If you love sports, I assume you’ve been enjoying the NHL Stanley cup playoffs, basketball, baseball and the now restarted NFL season. We were of course cheering for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley cup playoffs. Sadly they are out, but it sure was fun to watch hockey again. It is really strange to watch games without fans and with piped in cheering.
Thankfully Hawaii’s Covid numbers are improving again. Maui’s numbers are steady at 0-5 cases/day after the earlier spike among staff at Maui Memorial Hospital. We are thankful.
As a result, things are starting to loosen up again and guess what – Maui sports are back! Kinda. Covid-style.
Public tennis courts reopened a few months ago, but not for group lessons. The tennis courts are our Kamaole Sands and Maui Kamaole condos are open, but with restrictions.
Soccer has resumed, but for practices only. There are no games – which means that our weekends belong to us! No soccer tournaments (I know I should display less enthusiasm, but those of you who know, know).
Kids’ hockey practices resumed this past month and last week the rec/adult hockey league jumped through enough hoops to be allowed to have practice/scrimmage time. There are of course a lot of extra rules and there is a lot of cleaning involved, but – yeah after 6 months #HockeyNightInKihei is back!
Last night I went to watch one of our kids play a scrimmage at Kihei’s oceanfront inline hockey rink in Kalama Park. Actually it is Maui’s only skate rink and it is open air. Pre-Covid the rec league and adult league games were always played at night. Now that per County rules they have to be out of the park by 7pm, rec league practice is late afternoon Friday afternoons. This conveniently coincides with sunset.
Here are a few pictures from last night. I wasn’t allowed into the bleachers area (for sanitation reasons), but I had rink-side standing room next to the fence! It was fun watching my goalie son in action again. And it’s really nice to see the familiar faces and visit with hockey acquaintances again. We’ve been part of this tight-knit community for eight years now. Love the Maui Inline Hockey Association!
Don’t get too excited too quickly. There are still many things to figure out – but at least there is a plan! I’m telling you, as a vacation rental owner, it’s been pretty bleak the past six months. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Please read all about it here at Hawaii News Now and if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, please do keep a close eye on the news for further announcements.
So far I see a few problems:
You have to be able to get pre-travel testing 72 hours before travel (I’m told often you need to be showing symptoms to get a test).
You need to get your negative test results back prior to your trip (this also could be a problem).
If you don’t get your test results back on time, you will need to quarantine upon arrival until you get your negative test results.
Per County of Maui rules, you cannot at this time quarantine in a vacation rental but would need to stay in accommodation on the ‘approved list’.
Let’s wait a little and see what else the State comes up with. I for one am encouraged – at least they are finally talking about having a plan…. six months after the pandemic shut down Hawaii tourism.
Is this the answer to Hawaii’s economic woes?
No, let’s face it. I don’t see visitors streaming back en masse with the current Covid uncertainty. However, at least those who want to travel will have an easier time doing it. I foresee visitors taking advantage of discounted prices to stay for longer periods of time and working remotely (hottest travel trend?).
What about our Canadian visitors?
Good question. At this time the Canadian government has not eased their 14 day mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers returning to Canada. (Trust me, I am watching for this – I would love to go visit family again).
Sig went to Costco today and look what he found…. while not Canadians per se, he did buy some Canadian bell peppers.
A number of years ago someone told me to advertise our Palms at Wailea condo‘s proximity to the Wailea Beach Walk. The distance to the beach, you mean? (It’s about a 10 minute walk) No, the Wailea Beach Walk – Wailea’s BEST walk!
On further investigation, I discovered what they meant. In my opinion, this is Wailea’s best walk. Specifically, the Wailea Beach Walk is a paved walking trail that runs from the Andaz resort on Keawakapu Beach all the way to the Fairmont by Polo Beach.
The best part about this walk is the amazing ocean view. The worst part….. the crowds. As it runs oceanfront of all the resorts, it is a busy place. Except these days. Did you know it’s been nearly five months since Maui’s tourism shut down thanks to Covid?
Usually we park at the public Polo Beach parking lot just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani and walk north. Yesterday we took advantage of available parking at Ulua Beach (just south of the Andaz) and walked south.
