Tag Archives: Maui

Maui Diary 11 – Aloha Oe

On Maui we stayed in the town of Kihei, where 50% of the permanent residents of the island live. This plebian environment was more our style than the resort life we observed just south on the beaches next to Wailea’s villas and grand hotels. Just strolling on the beach path that winds past their perfectly groomed and gorgeous grounds, I became a little self-conscious about my commoner’s clothes every time we passed the hotel guests.

Staying in a condo rather than a hotel also made for a relaxing and homey existence, at least for people like us who like to set up housekeeping for ourselves and actually prefer to eat breakfast “at home.” We bought sweet Maui Gold pineapples at Safeway and ate of them in the morning while I was still in my nightgown. Each of us had one day that we were under the weather, and we could just laze about our apartment, and grill steaks or fish for dinner on the barbeque outside.


Our place had a view right out to the beach, and one evening I sat in front of this scene and counted 27 palm trees within my range of vision. The stars came out and were as bright as in the high mountains; I couldn’t get over how well I could see without my glasses Orion’s belt and even his sword.

I wouldn’t complain if someone gave me a week at a resort and I had to eat at its restaurants, but as long as I’m paying, I’d just as soon stay in a less expensive condo like the one we were blessed with and enjoy the food at the many places the locals also enjoy.

The Coconuts Cafe with its deservedly famous fish tacos is a fine example. The coleslaw, normally in the tortilla but which I had on the side, was made with a refreshing coconut milk dressing that I’d love to try to replicate.

Mr. Glad has for some time enjoyed Hawaiian guitar music, so we had looked forward to being in Hawaii and hearing some good examples. One evening we went out for some live sounds that turned out to be not that great and not traditional, but the luau on our last night was fulfilling and very fun in its historically accurate dancing and music.

Over the radio in our rental car we heard a new-to-us contemporary Hawaiian sound that was maybe not traditional musically, but in the easy-listening messages conveyed it was all about loving the motherland and listening to the forefathers who will teach you how to be honorable Hawaiians.

Shirt Mr. Glad gave me for my birthday

This harkening to cultural roots and the ancestors generates a desire on the part of parents to put their young children into classes where they will learn the Hawaiian tongue. It seems that though Hawaiian names and phrases are floating through the balmy air everywhere, currently very few people actually have any real ability to communicate in that language. I wonder if that will change, or if the children force-fed this artifact will respond with disdain as have the Irish I know who were made to study Gaelic in school.

Besides the reverence for the land and the history, we noticed in the popular and melodic songs we heard a phrase repeated in nearly every one: ka puana. Eventually we were able to investigate and discover that this means something like “It’s fun to be with you.” It often went along with words about Having a Good Time, which easygoing theme was one of the unique scents in Mauian atmosphere.

How would it be, we mused, to live as a permanent resident in this place, where one might reasonably believe that even people with jobs and families display the Hang Loose symbol and attitude? It’s almost certain that we will never know the answer, even if we sojourn there again.

Ages ago, at my 8th grade graduation, our school chorus sang an English version of the Hawaiian tune “Aloha Oe,” (“Farewell to Thee”) and it made a big impression on me, so that I can still remember some of the words in our translation, and find that they don’t exactly match anything to be found online.

At least I did find a nice guitar rendition of the tune (just below), with lovely pictures, to wrap up my Maui Diary. As you will guess, many of the pictures are of scenes I didn’t see, but they convey something of the Hawaiian heritage and natural beauty.

I won’t end with that video that someone else put together, because I do have one of my own making! It was recorded on a windy afternoon on the beach by our condo, so the only sound in the movie is that of the tradewinds. It’s a 360° view, starting on the beach, and taking in a row of condominiums. Ours was the flat-roofed one somewhat in the middle.

And at the very bottom of the page, the refrain of the song as I remember singing it. Good-bye, Maui! Until we meet again….

Aloha Oe, Aloha Oe,
The winds will carry back my sad refrain;
One fond embrace before we say good-bye,
Until we meet again.

