Sunday, April 13, 2014

Our Trip to Moloka'i - An Adventure to Remember

Several years ago, when moving to Hawaii was still a dream for my husband and me, we read the novel “Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert.  The book enthralled us both, and the story of Moloka’i’s rich and fascinating history as a leper colony moved us deeply.  It was the book that inspired us to make Molokai our very first vacation destination after moving to Maui.

We chose the Moloka’i Ferry rather than plane travel to Moloka’i because we wanted to experience the ocean trip between the islands.  We had read many reviews of rough passages, seasickness, and tales of the primitiveness of this ferry.  None of those warnings proved to be true.  The two hour trip in each direction was a calm, beautiful voyage.  While the ferry was certainly not a luxury liner, it was comfortable and pleasant.  We made the trip in mid February, and were treated to literally dozens of whales spouting and breaching alongside the ferry!

For our five day stay, we chose a condo rental on the west side of Moloka’i.  Ours was in the Ke Nani Kai complex, which we chose because it had a beautiful, large heated pool.  The condo was not luxurious, but it was clean and adequate.  A two bedroom two bath condo rented for $100/night (with some negotiations).  It should be noted that the condo complexes are 18 miles from the main town, so one must gather supplies before heading “home”.  Adjacent to the condo were long stretches of magnificent beaches.  Beach walking was amazing as we saw only six other people during several hours of walking on the beach. In the winter, surf on the west side beaches is very high.  Swimming is very dangerous.  We saw only two very experienced surfers in the water. 

Moloka’i has only a few restaurants…a burger place, a pizza place, and one small picnic style restaurant with a very limited menu.  (When we stopped for lunch they were out of several items including all salads.)  We knew that groceries were very expensive, so we brought a cooler full of adequate supplies for our five days.  The foodie’s bright spot was the produce.  We stopped daily at Kumu Farms.  They feature their wonderful papayas (shipped everywhere including Whole Foods} but they also sold an abundance of fresh picked herbs and produce from their own and neighboring farms.

Moloka’I is definitely a place to come and relax.  There is no entertainment, and very few places to visit.  We spent about 45 minutes at a small macadamia nut farm, and about an hour walking through all the stores, which mostly stocked Costco items divided into small packages. The one shop not to be missed is the Big Wind Kite Factory in the tiny town of Maunaloa on the west end.  It’s a high end kite, gift, book, bali imported clothing, and treasure shop with a delightful owner!!   The local bakery is a prominent attraction as the locals gather at the back door at 10 PM for warm bread.  The bread was white and plain and doughy. 

The highlight of our trip was the mule ride down to Kalaupapa, location of the former leper colony, and now a U.S. Historic National Park.  Kalaupapa is located on a ten square mile peninsula that juts into the Pacific below the world’s highest sea cliffs. The trail to Kalaupapa is three miles long, and includes 26 switchbacks descending the nearly perpendicular 1780 ft. cliffs.  One can hike this trail, but it is steep and treacherous. 

Happy on her mule
The mule ride was exciting but frightening for the first half hour or so of riding straight down a cliff on a rocky foot wide trail.  Once we felt secure that the mules were sure footed and we were not going to fall off, we could relax a bit and take in the breathtaking views of Kalaupapa far below.  The trip took about two hours.  We felt victorious, proud, and sore when we boarded the school buses at the bottom of the trail for our excellent and informative tour of Kalaupapa. 

Father Damien's memorial

The tour, which comes with the price of the mule ride (about $200/person)  includes stories, anecdotes, rich history, and a very simple bag lunch of a ham sandwich, water, and chips.  By the time we boarded our mules for the trip back up, we were less sore, and the trip up was far less scary though we felt so sorry for the mules!   

At the top of the trail we were presented with certificates of our accomplishment for “having faced the obstacles, precipices, and hazards of this treacherous trail and endured the vicissitudes of the narrow passage between rim and destination”.  Indeed we were proud, and will long remember the mule ride as one of our most memorable excursions ever!!

Many Mahalos to my friend Harriet Lefton ("Happy") for sharing this very interesting account of her excursion to Molokai which she took with her husband Robert this past February.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Keawala'i Congregational Church 22nd Annual Luau - March 8/2014

We recently attended the 2014 Annual Lu'au at the historic Keawala'i Congregational Church in Makena and can honestly say that it was the most authentic Hawaiian Luau we have ever attended.

We got there early on a recommendation from a friend and managed to find seats fairly near to the entertainment.  The tables were all underneath a gigantic tent, which we were very thankful for, as the day began with quite a few showers.  Even though the performance area for the two Halau (hula group) was not sheltered, they bravely danced in the rain, complete with beautiful smiles (unless the hula had a sad or serious story) What talented performers they all were!