We walked past Wailea Elua (condos), the Wailea Marriott Resort (I always see turtles bobbing for sea weed here), the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. At that point we turned around and walked back to the car. From the Andaz to the Fairmont and back is about a 1 1/2 hour walk, or longer if you stop along the way to enjoy the views.
The Wailea Beach Walk was pretty empty yesterday as there are still virtually no tourists on island. As long as you look out over the beaches and ocean it’s a beautiful place. But I couldn’t help looking at the empty resorts and thinking of all the unemployed people struggling to make ends meet while the world deals with Covid.
When will tourism resume?
That is the million dollar question. Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine continues for now, severely restricting incoming travel. At this time Hawaii is trying to get its own Covid numbers back under control. There is some talk of bubble tourism which would allow tourists to return to an ‘all inclusive’ style vacation, unable to leave the resort. While this would help the participating big hotels, it would do little to help all the mom and pop tourist shops, restaurants, condo businesses etc.
So we continue to wait and see. It’s been five months without tourism.
My favorite easy upcountry walk is Thompson Road. It’s a picturesque one lane road above Grandma’s coffee house in Kula.
School is starting again here on Maui (we will see how that goes), so I forced the kids to go on a family walk. Yes, they would have preferred to stay home with on their devices, but such is life. Family is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy, or at least that’s what I tell them.
How to get to this upcountry walk
From Kihei, you drive direction Kahului, then turn left on Hansen Road by the old Sugar Cane Factory. I don’t know about you, but I like to look at it while passing by, to see what’s going on. This past year the big pile of coal (for power production) has finally been hauled off. I wonder where it went.
You turn right onto Hana Hwy, then immediately onto Haleakala Hwy. Haleakala Hwy becomes Kula Hwy which you follow ‘forever’. You drive through Kula, past the Waldorf School, the Kula Farms stand – sadly they were closed this Sunday. You continue past the second Haleakala Hwy turnoff, past St John’s Episcopal Church and eventually end up at Grandma’s Coffee House. They were sadly also closed this Sunday.
Just before Grandma’s the road forks off to the left. Turn up there, take your very first right (it’s nearly immediate). This is Thompson Road. There are three pull-outs on the left. Park in one, get out and walk.
The upcountry walk
The road itself is patchy asphalt. Our youngest brought his new skateboard along which helped curb the complaining. I love looking at the huge plants, the insanely large bush of bird of paradise (it’s got to be 8 feet tall or more). There are lava rock walls, horse pastures, rolling hills.
Please be respectful of local residents who live here. Residents passing through always smile and wave, so do the same. It took us about an hour to the end and back. Well, that’s not entirely true. Thompson Road curves left and heads up the mountain – we’ve never gone up there.
But the best part about this upcountry walk – it was a full 15 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than in Kihei. Loved that!
Unfortunately there are problems with that. For one, local politicians and Hawaii residents have the jitters thanks to the surge in cases on the mainland. We are being told there is a shortage of testing kits because of the mainland surge. Many travelers and mainland owners are reporting problems getting tests (without having Covid-19 symptoms) and timely results which would be required at flight check-in. Finally, public school is slated to begin the first week of August and allowing tourism at the same time would make it more difficult to see if new flare-ups are community-based or due to travel (or so I’m told).
In short, it’s a bit of a kaffuffle.
Unfortunately, this further delays tourism to Hawaii and with that a kickstart to the economy and completely flat-lined tourism industry.
We wish you were here. I really do. In the mean time, we hope the US mainland is able to curb their cases so Hawaii politicians feel more comfortable with reopening to tourism. But we also hope the increasing numbers of returning Hawaii residents who traveled to the mainland this summer adhere to the terms of quarantine so that Hawaii also can keep its numbers under control.
How many people are actually arriving in Hawaii?
In case you are interested, here are the posted mainland arrival numbers for yesterday 7/12/20 as compiled by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For comparison purposes, in 2019 the average arrivals were 35,000/day.