Maui Diary 6 – Christmas and Fishes

Ornate Butterflyfishes
No, we didn’t go to Maui at Christmastime, but one of the fishes I saw was named the Christmas Wrasse. That got me thinking about how children love Christmas with all its treats and presents and surprises, and how swimming in the ocean in that warm climate and discovering new wonders every moment made me feel like a child.
Orangeband Surgeonfish
Lots of people who are old or achy like to swim because there is no pressure of gravity on the joints, and we can get some exercise without much pain. It seems the salty ocean is even more buoyant; several times I tried hard to dive underwater to get closer to the fish, but I could not. And this water was blissfully mild in temperature…I thought I could swim forever, it was so friendly.
Saddle Wrasse

We didn’t take pictures of the fish, but I was able to find some photos online and am posting the ones that most resemble the particular fish as they were when we met them. I personally saw at least 16 different species on our four expeditions, of which I think my favorite to look at was the Ornate Butterflyfish (photo at top). Three times we rented snorkel equipment, and the last time we just used swim masks.

How free and happy I was, exploring a whole new natural environment. This was nothing like my usual gym pool where I doggedly plow up and back, up and back, watching the clock. It felt like a dream, maybe I was a fish myself, gliding almost effortlessly through the liquid world, gazing down into underwater pools and coral gardens. Sea urchins made splashes of black, blue, and hot pink behind the fish. But no, I wasn’t a fish, because there was the rough sound of my breath going in and out of the snorkel tube. At least the fish didn’t seem to be bothered.

Honolua Bay
It’s a mark of how special the snorkeling experience was generally that I can even remember the less pleasant parts without sadness. Like our visit to Honolua Bay, which on a good day is reported to have the best snorkeling — but it was not a good day. In this photo you can probably see that the water was brown under the surface, but we didn’t want to see that. So on we went!
Fourspot Butterflyfishes
The wind was blowing too hard, the water was cloudy, and a lot of gunk in the form of wood chips, twigs and other dirty organic material floated on the surface above the fish hangouts, getting into my hair and under my swimsuit. It was my birthday, so I didn’t feel guilty about asking that we cut that excursion short. Besides, we had already taken up a lot of time picking our way along the rugged shore, looking for a safe place to enter into the bay without getting sloshed against big rocks. Mr. Glad was pretty content to swim back to land, because he had seen a trumpet fish.
Ahihi Cove
Christmas Wrasse
Our best fish-viewing experiences happened a few days earlier at spots along the South Shore, like the little cove in the picture above.

On our first outing, my first snorkeling ever, we lost track of time at Ulua Beach as we swam marveling back and forth. We managed to stay close together and point, waving our arms at one another when we saw a new fish for the first time — still, when we went back to the condo and looked at pictures we learned that each of us had seen at least one type of fish that the other hadn’t seen.

Several times I found myself in a predicament of tall coral and had to pay more attention to my paddling in order to get out of there without damaging me or the coral. Twice it seemed we were headed back to shore to rest, without discussing it…and then we changed direction and went away from the beach again and back to the coral beds. We didn’t really want to leave yet, I guess.

On one of these sojourns closer to shore I found myself next to a shimmery school of small silver fish that were swimming pretty close to the surface, a thousand of them at least, and I swam toward them, reaching out my hands hoping to touch one. They were like an underwater version of starlings, swiftly breaking into legions, swirling into new groupings and always away so that I could never get into their ranks, but I spent quite a while trying, and they didn’t seem to make much effort to get out of range.

They were some kind of scad, probably Big-eye Scad, and definitely the most fun to swim with. We were like distant cousins getting acquainted on Christmas Day, in a game of water-tag, playing chase for the pure joy of it.

(I’m taking a break from the computer for a few days, so it might be a week before I get the next Maui Diary episode published.)

Maui Diary 4 – Bright Trees and Critters

Hibiscus looks nice against volcanic rock.

For most of my life, the image that came to my mind when someone mentioned Hawaii was of beaches, and volcanoes spewing lava into the ocean. Ten years ago or so a friend visited the islands and told me about the beautiful flowers, and at that point I began to be interested.

