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.
This morning Sig and I went for a walk along Kamaole 1 beach. I love to kick off my shoes and walk on the packed sand, letting the ocean touch my feet as the waves come in. Sig not so much. However, he humored me as we went to investigate Dale Zarrella’s latest carving.
We walked North towards Charlie Young where Maui sculptor Dale Zarella has his ocean-front work station on a rock outcropping. The scenery has changed a bit. Last time I walked by there, he took me and a friend to see his gallery tucked in behind his older-style bungalow. Today a tall construction fence blocks off the area where at least one condo building is under construction. Unsure what’s being built on his lot. Maybe he sold it – maybe he is building a new house. If so – good for him!
He is still working there, though. This morning there were two blocks of wood – the first tarped off. It was hard to get a decent picture of the second with his platform in the way, I shouldn’t complain but just be thankful that he allows others to come look.
Where to find this? Park at Kamaole 1 beach (or across the road on the large open lot) and walk right along the beach to the very end. As you walk towards the rocky out cropping you should see a large block of wood or two perched up high. If he’s not working, he has them tarped off. If they are uncovered, he must be somewhere nearby. Enjoy – but please be respectful.
This past week has been crazy. In the past nine days six tourists have died in the ocean with another near-fatality this morning. No, the sharks are not to blame – these men in their 50s and 60s died while snorkeling/scuba diving. I’ve linked these short articles so you can read a few of the details.
My condolences to their loved ones. This is a tragedy. When we go on vacation, we plan for things such as bad weather, sickness, even poor accommodations. But certainly not death.
How common are water-related deaths?
While this string of deaths from the past week is unheard of, water-related deaths are unfortunately more common than most think. According to statistics compiled by MauiNow we average between 12-25 deaths/year by drowning on Maui, the majority of them tourists. For much more information, please check out this article filled with statistics from MauiNow.
What should you do?
Should you avoid the ocean altogether? No. I am not trying to scare you. But, it is important to understand that while Maui is paradise, it’s not Disney. Bad stuff can and does happen, you need to understand risks and take action accordingly. Consider these suggestions:
If you can’t swim, you should not go snorkeling. As an alternative, check out all the local fish at the Maui Ocean Center. It really is well done.
Never snorkel (or dive) alone. Always use the buddy system and keep an eye on your buddy.
Be aware of water and wave conditions. The waves pick up at a certain time in the morning – snorkel early in the morning (before 9) for best conditions.
There is some discussion online about full-face masks possibly trapping CO2 in the mask. While this is an unproven theory, ask the pros and be sure you know how to properly use your equipment, making sure it is working correctly.
Remember – yes, some people die in drowning related accidents. However, consider that in 2016 we had 2.6 million visitors come to the island of Maui. According to the graph above, thirteen of them drowned. While that in itself is awful, the odds are you will be just fine. However do use common sense and be careful.
What to do if you see someone not moving in the water?
Call for help (9-1-1), try to get help to move them out of the water as soon as possible and start CPR.
Drowning on Maui – what an upbeat topic, I know. No, there is unfortunately no pun intended. This is just a public service announcement, reminding you about the dangers of snorkeling and water activities. Not just here on Maui – anywhere really.
This past week there were two instances of visitors drowning while snorkeling at the reef just off Keawakapu Beach in South Kihei. No, there weren’t any sharks involved (to my knowledge). From what I’ve read in the media, both victims were snorkeling with their spouses (having a buddy system is very good). In both instances, one spouse returned to shore safely, then realized their partner wasn’t with them. Both victims (one on Friday, another on Saturday) were brought to shore and received CPR from other beachgoers until emergency services got there. Our condolences to the families.
Here are the two articles, one happened Thursday, the second Friday. Both visitors were in their 50s, no mention of them having had pre-existing health conditions.
Is drowning common? Well…. yes this is paradise, but it’s not Disney, and unfortunately that means stuff does happen…. from what I see in the news, it’s usually people cliff diving or the more middle-aged (and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all) people snorkeling. Cliff diving, well, ’nuff said….. but many don’t realize that snorkeling is actually a strenuous activity, especially for those who aren’t good swimmers or maybe aren’t as healthy as they wish they were.
Should you avoid the water altogether? Probably not. But do be careful and know your limits. Please be cognizant of your ability. Never swim alone – always go with a buddy and stay with a buddy. What an awful way to end your vacation.
We recently went for a drive up to Lahaina and Kapalua. One of my favorite things to do there is to check out Dragon’s Teeth. It is also known as Makaluapuna Point. This is a rock formation formed by a lava flow on Maui. The rock has a somewhat different composition than say the lava flow at La Perousse, and has been weathered by the ocean.
I was commenting to my family that it looks like it’s had some additional weathering from the elements since we were there last a year ago or so. I was also disappointed that someone had etched their names into one of the teeth. Really? Why destroy the natural beauty of this place?
Please be aware that you pass a native Hawaiian burial ground on the way to the formation, so please do stay on the path (the burial ground is gated off on the right – please do not trespass).
To access Dragon’s Teeth, drive through Kapalua and turn left on Office Road (the exit for the Ritz Carlton). At the end of Office Road hang a right and park. Then head down the golf course (there is a marked path on the right side) towards the ocean. It leads you right to the rock formation, which, in case you were wondering, kind of looks like a mouth full of teeth when you first enter it. You will want to wear decent shoes for this walk and really watch your step.
Bring your beach gear
While you can’t access the ocean from the rock formation, popular DT Flemings Beach is just to the right of it in front of the Ritz. You can access it from the same parking lot by taking the trail in front of the Ritz, however there is better access if you head on back to the main road, turn left and take the next exit.
Lahaina ~ once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and an old whaling village. There is definitely some history to be found in Lahaina. There are of course also many tourist traps and shops along famous Front Street. Most tourists end up driving to Lahaina. The West Side (Lahaina and Kaanapali area) is also a popular tourist destination with many resorts and condos. Some prefer South Maui, others West Maui, and that’s fine.
The problem with Lahaina is the one lane in each direction highway, also known as the Pali or Honoapiilani Hwy. I would say the main problem (besides the lack of lanes) is that it winds along the Maui coastline. The view is frankly breathtaking. In fact, in parts it is so close to the ocean that during high tide the ocean will actually spray onto your car. As you can imagine, this is not good for the road….
This is THE ONLY road to Lahaina, unless you count the somewhat treacherous backroad (driving from Wailuku counter-clock-wise to Lahaina) which is really not recommended. Increased tourism, increased development, a two lane road and a gorgeous view – this road can get very backed up from people slowing down to either enjoy the view, pull into beach parks or just due to traffic signals. Locals call it ‘the Lahaina Crawl’. While the drive should take about 45 minutes, it can take twice that, even without an accident. Just last summer people were stranded in Lahaina and Ma’alaea because the road was impassible due to accidents and wild fires.
Rule of thumb, leave yourself extra time and don’t get excited when traffic ahead of you isn’t going even close to the speed limit (it fluctuates between 35 and 55 mph, watch the signs). Just ignore your speedometer and ‘go with the flow’. Unless you are the front car – then please drive at least the speed limit and watch out for those speed signs. Please.
Is there no plan to widen or relocate the road? Well….. yes and no….. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Last Sunday’s Maui News has an article about that.
Cool Cat Cafe
A few weeks ago our family braved the Lahaina Crawl and then tried a new-to-us restaurant, the Cool Cat Cafe. It’s upstairs across from the Banyan Tree. I highly recommend. These burgers are enormous and super fresh.