Haleakala Sunrise Reservations Required

Due to the overwhelmingly popularity of viewing sunrise atop the 10,000 plus foot Haleakala, the National Park Service is requiring reservations starting February 1st, 2017. Reservations may be booked online at recreation.gov up to two months in advance and until 6:00pm HST the day before a planned visit. The NPS will hold 30 tickets to be made available one day in advance, also until 6:00pm HST. Tickets are not available on a first-come, first-served basis at the park or at the entrance station. The reservation fee is $1.50 per vehicle and is separate from the park entrance fee. Photo id matching the reservation is required and the reservation fee is not refundable due to bad weather. Entering the park after sunrise hours, 3am to 7am, does not require a reservation.

If booking ahead is not your thing, consider visiting Haleakala at sunset and then staying for the star viewing. No matter when you go, be sure to go with enough gas and food as neither are available in the park. Always bring warm clothes as the temperatures at the summit can drop below freezing.

Happy Viewing!

 

Celebrate Haleakala’s 100th Anniversary!

August 1st marked the 100th anniversary of Haleakala achieving national park status.   On August 1, 1916, the National Park Service established Hawaii National Park which was comprised of Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  In 1961 these two parks separated into their individual status we know today.

Haleakala National Park receives more than 1 million visitors annually, who come to enjoy it’s 24,000 acres of wilderness and more than 35 miles of trails.  Haleakala boasts unique plants and animals that aren’t found elsewhere in the world and more endangered species than any other national park, including the nene, the Hawaiian goose that that had vanished from Maui and was reintroduced in the 1960s.

haleakala

Come celebrate Haleakala – whether it’s your first time or your 100th! There’s always something new to appreciate about this amazing piece of paradise.

Stamp Collectors Meet Maui!

The U.S. Postal Service is unveiling it’s first ever Maui stamp on June 2nd. The stamp features a beautiful picture of Haleakala National Park with a rainbow inside the crater. The Maui stamp will be part of a sheet of 16 Forever Stamps commemorating the National Park Service’s centennial and will feature 15 other National Park images as well.

The Haleakala image used for this stamp was taken by Seattle photographer Kevin Ebi.  Ebi said he had gone to Haleakala the day he took this picture to decide where he needed to be  the next morning for his planned  sunrise picture. Instead he found inspiration with the sunlight peaking out through a hole in the fog with a rainbow inside it.

Haleaka Stamp

The National Parks stamp sheets will be available for purchase starting June 2nd at post offices nationwide and online at usps.com. While the entire sheet will be dedicated by the Postmaster General at the World Stamp Show in New York, the Maui stamp will be dedicated by local postal officials during this event.

Yeah for Maui’s inclusion in this National Park collection!

You’re Going to Paradise – Pack Lightly!

As a part-time resident and long time visitor to Maui, if there’s one piece of advice I’d offer to someone packing for a vacation to Maui it would be to pack lightly.  One of the most wonderful things about Maui is how laid back it is. One can go into virtually any restaurant and store dressed very casually. Indeed, throwing a cover up on over your swim suit makes you virtually dressed up! The weather is also  on the whole very consistent meaning that a couple tshirts, shorts, swimsuits and perhaps a sweatshirt and/or sweatpants if you tend to get chilly is about all you need.  Staying in a condo like ours that has a washer and dryer eliminates the need to drag along excess clothes.

Should you want to dress up for a nice dinner, guys can get away with a hawaiian shirt and  khaki shorts while a woman would be considered dressed up in a nice sundress.  99% of the time here I wear flip flops, saving athletic shoes for situations like hiking, running or going to the gym.  A lightweight rain jacket is handy for the occasional showers you may encounter.

Be sure  to bring your sunglasses and a hat; sunscreen is  an essential item but can easily be purchased here.  I’d also suggest bringing a bag to use as a beach bag – definitely going to be carrying sunscreen and water with you to the beach.

Save yourself the checked baggage fees – or if you must bring a big bag, keep it mostly empty and load up on the souvenirs!

