Tag: kids

Hosmer’s Grove Walk

If you’ve driven up Haleakala, you may have come across a sign for Hosmer’s Grove. The turnoff is almost immediately once you drive through the national park gate, to your left. You can camp here, though I’ve heard it can be pretty cold especially if it rains. You are after all at 7000 ft elevation. Next to the campground is a short half mile loop trail.

In the 1800s explorers decimated Hawaii’s native sandalwood forests, logging and shipping them off as exotic woods. In some cases, such as Kaho’olawe, cutting down the forests dramatically changed the weather patterns. Early 1920 a guy named Hosmer planted an experimental forest, introducing 86 types of non-native trees. Today 20 species still grow in Hosmer’s Grove, ironically within the national park. Not all of the shrubs are non-native. There is a section with native-to-Hawaii shrubs, including a blooming green sword, which has some similarities to the silver swords you find at Haleakala crater.

How to get there

It’s a 38 mile drive from Kihei, and should take just over an hour and a national park entry fee to get to Hosmer’s Grove. Last year I purchased an annual park pass for my Haleakala sunrise expedition. We’ve used it three times this year, but somehow didn’t make it to Hosmer’s Grove. When I suggested going on a family hike yesterday, Sig was game. I even told him it was just inside the national park. However it’s been a long time since he’s been to the park ~ probably since 2012 when we drove to Haleakala summit to see Venus cross in front of the sun (an amazing experience). He hates windy roads. To be fair, it takes about an hour to get to the Waihou Spring loop trail (also a contender for yesterday’s hike), so this wasn’t that much further, and not much less windy.

Yes, it’s kinda silly to drive an hour to go for a 1/2 mile walk. It would have made more sense to combine the walk with sunrise or sunset or just driving up to the crater. But like I said, my park pass was about to expire, and I’m in no rush to buy another $55/annual pass just to go on a 1/2 mile walk.

Haleakala National Park

Yes, we have a national park here on Maui. The park gates sit at 7000 foot elevation. From the park gates it takes about half hour to reach the summit area and the viewing platform for crater valley. Haleakala is a dormant volcano, but technically the crater is a valley with many smaller cinder cones in it. It is a beautiful, out of this world experience. Keep in mind, once you leave Kula and before you get to the park gates is ranch land and you will encounter cows – possibly on the side of the road, but sometimes also on the road (the asphalt heats up nicely during the day and cows like to warm up on it in the evening).

The entrance fee is $30/private vehicle with admission valid for 3 days (there are some park areas accessible along the Road to Hana, so you may want to plan accordingly). Should you be visiting Big Island during your Hawaii trip, you may want to consider the Hawaii Tri-Park annual pass for $55. This pass gives you admission to all three Hawaii national parks (two on Big Island, one on Maui).

Hike Maui

Last year our family embarked on a number of new to us hikes around the island. We enjoyed exploring our island, especially without tourists around. I can imagine some of these hikes are significantly busier these days. There are a number of excursions you can book. Acquaintances own Hike Maui which picks you up from your condo/resort and takes you on guided hikes. Check them out!

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Minigolf on Maui

Have you driven past the Maui Golf and Sports Park at Maalaea Harbor and wondered what that was? Minigolf on Maui? Surely that is too small a place to be worth going to?

When you walk into the Maui Golf and Sports Park you will be surprised. This wedge-shaped property is incredibly well designed to fit two 18 hole minigolf courts, extreme trampoline, a small climbing cliff, mini volcano and – the piece de resistance – bumper boats.

Over the years we have hosted a number of kids’ birthday parties here. While minigolf is a lot of fun, really, all they want to do is ride the bumper boats and use the super soakers to spray their friends and parents watching from the sidelines.

We recently took our youngest for his birthday again. As of this week masks were optional – on Maui you currently need to wear masks indoors but not outside (and this place is outside).

A few things of note:

  • it’s Maalaea, it will be windy. Wind can be deceptively cooling – remember to use sunscreen so you won’t burn.
  • wear something that can get wet and bring a towel/change of clothes. After a round of minigolf the bumperboats are super refreshing. You could technically stay dry, if you convinced everyone not to use their spray guns, and if you kept the boat out of the waterfall. But where’s the fun in that?
  • Yes, they have two large bathrooms with plenty of room to change.

Other birthday considerations

oh those mango malasadas were amazing. Found these at a small pop-up bakery

This week’s birthday festivities included

  • mango-custard filled malasadas
  • a Cold Stone icecream cake
  • dinner at Outback Steakhouse (Roundtable Pizza was a close second choice)

Mango malasadas? I stumbled across a pop-up bakery (Coppa’s) on Facebook that made these to order. They were filled with a mango custard. They were very delicious.

Malasadas are Portuguese-style donuts, made fresh to order. Typically you can get them plain or with a custard filling, or guava jam filled (at Komodas). Our family has a birthday (and special day) tradition of picking up malasadas for breakfast.

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Have you seen the whale exhibit?

Cara at the Maui Ocean Center (isn’t there a way to fix the selfie-mirror image sign behind me?)

