We’ve long associated summertime with the outdoors. Maui may lack the distinct weather patterns that mark each season, and year-round schooling may have taken away much of the fun of the old summer vacation, but there’s still something about these coming months that demand we focus our attention to the fresh air and sunshine.
As we do every year, we’re highlighting a few outdoor activities that you can enjoy. We all know about snorkeling and surfing (the latter in Hawaii actually peaks in the winter) so we decided to explore summer fun that perhaps isn’t well known around the island.
Axel Beers starts things off by somehow overcoming his youthful fears of baseball failure and had a blast at the Hitter’s Paradise batting cages. Then Jen Russo pretends to be a circus performer over at Emerald Island Trapeze before donning a host of protective gear so she could play war at Maui Paintball.
And if you’re not the active type but would still like get outside, check our listings at the end of the story for upcoming summer festivals and events.
Regardless of what you do, go do something. Because of all the seasons, summer is the one that’s supposed to be fun.
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The place to do that is Hitter’s Paradise in Kihei
By Axel Beers
I’m pretty sure we can get you hitting the ball well when you are done,” he said when I first asked about dropping by Hitter’s Paradise in Kihei, but I didn’t really believe it. I recalled inept middle school PE days, standing awkwardly at home plate with all eyes on me, and the creeping uncomfortable self-consciousness of adolescence. But given the fact that I’d never been to a batting cage or even swung a bat in years, I decided it was worth at least checking out.
I arrived at the batting cages, located near the Tesoro on the Pi‘ilani Highway, and was reassured by the “All Skill Levels” posted on the banners and the fact that Hitter’s Paradise owner Paul Skarbo was much friendlier than any gym schoolteacher I’d ever encountered.
“Hey, howzit,” owner Paul Skarbo said when I walked into his office. “You wanna hit some balls today?” His black and white Labrador-mix greeted me and wagged its tail.
Skarbo seemed at home behind a counter topped with baseballs and baseball cards, surrounded in an office space with baseball bats and other equipment.
“I loved going to the [batting cage] that used to be in Kahului,” said Skarbo, a former player and organizer of Maui’s Wood Bat (over 25) Baseball League. “I always wanted to own my own business… so I thought, it’s worth trying and see if I could make it work. It’s worked out great so far.”
Hitter’s Paradise has been open a year and a half and currently operates eight pitching machines. Three of the machines are from Kahului’s old batting cages and were sold to the county where they were neglected outdoors and let rust. Skarbo salvaged the machines and now they sit painted green under better care in his batting cages.
After some talking, I was ready to hit some balls. Dogs don’t judge.
I stepped into the cage and after some warming up, I was absorbed.
The clean clink sound of a ball hitting the $400 borrowed metal bat and the sight of it flying to meet the hanging mesh ceiling. Arms recoiling with bat in hand. A pause and breath, then a single red warning light. A cocked bat and feet replanted, watching straight ahead machinery lift and load another baseball. Then the pneumatic Shoomp! sound of a released ball passing speedily through the metal guide. A round swing and Clink! It becomes rhythmic, satisfying and cathartic.
Also, it was fun.
“Some families come at night and bring dinner to eat in the ‘dugout,’” Skarbo said, referring to the covered area with picnic tables. “We have a TV so they can watch sports and hit balls.”
And with Maui’s kids about to be out for the summer, Hitter’s Paradise is opening for expanded summer hours starting May 27, which run from 10am to 8pm from Sunday to Thursday, and until 9pm on Friday and Saturday.
In addition, Hitter’s Paradise serves Little League teams, who come to visit during the day. There are lanes for slow pitch softball and fast pitch, and for baseball speeds from 45 to 70 miles per hour. There’s a pitcher’s mound so people can hit live balls, and a radar gun that’ll clock how fast your throw is. Misting machines are mounted outside to provide an escape from the Kihei heat in between exerting hitting sessions.
I stepped out of the cage with the chest of my shirt a little damp from sweat and relaxed in the shade of the dugout. Whether I was “hitting the ball well” by that point, as Paul had trusted me to be, was debatable, but irrelevant. What mattered was that I had a good time.
Hitter’s Paradise is located at 386 Huku Li’i Place in Kihei, down the road from Tesoro and can be contacted at 808-298-0262, firstname.lastname@example.org or Hittersparadise.com There are token rates for the machines, prepaid hitting cards, timed cage and pitching mound rentals, private lessons and options for birthday parties.
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Emerald City Trapeze
Now everyone on Maui can run away and join the circus
By Jen Russo
What do you like best about trapeze?” instructor Dorian McRae asks me as I climb 25 feet in the air at Emerald City Trapeze in Lahaina to fly once more.
“The rush!” I quickly say, as there’s nothing quite like the feeling of jumping off a tiny platform while grasping a moving swing, then flipping upside down and hanging by your knees dozens of feet off the ground.
