Tues Sep 2
When we woke up this morning, the first thing we noticed was that the palm tree outside our window was barely moving. The first two days we were here, the wind was very strong and gusty. This morning it was just a light breeze. Maybe this is how it works on Maui… the trade winds build up for a couple of days and then calm down again.
A hibiscus flower from our balcony.
We had a couple of geckos checking things out this morning. This was the best photo we could get as they were pretty quick.
We stopped at a pretty vista point to take some photos (they didn’t turn out very good) and I caught Bill reading emails. Oooooooh.
Today we had planned to fly non-rev to Honolulu and visit Pearl Harbor. But, we both decided that we can do it another time as we wanted to see more of Maui. We drove southeast to the area known as South Maui. It runs along the south western side of the island and is home to the resort town of Wailea.
Wailea is home to a lot of the high-end resorts and a bunch of golf courses. Bill and I both joked about people playing golf in high winds back in Ka’anapali, but in Wailea, the winds were almost non-existent. A distinct difference from West Maui where we’re staying.
We ate lunch at a locals place called Da Kitchen Express in Kihei where we had some delicious Hawaiian food. I had a lunch plate with had Lau Lau, Kalua pork, long rice soup, Lomi Lomi salmon and the normal two scoops of steamed rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Bill had the Loco Moco, which is a dish I’ve always wanted to try but never wanted to order for fear of being committed to eating it all. It consists of a bed of steamed rice topped with a hamburger patty and a fried egg. Then the whole thing is topped with sliced onions and brown gravy. It’s definitely one of those meals that was meant to be a day-long sustaining meal for workers. It was very tasty, but, for me, not something I would really ever order. It’s just way too heavy! The food was definitely good though, proved to us by the small restaurant full of locals, including workers. Even with the leftovers we had, we were both suffering from a food coma, so we drove south in search of a beach to veg on. Our drive brought us to Oneloa Beach, also known as Big Beach. It’s a long and broad beach with relatively calm waves that make for wonderful swimming.
Big Beach from the adjoining cliff.
On the right side of Big Beach are some beautiful lava rocks and a steep pathway to a small beach called Pu’u Ola’i Beach, also known as Little Beach.
It’s really lovely and has a secluded feel, despite its popularity. It is the unofficial clothing optional beach on Maui, which I find a little funny since nude sunbathing is technically illegal in Hawaii. Neither Bill or I really care what our fellow beach goers are wearing (or not wearing), so we stayed for a while and enjoyed the beautiful beach. There was a light cloud cover that blocked the sun a bit and kept the temperature down and it was really peaceful. When the sun came out we went swimming and played in the waves. The water was very refreshing and clear, and it’s funny how much of a workout you can get from just trying to stay in one place in the ocean.
Little Beach. The small island on the left side of the photo is Molokini. It’s a crescent-shaped island crater that is well known for amazing snorkeling and scuba diving. It’s a day trip that we would have done if we had a couple more days in Maui.
The waves were hitting the shore a lot stronger on the left side of Little Beach and we had a few surfers. The island in the background of this image is Kaho’olawe. It is uninhabited, and has an interesting history.
