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.
Yesterday around 9PM I saw on social media that Hawaii was in a tsunami watch with a predicted 1AM arrival time. There had been an 8.2 earthquake off the Alaska coast. I pulled out my guest contact information and started calling our guests, starting with the ones needing to prepare for evacuation. Thankfully by the time I was done (and had filled my own bathtub with water, started the dishwasher and plugged in my phone), the watch was called off. It’s good to be prepared.
The likelihood of there being a tsunami while you are on vacation is very slim, and yet, it’s a good idea to know what to expect.
Tsunamis are caused by displacement of ocean water, usually by earthquakes. There are two types of tsunamis – those caused by a local earthquake and those caused by earthquakes far away.
If it is a local earthquake and you are at the beach, there will be little time for warning. Here are the signs to look for:
sudden pulling back of the water
earth moving for at least 20 seconds, possibly knocking people to the ground
hearing the ocean roar
If you experience any of these while at the beach, you should move away from the beach to at least 100 feet above sea level (one mile inland or in a pinch at least to the fourth floor of an apartment building). If it is a local earthquake, the tsunami waves could arrive within minutes.
Far away earthquake
If it is a far away earthquake, there will be more warning time. The NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center tracks all earthquakes and monitors their DART buoys for possible tsunamis. Should there be a tsunami headed our way, they issue alerts via local media (radio, local TV stations etc). For Maui specific news, follow MauiNow and Maui247 on Facebook or Instagram.
The most obvious warning will come from the tsunami sirens located wherever there is danger of flooding (if you are in a remote location, there may not be a siren). When there is a tsunami warning, these will start wailing (steady three minute tone), fortunately not non-stop but at regular intervals (note: there are monthly emergency tests the first day of every month at 11:45 – don’t panic!) If the sirens start wailing, listen to the local news and follow their directions. Warnings will always tell you when the first tidal wave is expected to arrive. Please listen to these warnings and obey them.
What happens in a tsunami
Prior to the tidal wave, the water will recede further than normal, and then come rushing back in. This more extreme wave action will continue for multiple hours. Here is a NOAA animation of what can happen.
You will want to avoid going into the ocean for a day or two after a tsunami as the ocean is in turmoil, normal currents disrupted. The water will be brown and sharks hunting for food.
If you are familiar with our Sugar Beach condo, the former resident manager Cliff Jordan (now a local realtor) filmed this incredible footage after the Japanese tsunami in March 2011. Note, that tsunami hit Maui around 3AM. Cliff filmed this four hours after the initial waves hit. The initial waves came as far as the BBQ area but also circled around the building and flooded the parking lot. Thankfully the groundfloor condos were not flooded, however guests in the first three floors were evacuated. Ma’alaea Harbor sustained significant damage, in Kihei portions of South Kihei Road were covered in sand, fish and coral.
pack food and drink, a flashlight and blanket. Bring some beach chairs along too, evacuations can take a while.
close windows and lock the condo behind you
head out of the evacuation zone. There are churches (Kihei Lutheran and Hope Chapel) along the Piilani Hwy that open their parking lots to those who need to evacuate. In the past Safeway parking lot has become a bit of a town party. County shelters don’t open until after a tsunami has occurred
on Maui shelters do NOT provide anything besides a roof and bathrooms. You will need to bring all your own supplies
do not return into the evacuation area until officials give the go-ahead. Remember, it isn’t just one tidal wave, they come in sets for several hours. If there is damage, it may not be safe to go back – so please wait
If you are not in the evacuation zone
avoid unnecessary driving (the roads get really clogged)
ensure you have working flash lights and your phones are charged (there is always the possibility of a power outage)
make sure you have lots of drinking water and also water to wash (clean and fill the bathtub, sinks, pots for non-drinking water purposes)
listen to the local news – before the tsunami wave is expected to arrive, the County shuts down the sanitary sewer system. Avoid using the toilet once that happens – when the sanitary sewer is shut down, all sewer will go directly into the ocean
It will be very difficult to find local Maui specific tsunami information. Most of the news will be about Oahu (this is frustrating).
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.
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)
This weekend I got the worst sunburn. It has been a long time since I last burned this badly. Yes I was wearing sunscreen. I just forgot to re-apply. This is ironic since I worked for a dermatologist for a number of years. Ugh.
