Tag: life on Maui

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 one plant that 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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Please – don’t touch the wildlife

I would think it would go without saying that you shouldn’t touch wildlife. However, apparently some people need it spelled out.

Hawaiian monk seals

Various news stations reported yesterday that the State has launched an investigation into people getting to close or even touching monk seals. Did you know, you can get fined up to $50,000 for harming or harassing a monk seal? Did you know Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species? Scientists estimate there are 1400 Hawaiian monk seals alive today – they think there are 1100 in the Northern (uninhabited) Hawaiian islands, and approximately 300 in the main Hawaiian islands. In fact, it makes the local news when monk seal pups are born.

Turtles

wildlife
a turtle at the Maui Ocean Center

Turtles are also included in Hawaii’s protected wildlife. Our family moved to Maui 11 years ago. When we first moved here, it was pretty rare to see turtles at the beach. In the past decade turtle sightings have become more common which is wonderful! However, please do not approach and definitely do not touch turtles. A number of years ago there was a crazy story about people trying to ride a turtle. Isn’t that a Disney thing?

The DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and NOAA both recommend keeping a distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) from turtles. Here is some information on what to do if you see an injured or entangled sea turtle.

Did you know there are five turtle species in Hawaii? The most common turtle species are green turtles and the endangered hawksbill turtles. A number of years ago we were able to witness the scientific unearthing of a hawksbill turtle nest. It was an incredible experience.

Coral reefs and reef fish

Snorkeling and diving are two of the most popular activities here in Hawaii. But did you know, stepping on the reef can cause significant damage to the coral? Please do not step on the reef and please also do not touch the coral or fish living in the reef. Do take pictures instead!

grainy photo but yes – that is a baby wild pig the size of a cat in my yard, photo taken by our neighbor. Our cat was suitably terrified.

Invasive Species

Yes we also have some not-so-endangered wildlife on Maui. In fact, wild boars and axis deer are considered invasive species and are hunted for population control purposes. Chance are great you will not see a wild boar, but do keep a lookout for them especially if out hiking. While generally human-shy, they will come down into populated areas in search for food. On occasion I have seen them as road kill on the side of the road. Last winter we actually had five baby pigs that came down the gulch and ran around our neighborhood until someone finally caught and relocated them.

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How to make a plumeria lei

When we first started coming to Hawaii in 2002, I fell in love with plumeria blooms and their scent. Did you know, the actual tree is rather odd-looking, usually knobby and with long large leaves. Plumeria come in many colors and yes, they can be strung together to make amazingly scented plumeria lei. Unfortunately for me, I have hay fever, and plumeria do set me off. However, thanks to Covid, my filter mask and nasal spray kept my nose ok.

One of our sons is graduating highschool this year – Class of 2021! – and so for the past 6 weeks I’ve been attending hula lessons in preparation for the traditional moms hula dance. Have you ever danced a hula? In 11 years of living here, I have not. In addition to learning the hula, someone had a brilliant suggestion – we should all make flower lei to present to our children after the dance. Oh sure…. I will admit to a little panic.

Fortunately one of my friends (fellow mom of senior) knows how to make lei. We have several white plumeria trees in our yard, and my friend had the needles and the know-how. What could go wrong? We got together for a practice session this past weekend, and then this morning was lei-making time. I went out at 6:30AM to pick the blooms, as my google search had instructed me to do. When you pick the blooms, the sticky white sap drips both from the tree and blooms – be careful as it is hard to get off. Plumeria don’t seem that fragile, but the more you touch them, the quicker they will bruise and wilt.

My friend arrived shortly after and we set to work. We measured a 4 1/2 feet of thread (we used double thread) and threaded our needles. She had a 4 inch crafting needle, I just used a regular needle. Then we pulled the needle through the center of the flower down through the stem and strung our lei. My next door neighbor has beautiful multi-hued (pink and yellow) plumeria, so we made a bit of a pattern – five white, one colored. Once completed, we tied the strand together. Because of my big hair, I kept my lei long, my friend shortened hers a bit. See my candy lei post for lei giving/receiving etiquette. You want the lei to hang down your front but also your back (not around the neck per se).