Crew = flight crew members
Transit = people who are in transit to another location through Hawaii and aren’t leaving the airport
Military = military exempt personnel
Exempt = people who are exempt from the 14-day quarantine after receiving prior approval from the state
Relocate to Hawaii = people who are moving to Hawaii
Returning Resident = people who indicate on the DOT’s form that they’re returning residents
Visitor = people who are not in the above categories
Our family has lived on Maui for ten years now, and believe it or not, I had never been to see sunrise on Haleakala. There have been a few reasons – but mainly having young children and my general dislike of crowds.
winter clothes, wind breaker… you mainland folk may be used to standing in near freezing temperatures for an hour or two (don’t forget about wind), but apparently my blood has thinned from living on Maui. I was so cold – but loving every minute of it!
your wallet (credit card and ID, credit card only $30 for park admission, cash for Komoda’s donuts – they have a $10 minimum for credit card purchases)
a print out of your Haleakala sunrise reservation
enough gas to get there and back
Note: the last place to purchase anything on the way up would be a 24/7 gas station or perhaps McDonald’s in Kahului
Our journey to Sunrise on Haleakala
This morning we left our home in Kihei at around 2:20AM. Right off the bat, we saw a deer right next to the Piilani Hwy by the Kihei police station. I’m sure glad it stayed off the road as we passed. There was little traffic besides a black SUV also headed to sunrise.
We saw someone walking along the Veterans Hwy (formerly known as Mokulele, taking us towards Kahului). He also thankfully stayed on the bike path.
We hit our only red light at the turnoff onto Haleakala Hwy by King Kekaulike school in Pukalani. At this point the highway becomes a two lane road (with exception of a one lane bridge you come upon pretty quickly). It’s a gorgeous drive by day. As we passed through a grove of trees just before Kula Lodge area, we saw a large bird (I think an owl) flying in front of us. For a moment I worried he’d fly right into my windshield, but he changed direction, picked up speed and took off into the trees.
A little past Kula Lodge you follow the signs and turn left and at this point the roads get pretty wind-y as you really go up in elevation. Just past the tree line and past the second cattle gate, we came across a beef cow and her calf. Yes, we have in the past encountered them even laying down on the road. Definitely watch for them.
We reached the National Park gate which is just above the 6500 ft elevation mark when you come to a forested area). I picked up an annual park pass ($55 vs the $30 for a 3 day vehicle pass). We will certainly come up at least once more this year making it worth it. Note, if you have a US national park pass, bring it along as you can use it for admission. The park employee cross-referenced my name with her sunrise reservation list. Then we drove another half hour to reach the summit, passing crater valley parking lot on the way. Guess what – we were the only car there!
The sunrise experience
We bundled up in our winter jackets, hats and gloves, in our excitement completely forgetting to don our face masks. We were about an hour early for the show to begin but enjoyed some stargazing, though the moon was about half full, which didn’t allow us to see the Milky Way. On the plus side, we didn’t have to use our phones as flashlights as we walked around the in part cracked sidewalks. No tripping at the top of the world! Any medical care is a good hour’s drive away at the Kula fire station or perhaps tiny Kula hospital.
We could see Kihei and Kahului’s lights, as well as the faint flashing red lights along the windmills in Maalaea. We could also faintly see a few lights in the distance – I am pretty sure they would have been from Hawi, Big Island.
The skies started lightening around 5:10AM today, in the mean time another five cars had joined us. We walked back up to the lookout area (due to Covid-19 the shelter area was closed). It was a balmy 46F (7.8C) and thankfully no wind. We sure enjoyed the view, the sky changing colors above the cloud cover until finally the sun rose just before 6AM.
By sunrise another 20 cars arrived – a number of them ended up completely missing the show. We stopped briefly at crater valley and headed back down the mountain for our rewards of Komoda’s donuts in Makawao.
Would I do it again?
I’m thrilled we were able to experience a Haleakala Sunrise, even more so that we didn’t have to face the crowds so many are used to seeing at sunrise. However, I think I prefer sunset on Haleakala. Sunset doesn’t require reservations, there are fewer people, you can see if the mountain is cloud-covered prior to leaving Kihei (because it’s daytime). You aren’t exhausted from getting up super early. On that note – I would plan Haleakala Sunrise when you are still undergoing jetlag (at the beginning of your Maui trip).