Did you know, as of 2021 by law stores in Hawaii are not allowed to sell sunscreens containing reef-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate. Of course, you may still bring these sunscreens into Hawaii, though in the interest of protecting our reefs, we would prefer you didn’t. Here is an article by the Star Advertiser with much more information about the new law.
Which sunscreens to use? My dermatologist friend’s favorites were Blue Lizard, EltaMD and Vanicream. Another great way to avoid sunburns is to wear UV protectant clothing and hats. There is also a product called Sun Guard which claims to add UV protection when used in the wash (not sure how long it lasts, I think you need to re-use it from time to time).
I don’t know about you – but I really don’t like wearing sunscreen. My preferred way to avoid sunburns is to stay inside until 4pm and then venture out. Yes, I realize I am missing out of beautiful days in the sun and I guess you should still wear sunscreen even after 4pm… but I’m not much of a beach body anyway, so I’m usually ok with that.
The best way not to get a sunburn is to protect your skin. But when it’s too late….. hydrate, use aloe or aloe products, pop a few Advil for the pain, stay out of the sun and then moisturize to minimize large scale skin flaking. One product I came across a few years ago and love is Mauivera. On Maui you can find it at ABC stores, grocery and drug stores. Yes, Amazon carries it too. Do avoid after-sun products containing alcohol.
As for me – my sunburn is slowly calming down. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. I will be covering up or staying in the shade for the foreseeable future.
Aloha all and good morning from Maui! How are you?
This morning I got up at sunrise and went for my morning exercise walk to the beach. It was a beautiful walk and a beautiful morning (incidentally it’s lightly showering in Kihei right now, where did that come from?)
The walk is beautiful. This morning there were just a few people out. One man was kayaking, another walking on the beach. At the far end of Kamaole 1 beach an man and child had some fishing lines out. I didn’t go close enough to see if they’d had any luck.
Normally at 6:30 in the morning you would typically find several jet-lagged families up early and spending time at the beach, allowing their kids to burn some energy in the open (rather than the confined condo or hotel room). There’d be several people out on paddle boards, and several dozen walking, some slowly with a coffee in hand, others actually exercising.
Now with Covid-19, there are next to no tourists on island. Residents are sheltering in place and may only venture out to exercise, grocery shop, perform essential jobs or seek medical care. Masks are a big thing and now we you can only travel in groups of two to conduct essential activities (with a few exceptions). This weekend we have a curfew – no being outside between 11PM and 5AM. If you’ve been to Maui, I’m wondering who is actually affected by this curfew and frankly what the point is? Most are in bed during those hours.
I am wondering when we will return to normal and when visitors will be able to return to Maui. Both from a health perspective and also economically. I hope this summer. I really do.
I can’t believe it’s Easter weekend. Sig keeps asking who I’ve invited for Easter dinner. Unfortunately with Maui’s ‘shelter in place’ and social distancing rules, we will not be having anyone over for dinner. I actually have a turkey in my chest freezer which we bought last November. Fun fact, did you know you can only buy turkeys on Maui in November and December? Grocery stores just don’t carry them otherwise. These means we plan ahead and pre-purchase turkey for the year (yes my dear husband insists we eat turkey Canadian Thanksgiving (October), US Thanksgiving (November), Christmas and then Easter. I am not roasting a turkey for our family of five. It can continue its hibernation in the freezer until Canadian Thanksgiving. I sure hope we’re past all this by then.
You’re probably wondering what this title is about. If you’ve been to Maui, you’ve likely seen people struggling with beach chairs. They are so convenient to have and quite comfy to sit in. But when it comes to folding them up…. there is a trick to it.
Here is a little how-to video on how to fold up the Tommy Bahama beach chair as sold at our local Costco. These are convenient backpack chairs with a little cooler compartment and an additional bag to store other stuff in. No, they are not theft proof, please never leave anything of value unattended at the beach.
Once you are ready to fold up the chair, the trick is to stand behind the chair. You stand on the cross bar, lean over the chair and lift on both arm rests simultaneously. The chair will easily fold up, making it so much easier to carry and store.
Please, before you bring the chair into your rental car and/or the condo, knock off all the sand. Sand is corrosive not only to the chair itself, but also really beats up the condo flooring and closet tracks.