 

Ready for a Great Meal on Maui? Here’s the Best Maui Restaurants!

There are wonderful places to eat on Maui, from well known, high end restaurants to small out of the way gems. Here are some of our favorites.

1) Mama’s Fish House – a perennial classic, this restaurant is a must do for seafood lovers. Situated on the water in beautiful Paia, this family owned restaurant features fish caught daily by local fishermen. The restaurant is  pricey – most entrees start around $40 and go up from there.  Reservations are recommended but can conveniently be made online at: http://www.mamasfishhouse.com/

mama's fish house

 

2)  Lahaina Grill – consistently rated as the best restaurant on Maui,  the Lahaina Grill is located, appropriately enough, in Lahaina just off the main street through town, Front Street.  The menu features both “from the land” and “from the sea” and for non seafood lovers this would be a better option than Mama’s Fish House. The menu here too is pricey but the food is fantastic.  Reservations are recommended for this restaurant as well but also can be made online at: http://lahainagrill.com/reservations/

lahaina grill

 

3) Fleetwoods – also in Lahaina is Fleetwoods on Front Street. This restaurant, owned by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame, has terrific food, wonderful service, a great rooftop view and delightful entertainment.  Dinner is served daily from 5:30 – 10:00 on both levels of the restaurant; to dine rooftop requires calling 808-669-MICK.  Reservations for the main level of the restaurant can be made online at: http://www.fleetwoodsonfrontst.com/   The menu here too is pricey but a little less so for entrees than either Mama’s Fish House or Lahaina Grill. Be sure to check out the entertainment calendar at the same link above to make the most of your evening.  Definitely try the rooftop!

fleetwoods

 

4)  Cheeseburger in Paradise – lest you think all of my recommendations are pricey, here’s a great family restaurant at more “normal” prices.  With a waterfront location in Lahaina on Front Street and live music at night, this location is perfect for a break during shopping in Lahaina.  This is a great family restaurant with lots on the menu that would appeal to kids – our children always wanted to eat here. There is also a Cheeseburger Island Style – same chain – in Wailea in the Wailea Shops convenient to our condo. We  often walk up here in the morning for breakfast – can’t beat the breakfast special pricing for a good hearty breakfast in a cute atmosphere with super friendly staff.

cheeseburger in paradisecheeseburger island style

 

5) Bubba Gump Shrimp Company – another family friendly restaurant that was always a favorite both for our family and for our guests is Bubba Gumps in Lahaina.  Located oceanside on Front Street, the atmosphere is a lot of fun – based on the movie Forrest Gump, the restaurant is decorated with sayings and items from the movie. Wait staff quiz guests on the movie and there is an ingenious sign at each table to advise waiters if service is desired. If the sign is flipped to “Run Forest Run” the waiter continues on but will come to the table when it reads “Stop Forest Stop”.  There is an attached gift shop with pretty much anything a fan of the movie would want to buy.

bubba gumps

6) Kula Lodge – on the way to Haleakala, lies the Kula Lodge which at 3,200 feet of elevation provides a refreshingly cool and crisp temperature.  The Kula Lodge offers sweeping views of the entire west side of Maui, from the mountain to the ocean. If the time of year is correct, the jacaranda trees will be in bloom and their gorgeous purple flowers make the drive worthwhile in and of themselves.  The lodge serves delicious pizza from their wood-burning pizza ovens but also has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu to accommodate both lodge guests and those just stopping by.  Reservations may be made online at: http://www.kulalodge.com/restaurant.htm; however, we have never found reservations to be necessary. There is also an attached small market and gift store that has some lovely handmade and unique items for sale.

kula lodgekula lodge views

7) Flatbread  Company – fresh, organic, wood- fired pizza awaits you at this delicious restaurant in Paia. Spend some time shopping in this quaint town and then head to Flatbread, located in the heart of the town on Hana Highway.  Pair your pizza with a salad made from local greens and enjoy a fresh squeezed lemonade with it. Yum!  One flatbread is generally enough for two people and just like with “regular” pizzas, one can mix and match various toppings. Paia is often very crowded and parking can be a challenge. There is a free lot just before entering the town that we frequently use – only occasionally have we scored street parking. There is also a free lot up by the post office that is an ideal parking location for the next restaurant on our list as well.

