Monday, December 28, 2009

Jaws, Maui on Christmas Day

Maui photographer Jimmie Hepp, is sharing a fantastic photo with us again. Jaws or Pe'ahi as it is called by the locals, is a deep water reef break where dare devil surfers enjoy an epic challenge. The waves can reach a dangerous 70 ft. height and move as fast as 30 mph so unless you are a very experienced surfer you would be advised to settle with watching. Jimmie went out on Christmas morning and took 1000 shots of the waves, which he says were the biggest he has ever seen. Jaws is located on the northern side of the island between mile markers 13 and 14 on the Hana highway and sits at the base of rolling sugar cane field hills. For more great photos by Jimmie, visit his website where you can also purchase prints.

If you are visiting Maui in the New Year and haven't found a place to stay yet, try these Maui Vacation Rentals.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas on Maui

If you have ever spent Christmas in the tropics then you will understand that it is hard to get into the spirit of things, because conjuring up a White
Christmas is like imagining how things are on another planet. That is of course if you are not a local and have never known anything else but surfing, fishing and walking the beach on Christmas day.We did however, discover that the the glue that holds this nostalgic season together, no matter where in the world you are you are, is Christmas music. A few strains of "Silent Night" and a choir singing the Hallelujah chorus puts you right into the Christmas spirit big time and Maui is blessed with a wonderful collection of performing arts groups which treated us to Christmas on this beautiful island. Home for the Holidays by the Maui Concert Chorus and Maui Community College chorus conducted by Celia Canty was a wonderful concert that reminded us so much of our beloved Naramata Community Choir back in Penticton, BC, Canada. In our imaginations we really were going "Home for Christmas", if only for a minute.

The Maui Pops Orchestra put on a wonderful "Holiday Pops Concert" topped off by two outstanding soloists, Bob Wills and Leighanna Locke.We also attended the Sing it Yourself Messiah at the Hyatt Hotel in Kaanapali, and enjoyed the same two soloists once again. Singing the Hallelujah chorus with such a large group was a thrilling experience to say the least.

One of the most lovely concerts we attended was in the historic Keawala'i Church over in Makena. The church has a spectacular oceanfront setting, and we drank in more beautiful Christmas music as we listened to the polished sounds of Sarah Oppenheim Beggs' Olinda Chorale and a Maui Madrigal group decked out in full Renaissance costume.

Sarah invited us to sing with a small choir on Christmas Eve upcountry at the Makawao Union Church. We went to rehearsals but as fate would have it my husband came down with a bad sore throat and we weren't able to attend. I'm sure it was another magical Maui Christmas evening.

I must also mention the Maui Onstage production of the musical Annie which was one of the best Maui productions we have ever had the pleasure to attend.

I can't leave this blog without mentioning another glue known as the internet which brings families together at Christmas no matter how far away they are. Imagine being able to watch as your grandson shows you the things he got from Santa. Not as good as being there in person, but the next best thing, especially when we blew a few kisses back and forth over the web cam. My daughter even gave me a guided tour of their house and holiday decorations. My other daughter sent photos and slide shows of their Christmas morning with Ellie their dog, and our son in Spain also communicates via skype. So don't think I am complaining about being in the tropics for Christmas. I only have to see photos of snowstorms in the newspapers to remind me how fortunate we are to escape the cold of winter. Music and the internet will keep us all in touch and in the Christmas spirit!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Will Family Christmas Traditions Continue?

Do you remember the times when giving and receiving Christmas cards was one of the most joyful traditions of Christmas? We used to receive so many that we would string them up all over the house. They always got recycled, usually to schools, and children would use them in Christmas projects the next year. I still love the card giving tradition because even though the whole world is more in touch because of email, there is something exciting about getting mail the old fashioned way. Writing cards to your close friends and family is therapeutic and gives you a chance to reflect on the past year and how these special people have touched your lives. I also send e-cards because I admire the clever people who create such delightful animated and interactive cards. Here on Maui we have chosen Aloha cards this year with the message "Wishing you a Wonderful Christmas Season from our Hale to Yours" If you don't know Hawaiian, "hale" (pronounced ha -lay) means house here on the islands.

Another tradition we still keep is to work on a jigsaw puzzle during the Christmas season. Anyone coming to our home during the holidays has a chance to exercise their brain and try to fit some of the pieces together. It was quite a challenge to find a puzzle this year so perhaps that means that this tradition is on its way out or never arrived on Maui. In case you are looking for a puzzle to work on doing your Maui vacation, we finally found one called "Puzzle me Paradise" in Ben Franklin after searching every other store on the island.

Even though our new age of technology has chosen the interactive video game Wii as the top favourite Christmas gift this year, something tells me that our children and their children will still want to carry on traditions they remember from home. For example our daughter who now has a family of her own, called to get all my Christmas recipes because the baking was a big part of our seasonal celebrations. Now she is making sugar cookies with her son just as she did with her twin brother, older sister and me as a child growing up in Canada. I know that she will probably also bake fruit cake, Nanaimo bars and Chinese noodle cookies and maybe will try a new recipe which will become part of their own unique family Christmas traditions.

If you have a Christmas tradition that you still keep alive, please leave a comment and share. Also we welcome any thoughts you may have regarding the following questions.

In the future will card giving the old fashioned way be totally replaced by e-cards and sending Christmas cheer via facebook, twitter and other social networks?
Will Christmas traditions continue to be passed down through the generations?
What kind of changes do you foresee around Christmas traditions?

