Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Baywatch Version of Christmas Day

A blonde girl gyrating to a drum circle. Three sets of slack lines, the younger cousin to tight ropes, but wider and looser, raised a couple of feet off the ground. People wearing Santa Claus hats and swigging beer. Oh yes, and smoking, not just e-cigarettes but old-fashioned paper joints. Some people were doing cartwheels and hand stands. Others took turns jumping onto a large body ball and twisting in the air. In broad daylight too.


Slack rope walking.
It was just such a party scene. Those song lyrics, “It’s all happenin’ at the zoo” came to mind. What a perfect place for singles to meet.  Anyone can go. It's free. All you have to do is show up. 

I had no idea.

This must be where the young and hip who live on Maui go to spend Christmas Day. Other people spend Christmas Day with families or close friends, or even windsurfing. We drove through Paia, which was shut down. Every single store and restaurant was closed, except for the uber-posh Mama's Fish House Restaurant outside town.

Windsurfers on the North Shore.

But this end of this beach was not full of BBQ grills and small children. I’ve never seen it so crowded. DH and I walked slowly through the north cove of Baldwin Beach because it was such a spectacle.

It was like, well, it was like Little Beach on a Sunday. Ahem. Which is a very unique Maui experience, like going back to the 60s. The only difference was, everyone at Baldwin Beach was dressed.

Christmas Day Drum circle
Maybe I should have guessed. There were cars lined up to the highway, spilling out from the parking lot along both sides of the long driveway. I’ve never seen it that packed. Until we got closer, we even thought the beach was closed and people had been forced to park outside the gate.

There’s something called the Coconut Wireless which has existed long before the internet. It’s how information spreads across the island, whether it’s real or just gossip. If the internet falls apart, the Coconut Wireless will still be around. I’m not always tuned into it, but I’m betting this Christmas Day beach party happens on this section of Baldwin Beach every year.

Is Christmas like that on other beaches on Maui? I really don’t know, or I can’t remember. Families who celebrate Christmas at the beach often have a big pavilion and coolers and BBQs and tables. There are family style beaches up and down South Maui, and lots of tourists sunning up and down the West Side. Maybe on Black Rock, there’s a Baywatch style Christmas party scene too. But I’d be surprised if people smoke pot so openly over there, since it’s right next to a big resort.

We ended up walking to the far side of the beach, away from the party. I found some tiny beach shells and talked with a young couple who were also fleeing the party.  

Santa Claus hats galore. 


When we came back, the party was still going strong. I can imagine that they lasted well into the night, with open fires on the beach. Totally illegal of course, but so is pot smoking and drinking alcohol on the beach. And going over the speed limit. All things that could be enforced, but rarely are. And probably not on Christmas Day.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

WHAT? Christmas Sucks?


"Bah Humbug" is not a phrase you hear on Maui, but obviously the Christmas spirit hasn't reached everyone. Despite disgustingly glorious, sunny weather and the joys of living in paradise instead of shoveling snow in 40 below, at least two people on an island of roughly 150,000 think Christmas sucks

Maybe they're right. Maybe Christmas is too darn commercial and stressful and depressing (especially if your family and friends live thousands of miles away).

This pillbox mural on Maui's north shore has been repainted, but it actually stayed intact for a few days, to my surprise. This picture has been censored.

The reindeer (or unicorn) is peeing on the Christmas tree, in a very flagrant demonstration of reindeer parts. 

No boxer shorts. 

I'm debating whether to post the original photo anywhere online. What do you think?

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Story Behind the Haiku Santas

Haiku Santas and other figurines:
Dedt Moroz, Pioneer Santa, Motorbike Santa, Bishop of Myra

(Note: I'm reposting this post from last year.)

A few days ago, I stopped by to take better pics of the Haiku Santas than the ones from last year. This is a colorful and homespun exhibit of larger than life painted wooden storybook Santas on the makai (ocean side) of Hana Highway in Haiku, very close to the East Kuiaha Road intersection. The Santas are international, from different countries, folklore traditions, and eras, including Civil War Santas, Russian Santas, and traditional Santas. Just for fun, there are some other figurines tucked in as well. 