Reading The Folding Cliffs, about the history of Kauai in a setting that highlighted the lush landscape, took my imagination further along, to the point where I was willing and interested to visit.

bougainvillea bush

If our stay on Maui had a focus, I would say it was the ocean, based on the amount of time spent, but with the flowers blooming everywhere I turned my head, I came away with my visual sense more than satisfied in that department — it was more than I could take in.

Right out our back door there were spider lilies and red ginger, and multi-colored bougainvillea trained into shrubs. Along the roads hedges of hibiscus or bougainvillea or even more extravagant flowers let us know we were in the tropics.

African Tulip Tree

The writer of the plant guide we took to Maui was clearly biased against species that were not native, or that at least had been brought from other Polynesian islands long ago, but I admit to liking many of those plants very much. The African Tulip Tree makes lovely splashes of orange against the green landscape, and it at least doesn’t seem to have spread into the weed category yet.

Bougainvillea along roadway

We’d heard reports of wild chickens being found all over Maui, and we were happy to see a lot of them on beaches, along streets, most anywhere. And other beasts who had no doubt escaped from households and barnyards generations ago.

On the drive to Hana we ate our lunch at a wayside park where a green lawn ran up the hill to a tall and thick forest — or perhaps on that rainy stretch it would be called a jungle. I spotted chickens with shiny feathers up there, and walked up to try getting a picture. It was not to be: the closest bird disappeared behind some vines, I followed as quietly as I could and peeked under the trees, to see a couple of cats lounging there with the chickens. It was just a glimpse, and then the whole inter-species family was gone from sight.

Where I saw cats and chickens

This cat sat patiently under our table while we were picnicking, and waited for us to drop a bite of sandwich. And at Honolua Bay a bright rooster in the middle of the jungle path was engrossed in pecking the meat out of a broken coconut. Many times we saw road signs warning of the approach of a pig or nene crossing. Nenes are the type of goose that is the state bird of Hawaii.

Feral chickens in Iao Valley
Common Myna

We were on the island for several days before we discovered that the perky bird we saw everywhere is the Common Myna, native to Asia but living all over the world. On a list of the 100 Most Invasive Species, there are only three birds, and the Myna is one of them. Found this picture on the Internet.

My favorite animal sighting was in the Upcountry where there are farms and ranches with jacaranda trees catching your eye with their purple flowers. We drove past a large pasture with a herd of dark cattle grazing on the green, and as many white birds as steers walking around chummily in their midst. I assume that they are what has been sensibly named the Cattle Egret.

picking mangoes

It seems that a lot of trees bearing flowers or fruits are so tall that it takes some trouble to harvest the crop. I asked the rosette-pinning woman (whom I tell about further down) if pickers use ladders to get the flowers from those tall plumeria trees, and she replied that they “mostly climb” to fetch them. Walking around Lahaina, we saw a man picking mangoes with a long pole contraption, and it’s certain one would need a ladder or good tree-climbing skills to get papayas.

tiny plumeria tree at center

Plumeria! I’m in love with plumeria. I knew of leis, of course, and I’d heard that flower mentioned, but I had to go to Hawaii to see what a plumeria blossom looks like or get intoxicated by its scent. It was a surprise to find that these sweet flowers grow on trees.

I wish I had taken a dozen more pictures of plumeria trees. Many of the taller ones look at first glance as though they are some kind of dead thing, but then you notice the flowers at the tip of every smooth and bare branch.

We went to a luau where a girl in Hawaiian dress taught female guests how to stick plumeria flowers on to a toothpick to make a rosette, which she then fastened into our hair with a bobby pin.

When we had first arrived at the luau, I was given a tuberose, which I had been carrying around for a while, so I stuck that on to my toothpick as well, and while our taste buds enjoyed the traditional foods, my nose feasted on the rose and plumeria delicacies. I already have forgotten most of the food I ate, but the memory of my fragrant rosette lives on.