If you are staying on Maui for the holidays and don't have a place to stay yet try these Maui Vacation Rentals.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Maui Swap Meet in Kahului

If you've never attended the huge Maui Swap Meet, held every Saturday in Kahului, then you haven't lived. A nominal 50 cents will get you into the grounds where you will be treated to a colorful display of countless vendor tents and a thriving market place atmosphere. A far cry from the early trading days when sailors swapped weapons, nails, ducks, turkeys, chickens and pigs in exchange for food and cloth, the Kahului swap meet is alive with tradespeople selling everything from fruit and vegetables to plants, tropical flowers, ethnic foods, baked goods, clothing, jewelry and countless made in Maui arts and crafts. There are even some stalls selling second hand tools, collectibles and other items reminiscent of a garage sale. My husband and I managed to pick up the very rachet we needed for a household chore for only $1.00.
The Maui Swap Meet is also a great place to buy gifts for any occasion and for any age group so we did lots of Christmas shopping without hurting our pocket books too much. Many of the Maui artists and craft people own a shop somewhere on the island but when they sell their goods at the Swap Meet, they always give bargain rates and some will even enjoy bartering if you are game. Our friend picked out a lovely pendent for her sister, and we bought some clothing and hand made toys for the grandkids.We also picked up a beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers for $3.00 and a plant for our lanai for $5:00.Last but not least we loaded up on some fresh Maui grown vegetables and fruits to see us through the week.
Attending the Swap Meet is not only a fun way to spend a Maui Saturday morning but you will go away with the satisfying feeling that you that you have supported the local artisans and growers who work so hard to make a living in this current struggling economy. I definitely recommend the Maui Swap Meet located on the grounds of the Maui Community College. For more information about this Swap Meet and Maui's Own Gift and Craft Fairs go to the following website.

The Maui Swap Meet is held every Saturday from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM

You will find excellent directions to the Swap Meet location here

If you are coming to Maui for a vacation search for Maui Vacation Rentals and enjoy the special touches that only owners provide.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Maui Friends of The Library Used Book Store

To experience a little piece of Maui history combined with the best bargain on the Island my vote goes to the Maui Friends of the Library Used Books. On this excursion getting there is half the fun as you wind your way past the old, now abandoned plantation village of Puunene and the present day working HC&S Sugar Mill.

Bumping along the red dirt road you follow the signs that lead to the quaint structure that is the MFOL bookstore. Once you get there, look around at the giant Monkeypod trees and the outbuildings and try to imagine what the place looked like many years ago when it was a flourishing plantation town. The library used to be part of the old Puunene School which is still standing, even though the Plantation camps have long since disappeared. The bookstore itself is not that large but trust me, here size doesn't matter!
Crammed floor to ceiling with books, books and more books, the place is a reader's paradise. There is no discrimination here...all the books, hard cover, trade paper, pocket novels, journals and sheets of music are all a whopping 10 cents. For the same price you can also pick up DVDs, CDs, books on CD and magazines. We were lucky enough to get there on a sale day and got in on the incredible bargain of 15 books for only $1.00!!! The idea is that people buy books and bring books. Bring the books you just bought and read, pick up a few more and let the process begin again. Once one of Maui’s best kept secrets, the MFOL Used Books is now frequented by locals and tourists alike. Folks visiting Maui often load up with books for their holiday reading, and when they leave they donate the books back to the book store.

It is a terrific system if you ask me. All of the money generated by the MFOL book store is allocated as grants to assist the 8 libraries in Maui County. Recent grants have funded projects such as painting the Lahaina library, fixing the Maui Bookmobile and supplying new chairs for the Lanai library. We couldn’t help but think what a worthwhile endeavor this is, especially in these days of cut backs and restraints.

MFOL is run exclusively by volunteers and they are constantly seeking for people to help operate the book store. Chores include sorting and shelving books, assisting patrons and operating the cash register.We discovered during our visit that the MFOL was founded way back in 1912 for the purpose of helping to maintain the Maui county public libraries. Somehow I think that those people with a vision way back then would be proud to see that the organization they started is still going strong.

On our visit we met John, who happens to be the volunteer coordinator for MFOL. Anyone interested in donating some of their time to this worthy cause can call him at: 808-268-2976 For more details about MFOL and directions to the book store visit the Maui Friends of the Library Website.

Many thanks to my great friend Pat who co-wrote this article with me after our visit to the MFOL.

She says that she enjoyed her stay in The Maui Garden House.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

West Maui Oceanfront Vacation Rentals

Imagine sitting on your own private oceanfront lanai and being able to throw a rock into the ocean because you are so close. Imagine having a front row seat for whale watching when the humpbacks come down from Alaska to mate and have their babies (Nov thru April). Imagine having unobstructed views of the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. Imagine sipping a cool drink and enjoying a glorious Maui sunset.
You can have all this and more just by renting a West Maui oceanfront condo directly from an owner. West Maui has a lot to offer because you will be close to shops, farmer's markets, world class golf, beautiful beaches, fantastic snorkeling and diving, whale watching tours, great restaurants and unsurpassed entertainment.

You will find that staying in a condo is much more affordable than a hotel room for many reasons. You have the option of cooking your own meals either in the kitchen or at the poolside BBQ. Also you can rent a 2 or 3 bedroom condo and share expenses with your family and friends. Most condo owners include many extras for your use, like beach towels and chairs, snorkeling equipment, sand toys, books, videos, CDs and more. You will also receive free wireless internet at most West maui condos. The oceanfront condos dotted along Maui's west side offer everything you need to make your Maui vacation a memorable one.
Check out these two great West Maui oceanfront condos.

Maui Sands One Bedroom Condo

Hololani Two Bedroom Oceanfront

For more Maui vacation rentals click here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kihei - Our Favourite Maui Place

My friend Pua from Best Hawaii Vacation Blog has written a great article about Kihei, and why it is a good place for a Maui vacation. has written a great article about Kihei, and why it is a good place for a Maui vacation. I couldn't agree with her reasons more!!! We own a condo in Kihei and spend 6 months of every year there so we can escape the winters of Canada. I would like to add one more thing to Pua's list and that is the Kihei Community Pool. Many people don't realize that the county of Maui offers free use of the community pools, and certain classes like water aerobics. For those who like to keep in shape on their vacation, water aerobics gives you fantastic exercise. The class is free but donations are welcome. See photo.
Here is some of what Pua has written and then you can follow the link to her blog to read the rest.
"Three Best Reasons why Kihei is a good place for Maui vacation
1. Kihei Maui has a beach for everyone

North Kihei offers great surfing beaches for wind- and kite surfers because of frequent wind activity. Wailea / Kahena area in South Kihei invites snorkelers and scuba-divers for some great ocean adventures. And all of the Kamaole Beaches, I, II, II together with Charlie Young Beach are 'displaying' Hawaii the way the Mainlander is dreaming of when he thinks of a Hawaii vacation: soft white sand beaches, blue skies and swaying palm trees.

