Chapter 24 – Mercy Palmer
How long have you lived in Haiku?
I grew up in Haiku, and my husband is also from there, so I kind of never got out. I think it’s the most beautiful part of the island
Where is Haiku, and what’s it like as a community?
It’s the north shore of Maui on the east side. East Maui is where some of the rain is. But we’re also close to the beach. Haiku has grown from back in the day when I was little. Back in the day people thought of Haiku as the jungle with all the hippies. Now there’s a little gym, a kombucha bar, and it’s really a community that’s growing. It’s close to the water without being on the water. We live about five minutes away Ho’okipa State Park.
If you moved anywhere else on Maui where would you choose?
Probably Kula, which is about 20 minutes away. It’s more towards the mountain. The weather is cooler, but the views of the sunset are awesome. It’s a nice view of looking into town and west Maui all the way from the top.
Is Haiku more of an urban or suburban environment?
A lot of the properties are agriculture. There are a lot of two-acre properties. There are small subdivisions, but there is still farming here. It’s more agricultural than it is rural. It’s not like a city. We’re close to some things, but we are half an hour away from an airport and hospital. We have a small grocery store here, but if I’m in town I’ll go to the bigger grocery store on the way home.
Is Haiku family friendly?
I believe so. When I grew up here we would walk to the store and walk in the pineapple fields. I still see people do that. The school I went to has probably tripled in size since when I was there. There’s a park nearby, if you drive 15 minutes there is a skate park. There are a lot of outdoor activities. The kids just play outside. There are restaurants, but there’s not a mall for teens to hang out in. If anything they play in yards and at the park.
Is there a divide between natives and newcomers?
I think for Hawaii in general, we have such a mixed bag of nationalities that as long as they treat each other nicely everyone gets along. Every once in a while you get neighbors that don’t get it, but overall people get along. Either they don’t bother each other or they get along. I don’t see people moving here more recently as a barrier to friendship.
What’s your commute like?
I have different days to be in different areas. One day I’ll be in the south side, one day on the west side. The hardest part to get to is Lahaina, which takes an hour to an hour and half depending on traffic. Maui is so small, with the roads there’s only one way to get anywhere. There’s times when there’s an accident or a fire and people are stuck in traffic for an hour.
How’s the cost of living?
For me, since I’ve been here so long I am used to it. When I go to the mainland and compare prices I see it is expensive. Like anything else, you make do. You sacrifice but you don’t feel it. You live on an island. People come here to vacation and we live here in a vacation area and we should be super stoked about it. It is what it is. Gas is $5 a gallon. Milk is $8 gallon.
How has the real estate market changed between the time you bought your first house and your most recent purchase?
When I was little and people thought Haiku wasn’t as desirable. Now the prices are pretty expensive. To buy a home, not even in the nicest part of Haiku, it’s $500,000 or more. And that’s a 3 bedroom on a smaller lot. Even for rent it can be pretty expensive. It can be $1800 to rent a 3 bedroom home. So Haiku has definitely grown, and it’s become way more desirable than when I was little.
Do you like the quality of life in Haiku?
I like it here. I’m always excited to come home at the end of the day, even if it’s beautiful in the other areas. It’s nice here where the temperature is not so hot and we get away from the hustle and bustle. I think that’s where people realize the value of Haiku.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Haiku?
Despite the growing popularity of everyone wanting to live here, there is little growth in the town but not much. It’s a hidden little town and you have to know where to go to find this area. Despite how many people live here it feels like a little gem.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Haiku and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
Hana is definitely a must see. It’s almost like old Hawaii. We go there once a year to decompress. It helps you calm down and realize you need to take a break. There are waterfalls and it’s just so quiet and brings you back to how Hawaii used to be back in the day. There’s a lot of history there. There’s a long drive to get there. You go through winding roads, but you see waterfalls. It’s one of my favorite places we get to go to.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Haiku or in other parts of Maui?
There are a couple we go to a lot and they always know us. There’s a sushi place near us—Nuka and that is always busy. And then there’s also Colleen’s, she has breakfast, lunch dinner, burger, pizza, salad.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Haiku or living in Hawaii?
I could never see myself living somewhere else. I would not move anywhere else. I love Maui. I don’t even think I’d live on another island.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Maui, and especially in Haiku?
There are parts of Haiku where the neighborhoods aren’t as nice. Just learn your neighborhood. You want to live in a neighborhood that fits your personality. There are some neighborhoods where people take good care of the property and others where cars are everywhere. Just research before you buy.
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