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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Best Maui Vacation Guide

We have been condo owners in Maui for 13 years and our guest book is the best Maui vacation guide that you could possibly get because it contains a wealth of information and tips left by our guests. It is full of comments which pass on the excitement and fun of so many wonderful Maui vacations. Better still, our guests tell of their favourite restaurants, snorkeling spots, drives, tours, walks and more which they were delighted and happy to share with future guests. They also leave nice comments about how they appreciated the special touches that we thought of to make them feel as comfortable as possible in their home away from home.

No wonder, the first thing we do when we arrive late at night on our flight from Canada, is to sit down and read all the nice comments our guests have left. It makes us feel happy and proud that we have helped make their Maui vacation a memorable one.

We also take advantage of the many useful tips on things to do and places to see, which were so graciously given from the real life experiences of our guests. We know that this is how most vacation rental owners feel so we encourage you to try renting from an owner if you have always in the past stayed in hotels. We haven't as yet seen a guest book in any hotel room we have stayed in.
If you own a vacation rental and don't have a guest book yet, make sure that you put it at the top of your "to do" list and over time you will have the best vacation guide for your area, as we did for Maui. We call our Kihei Maui vacation rental The Maui Garden House.

For links to more vacation rentals by owner worldwide try Ideal Vacation Rentals

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Maui on a Budget

They say "The Best Things in Life are Free" and Maui has plenty of wonderful activities to offer if you are on a tight budget.
Walking the beaches in Maui is one such treat. The sand is clean, and on many of the Maui beaches, you can walk barefoot for miles and miles along the shoreline. From November through March you can watch the humpback whales right from the shore, as they come in very close when they are giving birth and training their new born calves. Don't believe it when people say you have to pay money to go on a whale watching tour. We have seen the most awesome displays of breaching and tail waving with our feet planted firmly on the ground. Add snorkeling, good old swimming and sun bathing and you have a fantastic day, especially if you are fortunate enough to meet up with "Honu" the Hawaiian green sea turtle. Since Honu, stands for luck the rest of your day is guaranteed to be spectacular.
Maybe after your swim in the warm tropical sea you might head for the old whaling village of Lahaina and explore the many shops and restaurants. Or take in the free Whaling museum at Whaler's Village and learn about bygone days of whaling ships and Missionaries.

A trip to Hana is a must, and it will only cost you the gas for your car. As you wind your way through spectacular tropical scenery and beautiful waterfalls along Maui's east coast, you will reach the charming town of Hana with its quaint general store, and a small selection of shops. If you keep going past Hana you will see the Seven Sacred Pools, a series of fresh water pools which go right down to the ocean. You may want to stop and take a dip to cool off before you take the road back to Kahului. If you want to make the trip a little more enjoyable and yet still affordable, consider staying in a Hana vacation rental, where you can cook your own meals.

The next day, you can pack a picnic lunch and head off to Haleakala, the dormant volcano. The summit rewards you with great views of the crater, and if you like hiking there are many trails to explore, where you can enjoy the flora and fauna of the area. A spectacular experience is to be there for sunrise. This means getting up at 3:30 in the morning but is well worth the early start, and, hey, you're on holiday so you can have a nap if you get sleepy after lunch.

A beautiful drive upcountry through Kula will bring you to the Tedeschi Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. The ranch has quite a history and it is fun to taste the local pineapple and passion fruit wines. You may or may not wish to purchase a bottle, but otherwise this memorable trip will only cost you the gas to get there.

A lovely drive is to the last lava flow on Maui. To get there drive through Kihei and beautiful Wailiea and keep going until you find yourself surrounded by lava fields. If you drive to the end of the road you will come to Le Perouse Bay, a great snorkeling spot.

Maui is starting to get some pretty decent cycling paths, so you can bicycle in safety if that's your bag.

Untold millions of Maui lovers have returned to this paradise island for wonderful vacations. Fabulous people, fabulous climate and affordable activities, add up to an unforgettable holiday for you and your family.
If you want to have self catering accommodations on Maui, you can share costs and save money by choosing from Maui Vacation Rentals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Favourite Maui Entertainers