After we’d tired ourselves out swimming back and forth with the oncoming tide, we headed back to our hotel for a quick shower to wash off the sea water and sand. Around sunset we headed to Lahaina to walk along their downtown area and explore the shops. While looking at Hawaiian shirts we chatted with a couple of sales clerks about how business has been. Apparently it’s been a pretty slow summer for Maui… and it was a very slow Labor Day holiday week. Sad for them, good for us. We picked up a couple of souvenirs and made our way to the restaurant we’d chosen for dinner. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Mala on Front Street and sat on their back patio, a couple of yards from the ocean. Pretty cool. While deciding on our meals, our server brough us a basket of thin tortilla chips and a lava rock mortar dish full of fresh salsa and a scoop of what looked like guacamole. It wasn’t guacamole. It was a pureed blend of edamame and herbs. It was fantastic! For a first course, we shared an Ahi Tartare. It was a mixture of locally caught Ahi tuna, capers, diced tomatoes, and diced onions and topped with two kinds of caviar. It was very refreshing and tasty. There might have been a couple more ingredients, but I can’t remember them. Everything we ordered tonight was on the specials menu and I can’t get the descriptions from the website. We wanted local food and the specials had them. In hindsight, I should have taken a picture of the menu. Oh, and I don’t have any photos of the food simply because it was too dark and we were hungry… eating took priority. For our entrees, Bill had an Uku fillet (kind of like snapper) served over a bed of finely mashed potatoes with grilled eggplant and sautéed spinach. My entrée was a fillet of Mahi Mahi, grilled a la plancha, served over the same mashed potatoes and a with spinachy pesto sauce. It was served with homemade pita pieces and the whole thing was drizzled with olive oil. Everything was really good. We ate in silence, savoring every bite and listening to the ocean in the background. It was lovely and truly enjoyable. For dessert we shared an item called “South Maui Diet.” It’s a wedge of local Maui Gold pineapple, sliced into bite-sized pieces and drizzled with a twenty year old Balsamic Vinegar. Since we both wanted a very light and simple dessert, this was perfect. This restaurant definitely followed the norm and was expensive. But it was so much more worth the money than a previous restaurant we tried on Sunday evening. When we are paying inflated prices for food on this trip, the food has to be amazing to make it worth our while.
Wed Sep 3
Today was a very touristy day for us. We were up relatively early to take a tour of the Maui Pineapple Company, where Maui Gold pineapples come from… We met up with four other tourists at a meeting spot in Kapalua, a few miles north of our hotel. Our tour guide took us on a windy road and then turned off onto a windy gravel road into a pineapple field with an amazing view of surrounding fields and the ocean.
Here you can see a portion of the road we took to get there.
We got to see a couple of pineapple fields in different stages; a few were empty and ready to be tilled and replanted.
Baby pineapple plants.
Teenage pineapple plants. They sure do have a nice view.
As you can see, pineapples grow on a bush or shrub kind of thing… a pineapple is essentially a big bromeliad. Our tour guide gave us a thorough education on the history of the plantation region of Maui and the introduction and cultivation of pineapples on Hawaii.
Back in the day when Hawaii was ruled by a monarchy, namely King Kamehameha, the northwestern portion of Maui was divided into pie-piece shaped pieces with the center of the pie at the center of the island, the second largest watershed in North America. At the top of these mountains it rains more than 400 inches a year. And even when it isn’t raining, the tall Cook Pine trees, that were planted over 150 years ago, rake the clouds and bring even more water into the soil. The timelines of the info the tour guide gave us are a little sketchy. I tried to Google some of the info so I could remember it all and some of the dates and facts don’t quite match up. Either way, somehow King Kamehameha gave a couple thousand acres of land to a guy named D. Dwight Baldwin. You can read about the history of pineapples on Maui here. The name, by the way, comes from the Europeans. Pineapples were native to southern Brazil and Paraguay. The natives spread them throughout South America, eventually making their way to the Caribbean, where Christopher Columbus brought them to Europe. To them, they looked like pine cones and tasted like apples… there you go. (They don’t taste like apples to me.) The Maui Pineapple Company is actually the only company growing and exporting pineapples from Maui anymore. Companies like Dole, Del Monte, and Libby pulled out of Hawaii years ago to grow their pineapples in Thailand, Costa Rica and the Philippines. Labor costs about a fifth as much there. Maui pineapples are planted and harvested by hand and are grown and harvested year round.
Our van went to some really beautiful locations and it was a little funny to see the pineapples fields pretty close to the road. We couldn’t ever see them from the road. Our last stop on the tour was to a pineapple field that was being harvested. We all got out of the van and watched as about a dozen workers picked pineapples and loaded them into trucks.
Our tour guide brought out a machete and picked a few pineapples for us to eat. One was pretty green and about the color that other companies pick their pineapples to be shipped to grocery stores across the nation. Funny enough, the green pineapple was delicious! …a little tart, but still very sweet.
They have a shelf life of about thirty days. We learned the pineapples do not ripen anymore after they’ve been picked, but their skin will begin to gradually turn gold and then brown. But the flavor of the pineapple remains the same. Maui Pineapple Company picks their pineapples when they are a bit riper and have mor companies. Therefore, they’ll be much sweeter and have about a twenty day shelf life. Since it takes approximately ten days to ship pineapples to the West Coast, Maui Gold pineapples are only available in Hawaii and the West Coast. Our guide cut up a pineape gold in their skin than the otherple at this stage and there was an obvious difference in taste from the green pineapple. Finally, he picked a completely ripe pineapple, gold throughout, but not brown. The flavor was absolutely amazing.
