Maui, Hawaii

Tag: life on Maui

Life without tourists

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!

covid
This was the highway in Kaanapali yesterday on our way to Kapalua for a hike on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Normally this road would be filled with traffic! Life without tourists.

With no summer travel in sight for our family, we have made it our mission to explore new things on Maui. There are a surprising number of things we have never done yet in our ten years on Maui. So far we have been doing a lot of hiking – I love it!

What else is on my bucket list?

I have yet to see sunrise on Haleakala. Haleakala National Park recently reopened for limited hours. Once they reopen for sunrise, I’ll be there! Sunset is amazing – I also want to do that again!

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!

covid
Pali lookout view
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Waihee Ridge Trail

Yesterday we hiked Waihee Ridge Trail. It was absolutely beautiful.

School is basically out for the year. Normally we would be planning a Canada trip to visit grandparents and then some additional travel to teach the kids more about ‘the world’.

However, Covid happened and so we aren’t going anywhere soon. We are faced with another 2 1/2 months of summer (in addition to the 2 months of kids doing ‘at home’ school. So in an attempt to maintain some form of sanity, we’re determined to do some hiking and exploring within the government approved parameters. Check here for some Maui hikes we’ve done in the past few years.

Yesterday’s actual plan was to hike at Poli Poli. However as we were headed towards Kahului on the highway we saw it was raining upcountry. Change in plans. I suggested we try the Waihee Ridge Trail. We’ve never done that hike and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. With next to no visitors on island, I figured chances were good the parking lot wouldn’t be full. I was right.

The drive to Waihee Ridge Trail

To get there you drive through Wailuku and Waihee and end up on the road that circles the island counter-clockwise. Not a good idea, by the way, to circle the island from this direction. If you do want to drive around the island, I’m told always to start in Lahaina and then drive clock-wise towards Wailuku from there. This road is very windy and in part one lane only. Always better to be on the inside against the mountain as opposed to on the cliff side. Note, I saw a sign that portions of this road are closed to all but local traffic (similarly to the Road to Hana).

When you get to Mendes Ranch, the road turns left and you immediately turn up the driveway on the left where there is a large parking lot. Do not stop there, continue through the gate and up the mountain to the Waihee Ridge Trail parking lot (end of driveway). There is a private residence and also the boy scouts camp (Camp Maluhia) which you pass enroute.

The trail

The trail itself begins with a steep uphill paved climb. I think it’s to discourage you from trying it. Oh my word. Once you get to the water towers (you can see them from the parking lot), you veer off onto a regular path and it gets significantly easier. You then continue the uphill climb through a forest until you get to the ridge, peering down into Waihee Valley. It is absolutely beautiful. Waihee river looks like a creek from up high, but based on the sound, you know it’s more than that. From there on I’m told we got lucky. This portion of the trail can be very muddy and slippery. We had in fact worn our hiking boots (thankfully) but the trail was dry. It continues uphill.

once we came out the forest we were rewarded with beautiful views of Kahului harbor and Kihei in the far distance
looking down into the Waihee valley

We sent the two older kids ahead with Sig and I and our youngest bringing up the rear. At some point they texted us they had made it to the top and started returning. Honestly, we called it a day at that point as our youngest was having a hard time of it.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. It is a stunning hike with gorgeous views. I loved seeing all the ferns and plants. At the beginning of the trail hike there are boot brushes with instructions to wipe shoes so as to avoid bringing non-endemic plants up the path.

Will we do it again?

Maybe. Probably. But for now we have other hikes to try, such as Poli Poli and the Lahaina Pali Trail. How about you? What is your favorite Maui hike?

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May Maui Update

It’s been a month since my last update post, so here goes. Hawaii has weathered the Covid-19 storm pretty well. On Friday we had our first day with no new cases in all of Hawaii. At least none that were tested positive.

In total for all Hawaiian islands they’ve had 629 reported cases with 17 deaths (total population of 1.4 million).