Santa's Workshop, Snowman, Little Mermaid and (again?) Bishop of Myra (snuck in twice while I wasn't looking)

To my surprise, there were some new Santas, ones that I didn't recognize. After taking several pictures, I worked up the nerve to see if anyone was home and if I could find out some history about the Santas. There was a garage door on the side, just past a gate with a big fish tail hung on it.  A loud vroom vroom and cloud of dust shot out from the open garage door. As I approached, a dog barked outside. Inside stood several motor bikes and a man walking towards me. 


Wassail Santa, Kris Kringle, Saint Lucia, and Tow-in Santa
(inspired by Jaws, the famous wave up the street)
Turned out, John Torres was very friendly and happy to share the story of the Haiku Santas. His father, Louis Torres, a retired engineer, decided to celebrate Christmas in a big way. Louis had an old children's coloring book with black and white pictures of Santas from around the world, and descriptions of each Santa. Louis made the first Santa which wasn't that big, maybe less than half the size of the ones now, and his son asked if dad could make them larger. So the Santas grew in size. John said it took his dad about a year to make them, which turned into a joint venture, since his artistic mother painted them all.

John says tourists stop by and take pictures, on their way to Hana or back, and are especially delighted to see Santas from their own country or culture. 

St. Nicholas, North Pole Santa, Black Peter, St. Nicholas (Russia), Nast Santa, Nomadic Santa, Nisse Santa, Civil War Santa,
Shaka Santa ("Howzit bra?"), and Victorian Santa

John said his dad passed away in '99, and he has continued to put them up every year, right after Thanksgiving. It's a big project and so he puts as many up as he can each day. John says he and his wife love Christmas and have even had as many as five trees in their home. This year, it's just two trees. But John managed to add two new Santas this year. He admitted it's been a longtime goal to add to his dad's legacy. 


John's Dirt Bike or Motorbike Santa.

John's Tow-in Santa, inspired by nearby surfing spot Jaws. 

I'm not sure if the Santas are still up right now, but as long as John's around, he will put them up for every Christmas. All he needs is a  guest book for people to sign (maybe protected from the rain)!  If you like the Santas, spread the word.  They look much better in real life because they tower above the highway. 

(John if you read this post, let me know if anything is incorrect.  I also forgot to ask what year your dad starting putting up the Santas.)

By the way, the weather has been fierce since New Year's. It's even rained in Pukalani, Kahului, and parts of Kihei. Today's been particularly blustery and rainy in Haiku. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Walk on Lava and Upset Hawaiian Birds at Ahihi Kinau

Crunch crunch crunch. We’re walking on an old lava field, from one of the last lava flows in Maui’s history, possibly 500 years old. It sounds like walking on tortilla chips.

Walking through a kipuka (a "hole in the lava flow" where vegetation grows,
walking on the old lava flow, jagged rocks, and bottom right: goat pellets. 
Our guides are Joe and Dave, who work for the 'Āhihi-Kīna'u [1] Natural Reserve, on the southern tip of Maui, south of Makena and Wailea. We’re trekking to a secret spot north of La Perouse Bay to do a service project with

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wake Up Call and Refocus...

So I just had a tremendous wake up call this week. 


I love this quotation from French writer, Andre Gide.
Came across it recently, and it speaks to me. 

This website is undergoing a transition. I don’t know what, how or where, but I’ll keep you posted. (Hint: join my newsletter to be the first to know.)

My posts will be less frequent, maybe only a couple of times this month or next month. 

After listening to Jon Morrow's webinar on launching a blog, I realized I am doing something wrong. Ouch. It was the same webinar I had listened to in January or December. Ouch. Same message. Ouch. I'm not willing to pay the hefty price to take his intensive training, but will do my best to apply his message. 

I will be focusing on making a Facebook page for this site, revamping some older posts, doing better descriptions, doing more guest blogging, refining my newsletter, redoing my Etsy store, redoing Pinterest (they have a nasty copyright violation policy which affects everyone), and doing some deep inner work.  Plus I never got around to accepting four Liebster Blog awards from April and I want to do that (This also requires answering some questions). 