We are so pleased with how our plumeria lei turned out. We put them in ‘contraband’ plastic bags and flicked a little water over them before loosely tying the bags and placing them in the fridge. Don’t squeeze the air out of the bag.

Contraband plastic bags?

In 2011 Maui banned single use plastic shopping bags. You can still get small style bags in the produce and meat department, but at the til everything is paper or recyclable bags.

Hula?

Yes – we danced our hula at the graduation luau today. Usually this would be an evening event and we’d have danced outdoors on the lawn, however, due to Covid the hula and slideshow were done indoors (where they could control the lighting).

Here is Sig’s hula video. I am wearing a blue/white flowy shirt from Blue Ginger (Shops at Wailea – love this store) and black capris. And yes, I’m wearing my plumeria lei. We all wore our masks (this definitely helped with the hay fever from the plumeria scent). At the end of the dance, we presented our lei to our kids. It was lovely.

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How to make a candy lei

With graduation season upon us, I decided to make candy lei. As you know, lei-giving is a huge tradition here in Hawaii. For kids it seems the most popular lei are definitely candy and money lei.

Did you know – the plural of lei is lei. You don’t add an ‘S’ at the end of the word.

Candy lei – rather than flowers, you include candy. Money lei – it involves intricate folding of dollar bills and tucking/tying them into the lei.

I did some online research for my lei. There are many ways to do this, here is how I made mine.

My candy lei step by step

  1. Cut 4 1/2 feet of 2 inch poly tubing. Remember, as you fill/tie your lei, it shortens. It needs to be long enough to comfortably slide over the recipient’s head. The poly tubing was an order error – I thought I had purchased net tubing, apparently not). The poly tubing worked just fine.
  2. Cut ribbon in 5-6 inch pieces
  3. Organize your candy bags in front of you. Pro tip – in Hawaii chocolate melts very easily, even when in the shade. I purchased Skittles, Dumdums, Jolly Ranchers, Starbursts and as a nod to those who prefer ‘healthier’ options, Welch’s fruit gummies (you know, the Costco box).
  4. Slide the first candy into the tubing and tie it into place on both sides with double knotted ribbon. Then add the next candy and repeat. I ended up using approximately 13-14 candies per lei. I did not end up being able to use the Welch’s as the little packets had too much air in them. I did briefly consider poking a hole in the packets so they’d compress and fit, but…. I remember telling kids to carefully inspect their Halloween candy, so I didn’t tamper with them.
  5. Tying the two ends together to finish off the lei was a little trickier – the ribbon slid right off. I ended up holepunching both ends of poly tube twice and stringing ribbon through.
  6. I attached a little 2021 graduate tag and and curled all the ribbons

What do you think? I made 38 of these lei. Can’t wait to hand them to the graduates this weekend!

Lei giving and receiving etiquette

  1. When giving a lei, it is customary to kiss the recipient on both cheeks. Alternatively you can bow while presenting the lei to the recipient for them to place it themselves (this seems more appropriate during Covid times)
  2. Always accept a lei with a smile when it is given
  3. Wear the lei on your shoulders, with half of it hanging down your front, the other half down your back
  4. It is considered bad luck to re-gift a lei that you have received
  5. Should you be unable to wear it (too fragrant, interferes with what you are doing etc), place the lei in a place of honor.
  6. To keep a floral lei fresh, place it in a plastic bag with a sprinkling of water and some air, and place it in the fridge
  7. Some will return a lei to where it came from, such as hanging a plumeria lei on a plumeria tree. Do keep in mind that the string/fish line will cause problems for animals
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Outdoor Mask Mandate Lifted

Yesterday Governor Ige lifted the outdoor mask mandate for the State of Hawaii. Naturally we are to use common sense. Larger gatherings are still not allowed. And, private outdoor venues may still require masks.