Maui County itself with a population of 167,000 (including Molokai and Lanai) has registered 116 cases with 6 deaths. Interestingly island-wide the majority of cases are reported to have been returning residents. The majority of Maui’s cases centered around a public health snafu at Maui’s only hospital (Maui Memorial).

the near empty beach fronting the Grand Wailea Resort

The State is slowly easing up on restrictions. Last weekend golf courses and county beach parks reopened (for exercise only, no sports or gatherings). This week retail and shopping malls are allowed to resume business operations (under strict guidelines of course).

The stay at home order and mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arrivals (including inter-island travel) continues through May 31, with the Senate committee in charge announcing that the quarantine will likely be extended.

Everyone is required to wear face masks when leaving their home (except to exercise). Lying on the beach/parks and congregating is not permitted at this time.

What does the mandatory 14 day quarantine involve?

When travelers arrive at the airport, they are met by the national guard or other authorities, checked for symptoms, and have to agree to the terms of the mandatory 14 day quarantine. There is an app they have to download prior to arrival and they are checked on multiple times a day (I’m told). See here for more information.

Basically, you can travel directly to the place you are staying at and then may not leave the room/condo for any reason unless to seek medical help. No shopping, no walking, no beach, simply 14 days of binge-TV-watching, reading, browsing the internet. Not exactly the vacation you planned.

Yes, the State has been enforcing and going after reported offenders. They’ve been getting a warning and then given the option of jail time to serve the remainder of their quarantine or returning to the mainland. There is talk of increasing fines.

What will happen next?

I would love to have a crystal ball as to how soon Hawaii State will reopen for business and visitors. Truthfully, this has hit Hawaii hard. For decades everyone has known that our economy needs to expand and not be so tourism-centered. With many hotels and resorts closed, all the associated businesses are either closed or operating on skeleton staffing. Affected businesses include hotels, resorts, condo owners, restaurants, activities providers, farmers, grocery stores, cleaners, maintenance people, rental car operators, Uber/Lyft drivers etc. State-wide unemployment numbers are at approximately 35% and the unemployment office has been hopelessly overwhelmed with all the applications.

all five resorts along the Wailea Beach walk are shuttered (Fairmont, Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, Marriott, Andaz)

The State cannot afford to maintain its current lock-down mode in the long run and is looking at ways to re-open for business responsibly. However, state-wide there are only 340 ICU beds ad 560 ventilators with the vast majority of those on Oahu. Besides allowing residents to once again move freely, Hawaii has been averaging 10 million visitors/year with Maui itself welcoming 3 million visitors in 2019. An influx in Covid-19 cases is a serious concern for our healthcare system.

The State is talking about marketing Hawaii as one of the safest places for your vacation. Now they just need to come up with a workable plan to reasonably keep it safe while allowing visitors to return and kick-start the economy again.

How are we impacted?

my hunny and I along the Wailea beach walk

Our five condos sit empty. Late March, April and May guests have been cancelled, rescheduled or given a credit for a future stay. The majority of June have cancelled as well with a few still waiting to see what may happen. If you have a booking at one of our condos, please reach out to me directly.

Sig has been working on some maintenance projects at both our Sugar Beach and Maui Kamaole condos. We are checking all our condos regularly to ensure there are no surprises. Of course we continue to pay our HOA fees, insurance, property taxes, advertising fees, maintenance and cleaning.

Our cleaners are maintaining the condos with regular cleans to keep them in top shape for when we are able to welcome guests to the condos again. When our wonderful long-time cleaner Cindy retired last year, we switched to Ed and his team who have stepped into Cindy’s footsteps and continue to do an excellent job cleaning, as evidenced by our guest’s review comments. Ed and his team are on top of their game and are currently working on new protocols and procedures to properly sanitize condos between guests once we are allowed to reopen. 

It’s a whole new world these days and we are thankful for all of you in these strange times. We look forward to welcoming you and your family back to Maui sometime soon! In the mean time, aloha and a hui hou no (Aloha and see you soon)!

early morning at the Cove in South Kihei
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Quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii

Another day, more news. Yesterday the governor of Hawaii announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii starting this Thursday (March 26, 2020).

