Tag: Kihei

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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May 2021 Updates at our Maui Kamaole condo!

Our six month guests recently checked out of our Maui Kamaole condo. Spur of the moment I decided to update the look while getting the condo vacation rental ready.

We renovated this condo in 2016, installing a new kitchen, new main bath and updating the bedroom furniture. Now I decided it was time for some new living and dining room furnishings. This is a small island with limited furniture stores and on-island inventory, but I got lucky! I found a new sofa at Homeworld. The chairs are from Lifestyle Maui (you may recognize them – we have the same chair at our Kamaole Sands condo). The dining table, chairs and accent tables are from Bedmart. I also replaced the mirror and sofa art. Over the years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the large flower painting above the sofa. It came with the condo when we originally bought it in October 2010. I have enjoyed the blooms but the branches on the right and the brass frame have always made me cringe a little. Glad to have replaced it. And no, the new painting isn’t actually just grey – it’s just that my phone camera isn’t showing the colored accents.

I always love seeing the before and after shots. Have a look!

This condo has a distant oceanview directly from the kitchen and living room.

Looking from the kitchen to the lanai with the oceanview in the distance

I’ve got a tentative date with Flora the photographer to update our condo pictures in a few weeks and will post them when ready.

Wait – you had six month guests?

It sure has been a strange year. Just a few months ago we were steeply discounting high season just to get some bookings to pay property taxes and those steep monthly homeowner fees. Yes, this past fall we had several sets of guests come and work remotely out of our condos, all the while enjoying Maui. It was a win win for them and us. They got to work and play, we had income during the very slow Covid months. However, we are happy to be back to regular style vacation renting.

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Current Maui Farmer’s Markets

This morning I saw a list of Maui farmer’s markets and thought – I know some people who may be interested! My readers! Here you are:

South Side
  • Saturday 8-12 behind Kukui Mall parking lot in Kihei (I am told this one USED to be located in the Fabiani’s parking lot)
  • Tuesdays 8-11:30 Wailea Village market (check my blog post from a few weeks ago)
  • sadly the market at Aloha Marketplace is gone, replaced by a couple food trucks
Kahului/North shore
  • Wednesdays – morning through mid-afternoon – Queen Kaahumanu shopping center in Kahului, center court
  • Wednesday/Friday 2250 Hana Hwy (Haiku area)
West side
  • Wednesday/Saturday Napili farmer’s markets 8-12pm
  • Thursday Lahaina Jodo Mission 4-7pm
Upcountry
  • Saturday Maliko Country Farms at Oskie Rice Arena (Makawao) 8-12pm
  • Wednesday Farmer’s market at Oskie Rice Arena (Makawao) 8-1pm
  • Upcountry Farmer’s market at Kula Malu shopping center 8-11am (I call this the ‘crunchy market’ – go and you’ll see why! It is an amazing farmer’s market)
farmer's markets
Saturday morning upcountry farmer’s market
There are also farm stands, open most of the week
  • Kumu Farms (at the Maui Tropical Plantation) Tues-Saturday
  • Kula Country Farms Mon-Sat 9-4pm – this is my favorite upcountry farm stand. They have strawberry u-pick Wed/Sat through mid June
  • North Kihei ABC Store Mon-Fri 8-4pm

Am I missing any that are open now in 2021? This list is always in flux, with regards to locations, days and times. But I sure love buying directly from the farmer and supporting local businesses.

Send me a message, I’ll add them to this list!

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Our Sugar Beach remodel is complete!

As you may know, we’ve been working on a remodel of our Sugar Beach condo. Pre-Covid we had discussed replacing cabinet doors, a few of which were starting to delaminate. But remodels rarely go the way you think they will. It ended up making more sense to replace the cabinets altogether. This in turn meant new counters – we chose quartz this time! I love it!