2. Kihei has a condo for everybody + every budget

Naturally, when we searched for the, our, best place to stay in Kihei Maui, we cruised hundreds of websites and Kihei condo listings allowed for vacation rentals. Decision making was tough! You can choose from high end ocean front condos like Kauhale Makai, the more medium priced ocean view condos of Kihei Kai Nani or the more affordable vacation condos at Kihei Garden Estates, which we loved for its mellow Hawaiian ambience with its 2-story buildings in a tropical garden setting.

Be aware that you will always pay extra, double or triple, for ocean front or ocean view condos but again, there is a Kihei condo for everybody. Make sure that your Kihei vacation rental condo complex has a decent size pool for those days when the huge winter surf waves hit the Hawaiian Islands + Kihei during the winter months."

Read more reasons to stay in Kihei on Pua's Blog

For a lovely affordable Kihei condo stay in the Maui Garden House

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Maui Kihei Vacation Rental

I'd like to share this video of The Maui Garden House, a lovely two bedroom vacation rental condo in Kihei. Also go to their website and inquire about Summer/Fall specials.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Road to Hana in 45 Seconds

Kris Nelson, a Maui photographer, had the idea of making 450 photos of a trip to Hana, into a 45 second slide show. Perhaps if you have never been there you need to look at each photo for a longer time, but for me it just brought back the great memories of our many trips to that magical place. Below is the link to his blog post.

Incidently, Hana is a much nicer experience if you stay in a Hana Vacation Home for a night or 2. That way you can relax and enjoy the surrounding country.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maui Short Sales

Now is a great time to buy property in Maui if you happen to have some spare cash, or not. There are so many short sales happening now that it is possible to get unbelievable deals on vacation condos as long as you have the patience to wait. It might even be worth it to carry a mortgage and use it as an investment property. Even though tourism in Maui is in a bit of a slump, it is still possible to bring in enough revenue to cover costs, especially if you are renting in the high season. The great thing is that you can claim all your expenses, including the interest paid on a mortgage. If you are not familiar with the term "short sale" you may want to have a look at the following article that I came across today.

Maui Short Sales

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Night Blooming Cirrus in Maui

Just wanted to share some photos of night blooming cirrus that we saw in Maui. If you have never caught this wonderful flower in bloom, it is well worth a trip at night to see. First you need to know where it is located. The ones in these photos are along the lower Honoapiilani Rd. between Kahana and Napili on the Makai side of the road. Our friend had tipped us of that the buds were ready to pop, so we left the house around 9:30 that night and the photos tell the rest of the story. They only bloom once a year so we were thrilled that we could witness this special event. If you look closely at the hedge there is no mistaking that this flower is related to the cactus family. The foliage always reminds me of the Christmas cactus that we used to grow indoors back in Canada.

If you know of any other locations on Maui where there are night blooming cirrus, please leave a comment.
For Maui vacation rentals near this hedge try West Maui Vacation Rentals

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why Choose Maui Vacation Rentals

Maui Vacation Rentals
Named for the trickster demigod of Polynesian lore, Maui is becoming one of the most popular Hawaiian islands for tourists. Away from the madness in "Honozoolu", Maui offers the visitor the very best that Hawaii has to offer. Over the last number of years many visitors to Maui now prefer staying in vacation rentals by owner rather than hotels. Choose from Kihei condos, Hana vacation cottages, Kaanapali ocean view homes, beach homes, townhouses and many more Maui vacation home rentals all by owner. From the historic whaling town of Lahaina in West Maui, to the Kaanapali coast with is miles of beautiful beaches and world famous golf courses, to the sun-drenched 10 miles stretch of Kihei in South Maui, or a drive along the winding road to Hana through tropical rainforests, waterfalls and spectacular scenery, the Hawaiian island of Maui, is a treasure, waiting for you to explore, when you stay in one of the many Maui vacation rentals.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Special Brunch at Gian Don's - Maui

More news from Gian Don's, our favourite Kihei Restaurant. They are putting on a fabulous menu for their Mother's Day Brunch for only $19.99 per person from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
There is also live entertainment with Pam and Paul Peterson so don't miss this special day. Here is the menu.

Great value for the money. It makes your mouth water!!!!

Gian Don's Mother's Day Brunch Buffet













Call now and make a reservation to avoid disappointment.


If you are staying in the Maui Garden House you will only have a short walk.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Visit Makawao in Upcountry Maui

No vacation in Maui is complete without a trip up country to Makawao, the home of lush farmland, sheep, cattle, deer and the beautiful Jacaranda trees. It is also called cowboy or paniolo country dating back to 1793, when Captain George Vancouver brought the first cattle to Hawaii under the reign of King Kamehameha I.

This July 3 -6 Upcountry Makawao will hold its 53rd annual rodeo celebrating Independence Day Maui-style, with qualifying rounds, Bull Bash and rodeo. Read more about the Hawaiian Paniolo and be sure to take in the rodeo if you visit Maui in July.
Today we have a treat for you with more great photos by Maui photographer Jimmie Hepp. He has moved from West Maui to Makawao, and has captured some great photos of the beautiful Jacaranda trees which are now in bloom. Remember he took the fabulous photos of the Hawaiian Monk Seals.

Jimmie also caught some wildlife surprises. See below.

For a final treat, here is Jimmie's latest Maui sunset.

For more information about Maui Photographer Jimmie Hepp and to purchase photos, visit his website.

Follow this link to go on a great upcountry driving tour.

Find some affordable Maui Vacation Rentals for your Hawaiian summer holiday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Guys and Dolls - Fabulous Musical Theatre in Maui

Credits for this photo go to Ray MainsHave to blog about this because there is only one more performance which is Sunday matinee at 3:00 and you can't miss it. We were completley blown away this afternoon after we experienced a production of the classical musical comedy Guys and Dolls produced by a fantastic group of Baldwin High School Thespians under the direction of Linda Carnevale.