As you know from mandatory quarantines being instituted elsewhere, in Monopoly terms this means ‘do not pass go’. No stopping at grocery stores or running other errands, just go to your home or condo and order groceries in. The point of the quarantine is to protect others on island in case you have Covid-19. If you are returning home to Hawaii, you have a support system of people to help you with this. If you are coming to Hawaii on vacation – frankly, this is not a vacation. As nice as the condo is, it’s not that nice that you want to spend 14 days in it. Internet speed on Maui is pretty slow.

While it may seem harsh to some, please remember that the Covid-19 situation is a lot worse in other parts of the US. Hawaii is the most isolated center of population on earth, 2400 miles away from the nearest landmass (California). The government feels they have the opportunity but also the obligation to isolate to protect our population as it takes significant time for help and supplies to arrive, if they are even available to come.

What does this mean for you

If you are already on island, the mandatory 14 day quarantine does not affect you. However, on Maui for instance, the social distancing mandate went into effect on Friday (March 20). Return flights are being cut – Westjet I believe stops flying its regular flights today. Hawaiian Airlines has announced they are cutting their flights. My friend’s son just returned from his year abroad in Spain yesterday (yes, he is in quarantine), and I’ve been seeing pictures of very empty airplanes. Please check directly with your airline about your return flight as I’m sure other airlines will be cutting flights in an attempt to preserve funds.

If you are still hoping to come to Hawaii on your vacation, please keep a very close eye on Hawaii news. Things are changing on a daily basis. Great sources are Hawaii News Now for Hawaii news, Maui Now and Maui 24/7 for Maui specific news. If you are staying at one of our condos, please email or call me.

The government sites to check are

Loss of Aloha

There have been reports of sign-wavers near the airport, rudely telling those arriving to go home. This is embarrassing and uncalled for. However, please understand that as everywhere in the world, people are stressed and panicking about their health and our already fragile health care system. Covid-19 has been brought to the islands by those arriving from other places. Ironically the majority of cases are locals returning home, but that fact is lost on the sign-wavers.

Of course, concern regarding visitors is not helped when they are seen blatantly violating social distancing rules (keeping 6 feet distance from others).

Almost everyone I know here in Hawaii is affected by tourism. Social distancing, tourists staying home and mandatory quarantines is creating economic hardship for all on the islands.

Clearing my head

sunset beach activity

Yesterday after an early dinner I went for a walk. If we are healthy, we are still allowed to leave the house and go for walks. It’s been seemingly forever since I went to the beach for sunset. It appears others had the same thoughts as I. One local family was having a beach bbq at the County beach park (I didn’t count to see if they were following the ‘groups of 10 or less’ County rule). Many were standing or sitting on the beach, enjoying the view while a few kids still played in the water.

another day another beautiful sunset

This too will pass. I don’t know when. But it will.

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Kihei food truck court

I have a confession to make – I’m a bit of a food truck snob. Maybe snob isn’t the right word. Maybe it would be better to say I have a bit of a phobia of food trucks. On one hand they intrigue me, on the other…. I wonder about food safety and hygiene. After all, how big can their water tank really be? I like hand washing.

Regardless, Sig is away this week and I didn’t feel like cooking, so we went to check out the food truck court in Central Kihei. It’s a neat place. It’s set up on an empty lot behind Azeka mauka, near Fork and Salad, Roasted Chilies, Coconuts Fish Cafe etc. I figured, these food trucks have been here for at least a year or more, surely they’d have been shut down if there were a problem. Right?

I was pleasantly surprised. We picked up a few items from a few food trucks. I think the best part was the variety of choices. Fish, burgers, local food, vegetarian, shave ice and deserts, and of course coffee.

What did we order?

We ended up picking up pulled pork and a fish taco from Da Nani Pirates and hurricane fries from Vidad’s Local Kine Grindz. They were delicious. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so scary after all. And I did see a lot of other items I want to try.

Here’s a little video of the food truck court.

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Treats from Komoda’s Bakery

Yesterday my son had another cross country race. This one was at an upcountry high school. As we drove up Haleakala Hwy, he asked – Mom, can you pick up Komoda’s for the team?