McRae laughs. “Ah, yes–the adrenaline,” he says. “That goes away after the first swing, but returns every time you learn a new trick.”
As McRae guided me through the process of jumping and landing, then clipped me into my safely belt, I thought about what he said. And he was right: the next swing wasn’t as much of a shock as a thrill when I leaped again.
The amazing team of trapeze and aerial artists kept the whole experience fun and professional. It was a great workout and all around super fun adventure. I’m totally hooked. The views alone from their spot in Emerald Plaza are breathtaking.
McRae came over from Seattle–home of the original Emerald City Trapeze Arts (ECTA), which Gary Kirkland opened in Washington five years ago. McRae says the best part about teaching trapeze is meeting and helping people. He seems right at home when perched on the platform high in the air, and can’t help but make trapeze seem easy peasy.
“We had a rig set up outside for the summer,” says Kirkland’s daughter Hoku, who runs Maui’s Emerald City Trapeze Arts. “But the season is so short in the Northwest. We decided to look for a location that would have great weather all year. So we thought Hawaii.”
The Washington location has gained a following as a spot for birthday parties, date nights and frequent flyers. Kirkland says this has given way to a unique community of enthusiasts who started swinging from the trapeze as a recreational sport, but have now developed into a pro team and can perform.
Seattle trapeze expat Jesse Lenihan decided to come to Maui and is now one of the flying trapeze instructors and performers at Emerald City Trapeze. He says he drove by the Seattle facility one day during his construction job and decided to try it. You could say that first experience spurred him to literally run away with the circus.
Anthony Delaney, an amazing flyer with Cirque du Solei creds, a recent Asia tour and a brother who runs a circus school in Australia, grew up in the business. He told me he’s been teaching for a decade, and it shows. He had my daughter flying through the air in no time. He says kids are a natural for this, and any kids over the age of six are invited to try. In fact, Emerald City will host a summer kids camp starting June 12.
Maui is already getting its own following. I met Maui resident Trish Luna at ECTA who says one try at trapeze is all it took before she started training to work there. She says she’s the black sheep with the least experience, but still loves it. Easy going and fun, she put me right at ease as I signed my waiver forms and headed up the ladder.
The talented team at Emerald City Trapeze Arts also hosts a free show and festive Cirque du Sunday on the second Sunday of each month. Next one coming up takes place on June 9. It’s a great intro for the fly-curious, costing just $10 for your first fly, $5 for the next and $2 after that. There will also be face-painting, a DJ, food truck and snacks before the show.
After the most recent show, everyone settled down for an outdoor movie on the lawn. Kirkland dazzled in her solo on the hoop, and the death defying flying trapeze acts got my heart pumping.
If you’re looking for another kind of thrill, ECTA hosts a monthly full moon fly at 9pm every month on the night of the full moon. Kirkland also teaches aerial hoop, rope, silks, doubles trapeze and doubles hoop.
To join a class call 808-268-9597. They have classes Wednesday through Saturday with Kama’aina rates available. For more info, go to Emeraldcitytrapeze.com/maui.
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Playing war is a blast at Maui Paintball
By Jen Russo
I never thought gunning strangers down could be so entertaining.
There’s very little that intimidates me, and I love a good adventure. But when I got invited to try Maui Paintball I was at a total loss. I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I came really close to chickening out. It’s not the part that involves holding a gun–I like that. I’ve pulled the trigger on a shotgun shooting skeet in Lanai and that is powerfully fun. But going in a game where people could shoot at me just sounded hectic.
Luckily, my curiosity got the better of me, and I showed up at Maui Paintball in Olowalu on a recent Monday for a day of sport. A day at Maui Paintball is good, clean fun, and I have the bruises and dirt under my fingernails to prove it.
Owner Clint Hansen discovered his appreciation for paintball as kid at Kula’s D&D Paintball, but that closed down in 2005. Feeling the loss of a great activity for kids and other enthusiasts, Hansen worked to find a new location. He says it took about five years to find his current spot in Olowalu. Next, the permitting process and proper build-out took another two years, and he finally opened this February.
“There are a series of safety rules that we go over to ensure that no one gets hurt as well as keep the games light-hearted,’ Hansen says about how they play games at Maui Paintball. “There are a few game types we play that include flags or just plain elimination. We offer a tips, tricks and tactics class on Saturday and Sunday if given 24 hours notice for just $5 an hour. Class can start as early as 9am, which gives you up to two hours of training before the first game starts.”
When I arrived, I was immediately relieved to find a bunch of the people showing up to play were also there for the first time. Angela Nolan, the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas’ General Manager, and Bobby Megargle, Director for Food and Beverage, were holding a team-building day at the field with a group of about 30 employees, many of whom were newbies. That offset my getting intimidated by a group of serious guys who brought their own equipment and fatigues. I was sure they were going to take me out more or less immediately after the game started.
