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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
Upload your negative test results to the Safe Travels website/app.
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).
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.
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.
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.
If you love sports, I assume you’ve been enjoying the NHL Stanley cup playoffs, basketball, baseball and the now restarted NFL season. We were of course cheering for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley cup playoffs. Sadly they are out, but it sure was fun to watch hockey again. It is really strange to watch games without fans and with piped in cheering.
Thankfully Hawaii’s Covid numbers are improving again. Maui’s numbers are steady at 0-5 cases/day after the earlier spike among staff at Maui Memorial Hospital. We are thankful.
As a result, things are starting to loosen up again and guess what – Maui sports are back! Kinda. Covid-style.
Public tennis courts reopened a few months ago, but not for group lessons. The tennis courts are our Kamaole Sands and Maui Kamaole condos are open, but with restrictions.
Soccer has resumed, but for practices only. There are no games – which means that our weekends belong to us! No soccer tournaments (I know I should display less enthusiasm, but those of you who know, know).
Kids’ hockey practices resumed this past month and last week the rec/adult hockey league jumped through enough hoops to be allowed to have practice/scrimmage time. There are of course a lot of extra rules and there is a lot of cleaning involved, but – yeah after 6 months #HockeyNightInKihei is back!
Last night I went to watch one of our kids play a scrimmage at Kihei’s oceanfront inline hockey rink in Kalama Park. Actually it is Maui’s only skate rink and it is open air. Pre-Covid the rec league and adult league games were always played at night. Now that per County rules they have to be out of the park by 7pm, rec league practice is late afternoon Friday afternoons. This conveniently coincides with sunset.
Here are a few pictures from last night. I wasn’t allowed into the bleachers area (for sanitation reasons), but I had rink-side standing room next to the fence! It was fun watching my goalie son in action again. And it’s really nice to see the familiar faces and visit with hockey acquaintances again. We’ve been part of this tight-knit community for eight years now. Love the Maui Inline Hockey Association!
This weekend we saw the sad announcement on social media – the Maui Tropical Plantation is closing indefinitely. While I understand given the current economic realities, it is so sad to say goodbye to this place.
We’ve been coming to the Maui Tropical Plantation since early 2004, back before we lived here, when we fled rainy West Coast Januaries and came to Maui on vacation. Besides the gift shop and restaurant, they have a beautiful lake, ducks to feed and a trolley you can take to see and learn about plants that grow here on Maui. Back then they even had a monkey enclosure (those were moved to a new home a few years later).
A few years ago the Maui Tropical Plantation was revitalized, given new life with funky Sugar Cane Factory equipment incorporated into the landscape. It is to date one of my favorite places to go, enjoy the landscape, have a coffee, shop the gift shop and grab some fresh veggies at the Kumu Farm stand. I always intended to try their beginner zipline with the kids. Their Mill House Restaurant had stunning reviews, and though I never ate there, I did eat at the train bar once (yes, it had a full size sugar cane locomotive right there in the bar). This is on the ‘must do’ list for all boy moms, after all!
Well…. Covid happened. The island all but shut down with mandatory quarantine imposed on all arrivals and with that tourism died – temporarily at least. As with many businesses, the Maui Tropical Plantation closed temporarily, only to reopen a few weeks ago. However, I imagine there was just not enough traffic to keep it viable and so now they are closing indefinitely.
This week they are having a closing sale at the gift shop, daily 10-4 (in person only, not on the website). I arrived shortly after 10 and…. the lineup went around the building, all the way to the shops in the back. While in line I chatted with those around me (all wearing our masks, sometimes in the shade, sometimes in the bright hot sun). We are all so sad to see this special place go.
What did I get?
Unfortunately I didn’t make it into the store today. The line was moving, but too slow for me to make it in and out on time to pick up my son from Kanaha Beach Park. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s not so much that I wanted to buy something, it was more about going for one last visit. But yes, I know I would have found things I ‘need’. Like HI Spice hotsauce.
Tourism will return one day and with it, I hope, this beautiful place will be revived. For now, we say aloha and a hui hou (goodbye and until we meet again).
Another month of our new ‘life without tourists’ has come and gone. Here we are a week into June. It has been 2 1/2 months since most our guests left for the mainland. Our last guests extended their stay a little and left early April. Surreal.
Hawaii State has thankfully stabilized its Covid-19 cases. The State has been reopening, as of last week restaurants are allowed to reopen for modified dine-in service. Some have, but others haven’t. My personal fave, Gannon’s, announced they are not reopening until life without tourists ends. Another friend told me their (Gannon’s) monthly rent. As the number is unconfirmed, I won’t post it here – but suffice it to say, my $120 for lunch every few months is not even a drop in the bucket. I understand.
We are anxiously awaiting June 16th – the day the inter-island 14 day quarantine is finally lifted. This is generally seen as one of the precursors to the mandatory 14 day quarantine from the mainland being lifted.
The roads are becoming busier as locals stop self-isolating. I find this ironic. I work part-time at a medical office and one of my jobs is to make appointment confirmation calls. Patients swear to me they have been staying at home, self-isolating. Then who is driving on the roads? Oh right – that’s me, I guess!
Zipline – I have never been ziplining, so that is something I’d like to try. This would be a fun birthday activity with the kids. I guess we’ll see which ones reopen and decide.
Maui Ocean Center – our local aquarium has been closed for the past few months. Once they reopen, I would like to see the new humpback whale exhibit and video in the new dome. They have incidentally repainted the blue waves along the outside of the building. Interesting.
Road to Hana – it has been closed for travel to all but those who live there since Covid-19 due to the remoteness and lack of medical facilities on that side of the island. I get it. But once they reopen, there are some hikes that I need to check out!
Look what I was able to do yesterday! Remember the lookout on the Pali, between Maalaea and the tunnel on the way to Lahaina? We were able to pull into a near empty parking lot, park and take pictures of the view!
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 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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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)!