The talent and energy of these young people was never ending and the choreographer, Andre Morrisette deserves so much credit for the fabulous dancing and group scenes which were flawlessly executed throughout the whole performance. The orchestra, also high school students displayed exceptional talent, especially the drummer who created so many amazing sound effects. Can't say enough about the talent on this wonderful island of Maui. I hope some of the tourists will take in the local entertainment. Kudos to the whole production staff for an unforgettable show!!! I strongly encourage anyone who enjoys musicals to take in their last show Sunday April 19th at 2:00 PM. Tickets at the door.
P.S. I forgot to mention that the sets were fantastic!!!!! A very professional show!!!!!

Read the review in the Maui News.
Please let us know if you have experienced any other Maui talent during
your vacation on the Valley Isle.

Best Maui Water Aerobics at Kihei Aquatic Center

In this blog I would like to share with tourists and locals, one of the best kept secrets on Maui. A friend introduced me to water aerobics at the Kihei Aquatic Center last Fall. Until then I didn't even know that Kihei had a pool, or that it was just a short walk up the road from where we live. I also wasn't aware that the Community Pools in Maui are paid for by the State, so
anyone can use them for no admission fee. The facility itself is amazing, and features an 8 lane 50M Olympic sized competition pool, a 25 X 30 yard warm up pool and a 10 X 30 ft. Keiki pool with fountain.

In my opinion the best water aerobics classes are on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday because on those days, we are fortunate to have Sara Zander as our instructor. Not only is Sara extremely well qualified to teach a wide variety of group exercise programs, but she is also a certified personal trainer and water aerobics instructor. Her experience as a personal trainer, has given her the uncanny knack of modifying the water aerobics exercises to suit everyone's specific needs. For each exercise she always offers at least 3 levels which you can choose from, and then goes the extra mile to help people with specific problems. For example I went to the class with some hip and back issues and Sara lost no time in giving me my very own, hip/back friendly options.

For Sara's classes she recommends the use of an aqua belt, in the deep and also the shallow pool. The reason for this is that it allows you to stay buoyant enough to get the full benefit of each exercise. Wearing the belt also makes some of the exercises more difficult, thus giving you a better workout. During the class we also use water dumbbells and noodles, for upper body, arms, legs and core muscles. Believe me pushing those dumbbells down against the resistance of the water is a great way to firm up those arm muscles and doing "Superman" (underwater flutter kick), with the noodle, is a terrific leg exercise.
My favourite exercise with the noodles is called the chariot race which involves the person at the front using arms to pull the chariot along and the person behind doing Superman. Lots of fun!!!

Sara has the ability to constantly change the exercises so it is never boring and always fun. She also is expert at incorporating Yoga, Pilates and stretch into each session so when you are done, you know that every part of your body has had a workout. The class is mixed with usually at least one or two men in attendance, and attracts locals and tourists alike. I have been going now for almost 6 months and vote Sara Zander's Kihei water aerobics class the best on Maui!

Below is a short Bio on Sara
Sara Zander is originally from Santa Monica, California. She started her training as a group exercise instructor with the YMCA in 2003, where she taught aerobics, stretch, Pilates, and dance classes, as well as specialized exercise classes such as pre-natal, post-partum, cardiac rehab, and Parkinsons. In 2004 she became a certified personal trainer and water aerobics instructor.

In July of 2007, Sara moved to Maui and began work as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor for Powerhouse Gym. Sara now teaches shallow and deep water aerobic classes at the Kihei Community Center pool on Lipoa Street. Her classes are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:30 am. These classes are for everyone over 18 years of age. These classes are free, although donations are welcome. Sara encourages you to come and join in the fun. For more info, contact Sara at (808) 283-7231.

For a link to more community pools on Maui go to the Maui County Website

Would love to hear comments on your favourite water aerobics classes.

A Maui Vacation Rental - just a short walk to the Kihei Aquatic Center

Friday, April 10, 2009

Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at Maui's Sacred Garden of Maliko

On Wednesday evening I drove to Makawao with my friends Joyce, Verity and Terrill, to the Sacred Garden of Maliko. Our purpose was to go on the full moon labyrinth walk, hosted by inspirational speaker/author, Eve Hogan.Eve greeted us with hugs and offered hot chocolate or tea, which was very welcome on that particular chilly night. The sacred garden, is actually a 10,000 sq.ft. greenhouse, once known as Maliko Farms, selling only orchids. Now the nursery has an assortment of beautiful tropical plants, and offers people the ingredients to make their own private sacred gardens.

Eve invited us to have a seat in front of a beautiful massive 600 lb Buddha which was carved from a single piece of Balinese Monkeypod wood. We gathered here so that Eve could tell us a little about the history of labyrinths and to give us guidelines for walking the labyrinth paths. Until very recently I had no idea what a labyrinth actually was, except that the word conjured up the idea of a maze.

Eve told us that the difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a labyrinth does not trick you as it has only one path leading to the centre and the same path leading out. The idea of the labyrinth originated in Greek Mythology and has been adopted by many cultures as a path of peace, prayer and contemplation. It was interesting to learn that during the crusades of the 13th century, labyrinths offered a safe alternative to going on a pilgrimage, since travel to sacred destinations was much too dangerous.

The Sacred garden has a medieval 11 circuit labyrinth, modeled after the one in the famous Chartres Cathedral in France. This one has a peaceful outside location under the Kukui trees beside a running stream. Inside there is a classic 7 circuit labyrinth and it is a mysterious fact that variations of this labyrinth have been found all over the world.
We learned that the most important guideline while walking the labyrinth is to be aware that everything you feel along the way is a metaphor mirroring the things you have to pay attention to and perhaps amend in your own life. Eve told us that if we experience a feeling or thought that doesn't serve us, then we should let it go and then move on.
The middle of the labyrinth is a place for meditation, contemplation and renewal, and we were encouraged to stay there as long as we felt like. The way back out of the labyrinth is a time to think about the insights that we have had into ourselves and how we might use this knowledge to implement change in our lives.

