Monday, January 24, 2011

Best Authentic Luau on Maui - Polynesian Village Luau - Kihei

We have attended many luaus on Maui over the years, but last Sunday we were honoured to partake in the most authentic Polynesian experience we have ever had. As a bonus, the venue is practically on our doorstep here in Kihei.

The Polynesian Village Luau is located at the Aston Maui Lu on South Kihei Road. Billed as "A sustainable and culturally responsible production", this intimate backyard Luau is my choice for the Best Luau on Maui.

First and foremost there was no standing in line with hundreds of people because attendance is limited to 50 - 75 guests. On arrival we were led immediately to our table and then greeted by Samoan Chief "FiaFia" who also was the delightful and comical MC for the whole evening. We were invited to wander around before dinner and take part in the many cultural activities representing the different islands of Polynesia.
Deb and I chose fresh flower Hawaiian lei making while the guys did some spear throwing, and Maori poi ball dancing. For the kids there was a jumpy castle, keiki shave ice and a station where they could colour coconuts.

Maori poi dance from New Zealand

Deb and Dave had fun trying to blow the conch shell, after they were given a quick lesson on how to pucker up their lips and give it all they had. With a bit of beginners luck on hand they both managed to produce a reasonable farewell to the Maui sun as it slipped down behind the palm trees and disappeared.

 Before dinner Chief FiaFia called eveyone over to the fire pit for the IMU (hot earth oven)demonstration. A young volunteer helped with the preparation of the fish, and covering it with the hot coals and banana leaves for the cooking process.

In no time at all we were called for dinner and lined up at the buffet. The great part was that we didn't have to wait for this either. The main courses, prepared Hawaiian BBQ style, included barbequed chicken, garlic opakapaka, barbequed short ribs and of course Kalua pork. These were complemented by other favourite local dishes as well as some yummy desserts. They even had a kikei menu so the kids could have macaroni and cheese and hotdogs if they preferred. Available drinks included tropical smoothies, coconut drinks, iced tea and pog. Even though the village does not yet have a liquor licence they have no problem with you bringing your own refreshments.

After dinner it was time for the show and chief "Fia Fia" started things rolling with the Kava Ceremony, the traditional welcome for guests which was performed in many Polynesian cultures. Next was a special hula called Kahiko, honouring the ancient past of the area. The rest of the show took us on a colourful journey to all the Polynesian islands with live drumming, songs, music and dance.
The grand and exciting finale of the evening was an amazing fire dancer, surely the best we have seen anywhere.

Probably the most impressive thing about The Polynesian Village Luau is that they are dedicated to supporting conservation of the ancient areas surrounding the venue. These include the Ko'ie'ie fishpond, the neigboring island of Kaho'olawe and Kalepolepo (the South Maui Heritage Corridor)

We loved the intimate and family friendly atmosphere of the luau, and will definitely tell everyone we know, about the Best Luau on Maui. For more information visit the website of the Polynesian Village Luau.

If you stay in a Kihei Vacation Rental you will be close to this Luau and many other activities.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spelunking on Maui at Hana Lava Tube

Hana Lava Tube
We have driven the road to Hana on many occasions in the past, oblivious to the fact that one of Maui's Greatest Natural Wonders is just on the outskirts of Hana near the 31 mile marker.
Hana Lava Tube (aka: Ka'eleku Caverns) was created hundreds of years ago from flowing hot molten lava after an eruption of the Haleakala volcano. According to the Wikipedia, "a lava tube is a type of cave that is formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow, develps a continuous and hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still flowing lava stream." read more.
owner Chuck Thorne
On arrival at the Lava Tube we were greeted by Chuck, the owner of Maui Cave Adventures. This seems appropriate since the lava tube is situated underneath his property and he did all the tedious work to make it presentable for visitors.

Chuck was eager to share his knowledge of the lava tube with us and showed us a map of the underground cave system. He told us that it would take 27 hours to walk the whole tube, and the portion open to the public was 1/3 of a mile which translated into a 35 minute walk. He let us know that the cave was free of mosquitoes and bats, and there were hand rails along the cinder path, making it safe and easy to navigate.