If you’d like to stay connected and know when the next real post will be up, sign up for the newsletter (upper right corner if you're on a desktop or below). People who sign up will get first notice of when a new post goes live.  To tempt you, some posts I’m working on: a journey to a secret spot on Maui, the rest of the infamous Road to Hana Trip series, and other tales of life and madness on Maui.

I only send the newsletter out once every two weeks, or maybe twice a month. For a sample of what it looks like, here’s the latest issue. I won’t spam you! I personally hate spam and excessive emails.

In the meantime, feel free to visit some of my favorite posts…

A to Z Challenge - Exploring the cultural icons of Hawaii, and debunking them! Grass shacks! Bah! Grass skirts! Bah! Coconut bras! Bah! 26 posts in 26 days from A to Z. 

If you sign up for the newsletter, I'll also tell you when and where I'm guest posting.


Stay Connected!

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You can also send me feedback by commenting below or email me direct at maui jungalow (at) gmail (dot) com. Take out all the spaces and punctuation so it looks right! 

On twitter, I can easily be reached at @mauijungalow

If you've loved any of my posts and would like me to guest blog, please contact me or comment below.

Much Aloha!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Big Beach: T-shaped Hugging Waves, Scalloped Shore Line, & Deadly Surf

Big Beach on Maui's South Shore has some of the most intriguing waves I’ve ever seen. I’m not a wave expert, oceanographer, or a surfer, but the wave patterns here are kind of strange.


Tail end of a T-shaped wave.

Ever see a T-shaped wave? It’s a name I made up for the shape of certain waves at Big Beach.  The waves don’t always make a T-shape, but at certain

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chicken Encounters of the Third Kind

A brown speckled egg from one of the Rhode Island Reds.

I found this post in my drafts, from a year ago! A very short post today, because I feel pretty darn eggs-hausted from the new chickens who arrived last week.

I have been googling chickens, asking random people about chickens, and learning to understand chicken sounds.



There are three of the little terrors, and now I understand why chicken eggs are $6 or $7 a dozen on Maui.

They are all females and I was told that chickens can't have PMS, but you could have fooled me.

They are sometimes quiet, but more often than not, loud, especially when I'm trying to work. They were always kept in a cage, and I am trying to teach them to free range. It has been a bit feather-raising for all of us, but some progress is being made.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Informal August Calendar of Events


This informal calendar will be updated as time permits.  Events are subject to change, so please check the linked websites for updates. I tend to focus on free or low-cost events. 


This mynah bird has nothing to do with any of the events below,
but I wanted a picture!
8/2 – First Friday in Wailuku, Town Party.

8/2 - Hana First Friday! 2nd ever First Friday in Hana to be celebrated at Mile

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Maui Pie TweetUp at Maui Tropical Plantations

An assortment of homemade pies at the 3rd Annual Maui Pie TweetUp, which was free, open to the public, and also celebrated the 5th anniversary of Kula Fields, a local business that arranges and delivers weekly boxes of fresh Maui produce. Offerings included individual chicken pot pies, strawberry and liliko'i pie, savory tomato and goat cheese pie, lemon meringue pie, quiches, cherry pie, onion pie, apple pie. Oh, and how could I forget the empanadas (small hand held crescent shaped pies)? Yum... P.S. If you made the empanadas, there are people who want to know how to contact you. Please comment below. 

Continue on for more pie pics!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Rare Rainbow at Big Beach, Makena



This is not an every day sight. In ten years, this is the only rainbow I've seen at this beach. Makena does get its share of rain, maybe more than other beaches in  South Maui. It even rains here when other beaches a few miles up the road are sunny! It also drizzled while the sun was shining - we call this liquid sunshine. By the way, to see more rainbows, spend some time in upcountry Maui or the North Shore. Here's one of my favorite rainbow posts.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reflections on the Hokule'a's Visit to Maui


This is a really different post than the one I had planned on writing. The original post was a show and tell of the traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe, the Hokule’a, with pictures and videos of Kala, one of the crew members, talking

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Landscraping and Green Passion Fruit

This is what my back yard looks like. Up against a hill on one side, and sloping down gradually until you hit the gulch on the other side. Everything slopes, everything falls.