I’ve had the new whale exhibit at the Maui Ocean Center on my to do list for a while. I love the Maui Ocean Center and the ‘new’ white dome has intrigued me for some time now. I knew it was a 3D experience about humpback whales, but that’s about it.

Last year the Maui Ocean Center closed when Covid hit. With tourism at a complete standstill, there were just not enough customers to be open. Fortunately this spring they reopened the aquarium. Here we are, half way through the kids’ summer break, so today was the day to go check out the center and it’s whale exhibit! The last time we were at the Ocean Center was in January 2019, one month before the new whale exhibit opened.

The whale exhibit

The Ocean Center has always had a whale exhibit. The old one had various displays and games and a Bubble Net room. The Bubble Net room was a simulation of what it would be like to be krill caught in the humpback whales’ bubble net. Our family thought this was the best part 🙂

However, in February 2019 the aquarium opened the new whale exhibit. In addition to a cool 3D film shot right here off the shores of Maui, they have a whole new updated interactive whale display. Watch this Youtube video for the best description of it.

The new whale exhibit is in a new building tucked next to the gift shop and bathrooms. The former exhibit has been transformed into an exhibit about Kaho’olawe, Hawaii’s forbidden island. One thing I learned today is that it is the first of the Hawaiian islands to have been populated. The island has been deserted for some time, and was actually used for target practice (for bombs) from World War 2 up until 1990 when President Bush signed a moratorium, halting military exercises on it. It’s an interesting exhibit, I highly recommend it.

My favorites

Our family has been big fans of the Ocean Center for years. When the kids were little, we’d come multiple times a week (buying a weekly pass when we were on vacation), then 5-7 times/year with an annual pass once we moved here in 2010. When your kids are little and have a short attention span, you try to be creative in getting your money’s worth!

The frog fish aquarium – one of my favorite displays!

My favorite exhibits are the frog fish, the octopus, the flat fish, the open water exhibit (shark and ray tank) and now definitely the new whale exhibit. How about yours?

Before you go….

The Ocean Center is currently using a reservation system to better spread out guest numbers throughout the day and make social distancing a little easier. And yes, currently you will need to wear your mask both indoors and outdoors while on property. You pre-purchase your tickets online. Read the instructions closely, for instance there is a twenty minute window to arrive (if your reservation is for 10am, you can arrive between 9:50 and 10:10). Yes, they’ve raised their prices, I assume due to limiting visitor numbers and operating losses from last year. On the plus side, there is no extra charge for the new whale exhibit (there previously had been). When I looked, I was able to get same day tickets, no problem, though I assume that depends on the day.

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My favorite upcountry walk

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.

upcountry walk
Thompson Road

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!

upcountry road
This made me laugh. Along the road I found this. A locked gate with a no-trespassing sign and a bottle of hand sanitizer next to it. If you MUST trespass, at least be clean. Sign of our times.

For more of my favorite Maui hikes, click here.

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Saying goodbye to the Maui Tropical Plantation

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!

What happened?

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).

goodbye
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This weekend – Maui’s own hockey tournament

Do you love hockey? Let’s be honest, you probably didn’t come to Maui for the hockey. You probably don’t even think Maui has hockey (besides on TV screens in bars). However, Maui has its own group of hockey playing enthusiasts. Yes, we have a rink, but it’s not necessarily what you’d expect.

Maui’s own (and only) inline hockey rink in Kihei’s Kalama Park.

Kihei has its very own oceanfront sports area located at Kalama Park. Free and open to the public to use, we have tennis and basketball courts, multi-purpose fields used for baseball, kids soccer and kids football practice, a skate park and – yes – an inline skating rink. This is all Maui County owned property, however the County has an agreement with the Maui Inline Hockey Association (MIHA) regarding use of the skating rink. Volunteers run 3 free public skate nights/week (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings) and in return MIHA has inline hockey practices and games the remaining nights.

This weekend (April 26-28 2019) MIHA is hosting their first (in quite a while) inter-island hockey tournament, the Maui Outdoor Classic. Maui’s own hockey leagues are just finishing their winter season this week (rec league has their championship games Thursday night). Then Friday evening the fun begins. Since this is the only rink on Maui, players are excited that there are a number of kid and adult teams flying over from Oahu (look for the KIHA Warriors – Kapolei Inline Hockey, and HI Old School teams on the schedule)!

Admission to the Maui Classic is FREE. Come on down, enjoy some hockey, cheer on the teams! Here is the schedule. Note there are different divisions – kids games are 9U, 12U, 14U. Then for adult leagues there are rec league, 35O (35 and over) and ‘adult’ (elite).

Hockey Season

Love hockey but missing the tournament? No worries. Monday nights are pick-up nights (for older teens and adults), come around 7:30, sign a waiver, borrow some gear and join them. I believe there is a fee ($5 or $10, I can’t remember). We are heading into summer, the adults will play a summer season, details have yet to be announced. Fall season typically runs late September through early December, winter season late January through April. Adult games typically begin around 8PM, the rink closes with lights off by 10PM.

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October’s events on Maui

Can you believe it’s already October? This year continues to fly by. Here are a few October’s events to check out if you are here this month.

