October 2014 Maui

Yesterday we went snorkeling at Maluaka beach, which is another of our favorites. But, we were too nervous to enjoy it, for different reasons, both stemming from the fact that the swells were moderate. What made me nervous is that I didn’t want to be directly over the coral because I was afraid of being slammed in to it on a downdraft (probably not the right word). What made Lis nervous is that the swells kicked up sand and made the water murky, which are the conditions that are more conducive to shark attacks. Plus this beach is the site of a few shark attacks over the last several years, plus we learned that Makena Landing, just up the coast, is home to some reef sharks (no idea if these are the same sharks that did the attacking – probably not, as their presence seems to be a draw for divers). So I kept wanting to go farther out to avoid the coral, and Lis kept wanting to stay close in to avoid the sharks. Too bad, because on good days we’ve had some amazing snorkeling here. Ah, well.

It was a beautiful day, though, and standing in the water looking at the sea and other islands, I got the idea to do a picnic lunch at one of the easily accessible Kihei beaches so Mom could experience it, too. So we grabbed some burgers at Stewart’s Burgers, then sat at a picnic table at Kalama Beach Park and watched some surfers. It was a bit windy, but otherwise very pleasant, and the burgers were good.

After lunch we went back to the condo to rest up for the evening’s activity, which was the hula show in the lounge at the Four Seasons, which we try to get to whenever we’re on Maui. It is a very low key affair – just a single, modestly attired hula dancer, accompanied by a couple guys on guitar. They used to include a torch lighting ceremony as part of the hula show, but now it takes place separately, with even less fanfare than the hula show. I miss it being more featured.

We sat in the lounge and ordered pupus and drinks and enjoyed the show and the open air lounge. When the band took their first break, we headed home. It felt like we had been out late, but when we looked at the clock, it was only 7:30pm! We didn’t last much longer than that – I think we were all in bed by 10.

This morning we were all up early, and Lis and I hit the snorkel beach early. We went back to Ulua beach this time, as we figured we’d be less likely to freak out about sharks there. The surf was a little lower, so visibility was good, and soon after entering the water, Lis spotted an octopus. In getting my attention so she could show it to me, she lost sight of it. But soon thereafter, I spotted it, too. He looked just like the surrounding coral when he was on it. Then he would take off and swim, turning a deep reddish-purple. Then he would land on some coral and immediately assume the color and texture of his surroundings. Once I saw a YouTube video showing an octopus doing this and wondered if it was doctored, it was so unreal.

Then our sea turtle came by again, and he was moving slowly enough that we were able to swim with him for a long time – really one of the best things on earth, swimming (at a respectful distance, of course) with a sea turtle. Eventually, though, he started heading out to sea, and we decided we’d best not go with him, so we headed back to the coral and the fishies.

We’d noticed before, and noticed again today, that there were a ton of what seemed to be baby fish at this reef. At Ulua beach there is often a person from a local society whose aim is to protect the reefs, and we asked her about it. She said yes, there are a lot of juvenile fish here. (She also said the reef is having a small bleaching problem due to El Nino (or maybe La Nina? I forget), but it should bounce back when (if?) the weather goes back to normal.) When we were de-sanding at the beach’s showers, another woman there said that the vast numbers of juvenile butterfly fish (literally hundreds of them) only happens every 15 years. Who knows if this is true, but it’s a fun story and we decided to believe it.

For lunch today we went to Pita Paradise in Wailea. The owner is Greek/Sicilian, and a fisherman who in the morning personally catches the fish served that day in the restaurant. So there are Greek and Sicilian family recipes and incredibly fresh fish. It was super good and not too expensive – we might go back.

After lunch we went upcountry. We wanted to check out the Surfing Goat Dairy, and we wanted to check out some of the art galleries in Makawao, particularly the Jordanne Gallery, as we had bought some of the artist’s work on a previous trip to Maui and thought it would be fun to check in with her.

It was a pleasant drive up the mountain, and we went to the goat farm first. Lis had her heart set on taking the every-half-hour tour of the farm, where they let you pet goats and taste cheeses. Alas, they only do the tour if at least 2 people sign up, and no one had, and neither Mom nor I could be talked in to traipsing around a farm in the heat of the day (it was about 2pm and about 85 degrees). Poor Lis! She did manage to talk one of the guys there in to a mini tour where he took her over to a goat pen and she petted a goat. Mom and I ate passion fruit gelato in the shade while we waited.

Then on to Makawao, which is a cute little town. Our artist’s gallery was closed, though – we could only peer through the glass at some of her artwork. Plus the general store no longer had the vegan pineapple upside down cake we’ve gotten there before. We went home through Pa’ia, with the intention of stopping at Pa’ia Gelato – but traffic was jammed and we couldn’t find parking. All in all, then, except for the drive itself, which was scenic, upcountry was a bit of a bust.

We had leftovers from lunch, and some wine in the fridge, which made for a lovely dinner on the lanai. And so another great day in Maui comes to an end.