Gravity and entropy are king and queen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lost and Found on Maui

SHT Happens.

We lose stuff. Everyone does. It’s part of life. Car keys, jewelry, wallet, cameras, gate remote controls, iphones, id, credit cards, even laptops.
These are lost items that someone found in the last few months at Makena State Park.
There are frequently lost hats, sunglasses, snorkeling gear and car keys. Sometimes items are given to the lifeguards, who then will give them to the police. Other items that are less expensive are dangled from sign posts, trees, and branches. The SD cards labeled Tasha were found on a tree stump at Big Beach. I gave them to the lifeguards.  

What do you do when you lose something on Maui? Can you get it back? Did someone take it? What are the chances it will show up again? Was it petty theft or were you just careless? Is it even worth filing a police report?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Roadside Art: The Pillbox Mural at Ho'okipa (April - June)

Updated 7/11/13: Found four more pics from April!



Roadside art is very real on Maui. This local phenomenon, which I call the "Ho'okipa Pillbox" since it was part of an old WWII radio station, gets face lifts all the time. It's on privately owned property on the bluff of Ho'okipa, along the North Shore of Maui, but the landowner doesn't seem to mind that people sneak through the fence, go around the cow pies, and paint, often stealthily at night. The murals celebrate so many things: birthdays, memorials, comments on life, and who knows what else?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Informal July Calendar of Events


This informal calendar will be updated as time permits.  Events are subject to change, so please check the linked websites for updates. I tend to focus on free or low-cost events. 

7/1/13 – Beautiful Atmospheric Effects – Astronomy lecture at the Institute for Astronomy. Ever wonder about the “green flash,” lunar haloes or why sunsets are colorful? 6:30 pm. Pukalani. Free.


Glowing sunset rays at Big Beach. 

7/1/13 – Food Forests and Ecovillages Working Group – Pukalani. 7pm. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Upcountry Fair - It's Not About the Beach!

If you think Maui is all about palm trees, pretty beaches, and pineapples, think again. Maui’s not Texas, but we do have our share of ranch life and history. Local cowboys are called “pani’olo” a term derived from the Mexican cowboys who taught local workers how to ride horses and take care of cattle, although some people dislike that termOf the Hawaiian Islands, both Maui and the Big Island have the strongest pani'olo (pronounced kind of like "pah-nee-oh-low") influence. 

Upcountry Fair in Olinda. There's even a "Cowboy Church."

One of the best places to get a taste of Maui ranch life, besides the Annual Makawao Rodeo, is the Upcountry Fair in June. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mini Squash Oatmeal Ginger Bites

What to do with leftover squash or pumpkin? The burning question of the day. I know some people add it to smoothies or add it to soup or stew or whatever you’re making for dinner. I would even sneak it into spaghetti sauce. Another idea is to take the leftover squash and make little snacks.


Infinitely adaptable squash oatmeal ginger balls.

I’m surprised that I have any leftover squash, but somehow, my garden plot at the Hali’imaile Community Garden turned out to be unexpectedly productive when I was actively ignoring it during April (A to Z Challenge) and most of May (recovering from A to Z Challenge).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Paradox of the Maui Film Festival

What makes the Maui Film Festival so unique, and is perhaps its most distinctive feature is the Celestial Cinema. Watching films on a large screen under the night sky filled with stars.  It is the image that adorns the film festival brochures every summer. It is what my friends rave about.

The paradox is that the Celestial Cinema, this celebrated outdoor theater, is also so challenging… kind of like the 5-star Wailea Golf Course which hosts it. 

The beauty is that the event is outside under the starry Maui sky.
The difficulty is that the event is outside under the starry Maui sky.