After the introduction we all went to the outside labyrinth, and each rang a bell as we started the walk. For me the experience evoked a mixture of feelings from insecurity, to confidence and then to joy. The presence of a child running around the path was a wake up call to lighten up and not take yourself so seriously. Afterwards we all met again under the Buddha, so that those who wanted to could share their experiences. Finally Eve told us the fascinating chicken skin story of how she managed to acquire the giant Buddha, which you can read about on her website. (link below)
As we said our goodbyes, I was overcome by an amazing feeling of gratitude, for being able to share this magical evening with my friends, because a beautiful person named Eve created this lovely sacred garden. Walking the labyrinth is an amazing spiritual experience no matter what religious belief you may have.I highly recommend a visit to the Sacred Garden of Maliko, in Makawao, Maui. You can visit any time in the day, and each month Eve hosts the full moon labyrinth walk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Maui Revealed - Best Maui Travel Guide

Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty is billed as the ultimate travel guide, and I have to agree whole heartedly. This cleverly written guide, not only gives the traveler to Maui a comprehensive overview of the sights, beaches, activities, restaurants and accommodation that Maui has to offer, but it also is presented in a simple straightforward manner that makes it a necessary book to have at your fingertips.

The beginning of the book, gives basic information about Maui, including some snippets of history and also some useful Hawaiian phrases. It also includes advice on car rentals, weddings, the music of Hawaii, and how to save money on your Maui vacation. Maui Revealed is divided into the various regions of Maui, and the sights in each area. The best thing about this book is that it gives explicit directions to each place, with interesting and sometimes humorous commentary thrown in.

If you want to know the most popular beaches, great snorkeling places, hiking trails or best luau, you will find this information and much more in the Maui Revealed travel guide. The author sometimes has a biased opinion, but that doesn't stop you from seeing and judging for yourself. Most of the time Andrew Doughty is right on the mark, in his analysis of a place or activity.We keep a copy of Maui Revealed in our condo at all times, and believe me it has been very well used by our guests.

We highly recommend Maui Revealed, the ultimate travel guide to the Valley Isle.

Click on the link to buy Maui Revealed at Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook

For links to vacation rentals by owner Maui, visit Ideal Vacation Rentals - Maui

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gian Don's Italian Bistro in Kihei, Maui

We have adopted Gian Don's, an Italian Bistro just a block from our condo, as our neighborhood pub and one of our Favourite Maui Restaurants. The staff is very efficient and a lot of fun, and getting to know the locals at the bar is reminiscent of the TV sit com "Cheers".

The restaurant building is just like a Mediterranean villa with Roman pillars, and has big airy wide open doors, perfect for bringing in the tropical surrounds.

Owner Debbie Defanis, tells us that she named the restaurant after her two grandsons, Gianni and Dant'e and that Gianni's Mom is the main chef in the restaurant. We know from experience what a fabulous chef she is!!!The food is billed as affordable contemporary Italian cuisine with a splash of Maui and it is delicious. My favourite entree is the basil pasta and my husband enjoys the Gian Don's Opakapaka. They also serve wonderful pizza, great appetizers such as brushetta or shrimp scampi and their ceasar salad is to die for!! Check out their menu here.
On Sunday afternoons between 4:30 and 8:30, Gian Don's features Sunset Jazz with various talented musicians. It is here that we met Gord and Joyce, our favourite Maui Jazz Duo. So, If you enjoy live background music and great food, mark Sundays on your calendar.

Billed as Maui's most exclusive restaurant and club party site, you can reserve the restaurant for private functions such as meetings, weddings, and banquets with accommodations for up to 290 people. Smaller groups up to 30 can reserve the patio for private dining.

Gian Don's proudly flies a rainbow flag, the worldwide symbol of the LGBT community and every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday starting at 10:00 PM the place rocks with late night entertainment. For example on Saturday April 11, there will be an Ultra Fab Easter Candy theme party with a Bonnet Contest. Sounds like a blast!!! For more information about this fascinating restaurant visit the Gian Don's website.

A wonderful condo to rent in Kihei is The Maui Garden House.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Historic Iao Theatre in Wailuku, Maui

As lovers of live theatre, my husband and I discovered many years ago that Maui has an abundance of talent in this area of the arts. Our favourite venue, and home to Maui On Stage, is without a doubt the historic Iao Theatre in Wailuku.

The last production we saw was "The Sound of Music", and we were delighted by the high standard of singing, dancing, and acting as the cast recreated this timeless musical.

The program revealed that the Iao Theatre is celebrating its 80th birthday this year and just recently has undergone some fantastic changes, such as air-conditioning, new paint and a cleaner carpet. We also learned that the Maui Onstage cast volunteer on special days to help with these restoration projects. It is so wonderful that this grand old building is still in operation, with plans for more upgrades in the future.

We have come to realize over the years that the Maui Arts Community is just that, a community of people working together as a team to make great things happen.

We have heard that Maui on Stage has some great selections coming up in the remainder of 09 and into the 2010 season.
If you are a tourist on Maui or a local, you may be lucky enough to take in one of the following performances.

The Odd Couple - Sept 18.27/09
Annie - Nov 27th - Dec 13/09
To Kill a Mockingbird - Feb 26 - March 21/2010
Godspell - April 30 - May 16/2010
The Wedding Singer - July 9 - August 1/2010

Don't forget to check out some Maui Vacation Rentals for your next visit to Maui.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

My friend Nancy in West Maui, sent me some photos the other day that were taken by an outstanding Maui photographer named Jimmie Hepp. He has given me permission to show them on this blog and I am very proud. Did you know that the Hawaiian monk seal is an endangered species? Read more Jimmie somehow got these great shots of Hawaiian monk seals coming onto various West Maui beaches for a rest.

This one is just checking things out before he decides to relax.

Thankyou Jimmie for sharing with us. What a treat. I have only seen two monk seals in all our years of coming to Maui. The last one I saw was resting on a black sand beach when we stayed at a fantastic Hana Vacation Rental.
The Maui News had an interesting article about Hawaiian Monk Seals on March 16th. It basically says that even though humans haven't slaughtered the Hawaiian Monk seal since the 19th century, scientist have discovered, through a DNA study, that the Hawaiian Monk seal, for mysterious reasons, has the lowest genetic diversity of any mammal ever studied. According to the article, by staff writer Harry Eagar,this probably means that they have reduced ability to cope with changes to the environment. This has given wildlife biologists a huge challenge as they try to reverse the catastrophic decline in the species, which has been about 4% per year. This article is really worth reading so click here if you are interested.
I was horrified to receive the following letter, the other day from my sister in Canada. I had no idea that commercial hunting of seals was still allowed in my home country. How terribly embarrassing! At the end of the letter there is a link to a petition that you can sign if you would like this slaughter stopped. It may be that only Canadians can sign.