The food was also traditional Hawaiian luau faire and included Lomi Salmon, Squid Lu'au, Kalua Pig, Chicken Long Rice, Sweet Potato, Potato Salad, Poi and Poke. The yummy dessert was Chocolate cake and haupia (coconut pudding)

More Hawaiian entertainment followed the meal and it was all very top notch. Jamie Lawrence, no stranger to Maui, finished off the afternoon with some great songs.

 The theme for this year's event was "Imua na pua lanakila Kaho'olawe, which has to do with the Kaho'olawe Environmental Restoration Plan.  The exhibit in the church was very informative and gave an insight into the history of Kaho'olawe and the plans to protect its' nature and beauty.

Many mahalos to my friend Alex for letting me use some of her great photos!!

Visit the website of Keawala'i Congregational Church  for information about the church and upcoming events.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Visit to Historic Calasa Service Station in Kula

Whether you are a history buff (or not), a visit to the Historic Calasa Garage in Kula, would be an interesting day trip.  The service station dates back to 1932, and has an old pump on display inside as well as some of the original glass bottles used for oil.  Current owners Joe and Andrea Tomsen are in the process of restoring both the service station and the adjoining Plantation Bunkhouse home to their former glory.


We chatted with Andrea for a while and she told us a fascinating story of how they happened to move to Maui. Maui had been their favourite vacation destination for years, so they were no strangers to the island. One night while back in their Wisconsin home, Andrea had a dream.  In her dream she was going to move to a place that had a view of  a mountain top observatory to the east, and a view of the ocean with whales breaching, to the west.
The next time they were in Maui they were up in Kula and came across the Calasa Service Station. Since they were in the automobile business back home they were very interested in the station which was for sale and also had an adjoining home. As luck would have it a realtor appeared, who was about to show the house for rental.  Andrea and Joe seized the opportunity to look around, and discovered that from a certain location on the property, they could see both the Haleakala observatory and the ocean just like in Andrea's dream. They even spotted a whale breaching.  I guess they knew they were meant to buy the old station and Plantation house so in a very short period of time, they had returned home, sold everything they owned and moved to Maui.

T-Shirts for sale with photo of Calasa station on back

They have never looked back and love their life in Kula serving customers in the old fashioned way.  I will look forward to going back when they have completed their renovations of this historic Kula landmark. 

You could combine this up-country Kula experience with a trip to the Surfing Goat Dairy and the Alii Kula Lavender Farm with a stop at the Kula Lodge for lunch.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Maui's Big Cheese - The Surfing Goat Dairy

Surfing Goat Dairy?  Is it a goat? Is it a surfer? Is it a dairy?  No, it's all three things in one!  Well maybe not the surfing part  but it IS a fantastic goat cheese farm that you might really enjoy..

A hop skip and a jump away from Kihei, the jaunt alone with its views towards the slopes of Mount Haleakala is pretty spectacular.  The Surfing Goat Dairy is one of only two goat dairies in all of Hawaii. It has won many awards and has been around now for over 9 years. In 2008 they were one of three Goat Dairies in North America who got the certification for "Humane raised and handled goats" They don't use any pesticides or herbicides on the farm and the milking goats are fed a special mixture of grains so that the milk is as fresh as it can be.

You can take a casual tour and have some fun interacting with the goats and feeding them.  It is a great family outing and you can watch your kids play with the goat kids!  You can even learn how to milk a goat if you happen to go at milking time....  Everyone is happy and smiling, and even the goats look like they are smiling too! 

Zar was our tour guide and we learned lots of interesting information from how the goats are raised to how they milk the goats to how they make the various cheeses. They keep a daily record on a chalk board of things like milk production, births, breeding, the number of goats in the herd etc.  Zar told us that the day we went there the goat count was 162.

Following the tour we tasted about 5 different flavors of cheese and they were all yummy and not too strong. There was one called "Canada" which has cranberries in it.  Maybe because we are Canadian, this is the one we chose to take home for our Christmas pupu party.
They also make cheese truffles and in the gift store you can buy infused oils, spices, souvenirs and even soaps.

Give it a try sometime.  It's a great day trip and you can combine it with a trip to the Alii Kula Lavender Farm followed by lunch at the Kula Lodge. 
For more information go to the Surfing Goat Dairy website. You can even order cheese and truffles online.
I first came across The Surfing Goat Dairy when I was staying at the terrific Maui Garden House in Kihei.  Wish I was there now.....