This weekend we saw the sad announcement on social media – the Maui Tropical Plantation is closing indefinitely. While I understand given the current economic realities, it is so sad to say goodbye to this place.
We’ve been coming to the Maui Tropical Plantation since early 2004, back before we lived here, when we fled rainy West Coast Januaries and came to Maui on vacation. Besides the gift shop and restaurant, they have a beautiful lake, ducks to feed and a trolley you can take to see and learn about plants that grow here on Maui. Back then they even had a monkey enclosure (those were moved to a new home a few years later).
A few years ago the Maui Tropical Plantation was revitalized, given new life with funky Sugar Cane Factory equipment incorporated into the landscape. It is to date one of my favorite places to go, enjoy the landscape, have a coffee, shop the gift shop and grab some fresh veggies at the Kumu Farm stand. I always intended to try their beginner zipline with the kids. Their Mill House Restaurant had stunning reviews, and though I never ate there, I did eat at the train bar once (yes, it had a full size sugar cane locomotive right there in the bar). This is on the ‘must do’ list for all boy moms, after all!
Well…. Covid happened. The island all but shut down with mandatory quarantine imposed on all arrivals and with that tourism died – temporarily at least. As with many businesses, the Maui Tropical Plantation closed temporarily, only to reopen a few weeks ago. However, I imagine there was just not enough traffic to keep it viable and so now they are closing indefinitely.
This week they are having a closing sale at the gift shop, daily 10-4 (in person only, not on the website). I arrived shortly after 10 and…. the lineup went around the building, all the way to the shops in the back. While in line I chatted with those around me (all wearing our masks, sometimes in the shade, sometimes in the bright hot sun). We are all so sad to see this special place go.
What did I get?
Unfortunately I didn’t make it into the store today. The line was moving, but too slow for me to make it in and out on time to pick up my son from Kanaha Beach Park. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s not so much that I wanted to buy something, it was more about going for one last visit. But yes, I know I would have found things I ‘need’. Like HI Spice hotsauce.
Tourism will return one day and with it, I hope, this beautiful place will be revived. For now, we say aloha and a hui hou (goodbye and until we meet again).
A few months ago the Governor of Hawaii instituted a mandatory quarantine for all arrivals into the State of Hawaii. We even had to quarantine when traveling between the Hawaiian islands with a few exceptions including medical travel.
Pre-Travel Testing Option for Trans-Pacific Travel Beginning August 1
Gov. David Ige announced today all travelers arriving in Hawai‘i from out-of-state will be required to get a valid COVID-19 test prior to their arrival, and to show proof of a negative test result, to avoid the 14-day quarantine. The pre-travel testing program begins Aug. 1. Out-of-state travelers arriving in Hawai‘i must get a PCR test prior to arrival from any testing location approved by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Evidence of a negative test result must be provided upon arrival in Hawai‘i. Without this, passengers arriving from out-of-state will be subject to the 14-day quarantine. No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport.
DOH is still in the process of developing this program but anticipates requiring an FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA certified laboratory. Travelers will be required to provide printed or emailed pre-test certification as evidence of a negative test result. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of the pre-travel test.
Temperature checks will continue at airports across the state. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees or who is experiencing other symptoms will be required to undergo a secondary screening at the airport with trained healthcare staff. In addition, travelers will be required to fill out the State of Hawai‘i Traveler and Health form.
Gov. Ige said, “Now is the time to work together to ensure that our residents and local businesses can safely reopen to incoming travelers. We expect more cases as travel reopens and the State is confident in its ability to monitor and respond to new cases. This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Numerous community leaders were instrumental in helping to develop the plan along with county mayor’s and legislative leadership.
State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson commented, “Lifting the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travel will require an intensive airport screening process, increased contact tracing and monitoring of cases, and careful tracking of the state’s progress in controlling and containing the coronavirus. This is a huge undertaking by the state and a tremendous commitment from public health as we embark on these new and untested initiatives and face many unknowns. It is definitely a new normal and we have much to learn as we lift restrictions and rebuild our economy while safeguarding the health of our people.”
