Mainland Observations

We are on the mainland while Mike recovers from knee surgery, staying in a 3- bedroom, one-bath home that is 60 years old, near San Francisco. This house is worth a million dollars, and many people would just tear it down. Here are some observations, many of them from my daily walk:

The sugarbowl stands open–no bugs! Potato chips and crackers aren’t limp from humidity.
The world here is grayed out instead of technicolor.
Time to go play, no constantly cleaning red dirt.
The weekend really does feel like a weekend. Maui is a 24/7 society.
Road trip! Vast and limitless, plus you can take along anything you want to in the car.
People say hello and hold the door open for you.
Choices! Should we go to Target, Marshalls, Nordstom Rack or Kohl’s to find that item?
The ocean isn’t turquoise here.
Full shelves, well-stocked.
Not watching out of the corner of the eye for cockroaches, centipedes and cane spiders in the house.
Trader Joe’s….wallet-friendly heaven.
Manners matter more here.
Not waking to a raucous but beautiful chorus of birds. Where are they?
Confusing highways and traffic that moves at 75 mph.
Better radio reception with great stations (hello, KFOG).
Toys: surround sound in living rooms comes from having a Best Buy to buy these things.
Vanity plates.
Huge crows caw from streetlights, like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
Teslas! And they’re gorgeous.


Pride of ownership. Landscaped yards, fresh paint jobs, brick


(in Maui, people are at the beach…not painting the trim).

And of course….Insane home prices, even worse than Maui.

A hui hou! If you like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right. Mahalo for reading!

Aloh! Jamaica

Reader Question Answered

Since Mike had his knee replacement I have been behind on answering letters. Could be because I am bringing him ice, making him food, giving him shots and working through the exercises with him…anyway, his rehabilitation is going much more slowly than either of us anticipated.

A reader named Susan wrote:

Hi Jamaica,
Your blog is very informative. My daughter lives on Maui and has for the past 6 years. She loves it. I’m 61, single, a retired teacher and am seriously considering moving to Maui. I have visited the islands many many times and know I will have to work but don’t want to teach I’m thinking I can make my way in the tourist industry with skills aquired in teaching. It will be a forever move..I am planning on selling everything and moving..I also think buying a condo in Lahaina vs renting may be more practical for me..My concern is getting to know people who are around my age..How easy is it to socialize? I’m not a drinker, I don’t frequent bars…and it seems like the island is full of young people. what can u suggest to get settled and make some friends.

Dear Susan,
I take it that your daughter lives in Lahaina and that’s why you want to live there. We found that the Westside was full of young people, and also there’s a whole lot of drinking that goes on there. There’s a bumper sticker that says “Lahaina: a drinking town with a fishing problem.”

So that’s the basic reason we moved Upcountry. But there was more to it. We were looking for a community feel, less touristy and more local. Everyone seems to start out on the Westside… they think they want to live near the beach. But then they discover that living among the condos and hotels and tourists can get very annoying after a while. For that reason, I would suggest that you rent at first to get a feel for it and not buy right away.

Volunteering is probably your best in-road to meeting people. There’s the Lahaina Historical Society, and the library. If you’re willing to drive, many people volunteer at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (known as the MACC) and you’d get to see free shows, to boot. The Humane Society near Kihei is also always looking for volunteers.

You can find a cause and join, such as the Sierra Club, or fighting the GMO’s, or do beach – clean up, or join a hiking group. There are Maui Meet-up groups for things like boardgames, hiking, etc. (google Maui Meet-up). Many times, getting involved in these groups is what will lead to a job.

Otherwise, people can find it a tough go… They have skills from the mainland, but find that it’s mostly the hotels where those skills can be used, and there are many, many people in line in front of them for those jobs. Sometimes, a nonprofit is a better bet for your type of skills. For instance, recently there was a job opening with Canines for Independence in the front office… Low pay, but probably very rewarding. It just takes lots of time and patience to find a job sometimes. That’s why I always advise people to move to Hawaii with a fully padded bank account.

Susan, I wish you the very best as you plan your move to Maui!
Mahalo for reading along…

A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaii vs. Mainland Medicine


Well, let’s start with the smell.
Mike just got a total knee replacement at Kaiser South San Francisco Hospital, and the hospital didn’t smell. At all. We were so pleasantly surprised, because the times I’ve been in Maui Memorial Hospital and the Moanalua Kaiser Hospital on Oahu, they both had this cloying stench. As a patient, I couldn’t stand being there. And as a visitor, Mike didn’t want to hang out with me.

Then there’s the track record. The problem with surgeries in Hawaii is the size of the population. Kaiser surgeons might perform 100-200 joint replacements per year. Yet Mike’s mainland surgeon performs 400 per year. Big difference! Lots more practice=more accurate surgeries.

When I got my gallbladder out on Maui, the surgeon dropped a stone, but didn’t know it. It festered for months and I became quite toxic. Another Maui doctor tried to remove the stone in an emergency ERCP procedure, but failed. Why? Because he doesn’t do enough of them! So I was air-lifted to Oahu, nearly dead, where they removed the stone.

But wait, there’s more. I immediately got a staph infection during the procedure and ended up in intensive care. I was in the hospital for over a week.

No one we know has surgery in Hawaii. A friend went to get a shoulder replacement at Mayo Clinic in the Midwest. Another friend is currently getting cancer treatment in San Francisco. We personally know of only one person who has been happy with the medical care; a part – time Maui resident who had an appendix removed with no issues. There may be lots of other satisfied patients out there, we just haven’t heard of any. And we certainly have not had good luck.

I share of all of this because many older people write to me, considering retiring in Maui. But the older we get, the more medical care we may need. Mike’s knee replacement is a perfect example. And he also needs the other knee done! And my rotator cuff is torn and needs surgery.

