Cafe O’Lei – Highly recommended

Café O’Lei sounds Mexican, but tastes Hawaiian. This restaurant is an easy walk from Maui Vista 2418 and wow is it good! You’ll find it across the street from the Royal Mauian, between Kameole Beach Park I and Kameole Beach Park II. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it is elegant and comfortable. Be aware the lunch hour can be quite loud. Dinner was more subdued.

Cafe O’Lei from South Kihei Road

Although the menu might look a little pricey at first, the delicious portions are generous and include salad, main course, steamed veggies and rice. Kathy’s blackened Mahi Mahi was enough for her dinner and two lunches the next day. Chris managed to finish his seared Ahi which was also worth writing home about. Café O’Lei is known for their coconut/macademia chicken, so we plan to try that next time.

Blackened Mahi Mahi at Cafe O’Lei

Seared Ahi (they’ll cook it the way you like it)

Coconut/Macademia Chicken

The refreshing cocktails are original, yummy and only $7 each. We were too full for dessert.

We highly recommend Cafe O’Lei!

Haleakala – The House of the Sun

The photo to the right is of a print by Dietrich Varez which hangs on the living room wall of our Maui Vista 2418 condo. It depicts the story of Maui slowing the sun.

Legend has it that Hina, the mother of the demi-god Maui, made kapa cloth from the bark of local trees.  But when she dyed the cloth in the morning the kapa would still be damp in the evening.  “The sun moves too quickly across the sky,” she cried.

In those days, from their Big Island home near Rainbow Falls not far from modern day Hilo, it was clear that the sun rested at night in the crater of Mount Haleakala for part of the year. So, upon hearing his mother’s lament, Maui took his canoe and traveled across the water and, while the sun was resting, climbed the 10,000 foot mountain and looked down on the sleeping sun.

As the sun stretched to begin its day, Maui lassoed it with a rope of twisted coconut fiber and held on tight. Maui demanded the sun move more slowly so his mother could dry her kapa cloth. Bargaining with Maui, the sun promised to slow its journey for half the year and move at its accustomed pace the other half.

Maui released the sun and returned to tell his mother the good news. Delighted, she made a new cape for her son and, thanks to the sun’s slower pace, it dried that very afternoon. Ever since, the warm days of Hawaiian summers have lingered several hours longer than the days we call winter in colder climates.

Thank you Maui!

One-way Skype from Charley Young Beach

Charley Young Beach Cam

Make your friends, relatives and co-workers jealous! Locate the web cam on the palm tree near the north end of Charley Young Beach then stand in the camera’s field of view and call them on your cell phone. Tell them to use the nearest computer and go to the website shown below. When they’re on line, smile and wave. It gets them every time.

Note: This is the web cam you can view from our blog by clicking on “View the Live Cam”. We look at it almost every day when we’re on the mainland.

http://www.mauirealestate.net/video.php.

If you take the paved walkway inland of the outdoor shower at the entrance to Charley Young Beach instead of the stairs, you’ll walk right by it. Don’t worry, I know the walkway looks like private property, but it’s actually just another way to the beach. You’ll see the web cam above the walkway mounted to a palm tree in front of a lovely waterfront home. Sometimes when you watch the web cam the image sways from side to side as the palm tree sways in the wind. I’ve even seen a spider walk across a web woven in front of the camera lens (thereby giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “web cam.”) Once you’ve found the web cam (it’s not far) you can walk back to the stairs to Charley Young or continue on the walkway which takes you to a different beach access farther down the shore.

If you don’t know where to look, it’s a little hard to spot the camera from the beach. As you get to the bottom of the stairs, turn left and walk the beach until you’re opposite the second house from the stairs. Begin looking about half-way up the palm trees and you will see the camera in the photo above. The accompanying diagram shows it’s approximate location and field of view. If you stand on the beach directly in line with the axis of the camera, you’ll be in the center of the picture.

Give credit where credit’s due: the web cam is owned and maintained by the Hansen family and MauiRealEstate.net and is viewed by thousands of people every day from all over the world. Thank you Hansens and MauiRealEstate.net!

A Breakfast Favorite – the Kihei Caffe

Kihei Caffe from the south

The Kihei Caffe, located across the street from Kalama Park on South Kihei Road, is a ten minute walk from Maui Vista. We rarely go out for breakfast. We usually sip our coffee and have a light meal on the lanai while listening to the birds and gazing at the ocean through the canopy of monkey pod trees. (See why we stay at home?) However, if we do go out, the Kihei Caffe is our destination of choice. In fact, every time we fly to Maui we ALWAYS go to the Kihei Caffe the first morning. We usually haven’t been to the grocery store (Emergency! No coffee!) and we’re still on west coast time so we’re up early.

Getting up early for breakfast at the Kihei Caffe is important. They are EXTREMELY popular in the morning. They open at 5 AM and are generally crowded not long after 7:00. If you want to avoid a long line, get there early or plan to eat late.

To be generous, from the outside the Kihei Caffe does not look upscale. (Ok – it looks like a hole in the wall.) If you want white table cloths in a romantic hand-holding setting, go to Wailea. You can still hold hands at the Kihei Caffe, but you’ll have to bring your own romance.

