Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stay-cation Research trip

Our family went on a little stay-cation this past summer. We drove an hour to west Maui where we had rented a beautiful 2 bedroom condo at the Honua Kai at the end of Ka'anapali. Call it a research trip. This is a five year old building, condos renting at double what our nicest condo at Palms at Wailea rents for (and that in off-season). Sig has drooled over this building for the past year, and I finally insisted we needed to stay there before we got too serious.

the beautiful condo we rented on VRBO at the Honua Kai
From the moment we walked in the door, Sig was walking around, looking at finishings, details, appliances, 'what do they have that we are missing?' etc. I was trying to get all the frozen items from our cooler into the freezer, as he was pulling me away to read a label (the type was too small), or 'check this out!' Within the first minute upon arrival I realized this trip was going to be a write-off. Condo research supreme. And you know what, that's fine. They had nice pools for the kids, our condo had a stellar view, and since Sig can't relax or just sit, he might as well do something for the condos.

So yes, this condo has some beautiful features. And we've taken pictures, made notes and will consider if and how we can incorporate some of them in our properties.

our late afternoon view was gorgeous
It also is missing some key things.

Like hooks or a drying rack. As a family of five, we came back from the pools/beach and had no place to hang our wet swim suits and beach towels. You are not allowed to hang them on the lanai (thankfully, it would look incredibly tacky to see everyone else's beach gear on the lanais), but there are no hooks and too few towel rods in the bathrooms. So we put them in the dryer, which took 2 1/2 hours to dry four towels - it was a fancy condensation dryer since the building does not have proper dryer ventilation. Wow - I groaned inwardly at the thought of the owner's power bill.

But Cara, what about at your condos, you ask? Our condos have either retractable hotel-style laundry lines in the bathtubs (perfect for hanging dripping swim wear) or collapsible clothes racks (or both). Please be considerate when using them indoors and set them up on tiled areas only (not carpets or laminate flooring).

Looking back from our condo into the courtyard.
This is definitely apartment living with little privacy
We loved the condo, but what would have made it perfect? Something to do in down-time, when you're taking a break from the beach/pool. Like DVDs, or books, a stereo or some games.

We loved having a restaurant (Duke's) on site, and having a convenience store and gym in the building were definite perks.

Parking was complicated (in the basement parkade of the other tower) and there was a daily charge for parking (our condos have parking closeby and it's free). And instead of keyless entry (which our condos have), we had hotel-style cards to enter the building and our condo. A bit of a nuisance and an extra thing to forget.

All in all, it was fun to get away and be a tourist, even if it's just an hour's drive away. But, it is an hour's drive away from South Maui. And while we loved the complex, we have after much consideration decided not to purchase at this property.

Many of our guests appreciate our being hands-on owners, just a short drive away from our properties, able to help when needed. A one hour drive (and that's without traffic delays) is a little far away to be hands-on.

Ah well. If you are looking for a place on the west-side and have money to spend, do check it out. It was wonderful. If you like a little more privacy, less busy-ness at more reasonable rates, do check out our condos.

Humpback Whales and a cool Drone Video

It's whale season here on Maui. I love this time of year when all you have to do is look out over the ocean, and there is a really good chance you'll see them blow or splash.

I love love love this drone video of humpback whales. When on a whale watch or from shore, you see glimpses of whales and their behavior. From above you see so much more.

I thought with whale season in full swing, it's a good time for a re-visit of my September 18, 2014 post about humpback whales.

Every year humpback whales (adults are the size of a school bus) migrate from their cold water feeding grounds in Alaskan waters to Hawai'i. They will spend an average of 6 weeks in our warm waters to breed and calve. During their journey and time here they do not feed, instead waiting to return to their favorite krill at their feeding grounds off Alaska.

Can you imagine not eating for a few months?

Humpback whales do not all arrive at the same time. While you typically see a few outliers in late September and October, the majority of humpbacks arrive between November and April, with February and March being the most favored months. In February and March it is literally 'whale soup' in the warm Maui water (between Maui, Kaho'olawe, Lanai and Molokai) - you really can see them jumping and splashing from shore (if you know what you're looking for).

What else do you need to know? Humpback whales are endangered and it is against the law to approach a humpback whale. By law you need to stay at least 100 yards away from humpbacks (this applies to all boaters, swimmers, kayakers, divers, ocean users in general). Of course, a humpback may approach you. If one does, if you are in a boat, turn the engine off immediately, if you're in a kayak etc, hold on (to your kayak) tight!

It is truly a magical experience to watch these giant animals!

Picture from my 'best whale watch ever' in February 2013 with Pacific Whale Foundation. In this picture a pod of 6 adult males is swimming directly to the boat, they then dove under the boat in unison (it was like synchronized swimming), coming up on the other side of the boat. On this tour our boat sat still while a pod of 9 males showed off for a few females. It was a truly remarkable experience!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Curious to learn more about pineapple vodka?

The Hali'imaile Distilling Company is now offering tours of their facilities in Makawao! They also have a tasting room for guests over 21. They produce four brands - Pau Hana Vodka, Sammy's Beach Bar Rum, Paniolo Whiskey and Maui Moon Vodka. Have you tried them?