Komoda’s is a family run bakery in Makawao that celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years ago. Yes, it’s a hole in the wall. But it is one of our family’s favorite treat places. In particular the kids like the stick donuts. Five sugar glazed mini donuts on a stick. What’s not to love?

The thing with Komoda’s is – they open at 7AM. For best selection, you have to be there at 7AM or even earlier to get a parking spot and get in line. Mornings there is a line out the door and if you arrive much later, they won’t have much left. Komoda’s closes once they’re sold out (sometimes by 2pm). And they are closed Wednesdays and Sundays and sometimes in September when the family takes time off.

They are best known for their cream puffs and cocoa puffs. I however prefer their Coconut Danish.

Yes, I caved, I picked up 20 stick donuts for the team, a bag of dinner rolls for company we had last night. And a Coconut Danish for me.

Surprise

The best part was surprising my son with a shopping bag of stick donuts when he was only expecting a few for him and his friends. They ran 3 miles (plus their warm up miles). They worked for it.

upcountry
and they’re off – Maui’s high school boys’ track and field event

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This year’s best Maui coffee

Last weekend I attended the 12th Annual Maui Seed to Cup event at the Maui Tropical Plantation. I enjoy drinking coffee, but admittedly I am not very knowledgeable on the subject. It was a beautiful though very hot day and my main goal was to find this year’s best Maui coffee.

Surprisingly – or maybe not – this year’s best Maui coffee turned out to be one I’ve seen and drank before. This year’s winner (from Maui coffee growers) is Olinda Organic Farms with their Red Catuai variety. They came in 3rd in the Hawaii State-wide cupping competition. Do give their beans a try if you find them! According to their Facebook page they are sometimes at Pukalani’s Saturday farmers market.

In second place for Maui (8th overall for the State of Hawaii) was a new to me coffee – Maui Mountain Homegrown Coffee. As it turned out, this was the first coffee stand my friend and I had approached for a sample. After the owner had been presented her award, I returned to her booth and asked which coffee roast had come in second place for the cupping competition. As mentioned, I don’t know much about this. She told me for the cupping competition all growers submit unroasted (green) beans which are then all roasted the exact same way (a very light roast) and then tested. Interesting. Her submission was 65% Red Catuai, 35% Typica beans.

best Maui coffee
Maui’s second place grower – Maui Mountain Grown Coffee. Congratulations!

I picked up a bag of her beans and am presently enjoying them at home! Very delicious! I highly recommend!

best Maui coffee
smells so good

Here is a list of the top ten winners from the 2019 State of Hawaii Cupping Competition.

Another of my favorite roasters was also at the festival, Maui Grown Coffee. Their roaster, I’m told, is one of the most knowledgeable in the business. They have a store in Lahaina, under the old sugar cane factory smoke stack. My favorite there is the Lava Flow. They allow you to sample their coffees prior to buying.

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Hurricane Season 2019

It’s that time of year again – hurricane season. In the Central Pacific (as in the Caribbean) hurricane season runs from June to November. However our most active months are definitely July – September.

With that in mind, we have two hurricanes currently on their way to visit Hawaii. We’re just such a popular vacation destination. I kid.

Hurricane Erick looks like it’s set to miss hitting us and is forecast to pass to the South of the State of Hawaii. However, they are forecasting dangerous surf, some wind and possibly rain.

Hurricane Flossie is on Erick’s tail, possibly arriving Sunday or Monday. She was recently downgraded to a tropical storm. has a much more direct forecasted path which currently looks like it will pass across the Hawaiian Islands, or at least very close. However, as at last night’s new forecast model, it looks like she may cut to the North of us.

hurricane season 2019
Hurricane Flossie as at as at 7/31/2019

What does this mean for Maui?

In 9 years of living on Maui, we have been very fortunate and have not experienced a direct hurricane hit. Numerous hurricanes have been obliterated by Big Island’s two large shield volcanoes (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). Also, hurricanes have in the past typically slowed down and dissipated prior to actually arriving. Of course, every storm is different and so you do need to watch and monitor them and be prepared.

