Kihei Rent A Car Blog

Chilly Upcountry Maui

Sight Seeing on Maui
Maui Grown Coffee Farm

Maui Grown Coffee Farm

Up at the 3,000 foot elevation level, on the side of Haleakala, commonly known as “upcountry”, we are seeing some cooler temperatures lately.

Normally, upcountry is about 10 degrees cooler than the coastal towns. In the winter however, that gap gets a bit larger. For instance, we had a 45 degree morning the other day. That’s NOT rubber slipper weather!

So, I guess what I’m saying is, if you plan to venture upcountry Maui, dress in layers. Mornings and evenings are the reason for those layers.

There are lots of good things about cool upcountry days. The cool weather puts us in the Holiday Spirit. Those residents with fireplaces get to use them now. That jacket that’s been collecting gekko poop in the back of the closet gets to see sunlight again. Hot oatmeal replaces cold cereal for breakfast. Our cowboy boots get broken in a little more. We can wear the wool socks we bought last winter. We can wear the scarfs we bought at the going out of business sale last summer. And, the dogs are a lot happier lounging in the sunlight rather than panting in the shade.

Our cooler temperatures are nothing compared to the mainland’s below zero, snowy winter days. So, we have nothing to complain about. But sometimes we do complain.

“Just go down to the beach to get warmed up”, you say. Well, the ocean is not it’s normal 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Maybe we here on Maui are spoiled with the 70-80 degree weather 365 days a year. But this I know for sure, and probably so does Oprah, Maui is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The warmth and beauty of this place brings us joy on a daily basis.

Simply watch today’s sunset and you know the feeling of gratitude and appreciation we Mauians have for this incredible island.

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Maui Is For Coffee Lovers

Sight Seeing on Maui

Maui is for coffee lovers

Although Americans love their java, the only U.S. state that grows coffee for commercial production is Hawaii. Coffee plants are finicky to grow. They require a tropical climate found only within a narrow window of latitude roughly 23 degrees north or south of the equator, cool but not freezing weather, higher altitude, sufficient levels of rainfall, and rich soil to thrive, making the islands a natural fit. In fact, Hawaii has been producing coffee since the mid-nineteenth century, over 100 years before it became a state. Hawaii has perfect growing conditions for coffee. And so… for coffee lovers, Maui is coffee paradise.

Kona coffee, grown on the slopes of active volcanoes Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the Big Island, is revered as not only the best in the state but among the best and most expensive coffees in the world. However, merely 10% of the beans are required to be actual Kona coffee in order to use the infamous name, so most people are tasting a blend of mostly filler coffee beans.

Maui Coffee Industry

With more than 50 coffee farms and over 500 acres in production, Maui could start giving Kona coffee a run for its money. Coffee estates are prospering all over the island from Kaanapali to Hana and Haleakala. The distinct climate and soil conditions of every area along with the different coffee varieties and processing techniques used by each farm results in an array of unique brews. Coffee enthusiasts are bound to find a Maui coffee they love.

MauiGrown Coffee

MauiGrown Coffee is the biggest commercial farm on Maui and majority producer of 100% Maui origin coffee in the world. MauiGrown Coffee comes from Kaanapali Coffee Farms located on the West Maui Mountains, about four miles north of the historic town of Lahaina.

The farm was originally part of the Pioneer Mill sugar plantation, which had been farming the land since 1860 and diversified it from sugar cane into coffee in 1988. Pioneer Mill Company and Kaanapali Estate Coffee closed their operations in 2001, but decided to leave the irrigation in place so the trees could stay alive.

James “Kimo” Falconer, the director of agricultural research for Pioneer Mill, dreamed of reviving the coffee farm one day. Falconer started MauiGrown Coffee, Inc. in 2003 and worked hard to realize his dream, harvesting the first MauiGrown Coffee crop in 2004.

Maui Grown Coffee Farm

Maui Grown Coffee Farm

MauiGrown Varieties

MauiGrown cultivates four varieties of arabica coffee: Maui Mokka®, Guatemalan Typica, Yellow Caturra, and Red Catuai. MauiGrown’s natural-processed coffees have been dried inside the fruit instead of after the fruit has been removed. The cherries are wet processed, using water to remove the fruit from the seeds, resulting in a clean, vibrant taste.

Maui Mokka® is made from small, roundish beans grown from a 1,000 year-old heirloom strain originated straight from Ethiopia, home of all coffee in the world. The yield is low and the tiny size makes the crop difficult to harvest, but all the effort is well worth it, resulting in a full-bodied cup with low acidity and complex tones of chocolate with undertones of wine and ripe fruit. Nicknamed the ”champagne of coffee,” Maui Mokka® took first place in a field of 77 entries in the 2014 Hawaii Coffee Association’s Statewide Coffee Cupping Competition. It grows best at 500 to 600 feet elevation, and harvest usually runs from October through December.