The film festival brochure for 2013, graced by a big photo of the Celestial Cinema in Wailea.
Photo I think is by Randy Jay Braun, an outstanding Maui photographer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Road to Hana, #HanaTrip Post 2 of 7: The Trek to Wai'anapanapa

OR The harrowing story of how one hobbit survived a journey from the shire to the underworld.  GRIN!!!

Visiting Wai'anapanapa is like visiting an old friend who has moved far away, to the other side of the world.  Often Hana seems like the other side of the world even though it’s on the same island.

This post is a continuation of the Road to Hana, #HanaTrip series based on a social media trip to Hana in May. If you haven’t read the first Hana post in this series, please do so, including the disclaimer.



Wai'anapanapa State Park is a very potent place. Not just scenic but elemental and otherworldly. Beautiful, haunting and primordial with lava spires and formations, a gorgeous black sand beach, and layers of mystery and legend, it could be a setting for a fantasy movie.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Surinam Cherry Relish

During the height of Surinam cherry season, some artist friends brought over a delectable fruit relish that they like to spoon over fish. They referred to it as "Michael's Amazing Surinam Cherry Fruit Bowl."  It’s incomparable to anything I’ve had. Sweet and tart and juicy, not cooked like a chutney, and with complex layers of flavor. Even DH, who is not generally crazy about sweet things, ate several helpings. It's kind of like a salsa, but fruity!

Surinam cherries and other fruits over salmon


I was fooled by this dish and thought it had some tomatoes, because of the juicy red pieces, but they were actually sour-sweet Surinam cherries. I actually thought this was a variation of a fruity tomato salsa. Surinam cherries are still fruiting now, though the ones I have access to are not producing as abundantly as a couple of months ago.

These are lighter colored surinam cherries.
They are very ripe and a bit tart. 

Surinam cherries are not like regular cherries. They taste different as well, more wilder somehow, like a wild berry.  They are about the same size as a regular cherry, with a medium pit inside. They are delightfully grooved and can have a tart taste. Usually, the deeper the red, the sweeter the fruit. Lighter colored Surinam cherries can make you pucker up! Here's a collage of surinam cherries in various stages of growth, including flowering.


When they are going off, I mean, producing a lot, you can end up with a lot of these little beauties. These big bushes seem to love Hawaii’s mild climate and I have seen them growing in lower Kula, along the side of the mountain, and also in Haiku, about 800 feet above sea level. They can be made into preserves and juiced, and used in a lot of ways, but this is the first time I’ve had them over fish.  This is also a great way to use up lighter colored Surinam cherries.

This adaptable recipe is from Michael and Karen O’Reilly, who express their art in many ways, including in the kitchen. I wrote about a visit to the O'Reilly art studio during the Maui Open Studios.

Very challenging to take photos of food! I hope I've done this dish justice!

Michael's Amazing Surinam Cherry Fruit Bowl (aka Surinam Cherry Relish)
A cup of Surinam cherries, diced
A cup of mangos diced
A cup of pineapple diced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/8 to 1/4 cup of red pepper, diced finely
1/8 to 1/4 cup of green pepper, diced finely
1/8 to 1/4 cup of onion, diced finely.  (Maui sweet onion is a good bet.)
1/8 to 1/4 cup of celery, chopped thinly, across the stalk
Salt to taste

The smaller you chop the ingredients, the more flavors you’ll taste in one spoonful.  I would try to keep my pieces no bigger than half an inch, and would cut the celery, pepper, and onion more finely than that.

Mix all ingredients together and as Michael says, “I just make it to taste - kinda wing it or make it up as you go along...” It’s a very flexible recipe, and you can adapt the amounts to your liking. Michael says it is great over salmon, but you can certainly try it with other kinds of fish to kick up the flavor.  I also enjoyed spooning it out of the jar by itself.  It’ll last for a couple of days in the fridge.


This recipe is also vegan, raw, and gluten-free. Enjoy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Road to Hana (aka #HanaTrip): Highlights and Overview, Post 1 of 7

Hana to Maui is what Maui is to the rest of the world. 