October's events
the pumpkin patch at Kula Country Farms is open

Kula Country Farms

Their annual pumpkin patch is open again! They also have a small corn maze and farm-style mini-golf course. Check out their facebook page for more details. They are usually closed on Sunday – not sure about the schedule during pumpkin season. This is also a great opportunity to buy yummy locally grown fruit and vegetables!

95th Annual Maui County Fair

This year’s fair is October 5-8 at the fair grounds in Kahului. It starts off with the annual parade Thursday late afternoon, and then is open Thursday and Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday all day/evening. The orchid show is supposed to be amazing. And then of course there are rides, food and much more…

Moonlight Mele Concert

This Hawaiian music concert is hosted by the Maui Historical Society at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Admission is only $5 per person, children 12 and under are free.

12th Annual Ukulele Festival

October 14-15 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Festival. I have friends who go every year – it sounds like a lot of fun!

Maui Marathon

This takes place October 15th. Watch out for runners on the road between Kahului and Kaanapali!

Halloween Haunted House of Horror

This must be a new event – starting October 20th and running through Halloween in the old Hard Rock Cafe space at the Outlets of Maui in Lahaina. Don’t forget to get your parking validated when you buy something at the Outlets!

Halloween in Lahaina

This is an annual event that takes place on Front Street in Lahaina. Yes, there are shuttle buses that run between Kihei and Lahaina, so look into that and get your tickets  (for the bus) early. The event itself is free.

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Drowning on Maui

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.

More ocean tips

Here is an ocean safety video released in 2015 by Maui County. I believe it is on a loop at the airport and also airs regularly on the Maui Visitor Channel (channel 7).

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Iao Valley is finally reopened

Almost a year ago popular tourist destination Iao Valley State Park experienced heavy flooding, washing away some of the trail system, a portion of the parking lot and damaging people’s homes and yards. As a result, the entire area has been blocked off for nearly a year as the State worked to stabilize the area again. While their efforts are not yet complete, the State recently re-opened the park on a temporary basis while they wait for some further permitting to be approved. Yes, the State Park will close again in the next few months to continue the work.

Iao Valley
the new Iao stream bed – last September’s flooding changed the course of this stream, washing away much of the area.

Yesterday our family drove to Wailuku to check out the historically significant Iao Valley State Park with its Iao needle and the stream.

The Iao Needle

This is the location where in the late 1780s Kamehameha I from Big Island conquered Maui, the beginning of a series of wars to unite the Hawaiian Islands under himself. The battle is said to have been particularly brutal with many casualties on both sides. When in the valley you can imagine the fighting and how the screams must have echoed in the narrow canyon.

While there, do read the signs for more information about the historical significance. This site is sacred to many native Hawaiians, so please do be respectful of your surroundings while there.

 

It is a gated State park (7am-6pm) and they charge $5/vehicle for parking. The foot trail is significantly shorter since the flooding, with the lower loop through the forest cut off/washed away. You can still cross the bridge and climb the stairs to the Iao Needle lookout and it looks like they are working on restoring the native plants area, though there wasn’t much taro growing yesterday.

Second Wettest Place in Hawaii

This area, particularly the head of the valley (Pu’u Kukui peak) is the State’s second wettest area with an average of 386 inches of rain a year (the wettest is on Kauai). Contrast that to Kihei’s average 8-11 inches of rain a year. Our drinking water in Kihei is piped over from this valley. In true form, it started pouring rain shortly after we had finished our walk.

For additional things to do, check out the Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Center is just down the road (free admission) which pays tribute to the different nations of immigrants who came to Maui to work in the sugar cane fields. We haven’t stopped in a number of years, at the time it needed some TLC but was still interesting.

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Kids golf lessons

kids golf lessons
A great view and some shade for parents during golf lessons

Coming to Maui this summer and looking for something for the kids to do? How about enrolling them in kids golf lessons? Our friends Renee and Eddie Lee run the golf lessons at the Wailea Golf Academy, located at the Wailea Emerald and Gold golf course. While you can definitely book private lessons for the kids (they can also set you up with adult lessons, by the way), they are running six summer camps this summer (in June, July and August) – for beginner and more advanced students.

Our kids have taken many lessons from Renee. She is great with kids of all ages, patient and in control.

Their lessons are in a private setting at the top of the Emerald & Gold Course’s driving range. For us parents, it has the most beautiful view of the ocean.

The beginner camps  are held from 9am-12noon daily on

  • June 14, 15 & 16
  • July 12, 13 & 14
  • August 16, 17 & 18

kids golf lessonsThe intermediate camps are also from 9am-12noon daily

  • June 21, 22 & 23
  • July 5, 6 & 7
  • August 9, 10 & 11

Not here for all three dates in a set – no problem, you can also sign up just for one day of the camp. For more information about the camps check out their website or call them at 808-875-7450. Prices are posted with a discounted rate for residents (parents must hold a valid Hawaii driver’s license).

Additional kids golf lessons

The (cheaper) Maui Nui Golf Course in Kihei also offers kids lessons from time to time and I believe is offering summer camps also. Please inquire directly with them for further information.

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