Note, in the State of Hawaii we are still required to wear masks indoors (including public transportation). The new rules apply to all, vaccinated or not.

It will definitely be nice not to have to worry about the outdoor mask mandate and it’s enforcement when walking the Wailea resort walk (our fave).

At this time 49% of Hawaii’s eligible population (ages 12 and up) are fully vaccinated, with more waiting for their second dose. As school lets out this week in Hawaii, there have been many popup vaccination clinics around the State.

Other Maui updates:

It’s graduation season – kids are finishing up their school year this week. We’ve been cautiously celebrating graduations around Maui. Last week Maui High, Baldwin and Lahaina Luna all hosted graduation ceremonies. I’m told graduates were allowed two guests each at the ceremony. We’re definitely seeing more subdued celebrations, but it’s still better than 2020.

my candy lei for graduation celebrations

Rental cars continue to be in short supply and crazy expensive. I haven’t heard the Maui numbers, but on Kauai roughly 40% were shipped back to the mainland/sold. We have numerous guests who have not been able to secure a rental car. If you have a trip planned and want a rental car, please book that ASAP.

Unable to get a car? There are taxis, uber and lyft (though I’m told the ride-share services aren’t always available), the Maui bus service. We are still waiting for Turtle Tracks to re-start in South Kihei/Wailea – they used to provide a hop on, hop off shuttle service. We’ve seen people rent scooters, bikes, Uhauls and toy cars that barely seem street legal (do double check before you rent). I stumbled across this blog on 11 Tips to get around Maui without a car.

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Reef safe sunscreens and sunburn remedies

This weekend I got the worst sunburn. It has been a long time since I last burned this badly. Yes I was wearing sunscreen. I just forgot to re-apply. This is ironic since I worked for a dermatologist for a number of years. Ugh.

Did you know, as of 2021 by law stores in Hawaii are not allowed to sell sunscreens containing reef-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate. Of course, you may still bring these sunscreens into Hawaii, though in the interest of protecting our reefs, we would prefer you didn’t. Here is an article by the Star Advertiser with much more information about the new law.

Sunscreen options

Which sunscreens to use? My dermatologist friend’s favorites were Blue Lizard, EltaMD and Vanicream. Another great way to avoid sunburns is to wear UV protectant clothing and hats. There is also a product called Sun Guard which claims to add UV protection when used in the wash (not sure how long it lasts, I think you need to re-use it from time to time).

I don’t know about you – but I really don’t like wearing sunscreen. My preferred way to avoid sunburns is to stay inside until 4pm and then venture out. Yes, I realize I am missing out of beautiful days in the sun and I guess you should still wear sunscreen even after 4pm… but I’m not much of a beach body anyway, so I’m usually ok with that.

A few of my favorite products – no Advil doesn’t protect you from sunburns. But it helps with the post-sunburn pain. Ugh.

Sunburn remedies

The best way not to get a sunburn is to protect your skin. But when it’s too late….. hydrate, use aloe or aloe products, pop a few Advil for the pain, stay out of the sun and then moisturize to minimize large scale skin flaking. One product I came across a few years ago and love is Mauivera. On Maui you can find it at ABC stores, grocery and drug stores. Yes, Amazon carries it too. Do avoid after-sun products containing alcohol.

As for me – my sunburn is slowly calming down. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. I will be covering up or staying in the shade for the foreseeable future.

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Where are all the rental cars?

Remember a year ago when all the tourists left? Beside empty condos and empty hotels, empty restaurants, stores and streets and insane unemployment, Maui had another problem. Empty rental cars. Empty rentals cars all needing to be stored and no place to put them. Most of those rental cars ended up being stored in fields surrounding the airport. For months we had cars sitting in fields, and it got to the point where they closed and guarded the road by the heliport overnight to prevent theft, gas syphoning and car part picking. From time to time you would notice windshield wipers raised on some cars – I am told this was to indicate that a car had been checked.

a not-so-temporary rental car parking lot at the intersection of Airport Road and Hana Hwy in Kahului (March 2020)

Eventually the rental car fields emptied. Rumor has it many were loaded onto ships and sent back to the mainland to be sold or integrated into the mainland rental car fleet.

