Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Migrant - Wailea, South Maui

To say Migrant is underwhelming is to be as fair as possible. The restaurant, situated at the Marriot in Wailea, is the brainchild of an award winning chef who competed on Top Chef: Seattle. One of Maui’s latest “in” food places to be is supposed to feature “a modern take on Filipino cuisine with seasonal, local ingredients,” which apparently means lots of salt. But I’ll get to that.

My wife and I arrived in the early evening, having made reservations based on Migrant’s good word-of-mouth. (As it is currently off season for the hotel, one usually need not make reservations for restaurants. But, you never know.) While we were on time, there wasn’t a hostess in sight as we lined up behind another couple. The hostess came along and finally sat the couple ahead of us, only to promptly disappear again; in fact, we never saw her again. Five minutes later – which is a long time even for “Island Time” a manager came along and seated us. Our server, also on Island Time, eventually came along so we could order drinks which he promptly got wrong. Being local, I understand good help is hard to find, but maybe Mercury was in retrograde or I had offended a local god somehow, resulting in especially bad service.

Onto the menu which was printed in a font so small I thought it was a legal document. Squinting, I could see that there wasn't much to choose from as all the ingredients are locally sourced, giving the chef little to work with. In fact, this night saw that the locally sourced hanger steak was off the menu much to my wife’s disappointment. We wound up opting for a cabbage salad, the 'OG' garlic noodles, some kind of brisket and noodle dish that was replacing the hanger steak, and the chicken and waffles. Well, the cabbage salad was drenched in a kalbi dressing so salty I thought it had walked straight out of the ocean. The brisket and noodle dish were also ridiculously salty. While I understand that hotel restaurants must cater to Mainlanders who have no sense for herbs and spices, the attempt to placate the average tourist with sodium might as well result in that tourist’s death. Meanwhile, the chicken and waffles came from two different worlds that when combined produced a taste that was…what's a negative synonym for 'interesting'? This is to say that the whole time I was eating it, I couldn’t decide if I liked it. Individually, both were fine for what they were, but to taste the chicken and the waffle together was just; I can’t adequately describe it. At least it wasn’t salty. Nor were the garlic noodles which somehow were almost salt free. I gave these noodles a thumbs up just for this fact.

Like any hotel restaurant, Migrant is nicely decorated but doesn’t exactly stand out in a crowded field despite its bold color patterns. In fact, nothing about Migrant stands out, so I’m not sure why this place comes so highly recommended. Maybe it has a nice view from the terrace in the daytime. Maybe its allure rests on the shoulders of its celebrity chef.

Directions: 3700 Wailea Alanui Dr, Kihei, HI 96753 at the Marriot in Wailea. Stay to the right of the lobby as you walk straight past the valet area, but stay to the left of the staircase that leads down to the pool area. You’ll come to a bar and hostess stand and should be able to see the ocean from there. Hours are 4pm-10pm. 25% off Kamaaina discount. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Maui

Is nudity allowed on public beaches? If you are by yourself or with someone who will not be offended by your nudity, then yes. Otherwise, no. Refer to my blog on this typically Hawaiian law.

What’s the weather like? Due to Maui’s geography, there are several distinct climates. Maui’s west and south sides (Ka’anapali and Kihei/Wailea/Makena, respectively) are typically sunny, dry and hot, though global warming seems to be changing that. Northern and eastern parts of the island, like Hana and north of Ka’anapali, tend to be warm and wetter and more ‘tropical’ looking. Up on the mountain of Haleakala, it is cool to cold and often dry at the summit. Unless you’re hiking in her crater, moving to stay warm, or from Canada, you might want to wear something more than shorts up there.  No matter where you go, the sun is strong whether or not there are clouds in the sky. As for surf conditions, southern shores tend to be calmer in the winter months. In the summer months, north shores tend to be calmer. BUT, never count on these things. This isn’t Disneyland. Nothing is guaranteed.

What does ‘aloha’ mean? ‘Aloha’ is the real life equivalent of the word ‘smurf.’ It is usually used as a warm greeting or to refer to being kind, though it can mean just about anything depending upon who says it and the tone in their voice. For people in the service industry, ‘aloha’ is sometimes synonymous with “What do you want now?”

Where is ‘Turtleville/Turtle Town’? If you’re looking for that one spot where ALL the turtles go, where all those tour boats promise to take you, I’ve got news for you: There is no single Turtle Town. ‘Turtle Town’ is merely a catch-all term for where you might be more likely to see turtles more often than not. Usually, these are coral locations one- to two-hundred meters off shore in 20 to 30 feet of water. Each tour boat company has a particular place (or places) they go and will tell you its Turtle Town. Don’t be fooled. You don’t even need to take a tour boat if you’re a good swimmer or unless you simply don’t know where to find turtles.

