Friday, January 15
This morning, we drove to ‘Iao Valley Park, hoping to see a 1200 foot tall vegetation covered basalt remnant. This spire has some historical significance, as it was the site of a great battle between Kamehameha and the king of Maui which allowed Kamehameha to unite the islands into one kingdom. Unfortunately, the park was closed for some maintenance work.
The trip was not in vain, I’m happy to report. Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens is located just outside the entrance to the park. The gardens memorialize many of the peoples who emigrated to Hawaii, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and missionaries from the mainland.
The gardens are nestled between several mountains, with a stream running alongside. So very lush.
Our next stop was Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery. The distillery was established about ten years ago, and their first location was a warehouse in Kahului. Our GPS directed us there, which was pretty confusing. Quick check online and we were driving up into the hills to find the current location.
The farm grows about 80 varieties of sugar cane, which are harvested by hand. Other sugar cane farms will burn the cane to remove the leaves. Here, the leaves are allowed to drop naturally and are used as compost. By harvesting by hand, they are able to keep the cane plant producing for up to 8 years, rather than having to replant after each harvest.
They produce Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Water Rum. We had already sampled the vodka, attracted in part by the beautiful blue bottle. Today, we got to sample the rum as well. No complaints about either.
After distilling the alcohol, it is cut with deep sea water from melted polar glacial ice. The water contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Although not for sale in the US, we were able sample some, and it certainly tastes different from regular drinking water. Most of the water is exported to Japan where they sell it for its “health” benefits: relieving stomach pain, indigestion, and decreasing the risk of developing stomach cancer.
From there, we headed to Ulupalakua Ranch Store for lunch. We had been told it had great hamburgers, and all of its meat comes from Hawaii. We went inside to the deli to order and pay for our food, then dined outdoors. I enjoyed the pumpkin ginger soup and Mark had the elk burger. Ulupalakua is an 18,000 acre cattle ranch with about 2,300 head.
Maui Wine is located across the road, so we visited it as well, and of course, sampled and purchased wine. There is an interesting display in the front yard, called the Hula Circle. In the 1870’s, a ring of cypress trees was planted for King David Kalakaua in which hula troupes performed in his honor. High winds brought down two of the trees in 2012. The other trees were determined to be unhealthy as well, so Maui Wine asked a local artist, Tim Garcia to carve the remaining trunks in a way that told the story of the trees.
There were some fabulous views along these drives, including some of the waves breaking on the beaches. There is a forecast of 40′ waves heading this way, and the surfers are anxious to try them out. Best of luck to them.