We are sad to say that two of our favourite Maui entertainers are leaving the island to help out Debra's family in Florida. The first time we saw husband and wife team Debra and Jerry perform, was at the historic Iao Theatre in Wailuku. They did selections from Broadway with such flair and pizazz that we became followers for life. Their unique love story is a fairytale that began when she was Guinevere and he was Lancelot in a production of Camelot at the Iao Theatre in 1998. From that day they became fast friends and musical partners, and over the years have delighted Maui audiences with many concerts, dinner shows and Musical Theatre productions.
A special night for us was a St. Patrick's Day dinner show at Mulligan's on the Blue in Wailea. They had just returned from a tour of Ireland and related to us a beautiful story of Jerry proposing in a small stone church, in the town of Ballyvaughan. They sang Irish songs of course, as well as other favourites and the slide show presentation of their photos of Ireland completed a magical evening. Needless to say on Aug 6, 2006, they got married in the Iao Theatre where they had first met. This time it was a happy ending for Guinevere and Lancelot and the wedding was a wonderful event with knights in shining armor and music from Camelot. To top off this surreal occasion, former mayor Alan Arakawa declared Aug 6, 2006 as Jerry Eiting and Debra Lynn day.

Debra and Jerry each bring their own special talents to the relationship and the combination is dynamite. While Jerry had a BFA in musical theatre, Debra has a BA in voice performance and was also trained in the Italianate Bel Canto "Beautiful Singing" tradition.

This Christmas we were proud to be a part of the "Sing it Youself Messiah" held in the Ballroom of the Hyatt hotel in Kaanapali. Debra Lynn was the soprano soloist and her talents as a classical singer were obvious as she flawlessly tackled the difficult music.

Other memorable performances by these special people were Jerry as Professor Hill in the 2008 production of The Music Man, the annual Christmas in Wailuku concerts at the Iao Theatre, and Phantom with Debra as Christine and Jerry as Count de Chandon.

We attended their last concert "Inspired By Love" and of course it was on Valentine's Day. The audience didn't want to leave and understandably there wasn't a dry eye in the house as they sang their last goodbye to Maui.

Much to their credit Debra and Jerry were founders of the Maui Civic Light Opera, now a mainstay in the Maui arts community.

I have not nearly covered the many acheivements of this amazing and talented couple, but suffice it to say that they will be sorely missed on Maui and we hope and pray they will be back, if not to live, at least to share their music with us again.

Credit for the wonderful "Inspired by Love" photo goes to photographer David Hessemer

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hana Vacation Rental - Hana Aloha Hale

Recently we had friends visiting from Canada and we decided that a visit to Maui is not complete unless you have driven the road to Hana. From past experience we know that as you wind your way along the spectacular east coast of Maui, through the tropical rain forests, past cascading waterfalls and quaint little towns, you become acutely aware that this amazing adventure is all about the journey. We also know that once you arrive in Hana you must spend at least one night there to connect with this very spiritual place. We had already booked our Hana vacation home from owner Lee Lopez whom we had met the day before at his home in Haiku. Hana Aloha Hale sits on 2.5 acres overlooking the ocean.

Surrounded by beautiful palms and tropical flowers, the vacation home with its many windows is designed to bring the outside in and offers a peaceful retreat where you can relax and enjoy just being alive. The garden also hosts a variety of fruit trees and Lee, very hospitably had told us to help ourselves to avocado, papaya and passion fruit. We enjoyed a wonderful happy hour accompanied by the delicious guacamole that we made from an enormous ripe avocado.

Also on the property Lee has built an original Hawaiian Hale crafted as in ancient days when there were no nails or screws and everything was made by hand. For those who want to experience traditional Hawaiian living, the Hale is also available to rent.
In the morning after a pleasant night sleep we awoke to a musical symphony put on by the resident tropical birds and then an amazing sunrise over the ocean. Breakfast was complete with the papaya and passion fruit that we had found the day before. We also enjoyed some amazing tasting juice from some organic oranges that Lee grows on his Haiku farm.

After breakfast we took a walk that Lee had highly recommended. As we made our way along a path overlooking the ocean we came to a large deep bay and were rewarded by the sight of humpback whales enjoying the warm Hana waters. Further along the trail we saw a monk seal resting on the black sand beach and further again we walked through a lush green field past a large herd of grazing cattle who looked at us with a bit of suspician. Luckily for us there were no bulls in the herd so we didn't have to worry about being chased. Our Irish friend Carol, noticed that most of them were laying down, which she said was a sign that rain was on the way. Superstition or not, it did sprinkle a bit of warm pineapple juice, so maybe the lucky pennies she kept finding really were pennies from heaven.
We were sad when it was time to leave our Hana Vacation Home but Carol, Fred, Les and I will be back to the Hana Aloha Hale and highly recommend it if you want an unforgettable Hana experience! Many Mahalos to our native Hawaiian host, Lee Lopez, for sharing his beautiful Hale with us.
If you have a Hana experience to share please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Humpback Whales of Maui

One of the best things about a trip to Maui in the winter is the excitement of seeing the humpback whales that travel from Alaska each year to mate and give birth in our warm tropical waters.
It is hard to imagine that more than 10,000 whales make this long return journey of over 3000 miles to bless the shores of Hawaii with their magnificent presence.