What other beach gear do we provide at our condos?
Each of our Maui Oceanview Condos is outfitted with 2-4 beach chairs, 1-2 boogie boards (please, use at your own risk), one beach towel per person and a cooler. Sometimes other guests will leave beach umbrellas behind, so before you go out and buy one, check the beach gear closet. However, they have a tendency to fly away unless drilled properly into the sand, so we do not provide them.
Not staying at one of our condos?
Before you run out and buy a beach chair, check your condo. They may provide them. If not, these run about $34/each at our Costco in Kahului. However, then you have chairs to dispose of at the end of your trip. You could also check with a nearby snorkel or activities store. Often you can rent them.
June through November is hurricane season in the Pacific and as of now we have Hurricane Lane, a category 4 hurricane, preparing to pass close to the Hawaiian Islands Thursday/Friday. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. I guess now is the time to do it. This is more of a general post on what to be aware of if staying in one of OUR condos. It is by all means NOT intended to be an all-inclusive list, but hopefully will give you some sense of what to expect.
Please note that in case of a disaster, Sig and I will be in touch and try to help as much as we can.
KNOW YOUR CONDO’S STREET ADDRESS. Note that the condo’s cable phone will NOT work during a power outage.
During a disaster it is important to keep calm and use common sense. The condo’s front desk of the property will become the resort’s command center. Please listen to the local news and check with the front desk for more information. During a disaster the Maui Police Department is inundated with calls – they will triage these 9-1-1 calls. It is important for you to secure your valuables (we have a safe at each of our condos).
For hurricanes and tsunamis (except locally generated) you will have time to prepare.
Check your condo’s binder on whether you are in the flood zone and need to evacuate (Sugar Beach Resort and Kihei Surfside yes, Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole no). Portions of South Kihei Road itself are considered flood zone and may be blocked off – you may not be able to leave the property after the event. The local power plants and water treatment facilities are also in the flood zone. Be prepared to go up to seven days without water, electricity and outside help. Clean the bathtub and fill it and as many containers as you can find with fresh tap water. Locate and check the condo’s flashlight, check batteries. Charge all your electronic devices. If you have time, stock up on food, paper plates, batteries (for flashlight & radio), gasoline (for your rental car), cash (possibility of no credit card/bank machines in power failure) etc. Avoid unnecessary travel as the roads become clogged quickly.
Earthquakes cause landslides, property damage, and tsunami waves.
Local earthquakes are no-notice events. There is no way to predict them. If you feel an earthquake, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
If there is a local earthquake, it typically takes 3-5 minutes for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to let Civil Defense know if a local tsunami has been generated. If the earthquake is strong enough to knock you off balance and you are in an evacuation zone, move uphill as soon as things stop moving. Don’t wait for a siren. You may only have a few minutes until the tsunami wave arrives.
A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a local or distant earth quake. Do not go to the beach to watch until the all-clear has been given (usually a number of hours). Tsunamis can create erratic currents and there can be debris washed into the water, so stay out of the ocean for a few days.
Maui is equipped with tsunami warning sirens (these are tested on the first day of the month at 11:45am). If you hear them sounding otherwise, move to higher ground and tune in to local news for more information. The siren closest to you may be out of order. If you are in a remote area, there may not be a siren. Signs of a pending tsunami: the earth shakes strong enough to knock you off balance, you hear the ocean roar, or there is a sudden pulling back of the water.
The water treatment facilities are shut down 30 minutes before the first tsunami wave is scheduled to arrive. Avoid flushing the toilet until the all-clear has been given, waste water will flow untreated into the ocean (another reason to stay out of the ocean for a few days after).
You may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies. Even if you do not need to evacuate, keep in mind you may be without water and utilities and the road may be blocked.
Hurricanes have 3 danger components: wind (can also cause tornadoes), rain and lightning, storm surge. During a hurricane, you want to button down anything loose outside (move all patio furniture inside), secure all doors and windows and then stay away from windows.
Again, you may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies.
Stay out of the ocean for several days. Storms wash debris into the ocean and stir up the ocean currents.
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean also has a hurricane season? I remember mainland news focusing in the Caribbean in years past, but yes, we also have hurricane season – and it also runs from June through November (6 months).
