Maui Film Festival 2016

June 15-19, 2016 / Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

Maui's highly-anticipated Film Festival is coming up! One of the islands most prestigious events, the Film Festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors to view some of the year's most interesting, comical, awe-inspiring, and groundbreaking movies and documentaries in an array of magical island settings. The festival is a favorite of locals and celebrities alike, and it makes for an unforgettable memory and island experience for our visitors. View a well curated selection of films in one of the festival's three theaters: the Celestial Cinema, Toes-in-the-Sand Cinema at Wailea Beach, or the Castle Theatre at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

There is nothing quite like the Film Festival's 'Celestial Cinema,' a projection of films nestled high in the rolling hills of Wailea's Gold & Emerald Golf Course. From your blanket or beach chair, enjoy locally crafted food and drinks, and enjoy a stunning sunset and incredible starlit skies.

The festival always features an array of incredible films, some curated from independent filmmakers and (of course) a handful of groundbreaking work centered around local cultures of surf, pacific islanders, and Hawaiian culture and tradition.  

This year, we are looking forward to seeing our famed local surf break, Jaws, in Roberto Studart's documentary Mad Dogs. The film centers around three Brazilians who migrated to Hawaii in the 90s in search of our perfect yet challenging surf. They pushed the boundaries of human capability by forgoing the assistance of support-vehicles (known as "towing in"), resolving to surf by "paddling into" Jaws' mammoth waves. 

For a full schedule and Maui Film Festival roster, visit their website,

Merrie Monarch 2013

For any of you who know my family (and particularly our daughter), you will know that the last few months for her have been filled with the excitement of hula as she and halau partake in the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaii. Hula has been an incredible part of her life for the past 22 years and this being the first time in several that she is returning to competition with her kumus and hula sisters for the 50th Anniversary of the festival is something that we are all so proud of.

If any of you are avid hula lovers or those of you who are new to hula, this is one weekend you won't want to miss. Starting this evening on KFVE, their Backstage at The Merrie Monarch will be aired sharing incredible wonderful Ho'ike performances (of which our beloved Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka will be performing as well). Tomorrow night (Thursday) is the coveted Miss Aloha Hula solo competition (we will be cheering on the halau's beautiful soloist Manalani English, #4), Friday is the men and women's group Kahiko performances (Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is #13 this night and the last) and Saturday is the group Auana performances and awards ceremony. We are excited to support the halau as they embark on their journey to competition and share the beauty and pride so prevalent here on Maui, and of course to us as their family who are so proud of the dedication of our children. 

And fear not, for those of you not currently in Hawaii to watch the competition locally, as it is livestreamed over the internet as well. For more details, check out the official Merrie Monarch website or the KFVE website for information on the livestream. Wishing the halau the best of luck as well as their fellow Maui halau who will no doubt represent the island with pride, we will surely be enjoying a full weekend of incredible hula! 

FirstLight Films at The Maui Arts & Cultural Center

For those of you familiar with our beloved Maui Film Festival that takes place every summer and is truly one of our family's favorite events, you will enjoy the new round of films being showcased by the film festival in their FirstLight Film Screenings. 

Starting the end of November throughout the holidays, an incredible variety of films for every moviegoer will be shown at the MACC. Starting this Thursday in fact, will be 3 wonderful films...Alan Cummings in "Any Day Now", documentary surf film "Cowboys & Aerials" and Kung Fu film "Tai Chi Zero."

So make sure you check out the list of films and pick your favorites for the next few weeks. What a great early Christmas present for the movie buff in your life, including a 4 film pass! Hope to see you there!

Maui Time Bar Guide & Our Favorite Cocktails

We wanted to post the fantastic article published in Maui Time last month featuring some of the top bartenders and mixologists on Maui. It was a wonderful, informative feature showcasing the best Happy Hour spots from every part of the island. We love the fact that each individual takes great pride in the cocktails they masterfully prepare and serve their guests...because who doesn't love a delicious cocktail while in Maui? We know we do! And since we are sharing some of the beloved favorites from Maui Time, we thought we'd also share a few of our own personal favorites as well! 