flatbread

8) Maka by Mana – recently opened is this wonderful vegan restaurant in Paia at 115 Baldwin Avenue.  This raw food restaurant is owned and operated by Mana Foods, a grocery store just down the street.  Enjoy fresh juices, smoothies, salads, sandwiches and wraps. There is also pie and ice cream for dessert. The best part of this restaurant is leaving, full, satisfied and feeling like you have treated your body well.

maka

 

9)  Pita Paradise – this small restaurant,  located in the Wailea Gateway, is such a delightful gem. It doesn’t look like much, situated as it is in a shopping center, but the food is absolutely delicious. It features fresh fish – the catch of the day is whatever the owner/chef has caught that morning – as well as delicious mediterranean cuisine.  Personally, I find the chicken kebabs to be out of this world.  While we have eaten at the restaurant on a number of occasions, most often we take the food to go so that we can enjoy it from our condo’s ocean front lanai. Truly paradise!

pita paradise

 

10) Polli’s Mexican Restaurant – if your travels take you to Makawao, which is an historic fun town located in Maui’s upcountry, be sure to stop at Polli’s. This Mexican restaurant was started 30 years ago based on favorite family recipes. Popular with both tourists and locals, it’s always a good sign to see locals eating the food! Prices are very reasonable and serving sizes are large. I happen to love bean dip and, when ordered, it’s a meal for two rather than just a small dipping dish!

pollis

 

11) Koa’s Seaside Grill – another favorite of ours is the oceanfront restaurant in Lahaina called Koa’s Seaside Grill. We prefer to eat upstairs on the deck when shade allows. Views are beautiful and the food is very good. I find the salads here to be very large and interesting. One note is that a number of restaurants in Lahaina, including this one, stop serving between lunch and dinner which can leave one sort of stranded in the hours around 3:00.  At Koa’s, the lunch menu stops at 2:00 and the dinner menu doesn’t start until 5:00. The menus also change, and while there is a happy hour menu during the off time,  I have found my favorite items here to be featured on the lunch menu.

koas

 

12) Gannon’s – is a beautiful restaurant in Wailea with an outstanding menu. Voted one of the Top 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in America, the food here is very good.  The restaurant is located on the Wailea Gold and Emerald Golf Course and features beautiful sweeping views of the ocean.  The restaurant features breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner menus.  Dinner entrees are around $30 – $40 but I prefer the lunch menus, both for the selections and the lower prices.  The fish tacos here converted my husband to being a fish taco afficiando.  We have never needed reservations at lunch, and only had to wait once when a wedding was taking place on the grounds. Reservations at dinner are recommended and can be made online at: http://gannonsrestaurant.com/bgwp/reservations/.

gannons

13) Tommy Bahama – located in the Wailea Shops, the Tommy Bahama restaurant is a must stop for our family. My husband and I always stop here when we return to Maui – it’s part of our ritual of returning “home”.  The food is very good, the wait staff is attentive, and the location for us is ideal – minutes from our condo. Sitting outside on the lanai is  relaxing and music is often featured in the evenings. Happy hour here is quite popular and is a great way to enjoy the restaurant and bar’s offerings at very reasonable prices. While the view here can’t compete with other restaurants, this restaurant is well worth your time and money.  We have never needed lunch reservations but have made them for dinner and been glad we have done so. Reservations may be made online at: http://www.tommybahama.com/TBG/Stores_Restaurants/Wailea.jsp

tommy bahama

 

14)  We’ve discovered another restaurant to add to this list. Coconut’s Fish Cafe located in Kihei at 1279 South Kihei Road has been rated Maui’s best fish tacos and my husband agrees. I’m partial to their chicken tacos. Their food is fantastic and the servers are friendly. It’s often busy and the location is a strip mall so the ambiance isn’t top notch but it’s definitely worth stopping by.