Normally we don’t get much hurricane wise, but a few years ago (2015 and 2016) we sure felt like we were on a roller coaster. At the time I wrote a number of blog posts about hurricanes and what to expect. With Hurricane Hector approaching the islands, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the topic.
Wait a minute? Did you say hurricane? Yup. There is a Category 4 hurricane approaching the Hawaiian Islands as we speak. For more scientific information on Hector, do check out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website. They have many details, cool graphs etc.
Should you be concerned? At this time forecasters are saying Hector will likely miss Hawaii and not to worry. However, they point out we should keep an eye on it, just in case. A few decades ago Hurricane Iniki, the last hurricane to do major damage to Hawaii, was also forecast to miss Hawaii. Unfortunately it veered off course and did major damage to Kauai in 1992. So yes, it’s important to be aware. But no need to panic – yet. In the past number of years any hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit Hawaii, have hit Big Island and its 2 large (14,000+ ft) volcanoes first, dismantling the storm system. Maui is so-to-say rather protected.
What to expect from Hurricane Hector
The immediate things we are likely to see are an increase in clouds, wind and humidity. We may even get rain here in Kihei (honestly, that would be a great thing – it’s bone dry). What you however can’t see, is how the ocean currents are affected by the storm. Please, during and for a few days after the storm if you must go to the beach (if the weather looks ok), go to a beach with life guards and actually take the time to ask them about the ocean conditions. These storm systems can and do affect ocean currents, stirring things up and can increase chances of shark vs human activity. Please be safe and if in doubt, do not go out.
As I mentioned, at this moment it looks like Maui will be fine. Please keep an eye on local media (Maui Now, KHON) for updates and please use common sense.
Out of curiosity – what to expect if Maui were to get hit
Good question, I haven’t actually witnessed a hurricane. I have a disaster preparedness sheet in each of our condo’s binders – review it and monitor local (not Oahu, but Maui specific) media. However, Maui’s Civil Defense has a list of what to do. Check it out.
It’s hard to miss Hawaii in the news these days. Big Island’s Kilauea lava flow is making headlines around the world. The pictures and video footage are incredible. Unfortunately some of the media coverage has been misleading, leading people to believe all of Hawaii is under siege.
Another owner at the Palms at Wailea complex told me yesterday that a family had cancelled due to the volcanic eruption on our neighboring island. She had done her best to convince the family that their Hawaii vacation was safe, but they cancelled, losing thousands of dollars in airfare and accommodations (guess what, the cancellation insurance told them no – they weren’t covering cancellation due to an event far removed from their stay). Bummer.
So, some clarification – what is this recent lava flow on Big Island all about?
Taking it back to the basics – Hawaii is comprised of multiple islands. Our condos are located on Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. Hawaii’s islands were formed by volcanic eruptions out of the ocean floor. The Island of Maui itself has one extinct volcano (West Maui Mountains) and one dormant volcano (Haleakala – its most recent eruption dating back to the 1480s). Big Island – to the East of us – is comprised of five volcanos, of which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered active. Mauna Loa most recently erupted around 30 years ago, Kilauea has been having continuous volcanic activity for the past 35 years.
What are the conditions on Maui – is Maui at all affected by the volcanic eruption?
I live in Kihei (in South West Maui) and these are the current conditions: the sky is blue, the air is clear, there is no effect from Kilauea’s current antics. The ocean temperature has not risen here (yes, this has been asked), we cannot see the lava, in fact, it’s business as usual here.
Can that change? Yes – the only effect that we may see is vog (volcanic air pollution). This is something we have experienced from time to time in the past 35 years since Kilauea has (most recently) been active. Hawaii’s prevalent trade winds are currently blowing the vog west and out to sea. However, every now and then the trade winds do subside. When that happens, southerly (Kona) winds can blow the vog up to Maui. The sky will appear hazy and we have the most amazing sunsets, but most people will hardly notice. If you have asthma, you will want to take precautions.
Should you be avoiding Big Island?
It depends. Yes, you should absolutely avoid the eastern-most corner (the Puna district of Big Island) as local residents are dealing with their own trauma. However, many other parts of Big Island are absolutely safe. In fact, I just read that the annual Iron Man Tournament is slated to go ahead next month (it takes place on the West coast of Big Island). Here’s another graphic I found on Facebook.