First, is our newly discovered favorite from Alan Wong's delicious new restaurant at The Grand Wailea,Amasia. Small plates make for a unique evening of Asian fusion flavors, some of our favorites included the tomato salad with li hing mui dressing (a must! the dressing is to die for) as well as the mouthwatering, tender short ribs. And the perfect cocktail to pair with an evening out at Amasia is their spicy cucumber martini-subtle, sweet, spicy, and a truly unexpected but delicious drink! 

One of our family's favorite Upcountry restaurant features a refreshing island cocktail we should all know well-a fresh lilikoi margarita! We love enjoying their weekly happy hour tapas and drinks, and can never deny our love for their incredible crepes (sweet or savory, we can never choose one), hummus and pita appetizer, and our favorite shrimp curry! This yummy passionfruit margarita is the perfect way to enjoy the incredible Mediterranean & Indian cuisine of Cafe Des Amis in Paia.

This is one of our favorite new happy hour spots to share with visitors not only for the delicious Merriman's menu but also for the relaxing, chic atmosphere at Monkeypod as well. We love their Ocean Breeze cocktail which is an effortless fusion of local ocean vodka, St. Germain, lime and simple syrup. With their crispy rock shrimp and calamari, garlic truffle fries and one of their amazing wood fired pizzas, its a fantastic way to enjoy great food, drinks and laughter with friends. Not to mention their convenient location at The Wailea Gateway center, if you happen to be staying at our Grand Champions condo it is literally right up the street, so make sure to check it out!

This last cocktail is a very recent family favorite, coming directly to you from our very own kitchen! Since our starfruit tree has been bursting at the seams with beautiful fruit, my husband, daughter and I have been busy harvesting (nearly 50 lbs yesterday!) and juicing them so as not to waste this incredible, seasonal fruit! We paired the sweet starfruit juice with pinnacle whipped vodka for a delicious cocktail that is uniquely our own-we love it!

So without further adieu, here is an excerpt from last month's fantastic Bar Guide feature in Maui Time...check out their website here for the full article and for more information on wonderful happy hour specials and bars to check out in every corner of the island! 

2012 MauiTime Bar Guide
by Jen Russo
October 10, 2012

"The hard part about being a bartender," said the writer Richard Braunstein, "is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid."

Bartending is, without a doubt, the toughest of all service industry jobs. Especially on one of the most popular tourist islands in the world.

Part chemist and part psychologist, a bartender has to managed both the often contradictory wishes of the customer with the physical science of alcohol. There's a good reason why the words "balance" and "patience" appear often in the document that follows.

As in year's past, we went to a wide variety of establishments around the island–locals only dives, touristy restaurants, fine dining establishments in luxurious resorts–and talked with the men and women behind the bar about what made their jobs wonderful, and wonderfully difficult. What follows is a fascinating series of snapshots into the exacting work that goes into the seemingly simple act of making someone a drink.

Going out for an evening that includes an alcoholic beverage should be a fun and enjoyable experience, and everyone we spoke with does his or her best to make that happen. But please remember to drink safely. Bartenders can do outstanding and incredible things with the simplest of ingredients, but it's up to us customers to behave responsibly.

Jeff Groh: Merriman's Kapalua

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

As spirits go I would have to say Bourbon, but if you ask my bartenders they'll laugh and tell you I can't make a cocktail without bitters. The last drink I made with bourbon was Elijah Craig: homemade ginger beer, lime juice and Fee's Old fashioned bitters.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Less sugar, better spirits, and a controlled use of tropical fruit. Also, I might ban blenders.

What's your bar's signature drink?

Any response other than a Mai Tai is probably wishful thinking. I'd like to think that our bar's signature is using great spirits and keeping them prominent in our cocktails. Yeah there are tropical elements–mango in the tequila drink or pineapple with the vodka but you can taste the spirits. It's a cocktail, damn it–not fruit punch! We also make more ingredients in our bar than in any other I know of but that's another story.