Guatemalan Typica is the variety that makes up most Kona coffee. MauiGrown’s Typicas possess many of the same features of the Kona Typicas, mild acidity, low to medium body, velvety texture, and a lively yet clean coffee taste. Certain MauiGrown Typicas are planted at approximately 600 feet elevation but most are over 900 feet and are harvested late in the year or early in the new year.

Yellow Caturra turns yellow instead of the standard red color when it is ripe. It flourishes in hot, drier conditions and is not usually planted in other coffee producing countries. Yellow Caturra is lower in acidity with a mild flavor that can offer a subtle spiciness as a dark roast and enhances other varieties such as the Typicas. It is the first crop to ripen with harvest normally beginning in September.

Sometimes referred to as the “cabernet of coffees,” Red Catuai offers robust yet bright flavor at a medium roast. Full body with a hint of sweetness and lower acidity happens at a darker roast. Red Catuai also performs well in hot, dry conditions and is harvested late in the fall.

Tastings and Tours

To try Maui coffee for yourself, stop by the MauiGrown Coffee Company Store. The friendly employees are happy to explain the differences in each variety and let you taste samples. Green coffee and roasted MauiGrown coffee as well as coffee from other parts of Maui and Kona coffee are all available for sale.

If you are looking for a coffee tour, O’o Farm in Kula is the place to go. Sustainably maintained and biodynamically cultivated, O’o Farm grows Hawaiian coffee, fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers that supplies Lahaina eateries Pacific’O, The Feast at Lele, and Aina Gourmet Market to create a true farm to table experience.

O'o Farm Coffee Tour and Tasting

O’o Farm Coffee Tour and Tasting

O’o Farms’ Aina Gourmet Coffee is a single origin coffee that is grown, roasted, and brewed right on the farm. The “Seed to Cup” Coffee and Breakfast Tour allows guests to explore the process of growing, harvesting, roasting, brewing, and tasting gourmet coffee in the stunning Upcountry region of Maui, far from the tourist scene. The tour begins with an up close introduction to the coffee tree and an opportunity to taste the coffee cherry and ends with a farm fresh breakfast.

Aina Gourmet Coffee is also available at Aina Gourmet Market, a local foods marketplace with a full coffee bar located in the lobby of Honua Kai Resort and Spa.

Not on Maui? No problem! Both Aina Gourmet Coffee and MauiGrown Coffee are available for purchase online.

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Popular Vegetables of Hawaii

Maui Food

vegetables of hawaii

Hawaiian tourist are mesmerized by the unique natural treasures each island has. The tropical landscapes are filled with dense rainforests, bamboo jungles and unique tropical flowers. Along with the wild vegetation, are manicured fruits and vegetable farms. The countless parcels of cultivated land, dotting the Hawaiian landscapes, are not indigenous to the Aloha State.

There are very few native Hawaiian food source plants. The majority of the traditional plant based foods, were brought into the state by the early migrating Marquesans and Tahitians. As far back as 300 to 500 AD, the food staples of taro, kava, sugarcane, breadfruit, bananas, sweet potatoes and coconuts were brought in by the canoeing Polynesians. The early immigrants introduced and planted over 30 food based items in Hawaii.

Other food imports were brought in by the English, Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese. Whaling ships, Christian missionaries and sea voyages, carrying European immigrants, brought in large amounts citrus, fruit trees, seedlings and nutritional staples to sustain long journeys. They were planted and thrived.

The year round climate and rich volcanic soil were ideal growing conditions for endemic and transplanted agricultural items. Most cultivated fruits and vegetables directly reflects the varied Hawaiian cultures.

Hawaiian Tree Fern

The indigenous Hawaiian tree fern or Hāpuʻu ʻiʻi, is a large native plant found in the dense jungles throughout Hawaii. It’s edible young fronds and trunk were boiled or cooked in an imu, an underground cooking method. Ancient Hawaiians often paired the cooked Hāpuʻu ʻiʻi fronds with fish, taro and poi. The fern was also used for its medicinal benefits.

The tree ferns medicinal qualities were released when the cooked fronds and trunk were combined with ginger, kava, turmeric and other herbs to create a medicinal elixir. It’s analgesic benefits were used for rheumatoid stiffness, chest pain, muscle aches and other maladies.


The Hawaiian term for taro is, “kalo.” The arrowleaf taro is a tuberous plant that grows well in swampy and well irrigated environments. When harvested, the entire plant is consumed. Many Hawaiian inspired entrees feature the leaves, stem and bulbs.

The taro’s bulb is known as the “corm”. Poi, a primary food source for Hawaiians, is produced from the cooked corms. The bulbs turn purple once they are cooked. The kalo is pounded and blended with water to form a thick light purple porridge. The consistency depends on the ability to consume the poi with one, two or three fingers. Poi is accompanied as a side dish with fish and pork. Its often included at luau’s and with many local entrees.