But we just aren’t going to give them another crack at us in Hawaii.

The California hospital here was extremely clean, stench – free, and so well-run and organized we couldn’t believe it. It took HOURS to get me checked out of the Hawaii hospitals. Here? 10 minutes, tops.

Lastly, our next-door neighbor on Maui just had a horrible experience at Maui Memorial and his wife is a nurse there!

Lots to think about…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Movers and Shakers

You forget how slow the lifestyle really is in Hawaii, until you spend some time on the mainland. I have lived on Maui almost 15 years, and didn’t realize that Starbucks is now the center of the universe on the mainland. (Just kidding… sorta). We rarely go to Starbucks in Hawaii, it’s just an added expense. But we are away from home, near San Francisco, and we’ve been hitting Starbucks for 3 PM coffee time. It certainly is different here.

We sat outside on a perfectly still, sunny day sipping coffee, observing the Starbucks customers in a San Francisco surburb. (I wrote “still” because the wind is always blowing on Maui. Also, there is no humidity here. How could I have forgotten that? I hardly know how to act.)

Across from us there was a 20–something with her $1,200 handbag and expensive shoes, working her laptop and iPhone simultaneously, trying desperately to buy a house. We could hear everything she was saying, and every word involved stress. (As I read the other day, a CLOSET costs 5 million dollars in San Francisco.)

Then here came a 30-year old, striding purposefully into the shop, or her phone, trading stocks. Loudly.

All this commerce, this striding purposefully, the guys in suits and sports coats, the women dressed to the nines…this doesn’t happen on Maui. People in Starbucks on Maui are there simply to drink coffee. They aren’t trying to change the world, or even their own world.

People can fall into a groove on Maui. They work as waitresses, bellboys, or in a surf shack. They know life isn’t likely to change or improve. That it isn’t likely they’ll ever be able to afford a house. They have settled into dead-end jobs just so they can go surf or swim every weekend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it removes some motivation. It removes a certain amount of razor-sharp wit and intelligence needed just to keep a good job in other parts of the country.

Often, they moved Maui only to find out it’s much harder than they ever thought it would be. They end up working two or even three jobs….And if they grow weary of that, they move back home.

Sometimes, I miss the striving. Just sitting back in Starbucks and watching this smart/swift/sharp group of people navigate life here is a revelation. Eat or be eaten.

In Maui, the sharks are in the water.

A hui hou. Mahalo for reading along. if you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Across the Big Pond

We are across the Big Pond. We have “come to America” as Mike calls it. We are here to get a full knee replacement for him in San Francisco, and then rehabilitation. More blog posts to follow as to why he is having the surgery on the mainland instead of getting it done in Hawaii…

People have wondered why I didn’t post about the hurricanes, and the answer is, we were gone! I am really backed up on answering letters from blog readers, and I apologize. It was a lot of work to get out of Maui–planning to be gone at least a month–and then to get settled in and ready for his surgery. We are fortunate enough to be staying with his nephew. (And are remembering what it’s like to live in a house with four people and one bathroom!)

We had to be here a week early for his pre-op appointment, but then we got to go play. The weather has been perfect, like fall, crisp and sunny. Here is our view from Sausalito:

And here we are:


Mike is wearing his brace, and we are wearing out his knee with walking! He is so ready to have this done, sometimes it just goes out from under him…image

Now that you are up to date, I will start answering your letters. Stay tuned!

A hui hou. Mahalo for reading along.

Aloha, Jamaica

So You Want to Honeymoon on Maui


A woman named Cheryl wrote asking about things to do on Maui on her honeymoon:
“I was wondering if you had any recommendations for our visit to Maui for our honeymoon. If there are great places to eat that aren’t so bombarded by tourists. We will be staying at the Westin Resort and Spa, so we are in the middle of all that is tourist. If you have any recommendations for food or just daily activities (must sees) that would be wonderful!”
Thanks, Cheryl

Answer: Aloha Cheryl,
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage and honeymoon!
As a concierge, I would always first find out what people like to do. The door is pretty wide open for activities. There is horseback riding in Kapalua, there is parasailing, zip-lining (Upcountry), and lots of water activities: snorkeling, diving, dinner cruises, and sunset sails. I of course favor the “Scotch Mist” out of Lahaina Harbor ( where Mike is a boat captain. But Captain Mike is getting his knee replaced (too many surfing wipeouts and motorcycle jumps– he’s had a great life) in August, so don’t look for him on the boat anytime soon.

As far as restaurants, Merrimans ( Kapalua is lovely, but not cheap. People seem to really like Mala in Lahaina, ( but it is very small, and loud unless you get to sit outside on the water. ( Also not cheap!) I personally love Gerards French food in Lahaina ( but please note that it is not on the water.

As far as entertainment, The Feast at Lele is, hands down, my go-to luau. $110.00 per person for a five-course dinner and the show. (

For an inexpensive dinner, you will have to wait in line with everybody else to get into the barefoot bar at Hula Grill, oceanfront in Kaanapali. ( Worth the wait, with the live entertainment and fabulous view. So relaxing, too.

As far as just grabbing a quick, cheap bite in Kaanapali, The Comfort Zone and The Cantina are both right on the highway in a strip-mall just north of the entrance to Kaanapali.

Upcountry, I would suggest Haliimaile General Store restaurant ( Yes, it is an old general store, and quaint. And of course, Mama’s Fish House ( in Paia can’t be beat. Get your reservation now, before you even get to Maui!

Have fun, and congratulations.

PS: The best thing you can do is call ahead and be very nice to the concierge at your hotel. They can help you pre-book everything and walk you through what activities are best served suited to your interest level.

A hui hou! If you like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica