In 2023, wildfires destroyed lives, homes and businesses in maui, Hawaii.
Recovery will take many years, but the affected communities have been working hard to clean up, restore and heal.
We have been asked to help raise awareness of one particular initiative by Maui Gold, a locally-owned pineapple company. Their Pineapple Pledge is raising funds for ongoing disaster relief. We are very happy to support them. This is not an affiliate post and we are receiving no commission of any kind from Maui Gold.
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. It’s sometimes referred to as The Valley Isle, because of being dominated by two volcanoes: Haleakala in the south east and the West Maui volcano. Visitors are attracted to Maui’s dramatic volcanic landscapes, lush rain forests, spectacular waterfalls and beautiful beaches.
Kahului is the largest town on the island and the main port for cruise ships. Along with the beach resorts, visitors head to the Haleakala National Park and also to smaller towns like Lahaina. Its attractive centre once had a main street of historic old shops and restaurants leading to the pier.
Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster
On 8 August 2023, a series of wildfires raged through Lahaina and the surrounding area, causing widespread devastation. Thought to have been caused by a combination of drought conditions, high winds and a sparking power pole, the flames spread quickly and residents barely had time to evacuate.
The fires, considered to be Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster, caused the deaths of around 100 people. Over 2000 homes and businesses were destroyed, including many of the historic buildings in the centre of Lahaina. The court house, museum and a much-loved 150 year-old banyan tree, all burned in the fire. So did the Front Street store belonging to the Maui Gold Pineapple company.
The company’s farm and fields escaped the flames, but there was no water left to irrigate them, because their reservoir had been made available to fire crews.
In the aftermath, times were tough and the future of the company itself appeared uncertain. Staff members were among the many who lost their homes. But they continued to deliver supplies and fresh fruit to those in need, and to help with other local relief efforts.
At the time of writing (February 2024), the big clean-up is still under way in Lahaina. As always, toxic hazards are always a threat after buildings burn down. Decontamination is a long and slow process, with arsenic and lead being major concerns. Air quality is constantly monitored and residents are warned to stay indoors and keep windows closed when pollution levels are high.
The Maui Gold Ohana Fund
At this challenging time for the island, Maui Gold are keen to reach out to the wider world in an effort to raise $250,000 for ongoing disaster relief. The project has been named the Ohana fund (‘Ohana’ means ‘family’).
The fund is to be used for:
- Clothes, food, and school supplies
- Temporary housing
- Relocation costs (both on and off-island)
- Replacement of household goods & family vehicles
- Assistance with critical bills, housing deposits, etc.
- Mental health support.
The company’s Pineapple Pledge is contributing proceeds from pineapple sales to the fund.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can contribute to the Ohana fund by: 1) purchasing pineapples, if you’re in the USA or Canada; 2) taking a farm tour or distillery tour, 3) donating directly to the fund on their GoFundMe page.
Maui Gold fresh pineapples can be purchased from the company’s online stores in the USA and Canada. The company’s Pineapple Pledge means that they will make a donation to the ongoing relief effort with every pineapple product purchased. You can read more details about their relief work on their Maui Gold website.
If you’re outside the USA and Canada and would like to donate, there’s a GoFundMe page for the Maui Gold Ohana Fund. At the time of writing, this has reached $67,133. The target is $250,000 so there’s a way to go yet.
By contributing in any of the above ways, you will be supporting communities affected by the wildfires and helping to preserve Maui’s farms and jobs.
What’s special About Maui Gold pineapples?
Maui Gold pineapples have been grown on the sunny slopes of Haleakala, a dormant volcano, for over 40 years. The farm’s idyllic location provides perfect growing conditions: rich volcanic soil, warm sunny days and cool nights.
The unique Maui Gold pineapple is grown nowhere else and is renowned for its low acidity, irresistible sweetness, and rich vitamin C content. The fruits take 18 months to grow but are only ripe for 3 days. They’re hand-picked at precisely the right moment to ensure maximum flavour. This is what makes them extra special – and why they feature in major high-end gift guides in the US and Canada.
These unique pineapples can be purchased online, as mentioned earlier, or in person at the company’s on-site store. The latter is located at 883 Hali’imaile Road, Makawao, and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Maui Gold farm tours
For those who are able to visit, the Maui Pineapple Tour offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Hawaii’s history and culture – and to try the delicious Maui Gold pineapples for yourself.
The tours take approximately one and a half hours and allow you to explore the picturesque upcountry Hali‘imaile farm. You’ll be driven around in air-conditioned comfort, while expert guides explain the growth cycle and cultivation techniques. You can visit the processing factory, witness pineapple testing, sorting, and packaging – and top it all off with a complimentary mouth-watering pineapple!
The Hali’imaile Distillery, established in 2010, has a mission to produce ‘Hawaii in a bottle’! This boutique, artisanal operation produces Pau Maui vodka, Paniolo blended whiskey, Fid Street Hawaiian gin and Mahina premium rum. Maui Gold pineapple everclear is used in the distilling process, along with local and quality imported ingredients (such as Madagascan vanilla) and Maui spring water.
The distillery tour takes around 40 minutes. You learn all about the distilling process and finish with a visit to the tasting room, where you can try the spirits and decide on your favourite. Kids are welcome on the tour but are not allowed in the tasting room. They can, of course, enjoy a taste of delicious fresh pineapple!
Where to stay in Maui
If you have the good fortune to visit the Maui Gold complex and take one of the tours, here are some top-rated places to stay. Please note, these suggestions contain affiliate links. You will not pay any extra for using them, but we will receive a small commission which helps us maintain this site.
This adults-only hotel is a luxurious haven aimed at couples. Top rated on TripAdvisor, this is Hawaii’s only Relais & Chateau hotel. Guests describe it as ‘paradise’ and comment on the ocean views, excellent food, luxury shuttle service and romantic ambience.
A very different option, the Paia Inn is a small and friendly traditional Hawaiian boutique hotel. Guests love the peace and quiet, excellent restaurant, great beach access and friendly staff. “Lots of Aloha here!”
You can find lots more great accommodation options on Maui by searching on Booking.com.
Lives, livelihoods and homes were lost in the ferocious fires – it’s hard for us to imagine the horrors of this disaster and its aftermath. Our hearts go out to all those affected and we send our aroha to the people of Maui.
We also know that their indomitable spirit will ensure that every possible effort will be made to ensure the recovery of the island and its communities. Even that old banyan tree is sprouting new shoots – a sign of optimism for the future.
We’ve made our Pineapple Pledge – how about you?
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