Ancient Hawaiians believed poi was filled with, “mana,” an energy life force. Poi was known as “the food of life.” Therefore, the consumption of taro, especially as poi, is a communal and spiritual experience. The poi bowl was placed as the sacred centerpiece of the family dining ritual.

Kalo can be roasted, baked, steamed and boiled into amazing sides, salads, breads and desserts. The large arrow or heart shaped leaf, is also prepared into stews and lau lau. Lau lau is a ti leaf wrapped parcel stuffed with chopped taro leaves, pork and butterfish. The preparation of the traditional entree is time intensive and served at most Hawaiian celebrations.

Taro requires careful preparation. The plant contains oxalic acid which develops sharp crystals of calcium oxalate. The raphides or sharp crystals are toxic and can injure the kidneys. The leaves and corm are cooked twice to reduce the amount of raphides.

The cleaning and cooking methods, of the complete plant, are important to the success of the recipe. The first cooking methods requires the cleaned leaves and bulbs to be soaked and boiled. After the boil, the water is discarded. The corm and taro leaves are thoroughly rinsed before the completion of the second cooking.

Fermented poi has medicinal qualities that aid in digestion and gastrointestinal diseases. The nutritional benefits of poi include probiotics, high dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamins, enzymes and minerals.

Daily consumption of fermented poi stabilizes blood sugar in diabetics. Individuals recovering from surgical procedures, lactose sensitivities, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer benefit from poi’s hypoallergenic, gluten free and digestible proteins. The ease of digestion and quality proteins are ideal for baby food and soothing colicky babies.

Okinawan Yam

The Okinawan yam is a deep purple root vegetable. The yam also known as, “ube,” was transported to Hawaii by ancient Polynesians between 300 to 500 AD. Over centuries of thriving in the nutrient rich volcanic soil, the yam has evolved as a Hawaiian food staple.

The versatile Okinawan yam is boiled, roasted, fried and baked. It’s also added as a natural sweetener and coloring to ice cream, custards and pudding. The violet purple yam adds a beautiful presentation to mashes, breads, chips and pastries. It’s versatility extends beyond the dining table.

The Okinawan yam is a quality source of Vitamin A, iron, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It’s considered a superfood with superior antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal qualities.

It’s benefits include lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, prevent cardiovascular diseases, reduced inflamed hemorrhoids, fevers and cancer. The Okinawan yam has been used to rid intestinal parasites and as a laxative. It’s vibrant color is used as a natural food coloring and pigment.


The Hawaiian eggplant is a long and slender vegetable. More commonly known as, “Asian or Japanese” eggplants. The color ranges from soft lavender to rich purple. Some eggplant varieties are striated. The length, of the virtually seedless eggplant, is over a foot long. It’s thickness is up to two inches.

It’s believed that the eggplant came from India and China. The eggplant was later introduced, by the Arabs, to the European countries in the 13th century. Due to a close relationship to poisonous plants, early Europeans were fearful of consuming the eggplant.

The eggplant comes from the Nightshade Solanaceae species. Due to its relationships with the toxic Belladonna and Devil’s Snare, was once known as, “mad apple.” Although mature eggplants are deemed safe, the young unripe vegetable is poisonous. Today, the ripe eggplant is cultivated and enjoyed throughout the world.

The eggplants are a daily food staple in the Hawaiian, Filipino and Chinese communities. Many home cooks have infused the eggplant into their favorite recipes. Cooking methods include grilling, baking, sautéeing and stir frying.

The Asian eggplant does not require peeling, but many recipes call for this preparation process. The skin is thin and the spongy flesh is mild to sweet. It’s prepared with tofu, chicken, fish, beef or pork. The flavors of fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, curry, sesame, patis and soy sauce are added to enhance the entrees.

The nutritional benefits of the Japanese eggplant is high in Vitamin A, low calorie, high dietary fiber, rich in niacin, potassium, iron, folate, and Vitamins B and C. It’s has antioxidant qualities of reducing cholesterol, supporting brain health, cardiac health and guarding against cancers. Eggplants also have phytochemical benefits of reducing cell damage.

Farmers Market

Vacationers will experience cornucopia of unusual vegetables, brought in by the immigrants that made Hawaii home. A trip to the local farmers market brings together the unusual range of edible vegetation. Along with sampling, vendors are happy to share recipes and cooking methods.

Favorite plant starters are often sold for local home gardens. Due to possible contamination of plant diseases and pests, out of state visitors are restricted from transporting germinated plants into the United States and other parts of world.

Agricultural Limits

Visitors to the Aloha State must declare plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers before leaving the islands. In fear of introducing damaging pests and diseases to agricultural communities. The USDA and the Animal and Plant Inspection Services prohibits the movement of restricted items into the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Guam and neighboring islands. They inspect every piece of luggage before issuing flight boarding passes.