Maui is an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 
Hana for Mauians is an oasis from the grind of Maui life. 

Incomprehensible to think that Maui is other than a perfect paradise. But even on Maui there are distractions and tasks: cell phones, to do lists, honey-do lists, family stuff, emails, internet troubles, meetings, termites, and that four letter word… W O R K. You didn’t think we sat at the beach all day?

Then there is Hana. Hana to me always feels like a breath of fresh air after being under a blanket of vog. In all fairness, Hana residents have work and families and demands on their time too. It’s not all wine and roses in Hana, or Hawaiian-style kava and plumeria. Still yet, how can I pass up a chance to go to Hana? As we say on Maui, “Thank God for Hana!”




There is Hana and then there is the road to Hana. Both are legendary. Sure, you can fly to Hana (easy peasy) or take a boat (difficult to arrange and I don’t know anyone who does this), but most people drive there. Some people may even bike the road to Hana, but…I hope they are well-insured.

A month ago, exactly today, I toured the road to Hana with some other Maui bloggers and social media peeps in a VIP style, air-conditioned bus operated by Valley Isle Excursions.

Full disclosure here: The tour was offered free by Valley Isle with the hope that we would provide good publicity and social media coverage. Travaasa Hana paid for our lunch there and gave us a tour of their resort for the same reason. BTW, Travaasa is not included with the standard Valley Isle Excursion Tour. Moreover, snacks and tips were included and we were given a free CD of the Road to Hana. This trip was arranged by Maui Information Guide and assisted by @erikblair. Moreover, a carrot was dangled in front of us: the best instagram photo of the Road to Hana, the one that most captured the essence of the Road to Hana, would win a  $50 gift card.  We were also encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #HanaTrip.

As the reader, you are asked to employ your powers of reasoning and realize there is some inherent bias here. Enough said.

I love Hana and the road to Hana so much that it’s really hard for me to do just one post on this excursion. I can’t do it. So this will be the first in a 7 part series. Some of the posts will be on my blog and a few will be posted as guest blogs. I will let you know where and when.


Hana - it looks closer than it really is. 
Why is the Road to Hana so legendary?

·        It’s windy and sinuous, full of sharp s-curves and old one-lane bridges. It's very narrow in many places.

·        It’s beautiful. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, it is still magical. There are unexpected panoramas and vistas. There are waterfalls along the side of the road, hiking trails and paths to explore, fruit stands to visit, quaint shacks and jungalows to gaze at, while passing by.

·        It invites you to slow down and enjoy the moment. The Road to Hana is not about getting to Hana, but about the journey. Although Hana is still pretty amazing too.

·        There is nothing like it on earth. I’m sure that there are other magical roads around the world, and I haven’t traveled everywhere, but this road is like a road that goes back in time, to a less developed Hawaii.  There is nothing like it on any of the islands. Yes, there are plenty of tourists on the road to Hana, but there are no golf courses, big resorts, strip malls or McDonald’s. There are no gas stations on the Road to Hana, so fuel up before you go!


Nothing like the excitement of driving the Road to Hana.
So glad I wasn't driving a bus full of distracting Social Media peeps.

Is the Road to Hana a must-do?
I am not crazy about the term “must-do” since it is usually someone else’s good idea. I love the Road to Hana and most people really enjoy it. But a few people don’t:

·        The road is very curvy, and some people can get motion sickness. If you are a sensitive person, you may want to be the driver and control the pace of the trip, go on a tour which I had to admit, was very comfortable and smooth, or not go at all.

·        It is an all day trip. Don’t go for a few hours and think you can do some other big activity on the same day.

·        If you don’t like scenery and nature, it may not be for you either. DH enjoys travel but is not a sightseeing kind of tourist. He could go on the Road to Hana once a decade and be perfectly fine. I could go almost every weekend.


Wailele Farms, better known as Twin Falls. Our smoothie stop.
@MauiMamala and @Maui Carmel pose in the bottom picture.