Dear Friend,
On March 3rd, Senator Mac Harb introduced a historic bill to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada. For the first time, Canadians can support a legislative initiative in our own country that would save hundreds of thousands of defenseless seal pups each year from a horrible fate. Sadly, no other Senator has yet stepped forward to support the Bill, and many are organizing to work against it. We risk the “Harb Seal Bill” being lost if we do not act quickly. Please join me in letting our leaders know how you feel about this issue. Send an email to your Senators right away to urge support for Bill S-229(the “Harb Seal Bill”) to end the seal slaughter. It will only take aminute. Click here:

I welcome any comments you have or seal stories you can share with us.
For vacation rentals on Maui Try this site: Ideal Vacation Rentals - Maui

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Puunene Sugar Museum in Maui Hawaii

If you have ever wondered how Hawaii became a melting pot of many races and cultures then take a visit to the Sugar Museum in the old Plantation town of Puunene, Maui. It was here that I learned a fascinating tale of how the sugar cane industry made Maui the culturally diverse place it is today. Not long after the Polynesians brought sugar cane to the islands in the 1800s, it soon became evident that there were not enough native Hawaiians to handle all the labor. This is when sugar entrepreneurs decided to recruit labor from various countries offering free passage and a paid guaranteed job as the incentive. The Chinese were the first to come in 1952, followed by South Sea Islanders, Japanese, Portuguese, Puerto Ricons, Filipinos, Spaniards and Russians, forming a multi-ethnic workforce. Even though the Plantation Housing was divided into ethnic "camps" with names such as "Ah Fong" for the Chinese, it wasn't long before the communities started sharing food and customs. Everyone liked the Portuguese bread, and the island has quite few of their historic ovens, reminiscent of this time (see photo). We also saw one in Hana, another early plantation town. Another custom shared by many were the communal "bath houses" built by the Japanese.

It is so hard to imagine the struggles encountered, in those early days, to provide adequate irrigation for growing cane, never mind the drudgery of working the fields and harvesting them. Water had to be brought in from the rainy east coast by open ditches that sometimes had to be tunneled through rock because of the rugged terrain. Maybe the workers liked the balmy Maui weather but life was not a vacation for them as they toiled long hours in the fields. The museum has a picture of a Japanese woman dressed from head to toe, hands and feet included, in order to keep out the dust and centipedes, a stark contrast to my weather friendly tank top and shorts. In those days the cane was harvested by hand and the jobs were allocated by age and strength. The youngsters and women had the lighter chores such as weeding, while the men had the more arduous tasks of cane-cutting, lifting and carrying. Working and living conditions were always an issue of contention with the immigrants, but finally housing became more attractive and families were encouraged as a way of stabalizing the working communities.

You may be wondering who these sugar entrepreneurs were and the museum gives very detailed histories of some of the early plantation owners.
In 1849 a sea captain named George Wilfong created Maui's first sugar plantation in Hana. A few years later his mill burned down and so he quit the business. After that two Danish brothers, August and Oscar Unna, started the Hana Plantation in 1864.
Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin established Alexander and Baldwin Co. in 1869 and it wasn't long before they had a rival in Claus Spreckels, who befriended King David Kalahaua, with the sole purpose of influencing Hawaiian politics to obtain water rights, land and desired legislation. He apparently was later kicked out of the county, so it goes to show that "Honesty is the Best Policy". For more detailed information about Maui's sugar mills Click Here.

An interested story which has not been documented in history, is that burning the cane as a reliable harvesting method was discovered by accident. Rumor has it that a jealous sugar entrepreneur set fire to his rival's field with the hope of destroying him. It backfired however, when they discovered that the inner stalks of the cane, which held all the sugar was not burned because of the large water content. Not long after this incident burning the cane became the sole method of harvesting.

Along with telling the history of the sugar cane industry, the museum also has a video playing which describes the life cycle of the cane from planting, to harvesting and processing in the mill. There is also an excellent working model of the mill showing the various stages of the process. Of special interest is that "bagasse", one of the by products is stored and then used as fuel for the boilers, and to generate electricity.

In conclusion, a visit to the Puunene Sugar Museum not only offers an important insight into the industry that became the backbone of Maui's economy for so many years, but gives us an undertanding of many interracial communities sharing a common spirit and experiences, which hopefully is still contained in that wonderful five letter word, Aloha.

A question to ponder is What is the future of the sugar cane industry in Maui. Even though Hawaii supplies 1/3 of all US sugar cane, tourism has been the major industry of the islands since the 1960s.
With environmental issues so foremost in peoples minds these days, it will be interesting to see how long the burning process which can't be healthy for our atmosphere, and the smelly smoky mill operation, will be tolerated. I for one would rather see Maui grow more food for the locals on the vast amounts of sugar cane land. We have to start having a more sustainable lifestyle or things will only get worse in the future. It is amazing to me that the production of sugar, which is no good for you, can take up so much of our green space.

We welcome your comments on Maui's Sugar Cane industy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free Hula Shows on Maui

For me the Hula (Hawaiian for dance) is synonomous with the magic of Hawaii. My first memory of watching hula, was in 1985, during our first visit to the Hawaiian Islands. Kodak used to host a free hula show at The Waikiki Shell in Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. (see photo) Apparentely this show started way back in 1937, but unfortunately has recently been canceled. Developed in the Hawaiian islands by the ancient Polynesians, the hula was danced as part of a religious program, and they even had a goddess of Hula called Laka. When the missionaries arrived in the 1830s they convinced Queen Kaahumanu that it was bad and so she made a decree that banned the hula in town. Most Hawaiians, paid little attention to this and still continued dancing. In the 1870s King Kalakaua made the hula popular again, and to this day Hula is an important aspect of Hawaiian life.In early days the hula was accommpanied by chanting, drums and gourds, but over the years song, ukulele, guitar, and even double bass were added, as a result of the western influence. The heart of Hula is the song or poetic story which is referred to as Mele. Each graceful movement of the dancers, tells the story with a kind of beautiful flowing sign language that expresses a love of nature and all the elements that make up life. Read more about the History of Hula. Below I have listed some venues in Maui, where you can be treated to a free hula show.