One of the things about our climate is that metal rusts quite quickly. Our appliances were definitely starting to rust, so we replaced those with stainless. Have you tried replacing appliances this past year? It turns out Covid has had a major impact on appliance manufacturers and, at least here on Maui, it was tricky getting appliances.

The ceiling fans needed replacing, and we’ve added a small ceiling fan with light kit in the bathroom which should help with condensation.

Sugar Beach #104
The California-king size bed with plantation shutters

Last but not least we decided to do away with the blue paint. When we purchased this condo in September 2010, the previous owner Joanne had most of the walls painted blue. Personally, I loved it. Over the years we’ve repainted the walls a lighter blue, but this January we did away with it completely. I love this even more. The entire condo seems brighter and bigger.

This afternoon I need to schedule the professional photographer to properly photograph the condo. For now, enjoy my amateur Youtube video! I love the results!

We hope one day soon to welcome you to our Sugar Beach condo!

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Maui’s own German Bakery!

Some of you may know that I (Cara) grew up in Austria. It’s been a while, but one of the things I really miss is a good grainy loaf of bread. While Costco has a decent loaf in their bakery section, it doesn’t come close to the Austrian/German Bakery of my childhood.

I remember my dad going for walks twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to the bakery in our town and picking up fresh buns for breakfast. I’m not sure if it was because he loves fresh bread or because he wanted an early morning walk, but Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favorite breakfast days – fresh buns with homemade jam. Wow that brings back memories.

A few years ago the Maui Bread Company opened in Dolphin Plaza along South Kihei Road. It is a cute little bakery with great baking, but not the Austrian/German breads and buns I love. This week my neighbors told me the Maui Bread Company had reopened and…. that they were baking German bread. Had I checked it out and was it authentic?

Well….. yesterday (in the interest of research) Sig and I went for a walk down to Dolphin Plaza to the Maui Bread Company. The bakery still looks quite like it always did. Of course, it has the obligatory Covid plastic protective panels now and a sign at the door allowing only 4 people at a time…. but there they were – fresh buns, fresh loafs of German bread and even pretzels. A lady approached me to offer assistance and I detected a slight German accent. Next thing we knew, Christine and I were chatting in German, getting acquainted and hearing all about their journey in buying this little bakery.

Christine and her husband bought the Maui Bread Company in January 2020, then closed due to Covid in March. They’ve recently reopened and Christine’s husband, a master baker from Germany, just started baking German breads early December. It’s sourdough breads, all natural (possibly organic) ingredients, and some gluten-free.

Honestly – this German bakery made my week! The buns were amazing, the spelt bread fantastic. I do believe we will resurrect my dad’s tradition of walking to the bakery for fresh buns and bread. Once you’ve had it, you just can’t beat it!

By the way, yes, they are continuing to bake many of the goodies the former owners baked, including gluten free and vegan options.

What else can be found in Dolphin Plaza

Dolphin Plaza is a two storey stripmall that sits perpendicular to South Kihei Road, across the street from Kamaole I beach. My favorite stores there are….

  • Maui Gelato (get the lilikoi gelato if they have it)
  • a gift shop
  • the Maui Bread Co
  • Cafe @ la Plage – my friend Beth Cooper painted/decorated Cafe @ la Plage this summer (check it out!)
  • Koiso Sushi – Maui’s best (and most exclusive) tiny sushi restaurant (you need reservations weeks in advance).
  • a fish and chips place
  • a number of other restaurants, a nail place and of course Pizza Hut!

Please note, due to Covid and the severe drop in customers (due to the contraction of tourism), many businesses have scaled back their hours of operation. Do check to avoid disappointment.

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Sale of Kihei Surfside 405

In July 2010 we moved to Maui with the intention of buying a few vacation rentals. We’d stayed in vacation rentals on Maui before. We had owned long-term rentals before. Surely this would be doable.

On September 26, 2010 we became the proud owners of Kihei Surfside 405 and Sugar Beach 104. This was the beginning of a rather steep learning curve of vacation renting.