Dave and Deb all set to go Spelunkingentrance to the cave
Finally, armed with highly powered LED flashlights and an even more powerful one to enable better photo taking, we were ready to start our self-guided tour adventure.
Deb armed with the flashlights

inside The Hana Lava Tube Cave
As we entered the cave we were surprised at how large and roomy it was and thought that maybe even those prone to being claustrophobic might be just fine here. We were also impressed that along the way were interpretive signs which explained everything we were seeing. For example when we passed a couple of cow bones, the sign told how in years past the cave was used by cattle ranchers to dispose of the remains of slaughtered cattle. I guess that Chuck probably had to work hard hauling out all the bones, before he made it into a visitor friendly place.

surface opening in cave ceiling
Part way along the trail, light poured in through a surface opening in the ceiling, the only opening to the cave besides the entrance. A fascinating section of the cave had the most unusual formations of hardened lava and is deliciously named "The Chocolate Corridor" Here, the ceilings were covered with stalactites, so much resembling chocolate kisses that it made you want to reach up, snatch one when noone was looking, and pop it in your mouth.

Stalagtites resembling chocolate kisses
We knew we were at the end of the tour when we came to a rope which prevented you from exploring any further into the tube. As we turned around there was also an interesting auxiliary cave to explore, which resembled a long room.

As we made our way back we passed a few other visitors with their flashlights and overheard a young boy saying what an awesome place the chocolate cave was. This is a very family friendly adventure and a must do if you like the idea of spelunking, more commonly known as caving. Those who are not able to explore the cave can wander through a Red Ti Botanical Garden Maze, located above the cave.

Picnic Area and Red Ti Maze
There is also a picnic area so take your lunch and enjoy an unforgettable Maui experience at the Hana Ka'eleku Caverns.

The Hana Lava Tube is open 7 days a week, 365 days per year from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The cost is a very affordable $11.95 each and free for children under five.

When we go to Hana we like to stay in a privately owned Hana Vacation Rental, so that we have more time to really get to know this special place.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Choice for 2010 Christmas Puzzle - Waikiki by Eric Dowdle

Waikiki Puzzle by Eric Dowdle
In keeping with one of our Family Christmas Traditions that I wrote about last year, we went looking for a puzzle to work on over the Christmas season. It was as challenging as last year to find a suitable puzzle on the island, but finally we saw that Costco had a large selection by an artist named Eric Dowdle, representing many cities all over the world.  We chose a 500 piece one of Waikiki and as soon as we got home, my husband spilled it out on the dining room table and started turning pieces over. I let him work on it for quite a while before I got into the act because everyone has a different way of organizing a project. Or is it because I am lazy when it comes to the tedious parts, so it is much easier to let someone else do them?  When I finally got involved, however, I was not very popular when I moved some of the sky pieces from bottom to the top where I thought they should be. Oh and I also tried to get the border happening as well.  I guess his plan was a little different than mine but after a bit more quibbling we decided to grow up, and work together towards a common end.  In this case completing a lovely beach scene smack in the middle of Waikiki and the big hotels. 'Voila', the puzzle is now finished and we debated putting it on a background for posterity. In the end it just seemed easier to put the pieces back in the box for another time. At any rate Waikiki by Eric Dowdle is our choice for the best 2010 Christmas puzzle.

I decided to google Eric Dowdle and found his website. He is a very talented artist and is known for his whimsical paintings.  A quote from his site reads as follows. "Folk Artist Eric Dowdle has applied his unique style to cities around the country and world. His paintings have been honored and displayed in exhibits and galleries everywhere. They stand apart as they encompass the essence of what people feel about their homes and country." 
Next Christmas I won't be tramping around Maui trying to find a puzzle. I'll do it the easy way and order one online from Eric Dowdle.
If you are thinking of going to Waikiki in the New Year, some of those big buildings near the beach also have condos that you can rent from an owner.
Find some Oahu Vacation Rentals for your inter-island visit.

Did you work on a puzzle this Christmas season? If so would you recomment it? Would love to hear your comments.