All seating is outdoors at the Kihei Caffe

You order inside where the line often snakes through a (short) stanchioned pathway like a ride at Disneyland. There is no inside seating. You order and pay then find a table outdoors. We suggest you buy pastries and/or coffee you can take to your table for something to munch/drink while you wait for the rest of your order to arrive. When it’s ready, one of the waitstaff will shout out your name as they carry your breakfast from the kitchen. The portions are large and the food is excellent. We usually split an order (ask for an extra plate) and have a big macademia nut cinnamon roll while we sip our coffee and wait for the main course. Enjoy!

NOTE: Cash only…as in NO credit cards or checks. They do provide an ATM machine, but we assume that carries a fee.

South Maui Snorkeling – 3 Favorite Spots

You don’t have to take a snorkel boat to see great coral, fish, and green sea turtles – although a trip to Molokini can be spectacular.

The map to the right shows our three favorite spots in South Maui where you can snorkel from the shore: Ulua Beach, Makena Landing, and the Ahihi Kenau Reserve. The short access road to Ulua Beach is 2.7 miles south of Maui Vista. There is a conspicuous sign for Makena Landing 6.0 miles from our condo. The most accessable snorkel spot in the Ahihi Kenau Reserve is 9.1 miles away.

Each location has something different to offer.  For pictures and more detailed descriptions, see our posts for each of these three sites. Here are the general characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of each location.

Thumbs up for Snorkling!

Ulua Beach

Ulua Beach is a convenient and popular county park with paved parking, restrooms and outdoor showers. Parking can be a problem and the beach crowded – especially in the morning before the winds pick up. There are reasons why Ulua Beach is popular: it’s easy to get to, the beach is lovely, there is both sun and shade, all the amenities you need are there, and there’s good snorkeling. It’s an easy snorkel but the farther out you go the better it gets. Expect to see lots of nice coral and colorful (generally small) fish. A great place for beginners and more experienced snorkelers alike.

Makena Landing

Makana Landing has lots of turtles. It’s rare to spend an hour there and not see turtles. At the north end of the cove there is a small paved parking lot, restrooms, and outdoor showers. (There is also parking on the street.) The beaches are sandy but small. You’ll see nice coral if you swim far enough to the south. Look for turtles near the rocks on the north side of the cove or in the little bays to the south. You can also sometimes see turtles resting on the bottom – often part way under a rock or large coral.

Ahihi Kinau Reserve

The Ahihi Kineu Reserve includes an underwater preserve where fishing is prohibited. As a result, you can see some big fish there. The Reserve is about a 20 minute drive south of Maui Vista and the road becomes narrow and windy for the last couple of miles. Drive with care – there are lots of blind spots and it’s sometimes difficult for cars to pass in the opposite direction. There is no parking where you put in for snorkeling and no showers or restrooms within miles – although there is a construction-type toilet a few hundred yards past the cove where you’ll also find a parking lot. The beach is rocky and can be hard on your feet. The big draw is big fish. For the best views, keep to the left as you swim past the mouth of the cove.

South Maui Snorkeling – Makena Landing, AKA Turtle Town!

This is the place to SWIM WITH TURTLES! The cutoff to Makena landing is six miles south of Maui Vista. Watch for the sign on the right-hand side of the road to Makena. It’s hard to miss. Head downhill and turn right as you get to the ocean. There’s on-street parking as well as a small county park with additional parking, restrooms and showers a little farther on. The beaches are sandy well out into the water – an easy put-in for snorkeling.

There’s no guarantee, but you may see turtles just about anywhere at Makena Landing. In fact, around the bend (to the right of Makena Landing as you face the water) is what the snorkel boats call “Turtle Town.” You’ll see boat after boat tie up to underwater buoys during the morning. They’re stopping near two underwater lava tubes extending perpendicular from the shore. There are caves in these tubes where the turtles like to rest. Every now and again they come up for air.

Turtle Town is a long swim from shore but it’s not necessary to go that far to see turtles. You can often see them near the shore in both directions from Makena Landing. In fact, if you stay on the high ground near the parking lot, you may see them swimming just below you. You don’t even have to get wet!

If you’re a good swimmer and accomplished snorkeler, the coral between Makena Landing and Maluaka Beach is very nice. You’ll see plenty of fish and I’ve literally had to keep out of the way of turtles feeding on the rocks in some of the coves between the Landing and the Beach. It’s a long swim. If you don’t want to do it twice, you can walk back by the road.

The south end of Maluaka Beach has good snorkeling as well. I’ve only seen a few turtles there, but the coral is nice.

Parking for Maluaka Beach is opposite the old stone church (you can’t miss it). You’ll find restrooms and an outdoor shower there as well. It’s a short walk to the beach and the old stone church (established 1832!) is worth a visit. Click here to read more about the old stone church.

Remember, the turtles are not afraid of people and it’s sometimes possible to get quite close to them. They are gentle creatures and they won’t hurt you, but please DON’T TOUCH THE TURTLES or HARRASS THEM IN ANY WAY. Sadly, you may see some of them infected with parasites. The growths look like tumors. That’s not the fault of humans (as far as I know) but it is usually fatal.