Is the road to La Perouse Bay a one way road? I’m throwing in this question because it seems a tourist and her family of bicyclists were recently under the impression that the road down to La Perouse Bay is only supposed to travel north as far as cars are concerned. The mother yelled at the driver in front of me that they were on a one-way road and that we (the vehicles) were all going in the wrong direction. Now, I don’t know how this person thinks residents and tourists get back and forth from La Perouse Bay, but I assured her it was not by bicycle alone. Had she been observant, she would have noticed there are no one-way signs anywhere to be found near this southern point on the island. I understand her desire for safety when riding her bike on a narrow road, but she should be educated on the fact that locals really don’t care about sharing the street. Nor do tourists from places like China know about our right-of-way laws, a country in which bicyclists are actually considered a nuisance. Best to stay off the road down to La Perouse Bay, then. You are warned.

Is there any nightlife on Maui? That depends on what you mean by ‘nightlife.’ Maui basically shuts down at 9pm, but there is nightlife if you know where to go. There is not a whole lot of places to dance, though Cassanova’s in Makawao sometimes had electronic DJ’s. Dancing can also be had at Ambrosia’s in Kihei late at night, but be warned that it is a gay-friendly bar if you are a Republican. Live music, on the other hand, can be found all over the island but mostly in Lahaina and Kihei’s ‘The Triangle.’ If you want to karaoke, try just about any bar in Wailuku. Drinking, well, you’d be hard pressed not to find a place to drink in Maui. Consult Mauitime.com for venues and show times.

What are the best beaches? As with most other things on Maui, it depends on what you’re seeking. Ka’anapali Beach is a long stretch of sand on the west side that is usually bustling with activity. At the beach’s very north end is Black Rock, a favorite place for beginning snorklers to snorkel. If you just want to relax in the sun and water without too much bustling, any one of Maui’s beaches south of Kalama Beach Park in Kihei is a safe bet. While mostly a local’s beach on the weekend, Kamaole Beach III in Kihei has a very nice lawn at its southern end that is wonderful for sunset viewing.

Are there any sharks in the waters around Maui? Yes, Maui has more shark attacks than any other island. These are typically Tiger shark attacks. The white tip sharks you can sometimes find near shore are small and harmless unless provoked, and even then they are more likely to run away from you. While sometimes these attacks are fatal, they are rare and you stand a much better chance of many other bad things happening to you on any given day. You can minimize the chances of a shark attack by not swimming in the dawn or dusk hours and not swimming in cloudy or murky water. Also, get a good tan; pale white skin looks like the kind of fish sharks like to eat.

What kind of sunblock is best? Waterproof or water-resistant sports sunblock is best. Spray-on sun-block is horrible, both for you, the people around you, and the environment, especially when you spray it on and immediately jump in the water which washes it right off. (Can’t tell you how many times I see this happen.) DO NOT USE SUNBLOCK IN HONOLUA BAY! The coral there is dying and any chemicals in the water will make the situation worse.

Anything else I should know? Yes. Don’t stand on the coral; it is a fragile lifeform that takes decades to grow. Do not touch turtles and give them at least 10 feet of breathing room. (It is illegal to touch them, btw.) Do not feed the fish. Watch out for sea urchins near shore; they hurt like a mother. Do not expect to walk into any business and expect service right away; ‘island time’ is for real. Use GPS and flipping pay attention to it. Drive with aloha (see above).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Naked in Maui

A question often asked is whether there are any nude beaches on Maui. Well, yes, Little Beach - just north of and over the hill from Big Beach / Makena State Park - is well know for being a haven for people who think that, ahem, every day is their birthday and like to dress accordingly. But the next question - is it actually legal? - is another question altogether. 

George Harker of Maui wrote back in 2000 (a long time ago) about an incident in which several nude sunbathers were arrested. He wrote, “On October 18, 1998 six men were arrested for being nude on Polo beach at Makaleha Beach Park…All were charged and convicted of violating HRS 707-734 renamed Indecent exposure and redefined in 1993. HRS 707-734 Indecent Exposure...A person commits the offense of indecent exposure if, the person intentionally exposes the person's genitals to a person to whom the person is not married under circumstances in which the actor's conduct is likely to cause affront.” When the case was taken to the Supreme Court of Hawaii, the conviction by a lower court judge was overturned. “The Court noted that the exposure of genitals had to be ‘intentional’ and with a conscious object to affront the other individual. It was also important that the person not be married to the person doing the exposing. Under state law there are four states of mind; "intentional, knowing, reckless and negligent." In this regulation the operative state of mind is intentional, nothing more and nothing less. The Supreme Court had trouble with the idea of ‘intentional’ because the other individuals were also naked and it didn't make any sense that the individual was trying to cause alarm to any of the other persons on the beach. The Court also noted that the act had to be directed to some specific person, not someone who might or might not happen along. Clearly whether the police were affronted or not was immaterial,” Harker wrote.

Again, here is the law as it stands as of 2015*: Title 37 section 707-734 of the Hawaii penal code says of Indecent Exposure - A person commits the offense of indecent exposure if, the person intentionally exposes the person's genitals to a person to whom the person is not married under circumstances in which the actor's conduct is likely to cause affront. Indecent exposure is a petty misdemeanor. Furthermore, Hawaii Revised Statue 712-1217 says - A person commits the offense of open lewdness if in a public place the person does any lewd act which is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed. Open lewdness is a petty misdemeanor.