Kaanapali Beach Hotel - nightly torch lighting ceremony and free hula show- 6:30 - 7:30 in the Tiki Courtyard.
Lahaina Cannery Mall - Tues. and Thurs at 7:00 PM - Free Keiki (children) Hula Shows at 1:00 PM every Sat and Sun
Napili Kai Beach Resort - Keiki Hula every Tuesday at 5:30 PM
Whaler's Village - Mon, Wed & Sat - Hula and Tahitian Show - 6:30PM - 8:00PM
Every Thursday from 3:00 - 4:00 - Free Hula Lessons
Lahaina Center - Keiki Hula - Wednesdays at 2:30 PM. Fridays at 3:30 PM
Maui Mall - Sat & Sun 1:00 PM - Hula Fridays 6:30 - Hawaiian Entertainment

We welcome your comments, and let us know if there are any other places on Maui that offer a Free Hula Show.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Best Ingenious Invention on a Maui Beach

Some people will go to any lengths to get attention, as we discovered while walking on Waiohuli Beach in Kihei the other day. These creative locals had rigged up a salt water hot tub right on the beach. First they dug a large hole, and lined it with heavy plastic. Then they filled their one-of-a-kind hot tub with water right from the ocean. The pump operated by inverted energy which came from their car battery. For heat they had an old solar panel with a small barbeque underneath. Everything was somehow hooked up to the hose which fed the hot tub and circulated the water.

As you can see by the photo they even had a floating table for their drinks and they were having a ball on their day off!!! Since there was no sunshine that day, this seemed like a very sensible thing to do and they certainly didn't mind the trouble it took. We give these guys top marks for the best ingenious invention on a Maui Beach.

Incidentely, Waiohuli Beach is just a one minute walk from The Maui Garden House, a great Kihei vacation condo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Favourite Maui Restaurants

One thing Maui does not lack is restaurants, and over the years we have compiled a list of some of our favourite ones. My husband has been on a low fat diet since a heart scare about 6 years ago, so we always make sure there are vegetarian or low fat choices on the menu before we decide to stop and eat.
When we are craving a hamburger, The Cool Cat Cafe in Lahaina is where we head. It is no surprise that they apparently have been voted "Best Burger on Maui" for five years running. My favourite here is the "Jail House Rock" burger which comes between two wonderful fresh slices of french bread and is smothered in grilled mushrooms and onions. For an extra splurge you can order a basket of half fries half onion rings. (Heh, I'm not on a low fat diet yet!) My husband who loves veggie burgers is impressed by the choices they have and he usually goes for one named after Jack Lalaine, the old fitness guru? I remember my mother exercising with his TV show and he is still alive at 94. The restaurant itself has a funky 50's sort of theme, and sells real icecream milkshakes (like they used to make them) and root beer floats. The setting, overlooking the famous Lahaina Banyan Tree, makes this the perfect place to stop for lunch. If you are interested in dinner they have live music here every night.

When we used to stay at Maui Sands on the Lower Honoapiilani Rd. we discovered the Honokowai Okazuya and Deli. It is a take out place so you can call in your order and enjoy a fantastic meal in your condo or on the beach. The Kung Pao chicken is to die for and my husband's favourite is the Mahi Mahi Lemon Caper broiled.

Also on the West Side, The Sea House on the beach at Napili Bay is a gem of a place. You can have a wonderful ocean front lunch and watch whales at the same time. My very favourite item on the menu here is the Coconut Crusted Prawns. They are huge and delicious, especially when you dip them in the yummy sauce. Guess what Mr. Fitness himself has? You guessed it, he chooses the low fat fruit salad and cottage cheese.

For fine dining on the West Side, The Plantation House Restaurant in Kapalua on the Plantation Golf Course is our favourite. A few years ago, while having lunch with our friends and their teenage son Kevin, we looked out of the window and there was Michael Jorden, getting out of his golf cart about 100 yards away. Kevin was so excited he could hardly contain himself.

Swan Court in the Hyatt although pricey is lovely for a special treat. It sits on a man made pond with swans swimming almost right to your table. We went there once for my birthday and I have a special memory of a beautiful Hawaiian dancer doing the Hula just for our table. The breakfast buffet there is also quite a spectacular event.

We also love Canoes, just north Lahaina town, because every Sunday from 3:00 to 6:00 they have live jazz in the lounge. If you stay and have the early bird special in their restaurant before 6:00 you get a 3 course meal for a very reasonable price.

There are also many great restaurants in Kihei. Stella Blues, in the Azeka Makua centre, is a mainstay for reasonably priced, breakfast, lunch or dinners. The food is consistently excellent and my favouite sandwich on the lunch menu is the BLT with fresh roasted turkey. Fresh is the key for me because one thing I don't like is when restaurants use processed meats in their sandwiches. 

The Cafe O' Lei, in the Kihei Rainbow Mall, has to be one of the most popular restaurants on the south side so make sure you make a reservation. It is pricey but the food is fabulous and the service is excellent!

Mulligans on the Blue is another favourite of ours. It is located on the Blue Golf Course in Wailea across from the Fairmont Hotel.  If you like entertainment during dinner don't miss Joyce and Gord, a fantastic Jazz duo, who play there on Monday nights. (Call first to make sure they are going to be there)  Famous local entertainer Willie K also has a dinner show there on Wednesdays.