A few highlights of our Hana Trip, on the way to Hana:

Twin Falls – Gotta love the smoothie stand at Twin Falls. A converted school bus recycled into a fruit stand. Twin Falls aka Wailele Farms is operated by a group of Maui residents, healthy crunchy granola types I might add, since I know some of them. We didn’t actually hike to the falls this time, and yes, there are two waterfalls. The one on the right side (closer to Kahului) even has more waterfalls up top. I’m not sure about the left side. (FYI, this is not a usual stop on the normal Valley Isle itinerary, but a special add-on just for our trip.)

More pics of Twin Falls.

Ke’anae Peninsula – About halfway to Hana. A side road takes you down to the ocean, with more views and lava rocks. Aunty Sandy’s banana bread stand is here. On the other side is the Ke’anae Congregational Church.


Beautiful Ke'anae. Hard to resist buying banana bread from Aunty Sandy's. 
@RoxanneDarling posing in front of the sign.

Waterfalls and Ching’s Pond -  Every one-lane bridge offers an invitation to step out of the car, look over the bridge to see if the stream is running, and hike uphill to find a waterfall. Some streams are very full and others nearly dry.

A crazy Road to Hana Story:
Some tourists I met recently shared a story of going on the Road to Hana this spring during the drought. They stopped near one of the bridges and were so disappointed that there was no water flowing, that the driver cussed, “Where’s the f’’ing water?” and there was a big roar, and water started gushing into the dry stream bed. In a few minutes, it was completely full and he said he was so grateful that they weren’t along the stream bed when it happened. He said it was the most amazing experience to watch the stream bed fill up with water. I don’t know if this was an irrigation dam that was released, or what, but it’s definitely a strange incident.

One of the most well-known waterfalls is right on the side of the road, Waikani Falls aka “Three Bears Falls” because it usually makes three parallel waterfalls.


Hana style bridge, Waikani Falls to the right, Ching's Pond on the bottom.

Ching’s Pond is a popular swimming hole with very cold water. Some people jump into the water off the side of the bridge. 

Wai’anapanapa – This is a state park outside of Hana with exquisite black sand beaches, caves, and an air of mystery. I’ll be writing about this place in the next post in my 7-part Road to Hana series. Update: Post #2 is up! The Trek to Waia'napanapa AKA The Harrowing Story of One Hobbit's Journey...

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

P.S. Please feel free to check out some other posts by Maui bloggers who also went on the trip:


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Maui Deer Gone Amok: Trouble in Paradise

This is the first in a series called Trouble in Paradise.

In recent years, the deer population has exploded on Maui. Deer on Maui? Really? I’ve heard deer stories on the mainland, about deer who wander into garden beds and eat all the tulips and rose bushes and vegetables, deer who eat all the young forest saplings leaving nothing but ferns everywhere. Bad, bad deer, who often can’t be hunted in residential communities.

Yes, Axis deer on Maui (hanging out near the beach at Makena!)

Maui doesn’t have a lot of tulips or rose bushes, but we do have a lot of deer wandering into farms and eating valuable crops or munching gardens at hotels and around houses. By the way, Maui farms tend to be small, 2-20 acres, smaller than most small mainland farms which are often 50+ acres. Also many hotels and resorts, part of the local food movement, have gardens. Our deer roam the island fairly easily, especially from high-up Kula and upcountry down to the beach area of Makena. I don’t know if there are deer in Lahaina or Ka’anapali, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Maui’s deer are an introduced species, not native to the Hawaiian Islands. Our Axis deer are generally smaller than mainland deer, with spots, and cute in a Bambi kind of way. They are sub-tropical deer, gone amok in paradise.

At the most recent Maui Farmers Union Potluck, Michael Tavares of the Maui Axis Deer Hunting Cooperative spoke about the burgeoning deer population on the island. Here is some food for thought:

The Axis deer population is estimated to be 60,000 deer, of which 90% are estimated to be does, and 90% of those female does are believed to be pregnant!  Michael estimates that this summer, the deer population could reach 100,000.

When there is drought, like we had in April, the deer get so hungry that they wander more into local farms and gardens, causing even more damage than they normally do. Summer time, especially in Kula and upcountry, can be very dry with extended drought conditions and water rationing.