To my surprise, the game is not played to each his own. You’re pulled into teams, Team A and Team B, and the groups square off against each other. After donning your safety gear, signing your waiver, buying paintballs and loading your gun, you’re ready to tour the course. Our guide was really good at explaining all the rules in detail, such as no shooting people on your team and no blasting people in the back. Also, merely getting hit by a ball is not enough to declare a person out–it has to burst. Our guide’s best tip was to move quickly toward the front, as it makes the game move fast and keeps propelling the action forward.
Hansen and his team have built a dream paint war zone in the Olowalu forest. There are two-story forts, large concrete structures and huge pipes strewn about everywhere. There are also wooden barricades and even an old broken down, double decker sugar cane train car on the paintball course. There are trees everywhere, which both add plenty of places to conceal your movement and keep you shaded and cool.
Prudent safety measures keep everyone pretty close to injury-free. For instance, you have to wear a full face mask anytime you approach the course, and there is no shooting paintball guns unless play is ongoing. You get dirtier from nature than the paint, which is all washable and biodegradable.
Basically, Team A starts at one end of the course while Team B starts at the other. You have a few moments to discuss any strategy and then the game starts. You run ahead, ducking behind what you can, trying to get as close as you can to the opposing “enemy” team. Or, put simply, you take cover and then start shooting.
This all sounds great on paper, but when play actually begins the game is chaotic, just shy of outright mayhem and incredibly exhilarating. If you get hit, you raise your hand and run off the course. Nobody is supposed to take cheap shots at you, and then play resumes.
During the first game, I was one of the first people hit and called out, but I was also right in the front of the action in an exposed position. During the second game I did a better job of taking cover and never got out (in fact, our team “won”). During the third game, I actually shot someone that I was aiming for and got them out (before I got out).
“We just had our first tournament which raised $2084 for the Wounded Warrior Project,” says Hansen. “We had a girls only game May 18 which has been generating a lot of attention from first-time female players. We’re also doing a summer camp Monday through Friday, starting June 3. We’re working on getting glow in the dark paintballs and offering night games on Wednesdays so people can play after work.”
I may have not known a thing about paintball, but after just one day I’m looking forward to the next time. The game is fun for the whole family and open to kids over 12.
To make reservations you can use their website Mauipaintball.com but drop-ins are welcome, too. You can buy paintballs online, but if you buy them when you check in you can get a better Kama’aina price with Hawaii ID. If you have a young person that may be interested in their two-week camp session, check their website. They are planning to start a group page to arrange carpooling from all sides of the island.
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Summer Event And Festival Listings
Na Koa Ikaika Baseball – May 28-Aug 29. Throughout Summer. Iron Maehara Stadium, Wailuku – Soaking up the rays and sipping on a brew while watching Na Koa Ikaika Maui kick baseball butt is one of the perfect ways to spend a summer afternoon. Mauiprobaseball.com
Maui Obon Festivals – June 1-Aug. 31. Buddhist Temples island-wide. – Throughout Obon season, a time to honor family members and ancestors, Maui’s Buddhist temples will host traditional Obon Festivals across the island. All are invited for dance, taiko drumming, food, and festivities. June 1: Lahaina Shingon. June 15: Wailuku Shingon. June 22: Pu‘unene Nichiren. June 28: Wailuku Jodo. July 6: Lahaina Jodo. July 12-13: Pa‘ia Mantokuji. July 19-20: Kahului Hongwanji. July 26-27: Makawao Hongwanji. Aug. 2-3: Wailuku Hongwanji. Aug. 10: Kahului Jodo. Aug. 17: Pa‘ia Rinzai Zen. Aug. 23-24: Lahaina Hongwanji. Aug. 31: Kula Shofukuji.
Wa’a Kiakahi Celebration – May 31-June 2. Check online for times. Ka‘anapali Beach. – This free celebration is hosted by the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association with the support of Ka‘anapali Beach Resort Association. Come Friday to observe the Opening Ceremony and welcome the crews. Enjoy an authentic sailing canoe ride and talk story on Saturday. On Sunday, experience a traditional send-off for the sailing canoes as they begin the race to Molokai with their colors flying. Kaanapaliresort.com
Zenshin Daiko’s Taiko Festival – June 8. MACC, Kahului. – Zenshin Daiko sponsors its annual concert to bring taiko groups to Maui for the community to enjoy. Zenshindaiko.com
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival – June 7-9. Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Kapalua. – At the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, you can attend seminars on pinots and cabernets, hit up wine tasting while meeting and greeting someliers and winery owners from all over the world. Kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com
32nd Upcountry Agriculture Fair – June 9-10, 8am-4pm. Oskie Rice Field & Arena, Makawao. – There will be crafts, ono grinds, an ‘Ohana Ranch Rodeo, a 4-H livestock auction, the Haleakala Ranch Paniolo Tent and an agricultural tent where you can purchase locally grown produce and plants.