 

coconut's fish cafe

 

 

I hope these suggested restaurants bring you some delightful eating. Be sure to let me know if you enjoyed them or if you have suggestions of your own. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Ready, Set, Shop!

Interested in doing some shopping while on vacation? Maui has many shopping options to choose from, ranging from  souvenirs to handmade items to luxury goods.  While souvenirs can be found at many locations,  basic Maui items ranging from t-shirts to sarongs, and hats to beach bags can be found at stores such as Whalers Village, located near Makena Surf in the Wailea Shops and in Kihei on South Kihei Road, and the ubiquitous ABC Stores which can be found virtually on every corner; the closest one to the condo is in the Wailea Shops.  There is a new grocery store at the Wailea Shops, known as Island Gourmet Markets, which also carries souvenir items.

Having already mentioned the Wailea Shops several times, let me be sure to mention that this mall is the best place to find upscale and luxury items from stores such as Rolex, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Tiffany & Co.  This mall has a number of other stores for those not wanting to break the bank, ranging from classics such as Banana Republic and Gap to Maui favorites such as Tommy Bahama and Honolulu Surf Company.  This mall is a beautiful outdoor mall with good dining options and a nice collection of stores to suit every budget.

wailea-shops

wailea shops 2

Handmade items can be found at roadside stands, street corners, especially in Lahaina,  farmers markets and craft shows – see our blog post dated July 26, 2014 about where to find farmers markets which are often run hand in hand with craft shows.   Many of the local resorts including The Grand Wailea,  the Fairmont and the Four Seasons allow local artisans to display and sell their wares on resort grounds.  These are regular occurrences and each hotel has a varying schedule as to when the artisans will be present.

Another good option for finding gifts, especially locally made items,  are the Friday celebrations held on Maui. Each Friday, there is a local street fair held on a rotating basis between Wailuku (1st Friday) Lahaina, (2nd Friday),  Makawao (3rd Friday) and Kihei (4th Friday). When there is a fifth Friday in the month, it is held on the island of Lanai and extra ferries are normally put into operation. The ferry leaves from Lahaina.

Lahaina is a great town to spend some time shopping. Walking along Front Street, which is a beautiful ocean front avenue, there are numerous trendy and classic stores, and lots of restaurants to help sustain you throughout your shopping trip.

lahaina shops

Also in Lahaina is a fairly new Outlet Mall which has outlets from stores such as Coach,  Michael Kors,  Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

outlet mall

As you can see, there are many places to enjoy shopping, so be sure to bring extra luggage to carry all your treasures home!

 

 

Redevelopment Project Brings Changes to Makena

Located a short distance south of  our condo at Makena Surf is the Makena Beach and Golf Hotel.

Makena Beach Hotel

This hotel  will be closing and redeveloped into an exclusive high end resort. The permit for this construction lists the redevelopment as a $230 million dollar project.   The owner of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort, ATC Makena, has partnered with Discovery Land Company to complete this project.  In 2014, the project manager of Discovery told the Maui Land Use Commission that ATC has losses in excess of $20 million dollars since taking control of this property in 2010 and that the hotel as it currently exists is not sustainable. Discovery is a real estate development company based in Scottsdale, Arizona that specializes in building luxury residential private club communities in the U.S.  One of these properties is Kukio in the Kohala area on the Big Island.

Time estimates are still rather fluid and the hotel currently does not have a projected closing date.  Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015 and last for 3 years. The existing 310 room hotel will be renovated and redeveloped into 50 private residences that will range in size from approximately 2,400 to over 5,600 square feet and will vary between 2, 3, 4, and 5 bedroom floor plans with different levels of finishes.