It was the sweetest pineapple we’d ever tasted. Because the shelf life of a fully ripe pineapple is just a couple of days, the company harvests these for making pineapple juice. The top of the pineapples or “crowns” are cut off of the ripe pineapples and replanted for the next round. The pineapple plant actually will continue to produce pineapples after they are harvested, but the fruit will get smaller and smaller, but with the same sugar content. Maui Pineapple Company harvests pineapples from a plant twice before turning it all into the soil to start over again.
As part of our tour, we each got to pick a pineapple to take home with us, complete with a plastic bag that identified the pineapples to the U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture as being alright to take back to the mainland. We took good care of ours.
We’re so proud. I love the contrasting colors of the plants, the red earth and the sky. It was such a pretty day!
We had a great time and learned more than we ever cared to learn about pineapples… as I’m sure you all have too. And we had a nice breakfast of pineapples. By the way, the best way to pick a good pineapple at the grocery store is to lightly thump it on the side, it should sound hollow.
After our pineapple tour we headed back to Ka’anapali, picked up a BBQ mixed plate and a Hawaiian plate from Aloha Mixed Plate and had a nice lunch on our balcony. The weather was beautiful, once again, and the wind was still just a minor breeze. We also noticed t hat the humidity had dropped a bit. After lunch we made our way down the Ka’anapali Beach, the very beach we could see from our balcony. We chilled on the beach with our fellow tourists and swam in the very calm water for a while.
There were a lot of people snorkeling around Black Rock. At one point we saw a bunch of snorkelers and other swimmers gathering around a few rocks pointing. We swam over and saw that two large sea turtles were swimming around too, playing in the surf. Each once in a while the turtles would pop their heads up and look around while taking a breath. It was so cool!
Here’s a short video of the sea turtle popping his head up and waving hello.
After our swim, we washed off all of the sand (which sticks to your skin way too easily) and went to the Ka’anapali Sunset Luau… which happened to take place at our hotel. We were greeted with a shell necklace and guided to the bar for a mai tai. My guide book listed this luau as his second favorite on Maui, but warned that, “you can water your lawn with the mai tais and the worms won’t even get a buzz…” The first mai tai I had was very weak, but still tasty, at least I thought so.
Guests arriving for the luau.
We were treated to demonstrations of a few traditional Polynesian activities and games and serenaded by three men playing drums, a guitar and a ukulele.
We were also treated to a pretty rainbow!
We watched the ceremonial removing of the Imu from the ground.
There were lots of people around, so it was hard to get a good photo.
As you can see…
Moments before sunset, we watched the cliff diver climb Black Rock and give his lei in an offering to the ocean, then gracefully dive in the water.
The dinner buffet began shortly thereafter where the food was much better than I expected. We had Kalua pork, BBQed teriyaki steak, pan fried Mahi Mahi with lemon and capers (not dried out!), braised sweet potatoes (a dark purple sweet potato), fried rice, Hawaiian-style macaroni/potato salad, a disappointing fruit salad (only melon and strawberries, not tropical fruit!), mixed greens and lomi lomi salmon. For dessert there was pineapple upside down cake, haupia, and a guava chiffon cake. All were quite tasty, and my third mai tai was so strong that I couldn’t finish it.
We were treated to a lovely sunset that turned a variety of colors.
The Polynesian dance revue was impressive and we saw a variety of dances from all over the South Pacific… Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, and a couple of other small islands in French Polynesia. They were all beautiful and had their differences.
Of course the coolest dance was the guys dancing with the fire knives. That was very cool and I tried to get some cool photos.
Thankfully we were spared having to participate in the get-up-on-stage-and-learn-to-hula portion.
The luau was a lot of fun and we were glad we decided to attend. Neither of us are fans of the uber-cheese touristy things, and this was pretty expensive considering. But it was one of those things that everone should do at least once in their life.
After dinner we walked down to the beach and tried to take some long exposure images of the moon and the lit torches on Black Rock.
We also made some Blackberry art.