Kihei has a wide variety of restaurants to suit every budget. We haven't tried them all yet but if you just drive down South Kihei Road you can find, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Greek and almost any type of food your little heart desires.
I can't leave this blog without a mention of some North Shore and Up Country restaurants. The Paia Fish Market has excellent fresh fish at bargain prices, and Cafe Mambos, with it's easy going ambiance, is another great place to get a burger, as is Charlie's on the main drag just as you go out of Paia towards Hookipa. Charlie's is a favourite hang out of Willie Neslon, so if you get lucky, he may drop in and play a few tunes. If you keep driving towards Hookipa lookout you will come to the famous Mama's Fishhouse, which is a classy, very pricy, restaurant on the beach with valet parking, and scrumptuous food.
In Makawao, up in cowbow country we recommend Casanova Italian Restaurant and in Kula our favourite is at The Kula Lodge. Situated at an elevation of 3200 ft. the restaurant overlooks beautiful tropical gardens, and spectacular sweeping views from mountains to the ocean.
This just about wraps up our favourite Maui restaurants. If you have a favourite Maui restaurant please leave a comment and let us know what we have been missing.
If you need a vacation rental to stay in while on Maui check out this website.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Maui Vacation Rentals

Maui vacation rentals offer a clever and affordable alternative to hotel accommodation, for the traveller to this wonderful Hawaiian island. Not only are vacation rentals self catering, allowing you to save money by cooking your own meals, but they also have much more room to accommodate your family and friends. Maui vacation rentals include beachfront condos with spectacular views of the surrounding islands and a front row seat for whale watching. Many Maui vacation rentals are condos situated on beautiful tropical grounds with tennis, shuffleboard and heated pools. Renting an old Hawaiian style cottage is also an option. Enjoy a resort setting without having to deal with the crowds of tourists at Maui hotels.A smart idea for those travelling to Maui for a wedding or with family and friends is to rent a large vacation home and share the cost. This makes it much more affordable than staying in a hotel and the amenities are fantastic. If you choose Maui vacation rentals don't forget that the guest book is the Best Vacation Travel Guide, because it contains experiences and suggestions from real time travelers to Maui. Also read Our Maui Travel Guide for some suggestions of things to see and do on your Maui vacation.
Also try Ideal Vacation Rentals for vacation rentals by owner in Maui.

Please leave comments about Maui vacation rentals that you would recommend.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Best Maui Jazz Band of 2005

One sunday afternoon as we approached Gian Don's, an Italian Bistro in Central Kihei, we were drawn to the door by the sweet inviting sounds of live music. This was the first time that we had the privilege of listening to Joyce Kelly and Gord Shoults, the very talented husband and wife duo, who play and sing a wide variety of music, probably best classified under easy listening with a jazz flavor.

While Joyce plays piano and sings in her own versatile style, Gord accompanies and plays solo on either double bass, sax or clarinet. (He hasn't yet figured out how to play all 3 instruments at once) Together they produce a special blend for listening, dining and dancing, and if you want an evening of nostalgia, believe me you will get one. They love to take requests from the audience, and know a plethora of songs, ranging from swing, old standards, war songs, show tunes, Hawaiian songs (sung in Hawaiian) and current M.O.R.

Joyce and Gord have been doing musical gigs on Maui since 1988, and in the early days began by playing at condo parties, private parties and dinner cruises out of Ma'alaea. It wasn't long before they were noticed by business owners and other local jazz musicians who requested their musical talents. As we chatted in their Kihei home, one theme was constantly in the foreground of their story. It seemed that they had a connection with every person in Maui's musical community.

For example it turns out that Joyce and Gord met the Eiting family when they ran the Oasis Poolside Bar at the Maui Coast Hotel. At that time Gord and Joyce performed there 3 nights a week over a 4 year period. Jerry Eiting, one of the bar tenders used to break out in song from the bar to their accompaniment and often delighted patrons by singing "If Ever I Would Leave You" and other musical theatre numbers. Debra Lynn also graced this bar with her talents before Jerry and she were an item. Read more about this couple at: Favourite Maui Entertainers.

While playing at Sir Wilfred's Coffee House (formerly in the Maui Mall) they met famous Hawaiian educator and jazz musician Henry Allen. They were invited to work with him doing educational concerts for schools and conventions.

I was also fascinated to learn of the many places they have blessed with their music, which now have changed ownership. It brought home the resounding message that nothing stays the same so enjoy it while it is here.

Point in fact, Joyce and Gord performed for three years at the Pizazz Jazz Club in Kihei (now Tip Ups). The owner later opened Yorman's, now an Indian restaurant in Menehune Shores where they did another three year stint.

In 2001, they used to perform at Bella Luna Lounge (now Capische) at the Diamond Resort in Wailea and as fate would have it the owner of Bella Luna also owned the Blue Clubhouse (now Mulligan's on the Blue) so of course he wanted them to alternate between places.

Chums, now the home of Cafe 'O Lei on South Kihei Road used to be a hot spot of entertainment and was another venue for Gord and Joyce. Of interest was that prior to Chums it was called Kihei Seas, where a popular duo Miles Yoshida and Dennis Manawaiti used to perform. (Miles or Smiles as he is also known, more recently used to perfom with Rudy Aquino in the Tiki Bar at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel)

Also way back there was a place called La Pastaria in Lipoa Centre which evolved into Hapa's Nightclub and Horhito's Cantina. They played in both for 2 seasons.

Rounding out their variety of musical venues have been many free-to-the-public performances at several Maui shopping centers, most notably, the Shops at Wailea, where they have performed regularly at WOW (Wailea on Wednesdays) since its inception in 2003.

During our visit with Gord and Joyce they shared many stories with us and we were overwhelmed by the musical history that these two multi-talented people share, starting in a well known restaurant called Bragg Creek Steak Pit, near Calgary Canada. The restaurant was built by Gord in 1961 and he has only recently sold it.

In early days Gord was a full-time musician with the Canadian Army Band (Lord Strathcona Horse) and they toured for over six years, backing such notables as Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Helen Reddy, Rich Little, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Patti Page, Moscow Circus and Disney on Parade, to mention a few.

To Joyce's credit, she has shared the stage with Tiny Tim, Vaughn Monroe and Lionel Hampton and opened for Mel Torme and Cleo Laine. She also has appeared in two movies, "Superman" and "Fourth War", as well as numerous television appearances, including her own nationally syndicated musical show which ran for two years across Canada.

Joyce and Gord are Canadians and live on Saturna Island in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. We are so fortunate that they come to Maui each winter to share their music with us but you had better catch them soon, because nothing stays the same.

At present until the end of April, they perform at Mulligan's On The Blue in Wailia on various dates. (Call Mulligan's to find out) They also still play for private parties, weddings and condo parties.
As an update to this post, please note that Gian Don's restaurant is no longer open for business.

Credit for the photo goes to Virginia RettusCredit for the title "Best Maui Jazz Band of 2005", goes to Maui Times, 07/25/05