In mid-October tourism slowly restarted with the pre-travel test option. There were plenty of rental cars available for the demand. Here on Maui we are used to car lots running out of cars around Christmas and the early January PGA golf tournament, but we didn’t hear anything about shortages.

Until now! It’s been spring break this month and Maui has been BUSY. Arrival numbers have skyrocketed and guess what – there are no rental cars to be had. HawaiiNewNow reports today that on Oahu you are hard pressed to find a car, and those businesses with cars available are reaping the benefit of supply and demand. $1000/day for a car anyone? Yikes.

What to do?

Well, spring break should be coming to a close with Easter this weekend, so hopefully things will slow down a bit again. And hopefully rental companies will start shipping inventory back to the islands. In the mean time, taxis and ride-shares will have to fill the gaps. If you can get one.

Do you love statistics?

I track the Hawaii Tourism Authority daily arrivals logs, looking at how many people are arriving on Maui on a daily basis.

But today I stumbled across this arrivals compilation on the Hawaii Covid website, showing where people are coming from, airlines etc. You can look at all of Hawaii, or break it down by County, play with dates etc. Fascinating. For example, one of my neighbors flew back to Calgary (Canada) by direct flight on Sunday (March 28) where she is currently languishing in quarantine (another story). So I knew there must have been a flight coming from Canada – I found it on March 27th – a Westjet flight with 28 passengers (yes – 28!!). Apparently they fly once week. Who knew?

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What’s new with Maui travel?

NEW: Mandatory sign-up for AlohaSafe Alert App (or similar) to avoid the 10 day quarantine per County of Maui. This is in addition to the SafeTravels program (pre-travel Covid testing etc etc). Please, if you are traveling to Maui at this time, make sure you read the official websites carefully to avoid problems.

Tourism on Maui has settled into its groove, in a manner of speaking. After the Christmas ‘rush’ of about 2200 arrivals/day, we seem to have settled in at about 1700 visitor arrivals/day. This down from January 2020’s 7000/day. After 9 months of minimal traffic, it seems like a lot, but really it isn’t.

You’ll notice Lihue (Kauai) is seeing minimal travel. In December they opted out of the ‘pre-travel testing to avoid quarantine’ program. Predictably their economy is suffering badly.

Who is traveling to Maui?

Generally we are seeing a younger than usual crowd for this time of year. Typically winter is snowbird season, time for baby boomers to come thaw out from winter back home. Yes, there are always younger people also, but they typically stay a week or two and then have to get back to work. This year many snowbirds are taking a pass on travel – I assume pending receipt of the Covid vaccine or the pandemic ending. Completely understandable. Thankfully the younger crowd is coming, many staying longer and working remotely from the condos. We are thankful.

Anecdotally I am told there are a lot of condo owners on island. Perhaps they haven’t been able to travel this past year, haven’t had much luck renting their condos out. Good for them! In normal years high season rents help pay the bills during low season, so often owners will limit their high season stays. This year the world is upside down.

Some vacation rental stats for you!

I just received my monthly update email from the Hawaii Tourism Authority on vacation rentals for December 2020. According to their data, condo occupancy for the month of December was at 45% for Kihei/Wailea vs last year’s 83%, with average rates down 29%. over last year’s. We were lucky, our condos were all full for December. For January our Kamaole Sands condo sat empty. Next month all condos will be full again, with exception of our Sugar Beach condo – the remodel should hopefully be completed in the next two weeks.

