. It makes going for a walk a lot more interesting. My hope is that they will become more aware of their surroundings as we do this, looking for treasure of their own! Hey, I can dream!

We found one at a duck pond in Central Kihei, one in a rock wall, one on a guard rail, another with a great sunset view near Keawakapu beach. We have also had a few ‘no finds’. Sometimes caches are discovered by ‘muggles’, people who are not aware of the game, who toss them because they think they are trash.

Caution

You do need data on your phone to go geocaching. If you have a Canadian phone plan, check on that. It may be a really expensive hobby to do while traveling in the US thanks to roaming charges. We have Tmobile with unlimited data in 100+ countries, so we were good to give it a go while traveling this summer.

keawakapu
Now THAT is a nice reward for finding a geocache!
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Hiking in a Pine Forest

waihou trailThis weekend our family went hiking on the Waihou Springs Trail. Actually we had planned to go to the Makawao Forest Reserve, but after doing a bit of reading, decided this one would be more up our alley. It is designated for hikers only, and is a short 2.5 mile loop hike (as opposed to 5.7 miles) with no bikes. Perfect.

To get there, you drive to Makawao, and then turn right (up the hill) at the only four way stop in town (Makawao and Baldwin Ave). When you turn right at this intersection, you are actually on Olinda Road. You follow Olinda for 5+ miles into the Waihou Springs State Forest Reserve. The road is narrow and winding and in parts quite steep (go slow). After passing the bird sanctuary you will see parking for it on the right hand side of the road (by an experimental pine forest).

Waihou trail
pine needles on Maui?
pine cones on Maui!!
pine cones on Maui!!

The hike itself is a relatively easy walk through the forest. Watch out for tree roots. There are a lot of pine needles and later leaves on the path. If it’s wet or muddy, I imagine hiking here would be very slick. We didn’t quite walk down to the Waihou Spring (a side-trail off the main trail) as the path was narrow and steep and a little more excitement than we had in mind for a Sunday afternoon walk.

We picked the perfect afternoon – it was dry, the sun was shining. Within the forest it was about 72F (perfect weather for walking or hiking).

The kids tried to talk us into dinner at the Makawao Steak House or at minimum the Stop Watch (sports bar in Makawao). Instead we stopped at Costco, bought steak and bbqed it at home. A perfect afternoon!

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Lahaina and the Maui Tropical Plantation

My hunny is away, so today the kids and I spent a fun day doing Mom-son stuff. Lahaina was on the agenda (we had to make a stop at the Adidas outlet store for some new shoes) and without Sig present we had a big decision to make…. where to have lunch? In seven years of living on Maui we have twice NOT gone to Bubba Gump’s when in Lahaina – yes, Sig is a huge fan of Bubba Gump’s. To be fair, it has a great location on Front Street, the building being on stilts over the ocean, but…. I like a little variety. (FYI, the other two places we’ve been were Longhi’s and Pi Artisan Pizza – both very good).

lahaina
our burgers at Cool Cat Cafe

Today’s lunch choice was the Cool Cat Cafe for some burgers. This restaurant is located on the top floor of the Wharf Cinema Center across from the Banyan Tree. Our burgers were excellent, and honestly, we should not have ordered the shared basket of fries… we had way too much food.

After lunch we headed across the street to a fun gift/clothing shop, Maui Memories, owned by Austrian transplant Dany White. This shop relocated from Wailea to Lahaina a few years ago and is now in the old Pioneer Hotel building, also across from the Banyan Tree. I had a gift certificate burning in my pocket and found some beautiful abalone jewelry for myself ‘for Mother’s Day’.

lahaina

On the way home… a stop at the Maui Tropical Plantation

After some successful shoe shopping, we headed back towards Kihei where we took a little detour to visit the local ducks at the Maui Tropical Plantation. If you haven’t been here, do go check it out – it’s only about five minutes from North Kihei! Apart from the obligatory gift shop, they have repurposed some old sugar cane factory gear in their landscaping and an actual steam engine in the bar at the Mill House. So very cool. I have yet to come hear for dinner or drinks, but it’s on my list…. Additionally they have a (beginner) zipline, coffee roaster etc.

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

What a fun day! Unlike the Anaheim Ducks (who were soundly defeated by the Edmonton Oilers today – oh dear), the local ducks were in great spirits, happily eating what kids were feeding them 🙂

Now back to the grind – cleaning and doing homework for the kids, blogging and making dinner for me.

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August happenings on Maui

Coming to Maui and curious to check out some local events? Here are a few August happenings to check out:

  • Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, the Musical, at the Castle Theater (Maui Arts and Cultural Center) in Kahului. August 5-7, 12-14
  • 9th annual Seed to Cup Coffee Festival at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Saturday, August 13
  • Maui Calls: Celebrating Vintage Hawaiian Fashion, A&B Amphitheater August 19
  • Zootopia, Starry Night Cinemal at the A&B Amphitheater (Maui Arts and Cultural Center) – August 26
  • Ku Mai Ka Hula Competition – Maui’s only adult hula competition, at the Castle Theater (Maui Arts & Cultural Center). September 10. Tickets on sale now.

Curious to find some of this local activities information? Check out the Calendar Maui for a great list and starting point. Sometimes they miss things, but it’s the most comprehensive list I’ve come across.

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Check out the Maui Film Festival June 15-19!

Are you a movie buff? Check out Maui’s very own Maui Film Festival next week – June 15-19!