For a little extra sigthseeing as you leave Makena Landing, head north on the road you drove in on. It will take you through a very swank neighborhood and back to the main road. Rumor has it that behind one of those gates on the Makai (i.e. “toward the ocean”) side is one of Tiger Wood’s homes. Another is said to belong to Jennifer Aniston. Ho hum, celebrities everywhere.

Maui Tacos – Yummy Fast Food

Maui Tacos – now two locations in Kihei to serve you!

Head toward the beach from Maui Vista and turn left on South Kihei Road. A short 10-minute walk brings you to Maui Tacos. Head toward the beach and turn right on South Kihei Road and the same thing happens in the other direction. If you like Mexican food both are good – with the fish tacos being especially yummy.

Both locations serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the menus are about the same. Both are often busy and, since they cook everything to order, consider the “fast” in “fast food” to be measured in island time. With so much the same, what’s to choose between the two?

The Maui Tacos to the south of Maui Vista is at 2411 South Kihei Road at the somewhat ambitiously named “Kameole Beach Center.” The “center” has just a few shops and the Maui Tacos sign is easy to miss. Look for it just after Snorkle Bob’s. This small restaurant has a few inside tables and bench seating but we far prefer to order take-out and go across the street to the grassy area at the south end of Kameole Beach I. There you’ll find picnic tables and a few benches facing the ocean where the view sure beats looking at the parking lot from inside Maui Tacos.

The Maui Tacos to the north of Maui Vista is at 1933 South Kihei Road about a half-block before you get to Foodland. This is the “new” Maui Tacos in Kihei. (For those familiar with the area, the new Maui Tacos occupies the same storefront as the now closed Alexander’s.) The distinguishing feature of this location is ample outdoor seating – much of it shaded. You can also order take-out and walk across the street to enjoy your food in Kalama Park. The picture above is from the “new’ Maui Tacos.

Saturday morning tennis social at Maui Vista

Maui Vista is a great place for tennis players of all ages and abilities. Here’s a picture from a Maui Vista “Tennis Social.” Loosely organized by Tennis Pro Ricardo every saturday morning, usually two or more tennis courts are filled with doubles teams playing abbreviated sets (best out of 4 games with a shortened tie-breaker if necessary). After a second round where winners play winners and losers play losers, Richardo mixes up partners to create new teams to play against one another. A great way to meet new people on your vacation while having fun playing tennis!

Our Maui Vista 2418 condo comes with four tennis rackets for guests to use. There are six courts that open at 8:00 am every day. No court reservations – it’s first come, first serve. If interested, you can check out a tennis court key at the front office. (NOTE: there’s a $20 refundable deposit for the key.)

Tennis Lessons at Maui Vista with Ricardo

With six beautiful championship courts, Maui Vista is a great place for tennis players of all abilities. Last year (2011) it got even better with the addition of Tennis Pro Ricardo. In addition to private and team lessons, Ricardo holds hour-and-a-half clinics almost every day (at $10 per person!). He is a GREAT tennis instructor. His teaching style is to feed you a number of balls – say to your forehand – and watch you very, very closely. At some point he’ll say STOP and come over to your side and show and tell you something he wants you to change. Usually it’s something quite small – like how you point your left toe or what your non-dominant hand does during the stroke. From my experience, he is always spot on. I was in a clinic once when a lady said she had been taking lessons for 20 years and no one every pointed out some little flaw that Ricardo saw in 5 minutes. Suddenly, her shots were better. Take a lesson, your shots will be better too!

Our Maui Vista 2418 condo comes with four tennis rackets for guests to use. The courts open at 8:00 am every day. No court reservations – it’s first come, first serve. If interested, you can check out a tennis court key at the front office. (NOTE: there’s a $20 refundable deposit for the key.)

Maui artist Dale Zarrella at work

Those of us who live or stay at Maui Vista are fortunate to have the wonderful sculptor and painter Dale Zarrella as a nearby neighbor. You can often see him at work perched above the rocks at the north end of Charley Young Beach. In this photo he is working on the nearly completed koa wood sculpture of Saint Damien of Molokai.

This life size statue is destined for the Damien Museum in Honolulu. A bronze made from Zarrella’s quarter size study for the piece (the smaller white statue to the left of Zarrella) was dedicated at the Vatican Museum in April 2012.

Father Damien – now Saint Damien – was cannonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 9, 2009 for his work in the 19th century caring for the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those quarantined in the leper colony on the peninsula of Kaluapapa on the Island of Moloka’i. Called “the Apostle of the Lepers” by the Catholic Encyclopedia, Father Damien eventually contracted leprosy (now a treatable condition called Hansen’s disease) and, after 16 years ministering to the sick and dying, he too succumbed to its ravages.

You can admire other works by Dale Zarrella at his website dalezarrella.com. We also have a nice picture of a lifesize bronze by Zarrella in our post Frank Lloyd Wright and the King Kamehameha Golf Club. For an update on the Damien sculpture, click here. One sculpture by Zarrella you won’t find anywhere else can be seen by clicking here.