The MADHC formed as aresponse to the deer population explosion. For the last three months they have conducted a pilot project to do controlled hunts of deer on private property, with a USDA inspector, kill the deer quickly, transport and refrigerate them, and butcher them in a food safe manner at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

Maui Axis Deer Harvesting Co-op banner and a participating hunter at the Farmers Union meeting.
So far 280 deer have been killed and the pilot project has been a success. The county/state has approved the program, and local venison will become available to buy at Pukalani Superette in a few weeks. Actually, Maui venison was expected to be in stores last spring, a year ago, but there were some snags in the process.

Nothing is wasted: the meat is given to hunters and their families, also to approved low-income residents. The entrails are given to farmers to compost. If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you’ll recall that animal parts can be composted safely and create rich, healthy compost. The hides are given to deer tanners.

Michael and other members of the MAHDC sat at a table during the meeting to answer questions and talk with local farmers and land owners. They have also been presenting at the Kula Community Association and other places.

For those concerned about animal welfare and animal rights and who might question deer hunting, consider the alternatives. For example, tagging and spaying/neutering deer would be outrageously expensive. Deer also eat other things besides local Maui produce, like indigenous native plants. Some land on Maui is protected with big fences, but open areas are grazed by deer, goats and trampled by feral pigs. Some areas can be protected, but how many private landowners are going to fence their entire acreage?

How can you help?

MADHC would love to have more access to hunt deer on private lands. Deer do not recognize land boundaries, so a herd of deer can keep moving. If you are a private landowner, please contact MADHC. If you’re a hunter, you can ask to join the MADHC. Keep in mind, MADHC has controlled kills, insurance, and a procedure in place. The deer are killed as cleanly and quickly as possible.


Contact info for MADHC.
I'm doing it this way so he won't get  on spam email lists.

Have there ever been this many deer on Maui?
According to Michael, no. It’s never been this bad.

Why are there so many deer now?
Michael cited multiple reasons, in his own words:

 1. Lack of public/private hunting lands. 15 years ago, there was a lot more land available to Maui's hunters. Hunting actually held a more positive stereotype. So more land owners were willing to allow people to hunt on their lands. And I won’t say the problem was managed but there were a lot less deer.

2. Lack of habitat.... Maui has been expanding at an alarming rate. We have new hotels being built, multiple subdivisions, a lot of ag land that is being converted to business use. When this happens the wildlife that lives in these areas is pushed into new areas.

3. Also Maui provides the ultimate safe haven for a deer there are no natural predators, they have a warm tropical eco system that provides ample amounts of food and water put these two things together and you have the perfect climate for these animals to breed.

How do you get these population statistics of 60,000? How is this being measured?
“The calculation of the deer population to this point has been mere speculation. There has been no "official" count yet. I base my numbers on the amount of animals I see. For example I was hunting last weekend on a farm on Omapio Road. Within the first 5 minutes of my hunt I ran into a herd of 100 deer. Another 45 minutes I ran in to a different herd of 50-60 and just at dusk at the far end of the property I watched a herd of 200-250 run over a hill and go into HC & S land. Now this is on a 50 acre property. That is a small property. When I was able to hunt in Makena I would routinely run into a different herd of 100-150 deer every hour. There were days that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Also there are proven facts that 1 acre of land can sustain 6 to 7 deer.”


Are there any deer ticks here? Deer are often associated with Lyme disease.

“There are no known parasites on Maui's deer. There has been the rare occasion where we find purple spots on the liver but that has been 1 in every couple hundred we shoot. I’m not sure of the cause.”

Since the USDA is involved with the controlled hunts and meat processing, the venison available on Maui will be USDA certified and food-safe.

I couldn’t help also asking Michael, “280 deer in 3 months! That’s a lot of deer. Where do you put all that deer?” He responded with a grin, “I have a really BIG cooler. You’d be surprised.” I can imagine. 

This is the first part of a series, called Trouble in Paradise. Stay tuned for more.