I remember being so excited the first time that I heard the whale's songs while snorkeling off Black Rock with Syl, my snorkel buddy sister. I have since learned that the songs can last from 10 to 20 minutes, and are often repeated for hours. It is thought that perhaps these plaintive melodies have something to do with mating.

Another interesting fact about the Humpbacks is that they fast during the 6 months that they are in Maui. This is because their food supply is way up in Alaska so they fill up on krill, small fish and plankton before making their long journey. It is only the calves that get to feed on their mothers' sweet rich milk during their stay here.

A visit to the Whaler's Museum in Kaanapali is a worthwhile diversion for those interested in learning more about these amazing mammals. There is a fascinating display which tells the story of the old whaling days in Lahaina. Also there is a small theatre that shows some excellent videos on humpback whales. Admission to the museum is free.

No trip to Maui is complete without a whale watching excursion. Our favourite company for whale watching is the Pacific Whale Foundation because they are very eco-friendly and their goal is to save and protect whales through research and education. Another plus is that they always have a certified marine biologist on board.

Yesterday we had fun attending Maui Whale Day in Kihei. This special day is part of the Maui Whale Festival's month long celebration of Humpback Whales, and a fundraiser for the marine education program offered to Maui school children by Pacific Whale Foundation's marine education team. The day started off with a delightful parade and then onto Kalama Park for a huge craft fair, and many food venues representing some of Maui's favourite restaurants.

If you have the good forture to come on a Maui vacation we know that you will learn to love Humpback Whales, as we do.

Consider staying in a Maui Vacation Home during your visit to the "Valley Isle".

Friday, February 20, 2009

Favourite Maui Beaches

It is a fact that Maui beaches are rated among the best in the world, and water sports are unsurpassed. Kaanapali Beach is one of our favourite beaches, and here you can either walk for miles on the sand, or take a leisurely stroll along a pathway, which extends from the Hyatt, through Whaler's Village and ends up at the Sheraton Hotel. Black Rock, a popular snorkeling spot with a nice sandy beach is directly in front of the Sheraton. If you cut through the Sheraton, the walkway continues and goes to Kahekili Beach Park (formerly called airport beach). There is good reef just to the right, in front of the Maui Westin Resort. Here we have seen green sea turtles, lots of colourful fish, octopus and moray eels. The nice thing about this beach, is that because it is a state park it has washrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQ pits and a large parking lot.
A couple of other West Maui beaches worthy of note, are Kapalua (see photo), and Napili, both great family beaches and snorkeling spots. Napili is terrific for boogie boarding, and our kids still have great memories of the fun they had playing in the waves.

Charley Young Beach - Kihei
Kihei, on the south side of the island, also boasts some outstanding beaches. As you make your way south along South Kihei road, you will come to attractive Charley Young Beach, just across from the Maui Vista.

After that you will come to the Kama'ole Beaches I, II and III. These beaches are very family friendly, with life guards, showers, and lovely golden sand.

The last and perhaps nicest Kihei beach just before turning up to Wailea is Keawakapu. Here you will find a wide expanse of beautiful sand both on the beach and in the water, making it perfect for swimming, walking or building sand castles.

Wailea Beach Walk
A beautiful beachwalk, similar to the one in Kaanapali starts at Ulua Beach, and goes all the way up to the Fairmont resort. This makes for a wonderful morning or sunset walk and a great place to spot whales. As you make your way along the walkway you will cut through beautiful Wailea beach in front of the Grand Wailea hotel. If you walk in the evening you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of the luau entertainment going on at a few of the hotels.

Big Beach in Makena is one of Maui's better known and most popular beaches, with its wide expanse of sand and great conditions for swimming, snorkeling, sun bathing and playing in the waves.

Black Sand Beach in Hana
There are of course many more lesser known Maui beaches which also have merit, including a black sand beach in Hana.
I didn't go into all the snorkeling places in this blog and will save that for another time.

If anyone has a favouite Maui beach to share with us, please do leave a comment on this blog.

If you are coming to Maui and need a place to stay, contact us about our Maui Garden House.