Curious? Check out their website and book a tour!

pineapple field picture from the Haliimaile Distilling Company website

Friday, January 23, 2015

Beautiful hibiscus blooms

Our neighbors have two gorgeous hibiscus shrubs. I absolutely love the colors... Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brenton Keith & His Bag O' Tricks at the Mulligan's Magic Show

Looking for something fun (clean and family friendly fun) to do on a Tuesday night?

How about a little dinner magic show at Mulligan's on the Blue. The show starts at 7pm so make sure you are there in plenty of time to maybe get the prime seating inside, though you may still be able to catch it from the lanai seating area.

Brenton Keith & His Bag of Tricks is hilarious and makes eating dinner out with the kids easier! Check out his video. You may want to double check with Mulligan's, sometimes the schedule gets moved around or he has a replacement filling in for him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Watch out for Big Surf!!

UPDATE: Check the MauiNow news page for some terrific surfing pictures. Wow.

The National Weather Service is reporting a very large swell headed our way! No, lovely South Maui won't actually see much if any of it, but head over to Maui's North Shore (Ho'okipa area) to watch some awesome surfing! Wave heights are expected to be between 30-40 feet. The high surf warnings goes into effect tonight at 6pm and is scheduled to last until Thursday 6pm. Check Maui Now for more information.

If in doubt, please don't go out. These kinds of waves are definitely not for beginners. 

I took this picture on Christmas Day a few years ago at Ho'okipa Lookout. Love this place. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

How about some great Hawaii reading?

I love to read. Growing up I was such a bookworm. This slowed down when we had kids and life somehow got too busy to read. These days I maybe read four or five books a year. Yes, incredibly pathetic. But when I do find a great read, I'm hooked and will read all night!

One of the kids got a Kindle Fire for Christmas to which we added a 'kindle unlimited' package (a 'Netflix' for books with unlimited reading for around $10/month). I never thought I'd enjoy reading on a tablet, but when I realized that in addition to his account, it also comes with a parent reading account (so I can manage the parental controls), I started looking at what books I might be interested in reading. Maui's own author Toby Neal's books are available for kindle (they are currently all in the $4-5 range and are on the 'kindle unlimited' package for FREE reading).

Sooo.... after 'borrowing' his kindle while he was in school (but then needing to sneak it back into his room before he gets home from school), I finally downloaded the kindle app onto another tablet. Over the course of the past two weeks I have now read the entire Lei Crime Series.

Blood Orchids, the first book
in the Lei Crime Series
Never heard of it? This is a series of books about a young Hawaii police officer Lei Texeira. The first book takes place on Big Island, then for the next few books she is transferred to Kauai, Oahu, finally moving more permanently to Maui. I have loved reading these books, with tidbits of Hawaii culture tucked into them, reading Hawaii pidgin (local dialect), murder mysteries taking place in places I have been to, and then just enjoying the good murder mystery... One book has a part about a World War II ordinance that a man drove to Maui Mall's parking lot (I remember that from the news a year or two ago), another about sugar cane arson case (also in the news a few years ago). Have I wet your appetite? Check out Toby Neal's website for more information!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This weekend - the Grown on Maui Coffee Festival!

Do you enjoy a good cup of coffee? Are you curious to learn more about coffee?

This Saturday the Shops at Wailea are hosting the Grown on Maui Coffee Festival! I JUST found out and am so excited! They had one in August 2012 and it was fascinating. It runs from 8:30am-4pm in the fountain courtyard. This event is FREE.

This year's theme is Meet the Coffee Farmers - Life on a Coffee Farm. There will be samples, roasting exhibitions, lots of information and entertainment.

The Maui Coffee Association was started in 2005 and has grown from just a few farms to over 32! I can't wait to see (and taste) all the variety!

A little word to the wise.... After about 5 samples of strong black coffee last time, my whole body was buzzing.... This time I'll bring a little something to snack, or at least a bottle of water to dilute the wonderful caffeine in my tummy. I will also bring cash to buy bags of my 'newly found' favorite coffees.

See you there!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Aria's Restaurant and Catering in Wailuku!

One of our neighbors told me about a new restaurant in Wailuku! Today we checked it out! Wow.

Aria's Restaurant and Catering opened about 2 months ago. It is located at 2062 W Vineyard St in the old Four Sisters Kitchen location. If you are driving down Market Street (one way street with lots of little boutiques and shops that I need to check out), you take a left onto Vineyard. It's just up the road a little on the right side with a large public parking lot across the street.

The restaurant doesn't yet have proper signage, so look for the sign in the window. Aria's with a pineapple above it. Cute sign! It's a pretty green building with a sign that says 'Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Residential Training Center', but it definitely is a restaurant!

How was lunch? Fantastic! Sig and I both enjoyed the blacked mahi mahi with tropical fruit salad and caesar salad. It was delicious! Our friends enjoyed the crab club and chicken caprese.

I will be back... and next time plan to take more time and explore Market Street's shopping.

20% savings at Alaska Airlines

Book by January 14th! Alaska Airlines is offering up to 20% off on select fares across their route map.
20% for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10% for Thursday travel. Good fore flights between January 21st and May 31st, 2015.

Use the discount code FUELSAVINGS.

Happy Vacation Planning!!