What's your signature drink?

Bourbon and Hibiscus with Peychauds bitters. It's a slant rhyme off a Manhattan but made "island-style" and not too sweet.

What are your influences?

My children are huge influences. My youngest daughter Madeline will ask me, "Dad did you do wine today?" and I'll be like, "Oh yeah, Daddy totally did wine today" and then my oldest wants to help me make cocktails, which I know is trouble. I tried teaching them about fermentation this summer. We made a Kula strawberry ginger soda and lost two-thirds of the batch to bottles violently exploding, which was a pity because it was easily the best soda I'd ever tasted. It was just kind of dangerous to drink. I think it's important to make science fun and half of drinking is science.

What's your ultimate dream bar like?

I think my ultimate bar would be a tiki bar in Indo that was built palapa-style right on the beach, complete with thatch roof and sand floor. There'd be a perfect point break in front and I'd surf half the day and start work in the afternoon when the winds came up. There'd be hammocks as well as tables and all the fruits and juices would be sourced locally. We'd distill our own rum from cane juice and have a reserve bottling that was 30 years old. Our clientele would be ex-pats, supermodels, surf pros, unpretentious artists and philosophers. Half the people are drinking cocktails, and the other half champagne–champagne sales are very important to my ultimate bar. We'd have a rad house band. Then one day Sally Fitzgibbons comes in to surf and we fall madly in love and get married out in the lineup, then party back at the bar.

What's interesting about being a bartender on Maui?

There's a new plane arriving every hour and you never know who's going to walk into your bar.

What makes a good bartender?

The best bartenders are always still learning and looking for something new, whether it be technique or an ingredient that's going to make a drink better. I'm curious by nature and I'd like to think I stay true to this goal, but I'm not a bartender day-in and day-out. I wear a lot of hats in our restaurant.

What's the newest drink you have created?

Big Island Honey, tamarind and a Cognac "Sidecar." It's a combination of the sweet and sour that you get from tamarind rounded out by honey and then enlivened with the woodsy spice of Hennessy Cognac. It reminds me of biting into the perfect apple, but the apple bites back! Oh yeah, it has bitters–all my cocktails tend to have bitters...

Click here for the full feature at Maui Time

Starry Night Cinema at The MACC November

One of our favorite things to do as a family is watch movies-we have always been avid movie lovers and if you and your family are, this is the perfect event for you! Bringing back their beloved Starry Night Cinema event, The Maui Arts & Cultural Center is hosting another great film event under a clear Maui sky. And this one is sure to be a crowd pleaser, as they are celebrating the cinematic 80s classic E.T. Extra Terrestrial, an undeniably great family favorite...and its FREE!

So come down to the MACC tomorrow Sunday, November 11th with your warmest, comfiest lawn chairs and blankets to curl up under the stars...doors open at 5pm and offer several delicious dinner options from Whole Foods, Maui Vegan Soups, Sumo Dogs, Maui Kazowie Kettle Corn & Ono Gelato. Check out the MACC website for more information and enjoy the film!

Hula O Na Keiki at Kaanapali Beach Hotel: November 9-11, 2012

For those of you currently here on island enjoying the sun and ocean, this coming weekend is an extraordinary opportunity for you to experience some incredible Hawaiian culture...not to mention an event that is particularly close to home for me. If any of you are staying on the West side of the island (Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Napili, etc) you may have heard of the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, proudly boasting the title of "Hawai'i's most Hawaiian hotel" due to their great attention to cultural detail. Well, this weekend they take it to the next level as they host the 20th Anniversary of their Hula O Na Keiki Competition. This is a wonderful opportunity for those of you who love our islands, Hawaiian music, hula, and Hawaiian culture at large to sit back and enjoy truly fantastic hula and music by some of the most talented kumu hula, musicians, and competing children, ages 5-17.