Exact details have yet to be figured out. Visitors would need to have the testing done at their own expense prior to getting to the airport and have results in hand.
What is an FDA approved PCR test?
The press release specifically mentions needing an FDA approved PCR test. I know there are several tests out there. Several of my side-job coworkers had them done in the past few months (thankfully testing negative). One had the full-on nasal swab experience (the turnaround time on her particular test was nearly a week), another had a cheek swab and had the results within a few hours. Here is what the FDA has posted on PCR tests – apparently there is even a home test kit. Who knew. At the press conference, Governor Ige mentioned working with CVS pharmacies for this proposed testing.
What does this mean for your Maui trip?
Not having to do the mandatory quarantine is in my mind definitely game-changing when it comes to planning your next Maui trip (or for us Hawaii residents, our next mainland trip). However, there are still many questions to be answered. Will visitors be able to get these tests on the mainland? How can you be sure to get the results on time for your trip? What if you test positive (please get trip cancellation insurance!!)?
I know the Hawaii visitor industry as a whole will be pushing hard for the governor’s office to provide answers and finalize details in the coming weeks. As I find out more information, I will post it here on the website.
I had just sent an email to all our upcoming guests yesterday and then sat down to watch Maui Mayor Mike Victorino’s press conference. I was expecting more of the same, information that affects me as I live here, but nothing positive about vacation rentals. Then – surprise! – he announced the reopening of vacation rentals effective June 16, 2020.
As of this Monday Hawaii Governor Ige extended the mandatory 14 day quarantine through July 31. He talked about infrared temperature scanners and possible testing that will be implemented at island airports in the coming month. We are hoping the quarantine will NOT be extended any further. However, with the recent upswing in Covid cases on the mainland, who knows.
On my walk along South Kihei Road yesterday evening I saw patrons sitting on a lanai at Fred’s Mexican Cafe. In normal times the restaurant would be packed with lines out the door, especially on Taco Tuesdays. I’ve seen people in line to pick up take-out, but this was the first time I saw someone being served on the lanai in…. months. I can’t wait til things get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be.
Another month of our new ‘life without tourists’ has come and gone. Here we are a week into June. It has been 2 1/2 months since most our guests left for the mainland. Our last guests extended their stay a little and left early April. Surreal.
Hawaii State has thankfully stabilized its Covid-19 cases. The State has been reopening, as of last week restaurants are allowed to reopen for modified dine-in service. Some have, but others haven’t. My personal fave, Gannon’s, announced they are not reopening until life without tourists ends. Another friend told me their (Gannon’s) monthly rent. As the number is unconfirmed, I won’t post it here – but suffice it to say, my $120 for lunch every few months is not even a drop in the bucket. I understand.
We are anxiously awaiting June 16th – the day the inter-island 14 day quarantine is finally lifted. This is generally seen as one of the precursors to the mandatory 14 day quarantine from the mainland being lifted.
The roads are becoming busier as locals stop self-isolating. I find this ironic. I work part-time at a medical office and one of my jobs is to make appointment confirmation calls. Patients swear to me they have been staying at home, self-isolating. Then who is driving on the roads? Oh right – that’s me, I guess!
Zipline – I have never been ziplining, so that is something I’d like to try. This would be a fun birthday activity with the kids. I guess we’ll see which ones reopen and decide.
Maui Ocean Center – our local aquarium has been closed for the past few months. Once they reopen, I would like to see the new humpback whale exhibit and video in the new dome. They have incidentally repainted the blue waves along the outside of the building. Interesting.
Road to Hana – it has been closed for travel to all but those who live there since Covid-19 due to the remoteness and lack of medical facilities on that side of the island. I get it. But once they reopen, there are some hikes that I need to check out!
Look what I was able to do yesterday! Remember the lookout on the Pali, between Maalaea and the tunnel on the way to Lahaina? We were able to pull into a near empty parking lot, park and take pictures of the view!