Development plans also include building a new boutique hotel that will have 76 rooms as well as 12 multi-family condominiums, 5 spa hales and nine beach cottages.  The developer has indicated that daily room rates at this new hotel will be comparable to other luxury Wailea hotels and that the residential units would range from $1.9 million to $6 million. The 12 condominiums, known as Kula Villas,  will be constructed on the mauka or mountain side of the existing hotel and will range from 3,000 to 4,000 square feet and will include covered lanais and spa plunge pools. The 9 beach cottages will each be approximately 3,500 square feet, consist of 4 bedroom and 4.5 baths and will have ocean views. These cottages will be constructed south of the existing hotel near the parking area of Maluaka Beach and will feature architectural details reflecting the culture of an historic Hawaiian village. The Spa Hales will be the smallest and least expensive of the development project; these will have 2 bedrooms and will not have ocean views.

Those who buy one of these properties will automatically be members of the Makena Golf and Beach Club which will offer members’ only amenities including access to the now private golf courses, dining and other activities including horseback riding and tennis.  The private community will be gated and will also include a rustic “downtown” called Makena Village that will comprise a general store, restaurants, post office and retail stores. Despite this, the permit requires the developer to provide 10 public beach parking stalls and to maintain public beach access during daylight hours. Additionally, the developer is required to provide periodic shuttle service from the parking area through the resort complex to the beach.

Indications are that most of the property will be off limits to those who are not members. For those of us who like to walk through this area, that is disappointing. Time will tell how much access remains.

Degrees of Paradise

More than halfway  through our first extended stay on Maui, we feel even more fortunate to have found our little piece of paradise at Makena Surf in south Maui. Having  stayed at a number of different locations on Maui, this section of Maui truly seems to have the best of everything.  Gorgeous views sweeping from Kahoolawe, Molokini,  Lanai and over to the West Maui mountains, the vista is breathtaking.

Makena Surf F307 View
View From Our Lanai

Facing west, unobstructed sunsets are a treat that never gets old and we make a point of  watching them every night from our condo.

Makena Surf F307 Sunset
Sunset View From Our Lanai

 

Makena Surf F307 Sunset
Another Sunset View From Our Lanai

 

This being whale season we have spent whole days on the lanai awestruck by these magnificent creatures – we see so many that we’ve become spoiled in that if it’s not a breach or a very close sighting it’s not noteworthy!  It’s fun hearing other folks staying here cheering the whales on when particularly good sightings take place! The property has a secluded beach great for sunbathing and snorkeling – indeed paid snorkel trips come daily out in front of our condo to see the turtles –  and it is also a favorite spot for weddings. We typically see at least one sunset wedding a day although multiple weddings are common –  4 spread out over the beach at one time is the most to date! With 2 pools on site, one of which is steps away from our condo, we have a family rule of needing to go in twice a day.  🙂

While close enough to walk to the big resorts like the Grand Wailea and the Fairmont hotel and the Wailea coastal walk, the 1.5 mile long paved beach path that winds in front of these resorts, it is also within walking distance of the biggest beach on Maui at Makena State Park, known appropriately enough as Big Beach.

 

Makena State Park
Big Beach

 

Walking in the early morning before the heat of the day is particularly enjoyable.  Visiting friends that are avid runners also found the early morning ideal for beating the more crowded sections of the coastal walk trail; crowds aren’t an issue walking or running south toward Big Beach.

Wailea Walking Trail
Coastal Beach Trail Nearing Wailea Point
Wailea Walking Trail
Coastal Beach Trail Nearing Resorts

 

The bustling town of Kihei is about a 15 minute drive away and abounds with everything one needs – grocery stores, banks, gas stations, restaurants,  snorkel and paddleboard rental stores. We joined a gym in Kihei called Powerhouse based on recommendations from others and find it small but comprehensive.  While we are avid exercisers, we try to alternate being at the gym with outside sports especially as it’s hard to go inside when the weather is so lovely! We’ve rented kayaks and it’s very convenient – the rental companies drop the kayaks off at our beach and pick them up when the rental time is over. We’ve watched lots of kayakers have close encounters with whales – we haven’t been that fortunate yet but we keep trying!

Even with an extended stay, we find our time racing by and are already facing the prospect of returning home and to reality.  We have our next trip here already planned and will begin counting down the days until we return the moment we step on the plane heading home!