[*Compiled from various legal websites since it seems quite difficult to find the actual HRS and HARs online.]

Basically what this means to us non-lawyers is that as long as you don’t intend to cause an affront or go out somewhere where it is reasonably expected you may cause an affront, nudity is okay. With Little Beach being an area known for its acceptance for nudity, it is legal to be nude here, though police have apparently arrested people here before, though mostly for drug use and squatting from what I understand. You also have to consider that if anyone who isn’t in the loop regarding Little Beach comes along and is offended by what they find, and saying that someone intended to offend them, the nudity in question IS now illegal. While such a contrivance is typical of Hawaiian bureaucracy, that’s just the way it is folks. But, hey, at least it is still a petty misdemeanor.

The rules of what should be common-sense apply here: As long as you’re alone or with other people of a like-mind when you are nude, no problem. But if you’re somewhere people commonly keep clothing on, have some class and don’t bare your ass. Mahalo!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Polipoli State Park, Upcountry Maui

Once upon a time, Polipoli State park and its trails may have been a nice place to visit, but since two minor hurricanes blew past the island in 2014, felled and cut-up trees have left the area looking like a warzone. Combine this with the fact that there is little to no views on this often cloudy backside of Haleakala and elevation changes that are unchallenging to say the least make this place forgettable. Or, it would be forgettable except for the 6-mile long bumpy one-lane dirt road that take you to the remote park. Totally not worth the drive, folks, not unless you really like Redwood trees, which make up less than a mile of the trail, btw. Sorry, Polipoli, I'll leave you to the locals.

This link will take you to the state's official page. Notice what little information they give you...

Directions: From Kahului, take Highway 37 through Kula to the junction of Highway 377. Turn left on 377 for about 0.3 mile, then right on Waipoli Road. This becomes Polipoli Access Road at the first cattle guard and climbs up the mountain through a long and annoying series of switchbacks until it enters the forest at 6,400′ elevation, where the pavement ends and the road becomes an annoying one-lane dirt road with potholes. Parking lot has some picnic tables and surprisingly, a flush toilet.

Worst map ever.

Nice view.

What? No orcs?

Most interesting thing on the trails.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What Ales You, Kihei

If the brew gods have anything to say about it, south Maui just may yet become a brew lovers paradise. The latest entrant on the brewing scene is Kihei’s “What Ales You” tap-room located in The Triangle. (The Triangle, if you don’t know, is the area adjacent to Foodland in central Kihei, across the street from Kalama Park.) Basically, if you like beer – we’re not talking Budweiser or PBR here – you have to visit this quaint little place. I was a little skeptical at first since I knew the owner had taken over the dumpy space used by “Pita Paradise.” However, the location has been sincerely cleaned up and decked out with modern outdoor d├ęcor (no sore butts and this patio!). Inside is a bit more demur with only five small tables and a 13-seat bar, but at least it’s clean, a bonus for any establishment in The Triangle. There are also 3 TV screens above the bar and another off in a corner, just in case you need your sports fix.

I don’t really think people come to a tap-room to watch games; hopefully, they come for the beer. There are eight standing taps and another eight on rotation, all of which are microbrews and diverse enough to satisfy almost any palate. (I say ‘almost’ because there was no porter today, and no ale house is complete without at least one porter, I say. I realize porters aren’t popular nowadays, but still.) Essentially, with 16 beer on tap, this makes “What Ales You” the place to go when Maui Brewing Company is over-crowed (which is often lately) and Monkeypod Kitchen is too overrun with tourists who don’t mind paying Monkeypod’s confiscatory prices. But this tap-room has wine, too! Again, there’s a nice selection here though I sampled little of it, though the sip I had of my friend’s glass was quite buttery. As for liquor, you won’t find any here; better luck next door at Tiki Lounge where the bartending is hit or miss. Food is a bit more scarce at this point for “What Ales You” as they only opened in late June but offer some delicious bratwurst and cheese platter pupus (appetizers). Perhaps they will expand the food menu someday, but I can wait until then. They don’t seem to have much in the way of entertainment right now either, but with all the bars in The Triangle, be that as it may. From 4-6pm you’ll hear music splash over from the Tiki Lounge, anyway.

Finally, I’ll say that the staff was super friendly – Stacey, our server, was really sweet and Bucky is a guy who knows his beer. Working in paradise as I do, I know it’s hard to find decent staff in Maui, so I was really happy with how we were treated, service-wise. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you’ll go, too, because I’d like to see this place succeed.

Open 10am-11pm every day. Happy Hour 3-6, if I remember correctly.

Directions: 1913 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii 96753. It is behind “Life’s A Beach” and “Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse,” and next to “Tiki Lounge” in the space that used to be “Pita Paradise.