Undeclared items can lead to imprisonment and/or fines. Visitors can inquire more about agricultural limits with their resort concierge and airlines. The USDA and island specific websites provide in depth information and export guidelines.

Lasting Memories

Enjoy the tastes of Aloha through a multicultural culinary experience. Savor traditional entrees and exciting flavors presented and prepared using locally grown vegetables and ingredients. Embracing the agricultural history, highlights Hawaii’s cultural melting pot. Their culinary influences, have etched the food memories of your Hawaiian journey, with every flavorful morsel.

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Exploring Maui

Sight Seeing on Maui

Haleakala crater

While you are here on the island of Maui, don’t forget to visit the beautiful, volcanic mountain called Haleakala. This majestic mountain is home to the endangered Silversword plant, as well as the rare and endangered Nene bird. Though these birds are very cute, they can be very aggressive if you get too close to their nest or mate. So, if I where you, I would keep my distance.

A Nene bird on Haleakala

A beautiful flowering Silversword on the summit of Haleakala












There are many things to do for fun on the summit of Haleakala. The sunrise and sunset from the summit are breathtaking. Just be sure to bring jackets and blankets because even though it is nice and warm on Maui, the summit can be extremely cold. In the winter, it can snow up at the summit. Sometimes there are local residents at the summit honoring the House of the Sun with a chant.

You could also hike down into the crater. It is a beautiful hike and it is worth the trip.

Another thing you could do is ride down into the crater on horseback. It is a beautiful ride and the horses are sure-footed, experienced and adorable. Be sure to bring a jacket and water because it can be cold and dry.

There is a visitors’ center on the way to the summit that has stories about the crater. There is even an exhibit of ‘cursed rocks’; rocks that people took back home with them and had bad luck until they sent the rocks back to Haleakala.

Whatever you do just remember to use low gear when driving back down in your Kihei Rent A Car vehicle.

Enjoy your stay 🙂


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Packing Your Bags For Maui

Maui Facts

packing for maui

So, you’ve booked your flight and you’re now dreaming of basking in the Maui sun with sand between your toes, and the warm ocean waves beckoning you to dive in for a swim. Ahh yesss…. let’s dwell in this picture of paradise for a moment more. Sighhhh…..

Vacationing in Maui means you can pack light. No need for a heavy jacket, thick sweaters, or closed shoes. Instead, bring your shorts and light clothing since the temperatures will be a balmy 80 degrees or more, especially as we head into the summer months.

For the majority of the time, you will be out in the sun, so we recommend that you bring suntan lotion. Try to stick with a high level of protection such as 30. I hear you groaning, “But how will I get a suntan using 30?” Trust us, you will achieve Bronzed God or Goddess status even at SPF 30. The sun is strong, so protect that skin of yours. There’s a great suntan lotion company here on Maui that makes some of the best stuff on the planet. They’re called Maui Babe. They have a good SPF 30 lotion, plus a fast bronzing lotion which we use all the time. And, you can say we are definitely sporting a nice Maui tan!

Another good item to bring along on your trip to protect you from the sun is a hat. The sun gets very hot out there and you want to be sure to protect your head from the strong rays. It’ll help prevent sunburn and it’ll keep you a bit cooler…. not to mention prevent a headache.

Don’t forget your sunglasses. Heck, maybe this one should be at the top of your list. You don’t want to be squinting the whole time you’re here. Squinting on the beach, squinting while kayaking, or even squinting while surfing…. ummm…. okay…. maybe not while you’re surfing! Haa! Sunglasses can be a great way to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the rays and it’ll help you take in the beauty of Maui that will surround you.

Okay… easy one. Don’t forget your bathing suit. Bring two! You’re probably going to be in the water a lot while here on Maui doing your water activities. In fact, you should even wear your bathing suit while hiking, since chances are you’ll find a nice cool waterfall pool that you’ll want to swim in.

As for shoes, you may need a pair of flip-flops… or what we call rubbah slippahs… and perhaps a pair of tennis shoes for going hiking. You will find that the dress code here on Maui is pretty relaxed and casual. No need to bring your fancy clothes and spiked high heeled shoes.

If you take a trip Upcountry, on the slopes of Haleakala, you will need a light jacket since it could get a little chilly in the higher elevations once the sun goes down.

Mosquito repellant is another good thing to bring. You won’t find many of the blood-suckers up in the higher elevations of Maui, but for hiking through Hana or any of the other lower elevations, you’ll need to bring some repellant so that you can really enjoy the scenery.

And…. don’t forget to bring your camera! You’ll be snapping photos left and right, trust us! Maui is such a beautiful island. You may even want to get a disposable underwater camera to take some photos while snorkeling. You’ll want to take as many pictures as you can, which make great treasures to share with family and friends back home.

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