Possible rain: to be honest, we are praying for rain. Rain would be wonderful as Maui is so dry (hence the fires we’ve been having recently). However be aware that rain can cause run-off into the ocean, creating murky water conditions at the beach. If the water is murky, stay out! There is an increased risk of getting an infection should you have any cuts/abrasions (who knows what is in the water) and sharks come closer to land to check out the run-off.

Expect storm surge and changed ocean currents. Besides getting pummeled by unpredictable wave action, ocean currents can drag you unexpectedly out to sea. Best to stay out of the water. If you must, go to a beach with life guards present and ask them for their advice PRIOR to going into the water. If in doubt, please don’t go out.

Definitely expect humidity. Storms passing Hawaii block our wonderful trade winds which often keep the worst of the humidity at bay. Without those winds, the humidity can be here in full force.

Should you change your travel plans?

Not necessarily. However, do monitor the local news. I recommend MauiNow and their Maui-based weather specialist Malika Dudley (you can follow her directly on Facebook and/or Instagram. For specific Maui-based coverage, check out Maui24/7 on Facebook, they are fantastic for reporting up-to-date coverage of what’s going on here on Maui. HawaiiNewsNow is also good, but they are more Oahu based. And for the very most up-to-date forecasts, check the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website. They update several times a day.

Additionally, stay in touch with your airline just in case a storm changes path and flights are being cancelled.

Disaster Preparedness

A few years ago I wrote a blog post on disaster preparedness. Do check it out. Also, if you are staying in one of our condos, check out the Emergency Preparedness write-up in our condo binders. You are welcome to call/email or text me with specific questions. I respond best to email and text.

Stay safe!

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July 10 brush fire

A week ago we had a pretty bad brush fire here on Maui. It started on Wednesday July 10th near Waikapu and spread rapidly across the Central Valley coming very close to North Kihei (and our Sugar Beach condo). The fire ended up burning 9000 acres of brush land. This is mostly former sugar cane land.

As you may recall, A&B finished their sugar cane operations on Maui with their final harvest in December 2016. Since then the land has mostly been fallow, with sugar cane regrowth, weeds and of course kiawe trees growing wild. During their sugar cane operation A&B would irrigate the fields regularly, keeping them nice and green until about 2 years in, when they would have controlled burns and then harvest the sugar cane. These controlled burns would of course generate their fair share of ash particularly in North Kihei. Locals called it ‘Maui Snow’, black ash on cars and roads in the morning. However, A&B would then work up the fields within a few days and things would settle down again.

Last year A&B sold 41,000 acres of sugar cane land to Mahi Pono, a joint venture between a California agricultural group and ironically one of Canada’s largest pension funds. They have very slowly been starting to work up some acres and planting. Unfortunately it’s been an incredibly slow process. We were so used to the green central valley. It’s been brown and dry ever since cessation of the sugar cane operation now. In fact, there have been brush fires the past few summers, prompting the landowners to work up or disk buffer zones near roads as a form of fire break.

On July 10 the fire came so close to North Kihei, our guests at our Sugar Beach condo were evacuated. The Mokulele Hwy (now known as Veterans Hwy) and North Kihei Road to Ma’alaea were both closed due to the fire and heavy smoke and people missed their flights (including me – we had an inter-island flight to Oahu for a hockey tournament). The community pulled together, opened shelters and eventually everyone got to where they needed to go.

Driving from North Kihei towards Kahului on the Mokulele Hwy (also known as Veterans Hwy)

In wonderful news, there was no damage to inhabited buildings at all. To our knowledge, noone died in the fire. The police have an ongoing arson investigation for both this fire and a smaller fire which was started between the new Kahului Safeway and Target and the Sugar Cane factory on July 11.

What to expect when you come to Maui?

You’ll noticed the burned area in the central valley as you fly in – in fact, I would love to see your pictures! You’ll see the burned area as you drive across the central valley. You will see the dust blowing badly in the central valley and into North Kihei during certain times of the day. Here in South Kihei we are still getting some ash on our lanai.

However, fire fighters brought the fire under control within two days and are working to put out any flare ups that occur. We are so thankful for these men and women!

Our Sugar Beach condo is fine – no damage. There is still a lot of dust, we apologize. Join us in praying for rain. I’m not sure what else to do to help calm the dust down.

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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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