I remember taking the previous owners (the Pontinens) out to lunch at Gannons and soaking in as much information about vacation renting as I could. They had so much good information to pass on. We got our wonderful cleaner Cindy through them. Cindy cleaned our condos from 2010-2019 when she retired. Check here for a blog post I wrote a few years back on Four things that will make or break your vacation rental business.

We’ve seen a lot of change in the past ten years. We remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, I sat on the Kihei Surfside HOA’s Board of Directors for four years (two terms) and helped oversee the huge exterior remodel. We’ve hosted hundreds of guests, many of them repeat guests. We’ve enjoyed Valentine’s Day parties and eaten our Christmas dinner on the Kihei Surfside lawn.

And so it is with mixed feelings that we announce that we have sold our Kihei Surfside 405 condo as of October 15, 2020. The decision was not lightly made. However, seven months of Covid and the complete standstill of tourism on Maui have necessitated the sale of one of our condos to keep the others strong.

Many of our Kihei Surfside guests have become repeat guests, a handful have been staying at our condo for ten or more years. We will miss you. We will continue to vacation rent our remaining four condos at Maui Oceanview Condos. I will continue to blog about life on Maui right here on this page.

We wish our Kihei Surfside guests aloha and a hui ho! We would love to host you at one of our Maui Oceanview Condos soon!

Final picture of the view from our Kihei Surfside lanai
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Lunch at Ami Ami

Prior to Covid our family frequently ate out for lunch or dinner to celebrate special occasions. Covid has changed that, but this past week we had cause for celebration and I insisted. After much deliberation, we agreed to try ‘Ami Ami’ for lunch.

Ami Ami is located along South Kihei Road and is part of the Maui Coast Hotel complex. It is part of the Cafe o Lei family of restaurants (Cafe o Lei in Kihei, The Dunes at Maui Lani in Kahului and Ami Ami in Kihei). I’ve always admired the dining room from the road while walking or driving past, but they didn’t used to be open for lunch. On Maui the cost of dinner is almost always more than the cost of a similar meal for lunch. We have though frequently had dinner at the Kamaole Poolside Cafe behind Ami Ami, pre-Covid that is. The two locations share a kitchen, and the poolside cafe has live music in the evening (and cats).

Our lunch was fantastic. The menu has some similarities to that of Cafe o Lei. The boys enjoyed the burgers, Sig had the fish special and I found a poke bowl on the menu! Yum!

Sig’s lunch special – panko crusted ono
my tuna poke bowl with sriracha – delicious

Of course there are Covid rules. There very few tables and chairs set up, all appropriately spaced out. Hand sanitizer both at the host desk and bar. The wait staff all wore masks, and yes, you wear a mask at any time NOT seated at a table. They also took my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes.

What other restaurants were we considering?

In an ideal world, we would have gone to Gannons. However, Gannons is still closed. We hope one day soon that will change.

Mulligans on the Blue was a serious contender for an early dinner to enjoy sunset. And I was favoring the Maui Brewing Company for happy hour. Both solid choices.

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Lessons learned from my mango tree

In the past few years I’ve written a few blog entries about our mango tree. When we first bought our Kihei house ten years ago, we planted a dwarf mango tree. We were so excited to taste our first mango, but our tree had other ideas. We knew of course that it can take a few years for the tree to produce but…. the waiting was still hard.

A few things went wrong. For starters, the dwarf mango was no dwarf. It’s a a large mango tree that just keeps growing taller (infringing ‘just so slightly’ on our neighbor’s ocean view – oops). One year the mango tree objected to pruning and punished us the following year.

Lessons from my tree

I would like to start with a disclaimer – I am not a gardener. I have a pretty black thumb. Thankfully Sig does an amazing job with our landscaping, assisted by our teenaged lawnmowers.

The most surprising thing to me about our tree is that it blooms at least two months after all the other neighborhood mango trees are done blooming. I presume it’s a different variety.