It is an event close to my heart considering the fact that my daughter Jade has been a longtime hula dancer for the past 21 years, and she had the privilege of competing as a soloist in this very competition her senior year of high school. It was her very first solo competition, after years of competitive hula with her hula sisters and kumu hula, but this was truly a life changing experience for her as it challenged her to rise to a level of independence we had never known was an overwhelming experience as her parents to sit in the audience and watch the culmination of so many years of hard work come to fruition while she took the stage by herself at the age of 17. It was an emotional, beautiful, unforgettable moment for me as her mom that I will always be grateful to her kumu hula for. I encourage any and everyone to check out this wonderful children's hula competition and enjoy our incredible local talents! For more information check the KBH website

Mohala Maui Concert 2012, October 27th

I am so excited to share this event with all of you, as I am thrilled to be attending it myself. I have missed watching my daughter dance hula for the past 2 years while she has been on a break, but this year she will grace the stage once again with her wonderful halau for their annual Mohala Mai fundraiser concert. The funds raised from the concert as well as the Silent Auction support the halau in their competitive endeavors, as they have received honors from the most prestigious hula competitions in the world. Please come support Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka for a night of truly incredible Hawaiian music featuring the brilliant voices of Napua Makua, Aaron Sala, Hi'ikua and Weldon Kekauoha as they inspire the dancers with their music. It will surely be an unforgettable event you wont want to miss! 

Mohala Mai 2012 - Fundraiser for Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka
Saturday, October 27, 5:30 PM
Castle Theater

Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of nā kumu hula, Nāpua Makua and Kahulu Maluo, will perform their annual hō‘ike and fundraiser in an evening filled with inspiring traditional and contemporary hula, oli (chant) and mele (song). The award winning hālau shares the stage with Hawai‘i’s finest musical groups and solo artists, such as Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners, Hi‘ikua and Weldon Kekauoha, as they meld melodic voices, graceful hula and the imagery of Hawai‘i into a production that promises to be moving and memorable. A silent auction will open at 4 pm in the Yokouchi Pavilion Courtyard. Check out the MACC website for more details.

Music on Maui: July 2012

For those of you currently visiting Maui and who are true music lovers, this is the perfect week for you! Our beloved Maui Arts & Cultural Center will play host to not one but two wonderful musical performances by the incredible local talents from our islands!

Lovers of slack key guitar are in for a treat this Thursday, July 19th at the McCoy Theater when Hawai'i island guitarist John Keawe takes the stage for an unforgettable night of music. And for those who are unfamiliar with this style of music, check out the soundtrack to The Descendants which featured a plethora of brilliant slack key masters. For more information, click here for a direct link to the MACC website to purchase tickets!

On a very different end of the musical spectrum, Saturday July 21 will host the 7th annual Reggae in the Valley concert here on Maui, which is sure to be an event for reggae lovers. Also celebrating Fiji's 20th Anniversary, this year will feature island music by the likes of Ekolu, Kalama, Positive Motions, Mana'o Company, Common Kings, Maoli, Siaosi/Kiwini, Vaita/Laga Savea, J Boog and of course Fiji. Tickets are sure to be a hot commodity on the island so if you happen to be here on our beautiful island and want to check out one (or both) nights of incredible music by our island talents, be sure to visit the Maui Arts & Cultural Center website here for more information. 

My Maui Bliss

Sorry for the brief blogging hiatus, we have been having an amazing summer here on Maui with all three of our kids home. It has been wonderful welcoming guests into our condos and hope that they have all been enjoying the sun, beaches and breaks from school! But back on the blogging front, I wanted to share a few pictures from the last month that has kept our family busy...hope yours has been full of sun and fun as well! 

  Treated to dinner at Mala for our 29th wedding anniversary by my sister and our kids.

Treated to dinner at Mala for our 29th wedding anniversary by my sister and our kids.

  Boys at the great not only to have my kids but their friends home as well!

Boys at the great not only to have my kids but their friends home as well!

  My daughter's younger hula sisters practicing for the Queen Lili'uokalani Keiki Hula Competition on Oahu.

My daughter's younger hula sisters practicing for the Queen Lili'uokalani Keiki Hula Competition on Oahu.