Maui Film Festival – June 12-16. Wailea Resort, Wailea and MACC, Kahului. – The world famous Maui Film Festival features high-quality films shown under the stars at Wailea and in the MACC. Mauifilmfestival.com
Republik Music Festival: Jamrock Edition – June 14, 6pm. MACC, Kahului. – The lineup includes Damian Marley, Santigold, Ghetto Youths Crew and The Throwdowns. Mauiarts.org
Taste of Chocolate – June 14, 8pm. Four Seasons Resort Maui, Wailea. – Maui Film Festival’s over-the-top event is for chocolate lovers only! Dress up and experience the extraordinary flavors and sensual experience that is the annual Taste of Chocolate. Mauifilmfestival.com
Taste of Wailea – June 15, 4:30pm. Wailea Gold and Emerald Golf Course – The annual Taste of Wailea is presented by Wailea Resorts’ most celebrated chefs and restaurants, complemented by an assortment of wines, beer and exotic cocktails. Mauifilmfestival.com
Na Kamehameha Parade & Ho‘olaule‘a – June 15, 9am. Front Street, Lahaina. – Celebrate Hawaii’s cultural traditions with a pa’u parade and ho’olaule’a on Front Street. Ags.hawaii.gov/kamehameha
ArT=Mixx: Runway – June 21, 7pm. MACC, Kahului. – The night will feature a wearable art fashion show, interactive photography, celebrity costumes, art making, video displays, music and much more. 21+. mauiarts.org
Lanai Ukulele Festival – June 21-23. Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele, Lanai. – Guests will enjoy free performances by Richard Ho‘opi‘i, Walt Keale, Tony Conjugation, CJ Boom Helekahi, Paula Fuga, The Hula Honeys and more. Lanaiukulelefestival.com
Ki Ho‘alu Guitar Festival – June 23, 1pm-7pm. MACC, Kahului. – This free event includes Kevin and Ikaika Brown, Danny Carvalho, Stephen Inglis and more. Arts, crafts, and foods will be available throughout the event. Mauiarts.org
4th of July Fireworks Celebration and Food Fair – July 4. Front Street, Lahaina. – Nothing says freedom like a fireworks show, karaoke and excessive quantities of apple pie. Visitlahaina.com
Makawao Rodeo and Parade – July 4-7. Oskie Rice Field & Arena, Makawao. – Join Makawao Town as paniolos, politicians, local companies and more parade up Baldwin Avenue and down Makawao Avenue. Makawaotowncenter.com
Moulin Rouge Party at Ambrosia – July 23. Ambrosia Martini Lounge, Kihei. – Ambrosia Martini Lounge’s 3rd annual Moulin Rouge Party is a great chance for dolls to dress up in corsets and cabaret outfits and celebrate in classic cabaret style. Ambrosiamaui.com
Ke’anae Keiki Jam Fest – July 27, Ke‘anae Charter School. – It’s a day packed with live entertainment, ‘ono grindz, art and crafts, auctions, cultural/educational demonstrations and activities. There will also be a huge keiki zone with bouncy castles, horse rides, carnival games and more. Keanaecharterschool.org
Lanai Slack Key Guitar Festival – Aug. 2-4. Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, Lodge at Koele, Lanai. – Guests will enjoy free performances by Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano winners and seven venues of slack key, workshops and hula. Lanaislackkeyfestival.com
Ka‘anapali Fresh – Aug. 30-31. Ka‘anapali Beach Resort, Ka‘anapali. – This major collaboration between 11 hotels and condominiums, restaurants, local farmers, culinary enthusiasts, local beer and spirit producers, highlights the relationship between the area’s chefs and their use of locally sourced food. Kaanapalifresh.com
Maui Jazz & Blues Fest – Sept. 5-8. Grand Wailea Resort, Wailea. – This weekend is all Jazz & Blues. Facebook.com/MauiJazz
Maui Okinawan Festival – Sept. 21, 10am-3pm. Maui Mall, Kahului. – The entertainment program will feature Okinawan music and dance, the very popular Country Store, games for the keiki, mini craft fair, and, of course, wonderful Okinawan food. Mauimall.com
Maui Marathon & Half Marathon – Sept. 22. Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului to Whalers Village, Ka‘anapali – Here’s a chance to participate in the longest consecutively held running event in Hawaii. Mauimarathonhawaii.com
Maui Fair – Oct. 3-6. War Memorial Complex, Wailuku. – It’s the fair, and that means tons of great food (which benefit local island non-profits), entertainment, photo and art exhibits, competitions and more. Mauifair.com