Our mangos ripen at least two months after other mango trees in our area. This means I am drooling over everyone else’s mangos for two months until ours are finally ready. Fortunately I have a friend whose tree ripens in May. It is wonderful to have friends with mango trees!

Our tree’s fruit ripens over the course of several months. This year we picked our first mango in early August. Here it is October and we are still waiting for half our mangos to ripen. This is so different from my memories of apple harvesting as a child. The house I grew up in had some 20 apple and pear trees. They all seemed to ripen within a few weeks of another.

Mangos ripen most evenly when picked green. When allowed to ripen on the tree, our mangos ripen very unevenly. The bottom of the fruit will be overripe while the top is still rock hard. Today I went and picked three green mangos that are starting to soften. They are now quarantining in a paper bag on my lanai table – I don’t know why this works but it does.

Mangos grow in bunches. Generally on my tree, in any given bunch the lowest mango will ripen first.

Mangos that turn color are not necessarily ripe. In fact, we have beautifully yellow and orange mangos that are rock hard while green mangos are softening. When cut and peeled, they taste equally delicious. I don’t know why some of our mangos are colorful and some stay green even when ripe. From what I can tell, sun exposure does not make much of a difference.

Despite all the oddities of our mangos, they are amazing. I don’t know what the variety is called, but they taste very similar to Hayden mangos, though they are larger – 5-6 inches in length. We call them our breakfast candy.

Curious how best to cut a mango? I wrote a blog about that a few years back – check it out!

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Sports are back!

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!

sports
the rink, with a sand dune between the ocean and South Kihei Road

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!

sports
hockey is played on inline skates and in board shorts
sports
ready for action
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Hottest Hawaii travel trend

It’s been six months since Covid-19 brought Hawaii travel to a standstill. As we anxiously await Hawaii Governor David Ige’s announcement of when tourism can resume to the Hawaiian islands, here is a trend to consider.

Yes, we are getting inquiries again. The big trend I’m seeing is longer-stay inquiries. Specifically we are seeing one or two month inquiries. At this time it’s mainly younger professionals, looking to escape the West Coast wild fires, or just work remotely from Maui since they are working remotely anyway. We’ve also had families whose kids are doing school remotely inquire.

Can you work remotely from Maui?

Well, why not? The main hurdle you will face is the State of Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine. Starting October 1 there is supposed to be a workaround, a ‘test negative pre-travel to avoid quarantine’ option. I hate to say this but….. it doesn’t sound like the State has the details worked out yet (what are they waiting for???). We will see if it gets further delayed (we were supposed to have this option August 1).

UPDATE: Per today’s KHON News story, the governor says ‘tourism’s return October 1 is unlikely’. Sigh.

Should you need to quarantine, you will need to do your quarantine in one of these places per the County of Maui mayor. Once your quarantine is finished, you can move to a vacation rental of your choosing.

What to expect on Maui?

Well, Maui isn’t exactly the way you may remember it from your last trip. The disappearance of tourists has meant the closure or at least reduction of hours at many stores and restaurants. Many activities have shut down. We hope some of them will be able to restart their businesses once tourism resumes. Instead of having a fully packed and planned agenda, plan on a relaxed beach vacation. The businesses open will be thankful to serve you.

Why not end your work-day at the beach?

Are there any deals?

You bet! At this time we are offering 20% discounts on weekly, 35% discounts on monthly rentals. We may be able to give a better deal, depending on when you are planning to come? Please do get cancellation insurance. We will not refund due to Covid, however, if the State of Hawaii does not have a ‘test to avoid the quarantine’ option for your travel dates, we will give you a refund.

Guests!

We are thrilled to welcome guests back to our condos. Today I cleaned and prepped our Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo for tomorrow’s arrival. We are thrilled to have them! Enjoy this walk-through video I shot today.

A pre-arrival walk-through. We are thrilled to welcome guests back to our condo!

We can’t wait for Hawaii travel to resume!

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