In contrast, Kihei/Wailea’s hotel occupancy for December 2020 is at 26% (down from 85% for December 2019). Interesting hotel nightly rates are only down 7%. See here for the Hawaii Tourism Association’s report. We’ve definitely seen near empty resorts on our Wailea beach walks. A few weeks ago we overheard a Wailea Beach Resort employee telling someone their occupancy was at 18% that day. How do these resorts stay open at those numbers?

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Hawaii’s Grand Reopening

Can you believe it – after nearly 7 months of Covid, our politicians are going ahead with Hawaii’s grand reopening! Kinda. Sorta.

Nearly a month ago the Governor announced October 15, 2020 as the official date when travelers can take a pre-travel Covid test to avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine. Then a few weeks later the individual County mayors piped up with their own ideas. Nothing like waiting until last minute to add more confusion to the mess.

The long and short of it is, many of Hawaii’s residents are worried about the reopening. Those not personally affected by the disappearance of tourism would rather just keep things as they are and wait out the pandemic. Maui and Kauai are offering voluntary secondary Covid tests to be taken 3 days after arrival. There are additional rules for inter-island travel.

EVERYTHING IS STILL IN FLUX. PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE STATE’S RULES REPEATEDLY IN THE DAYS LEADING UP TO YOUR ARRIVAL TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE UPDATED INFORMATION.

Maui’s economy thanks our politicians. Kinda. We could have done without the added drama.

Hawaii's grand reopening
Kahului airport – where is everyone?

How will this reopening work?

Great question. The mandatory 14 day quarantine will continue for all who do not take a pre-travel Covid test.

  1. Please purchase a trip cancellation insurance policy which covers Covid-19 cancellations.
  2. Read up on the Hawaii Travel Covid website for much more information including frequently asked questions.
  3. All travelers will need to sign up on the Safe Travels website/app prior to travel.
  4. Figure out where and how to take your pre-travel Covid test at your expense. Note you need to take this test within 72 hours of your scheduled flight (or the scheduled last leg of your flight to Hawaii). The State of Hawaii requires very specific tests (make sure you get the right one) and you will want your results back PRIOR to arriving on Maui. All traveling in your group will need to take the test including children 5+ years old.
  5. Upload your negative test results to the Safe Travels website/app.
  6. Keep a copy of your results on hand to provide to your condo/hotel provider. The rental car people may need them also (they are currently not able to rent to those in quarantine, so you will need proof of test results).
  7. If you are staying at one of our Maui Oceanview Condos, you will not be able to stay in our condos should you or anyone in your travel group have a POSITIVE test. Again, as noted in all of your rental agreements, PLEASE PURCHASE CANCELLATION INSURANCE. We can be fined if one of our guests break their quarantine. We are not able to take that risk.

Please note, everything has been changing frequently. If you have an upcoming trip, please keep a close eye on the official government websites for changes.

Hawaii's Grand Reopening
the current pre-travel flow chart

What can you expect on Maui?

Hawaii's grand reopening
Welcome to Maui

As with everywhere, Maui also has Covid rules. Here are some of the highlights. Read here for much more detail.

  • Indoor/outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted.
  • Everyone must wear face coverings/masks when away from your place of residence. All ages 5 and up must wear masks with exception of when swimming or when engaging in strenuous physical activity (with proper social distancing). Note, to date enforcement has been rather lax. We expect with the arrival of more visitors, enforcement will pick up. Hey – this is your chance to add some Hawaii-themed face masks to your collection.
  • People who are sick are to stay in their residences except to seek medical help.
  • Try to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from those not within your immediate group.
  • As of right now, if traveling inter-island (except to Oahu), you will need to quarantine on that island for 14 days. The Governor and mayors are hoping to have a pre-travel test option, but this is NOT confirmed at this time.

Many shops and restaurants have shuttered in the past 7 months, some temporarily, some permanently. Some are on limited hours, while others are waiting to reopen once tourism restarts. We are all waiting for Hawaii’s Grand Reopening. Yes, we are a little worried but also very relieved.

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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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