 Beautiful sunset in Wailea.

Beautiful sunset in Wailea.

  Delicious ahi steak dinner at Mala.

Delicious ahi steak dinner at Mala.

Maui Film Festival 2012

The month of June is always an exciting one for our family, because with it not only comes summertime and the completion of our family as my kids return home from the summer, but the Maui Film Festival as well! It has long been an event we look forward to each year as we are all film lovers, and those featured at the Film Festival are never short of amazing. This year looks to be no different, as we picked up the list of festival films being screened this year and are narrowing down which of our favorites to see!

Fabulous Music at Wailuku's First Friday

Last night we enjoyed yet another amazing First Friday event to kick off the month of June! Meeting up with some of our dearest friends, we spent the first part of the evening at center stage, directly in front of the Maui Thing store where my son Conner, his best friend Ryan and their high school music teacher Jon performed some wonderful music for all to enjoy. We are so proud of them and had a blast listening to them play before enjoying a delicious meal at Cafe O Lei to end the night...looks like June is going to be another fun month here in Maui!

Wailuku First Friday: June 1st, 2012

Summer is upon us and while one of the absolute best parts about that is the abundance of mangoes we are so lucky to enjoy, summertime means all of our precious college kids are home and festivities begin! We have been celebrating high school graduations with our wonderful friends, and as a mom I am so enjoying having my kids and their friends home to fill our home with laughter and music. And speaking of, this Friday is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some fun summer festivities and fabulous music, including that of my own son, one of his best friends, and the teacher who inspired them to perform together in high school. So come down to Wailuku's First Friday event this Friday, June 1st for a fun night of food, family, and lots of fantastic music!

Maui Brewfest 2012

For all the local beer connoisseurs out there, you won't wanna miss the exciting event taking place this Saturday, May 15th at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Hosted by the MACC and our own Maui Brewing Company, this will certainly be a day of relaxation and indulgence favored by residents and visitors alike. For a beautiful day of hand crafted beers, delicious local appetizers, amazing live music, prizes, and fabulous Maui sunshine! Click here to purchase tickets in advance to this great event and come enjoy the incredible local food and drink our island has to offer!

Happy Mother's Day From Maui!

Happy Mothers Day to all you beautiful, wonderful mothers out there! Sonia's daughter Jade here, and I wanted to shine the spotlight on my amazing mama on this special day for the incredible woman she is, and all that she gives to those she loves...for those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting her I'm sure you can tell the depth of her heart, she is constantly sharing it with others. So today we had the joy of celebrating her with a relaxing morning at home, enjoying the company of my youngest brother as he recently returned home from college. For a moment he and I were lying in bed with mom while she was on the phone with our other brother who is still in college finishing the year, so she managed to still have all three of her babies 'nearby'. We had a delicious brunch in Sprecklesville followed by a fabulous afternoon and evening at baby beach with family friends to keep her laughing and loving every minute...we are so lucky to live in Hawaii! Topped off the evening with a glass of champagne and a fresh lilikoi chiffon cake, and it seemed the (almost) perfect day, only missing my brother in California but he was certainly here in spirit!

Here are a few pictures of our beautiful Mothers Day celebration...hope you mamas were properly celebrated today, you certainly deserve it!!! And a very special Happy Mothers Day to our beautiful mama, the woman who is the heart of our family and the best role model I know!

The Amazing Sherri Reeve

As Seabury Hall's Craft Fair approaches, I wanted to feature one of my dearest, and most gifted of friends...the incredible Sherri Reeve! If we have had the pleasure of hosting you at one of our condos or you have seen the photos of them on this site, you may notice the gorgeous watercolor paintings that adorn the condo walls. We exclusively feature the brilliant artwork of this talented artist, well known as Maui's premiere watercolorist whose vivid colors and incredible multidimensional technique are uniquely her own. Sherri and I have been longtime friends for many years, and I am truly blessed for her friendship as she is one of the most loving, unconditional, kind-hearted, generous women I have ever met, not to mention an amazing talent and extremely intelligent businesswoman. We love gifting friends and family with Sherri's unique artwork and urging them to visit her beautiful gallery in Makawao whenever they have a chance. And because their gallery is managed by her amazing niece Makana and run heir world class service makes you immediately feel at home and keeps customers returning for visits not just for her artwork, but to catch up with Sherri as they quickly fall in love with this woman as a dear, cherished friend.