On Tuesday Lis and my mom and I arrived on Maui. Our friend Jane was supposed to be coming, too, but she had a bunch of stuff come up at the last minute and had to cancel. This made us all very sad, but it was still exciting to be headed to Hawai’i (Miss you, Jane!).

Mom was last in Hawai’i in 1972, and has been wanting to come back since then, so Lis and I are pleased to be taking her. She (Mom) is a little bit trepidatious (word?) about Maui, because when she was here before it was stormy and miserable, but it’s the island we’re most familiar with, so we thought it would be best to come here so we’d have a better idea of how things are laid out and which things might be more taxing, as Mom doesn’t get around as well as she used to. (Aside: she does have a walker, which I made her get and which she hates, and which we were going to make her bring so she’d have more options. But she sneakily refrained from reminding me about it when I picked her up, and I didn’t remember it until we were at the airport and it was too late, and she had a slight but unmistakably triumphant smile. So, Mom 1, Lis & Mary 0.)

The flight was pleasant, and soon enough we were on the ground in Maui. We were at the back of the plane, and as we were waiting to get off, Lis said “What’s that smell?” It was Maui – the doors were open and all the scents of all the flowers were wafting in. Gotta love it.

We are staying in a two bedroom condo in the Grand Champions in Wailea. It’s comfortable and well laid out, and includes all the local guides that you would expect, and also an English-Hawaiian dictionary, which is fun. Mom and I have been looking up all the Hawaiian place names. For instance – kama’ole means ‘childless’ or ‘barren’, and kaiwahine literally means ‘sea’ (kai) ‘woman’ (wahine) but idiomatically means a feminine or gentle sea. Gotta love that, too :)

Yesterday I got up early and came and sat on the lanai and listened to all the birds (which is what I’m doing right now, too), and also all the power mowers and leaf blowers from the adjacent tennis courts and golf course. But on the whole, the birds outnumber the grounds crew, so it is mostly great. Then we all got up and had some breakfast, and then Lis and I went snorkeling while Mom stayed in and caught up on the news.

We went to Ulua beach, which is my favorite. But the surf was up a little – nothing scary, but enough to stir up the sand and make for somewhat poor visibility. Still, it’s just so great to be in the water, and we did see lots of fish. I thought some of the coral looked white and wondered if it was sick, but when I Googled it back at the condo nothing came up, so I’ll hope that all is well.

We snorkeled for about an hour or so, and then decided to head back in. As we were heading back to shore, a huge male sea turtle came lazily by in the other direction. He swam directly under us, I’d say about 5 feet below. And, because of the limited visibility, we didn’t see him coming – it was normal, normal, then BOOM! sea turtle. So exciting! We followed him for a bit, then headed in. I’ve decided to think that having a sea turtle materialized before your very eyes on your first snorkel is a good sign.

Back at the condo, we got dressed and headed out for lunch. The previous evening, we had eaten at the Maui Coast Hotel’s Kama’ole Poolside Cafe and Bar. We chose this because Lis had called one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe O’Lai, and asked if they had a happy hour. They said no, but their sister restaurant at the hotel pool did. It was nice to be all tropical and poolside, plus the food was affordable and excellent – we definitely recommend it.

For lunch, we went to Maui Tacos in Kihei, which we read about in one of the condo guides. It was cheap but good, and in the same strip mall as Snorkel Bob’s, where I wanted to pick up some sun protection shorts if they had any (I forgot mine at home, dangit!), and as Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods, where we wanted to get some ezekial bread and almond butter. The natural foods store trip was a success, but I struck out at Snorkel Bob’s, so still on my quest for shorts.

Then we went off in search of Hawaiian Shave Ice. We had never tried this before, or even been tempted to, but our friend Louise (hey, Louise!) came back from a recent trip to Maui raving about it, so we decided we better try it. Lis’ research said the best shave ice was Ululani’s, so off we went. Lis and I each got a micro shave ice (which was still huge), with optional ice cream at the bottom – Lis chose coconut, I chose macadamia. Mom was dubious and just sampled ours. Lis LOVED her shave ice and can’t wait to go back. I liked mine, and Mom remained dubious.

Ululani’s is next to a bakery, which is next to an ABC store – trifecta! We got some banana bread at the bakery and some booze at the ABC store, and then, with our basic food groups covered, headed back to the condo, where Lis took a nap and Mom and I watched game 7. I was disappointed that KC couldn’t pull it out (sorry, Rosemary!), but it was fun watching a historic pitching performance.

For dinner we went to happy hour at Manoli’s Pizza in Wailea, which was also affordable and good. So far, we are doing very well with our cheap happy hours ways! We watched the end of the game there, which was fun, except for the one sad lady in the KC shirt, sitting right behind the cheering ladies in SF shirts. But soon after the game ended, they were all chatting and laughing together – so there was a happy ending after all.