There is a whole line up of movies that will be shown in three different locations.

maui film festival
The setting for the Celestial Cinema – amazing view from the top of the driving range at the Wailea Emerald and Gold courses. This is also the location of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

The Celestial Cinema under the Stars is located at the Wailea Gold and Emerald Course above Gannons. Specifically, it is on the unique driving range which is on a hill, sloped like an amphitheater. Yes, it is outdoors! So bring your low beach chair or towels to sit on (please don’t bring the condo blankets, they usually don’t fit in the apartment sized washer/dryers). Parking is available at the Wailea Special Event parking lot – this is the grassy area across from the Monkey Pod restaurant which has parking lights in the middle of the lawn. There is a free shuttle.

The Castle Theater is at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului. This is an indoor theater/concert hall. Typically the overflow parking for events at the MACC is across the street at the University of Hawaii campus (same place you park to go to the swap meet).

On Saturday June 18th there will be a FREE Toes in the Sand Cinema event on Wailea Beach (in front of the Four Seasons hotel).

Additionally there will be special culinary and film maker events, awards presentations etc. Please check out the Maui Film Festival website for much more information and tickets.

Are the movies appropriate for children? As a parent, this is your call. Have a look at the movie list, watch the previews and look the films up online for much more information!

Importantly – for the outdoor film events, come early to claim the best seats! If you have a tall chair, please sit off to the side or in the back so as not to block the view of others. And please, no umbrellas.

Enjoy!

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What to do on a rainy day in Kihei?

rainy dayThis morning we woke up to an unusual weather phenomenon in Kihei! It’s raining! Do you know how unusual a rainy day is in Kihei?

Kihei and Wailea lie in the rain shadow of Haleakala. Most of our rain clouds come from the other side of Haleakala (the green rainforesty Road to Hana side). The rain falls on the lush green North/East side of Maui, while Kihei and Wailea get about only 8-11 inches of rainfall a year. Suffice it to say – Kihei residents get a little excited when it rains. Kids run outside to play in the rain, adults contain their enthusiasm by sitting on the lanai with their coffee. Many even bust out their ‘winter clothes’ (long pants and sweaters) and claim it’s cold. Cold? It’s all relative – try low 80s.

Of course, we realize you weren’t planning on a rainy day for your Maui trip, so what to do?

Go for a drive. Did you know, Maui has 30+ different micro climates. Chances are really good that it isn’t raining a short five minute drive from where you are.

Go shopping.

  • Shops at Wailea – they now have paid parking, however the first hour is free. After that, make a minimum purchase of $25 at most shops (including restaurants) and get a parking voucher (don’t forget to ask)
  • Maui Tropical Plantation – this place has been reinvented and is pretty neat. Check out their stores, but also the very cool Mill House bar (with a train engine inside), coffee house and restaurant.
  • Shops at Maalaea
  • Lahaina

Go to the movies at Queen Kaahumanu Center or Maui Mall in Kahului.

Go for lunch.

Go for a walk – it’s just warm rain, pick up an umbrella at the convenience store.

Check out ‘fishes’ the Maui Ocean Center.

What NOT to do when it’s raining?

Please stay out of the ocean, particularly if the water looks brown and murky. Several reasons for that, it could be run-off from land (particularly if it is raining heavily upcountry), it could be run-off from overflowing cess pools (gross). Additionally, sharks tend to come closer to shore to check out the run-off. Just stay out until the water clears up again.

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Upcoming Maui Events

On Maui and looking for something to do? It may be low season on Maui, but there is lots to do! Here are a few upcoming Maui events you may want to check out:

The annual Maui Onion Festival had been announced to be on for this May, but I am not seeing any information on it at this time. Whalers Village in Kaanapali has been undergoing a renovation, so it could be the venue isn’t ready on time.

Also, remember the Maui Swap Meet takes places every Saturday 7am-2pm at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus (across from the MACC).

And yes – we do have spring availability at our condos!

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Free Admission to Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary this summer. That’s right! This national park pre-dates Hawaii even being a state (1959).

Haleakala National Park
cinder cone in Haleakala’s crater valley

This week is National Park Week and in celebration of that, there is free admission to Haleakala National Park from April 16-24, 2016. Have you been on the fence about checking out Maui’s resident volcano? This is your week to do it and save the $10/car admission fee!

But what’s there to do on Haleakala? Let me tell you about our mountain! As you may know, the Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanic activity with Maui being the second youngest in the island chain (Big Island is still growing courtesy of its active volcanos – Kilauea has been active since 1983). Maui itself has two volcanoes – the West Maui Mountains being the remnant of extinct volcano Mauna Kahalawai and dormant volcano Haleakala which boasts an elevation of 10,023 ft. Haleakala’s most recent eruption occurred sometime in the 1400s which caused the lava flow down to La Perousse Bay (check it out!). Haleakala has a stunning crater valley – that’s right, there are many cinder cones within the valley. The colors in the valley are just amazing. But, be aware should you hike into it, when the wind picks up, that’s ash flying around you. Bring a bandana or something to cover your mouth and nose.

Saturday April 23rd there will be a special centennial celebration with special junior ranger programs, walks, talks and short volunteer opportunities. Among other things you can plant one of Haleakala’s rare silversword plants (this is the only place in the world they grow).

Don’t enjoy the crowds? Hey – you and I have more in common than you’d think!

  • admire a stunning sunrise or sunset from up high
  • go star gazing (stars begin to pop about one hour after sunset)
  • go hiking – either in the crater or one of many other hikes on Haleakala
  • bring a camera and enjoy some photography

In related news, the US Postal Service is releasing a special edition Haleakala National Park stamp!

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