This year Sherri's artwork will once again grace the Seabury Hall Craft Fair, but not only will you be able to purchase SReeve originals from their booth, but her gallery will also remain open in Makawao Town and will be exclusively featuring the jewelry of my daughter for Kealani Designs Jewelry. You will surely be able to get your fill of beautiful SReeve make sure you stop by at craft fair and swing by the gallery on your way home...there's nothing like a SReeve original...and truly no one like Sherri. 

Seabury Hall Craft Fair: May 12, 2012

Being that mother's day is right around the corner, it means the annual Seabury Hall Craft Fair is too! This wonderful event is one that is close to our family's hearts, as all three of our children attended Seabury for intermediate and high school, so this is the first year in nearly 15 years that we will not be working a booth as parents of current students, but rather attending and enjoying the craft fair as alumni parents. 

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to attend yet, I urge you to spend Saturday perusing the many wonderful local vendors sharing their talents, fantastic entertainment (including my youngest son home from college who will be performing at noon), delicious and diverse food booths, a fantastic silent auction, scrumptious homemade baked goods, gorgeous local produce (mother's day flower bouquets from craft fair are always a hit!), and tons of games and activities for the kids! 

Located in beautiful Olinda just above Makawao Town, you can enjoy the largest craft fair on the island, which supports our students as the proceeds of Seabury's Craft Fair all sponsor student your contributions will directly support a student's education there. So come find a gift for your mother, enjoy a beautiful upcountry day, great food, crafts and fun for everyone! Click here for more information

2012 Maui Onion Festival Saturday, May 5th

If you haven't had the opportunity to enjoy the unmatched sweetness of a Maui onion, you don't want to miss this event! This Saturday, May 5 will play host to the 23rd Annual Maui Onion Festival to celebrate our revered bulb. Boasting a chef cook off, food competitions, live music, hula performances, even a competition for local Ka'anapali bartenders mixing up delicious cocktails in honor of Cinco De Mayo! 

  2011's winning Maui Onion dish: Kekaha Shrimp & Lobster Cake with Swiss Chard, Hamakua Aliʻi Mushrooms & Lobster Uni Sauce by Chef Dave “D.K.” Kodama in the Maui Onion Recipe Contest at the 22nd Annual Maui Onion Festival hosted by Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants. Photo courtesy: Reflections Photography by Martin Wyand, Inc.

2011's winning Maui Onion dish: Kekaha Shrimp & Lobster Cake with Swiss Chard, Hamakua Aliʻi Mushrooms & Lobster Uni Sauce by Chef Dave “D.K.” Kodama in the Maui Onion Recipe Contest at the 22nd Annual Maui Onion Festival hosted by Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants. Photo courtesy: Reflections Photography by Martin Wyand, Inc.

And of course, you can count on a plethora of incredible food all featuringsweet Maui onions, a true local favorite-it is definitely an event you won't want to miss for a day in the sun with delicious local produce and fabulous entertainment! Click here for more information on this wonderful event and even a menu of the fabulous dishes our talented island chefs will be whipping up!


Wailuku Town Party May 4, 2012

It's that time again! An exciting month of Friday Town Parties is here, and to start the month of May off right with a Cinco De Mayo specially themed event is First Friday in Wailuku Town...clear your schedules and plan an evening of delicious food, tons of live music, dancing, wonderful crafts from local vendors and a great night of fun for the whole family on Market Street! Click here for more information and come down this Friday evening to celebrate! Here's some info on this special Cinco De Mayo theme taken from the Maui Fridays website...and be sure to click here for more information on parking, hours on Market Street and information on future Friday Town Party events!