Thankyou "Travlin" Pat for contributing to this blog.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Green Sea Turtles Bask in the Sun on a Maui Beach

As we approached a corner section of a secluded Maui beach we saw what appeared from a distance to be quite a few large boulders in different locations on the sand. As we got closer we saw one moving as it made it way out of the ocean and slowly lumber towards the others. We soon realized that the boulders were green sea turtles basking in the late afternoon sun.
"Honu" is the Hawaiian name for turtle and they say if you are lucky enough to see one you will have good luck. Until now I had only seen them while snorkeling and never knew that they actually can come out of the ocean for long periods of time.  We counted 13 turtles in all, but apparently there can be 25 or more on the beach at once.
Naturalists have a few theories as to why the turtles come ashore to sleep on the beach.  One is that basking in the sun allows the cold-blooded turtles to regulate their body temperature or they may just be escaping from shark predators as they enjoy a peaceful rest.

At the site we met Miranda who is a volunteer for Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  This organization has a team consisting of educators, conservationists, scientists, students, communities and donors devoted to the conservation of Hawai'i's fragile marine ecosystems and inhabitants. Miranda was handing out brochures designed to educate the public about turtles. Ho'okuleana is a Hawaiian word which means "to take responsibility" and give the turtles their space so they can rest without harassment.  The rule is that you must stay at least 15 feet away and refrain from using flash photography or making loud noises. Miranda is a Naturalist/Educator and currently works at the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium.  She also has her own business giving private adventure tours around the island. Check her out at Maui Mana Adventures.

On the way home we all felt elated and privileged to have witnessed this amazing natural phenomenon.
Many mahalos "Honu", for making our day!!!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Clear Bottom Kayaking at Makena Landing in Maui

 Thanks Kay and Andy for sharing another Maui adventure.
Clear bottom kayaking was a good solution for us because there had been two shark attacks near Makena Landing since our arrival in Maui we were apprehensive about a kayak/snorkel adventure.  So my brother and I set out at 8:00 AM after some instruction about water safety and directions for the best areas to paddle.  The orange and green kayak was very sturdy.  It was not long before we sighted a turtle who obligingly swam under our glass bottom kayak.  We also saw lots of reef fish and coral formations.

We could have opted to float around with all of the sea life below but we wanted to paddle too. As we headed in the opposite direction I spotted a fin surface on the water.  "Look, Andy," I said, "a shark!"  The "shark" was actually a dolphin.  In fact there were four dolphins swimming along beside us.  They even talked to us.
The water became somewhat rough so we headed back to look for more turtles. On the way back we saw a couple of parents with their two small children in a kayak, and commented on what a great option clear bottom kayaking is, to enjoy Maui's underwater scene, especially for families or people who don't snorkel.  Our two hours was soon up and Kyle Prescott pulled us into the shore.  We were glad that Kyle and his partner, Derek Brown brought this new activity to Maui this year.
For more information visit the website of Clear Bottom Kayaks.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hiking the Pali Trail between Wailuku and Lahaina, Maui

"One of the roughest and most difficult trails imaginable. It is all the way zigzag and winding, up steep, rocky and barren precipices…" Chester Lyman, 1847, tourist.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2013 my brother, Andy, and I started up this "difficult" trail from Ukumehame at 7:30 AM. We had hiked the whole trail two years ago. A friend picked us up at the other end. This time we planned to hike to the top and double back since we did not have anyone to pick us up. By the time we reached the windmills at the top, 1600 feet later, it was getting hot.
My brother Andy admiring the view

As we stopped to drink some water and to admire the fabulous view a jogger joined us. He ran up the trail rather than "hiked" up it as we had! Pali means "cliff, precipice, steep slope, obstacle" but maybe he didn't know the definition.
The trail is marked with points of historical interest. It was hand built before 1825 for horses and foot travel between Wailuku and Lahaina. Around 1900 the trail fell out of use when prisoners built a one-way road at the base of the Pali.
Our round trip took nearly 3 hours to complete. It took me longer to get down than up the boulder paved trail with my 69 year old arthritic knees. Although we did not jog we certainly had a good workout and felt that we could eat a few extra calories of Thanksgiving dinner that evening.

Many Mahalos for this post to my friend Kay from Kelowna BC !

If you are ever in Lahaina on Prison Street you will see an old rusted out 1923 T-Ford Touring car sitting just in front of the old prison, which is now a museum.  The man who originally owned this car delivered produce between Wailuku and Lahaina, on the old Pali trail.  If you don't have the energy to do the hike you can see remnants of the trail on the drive over the Pali before the tunnel and imagine him bumping along and beeping his horn at every turn.
Following is a photo of the old car and a photo of the plaque which tells its history.

If you have hiked the Pali trail we would love to hear comments about your experience.

Read about Hiking the Haleakala Crater, another hike that Kay and Andy did in 2012.