Why Elevation Matters On Maui


People write to me all the time to ask where they should live when they move to Maui. This question stumps me. It would seem they would know if they are beach people or mountain people….or if they want to be surrounded by tourists, or live in the middle of nowhere. So here’s some food for thought….

Let’s say you plan to move to Maui and will drive an electric car. You get to live in a jaw – droppingly beautiful place and help the planet while you drive, right?

Not so fast. A friend did just that – – moved his family to Kula at around 3,000 feet elevation, and bought an electric car. Only one problem: he found he cannot go up and down the hill on only one charge. At flat – level driving, the car (a Leaf) was rated to make the mileage – – it just couldn’t handle the elevation (kind of like my brother-in-law who got elevation-sick while we were all visiting the lavender farm in Kula. Hi, Richard!)

(www.aliikulalavender.com/ “In the uplands of Maui, nestled along the skirt of Haleakala (House of the Sun) mountain lay the beautiful gardens of Ali`i Kula Lavender. Maui’s Lavender Lifestyle experience.”)

But I digress. Of course, that is just another thing to consider…will you suffer from elevation sickness?

So my Kula friend now plans his days around charging his car. One day he had a meeting in Kahului (flat-land), then another meeting right afterward in Makawao (1,500 ft.) He had to re-schedule the second meeting to build in charging time, so he could make it back up the hill. Not a happy camper.

We inherited a Prius when my mom passed away. She is named “Lulu” and is the first car I’ve owned on Maui that won’t let me run the air-conditioner up the hill to Upcountry without grinding and complaining. So I pat her and turn off the A.C., even though it’s 95° out. My insurance agent told me she has the same problem with her small – cylinder car, that is neither electric or hybrid. Just not enough power.

The beauty of living Upcountry is that you can get a view, you’re away from the tourists, and it’s a bit cool-ah in Ku-la. (I owe that one to my niece).

The downside to elevation is that it’s really hard on your brakes. I burned mine up as soon as I moved Upcountry, and my mechanic said, “Downshift the whole way down, to save your brakes.” To which I replied, “But that makes the engine grind – – what about my transmission?” He just shrugged and said, “Choose.”

Everything in Maui comes down to choice, just like life. Beach or mountain? Hot or cool? Flat or views? Close to work, or a commute?

I leave you with this: your ears will pop every time you go up and down the mountain. I’ve always wondered this about airline folks too…is that an okay thing?

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

Aloha, Jamaica

6 thoughts on “Why Elevation Matters On Maui

  1. Hey, I resemble that remark (hey Sis-in-law)
    but yes elevation matters, that was our(my wife and I) first visit to the island and we probably should have planned better, we went to the Lavender place on the same day that we arrived on the island, so multiple hours in an airplane at elevation(pressurized) then lavender farm with elevation(no pressurization of course) and there you get a bit of elevation sickness,

    • Aloha Richard,
      You’re absolutely right, I had forgotten that we went there the same day you flew in, trying to cram as much into your time here as possible. But it’s good for people to be aware that there is such a thing as elevation sickness. Thanks for writing…and for being a great sport!
      Love, your Sis-in-law ☺️

  2. Jamaica,
    I’m sure your mechanic would prefer you to downshift coming down the mountain. It costs a whole lot more to replace your transmission than it does your brakes. A whole lot. If your brother-in law had a hard time with the elevation at the lavender farm, did he attempt to go up to the summit of Haleakala?

    • Aloha Mike,
      Very good point about the mechanic. I hadn’t thought about it that way.
      And no, we did not attempt Haleakala.
      Thanks for weighing in.
      Aloha! Jamaica

    • Aloha Mikki,
      Glad to be of help. That’s the whole point of this blog. To help people make wise choices when they choose to vacation here…and then think of moving here…which happens ALL the time!😛

      Aloha, Jamaica

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