Guide to Visiting Upcountry Maui
A change of pace from tourist trap resorts, a trip to the Upcountry of Maui is a must during any visit to maui.
Hot Take: Explore the country side of Maui and live like the locals for a day (3.5 stars)
Pro Tip: Perfect on a rainy day or before/after the drive up to Haleakalā, go for the food (better quality and prices than the tourist beaches) but stay for the people and the views.
Hawaii isn’t just beaches, volcanoes, and waterfalls. There are broad swaths of some of the most beautiful (and bountiful) countryside caressed by clouds and nourished by tropical rains. The “upcountry” as it is locally known has treasures of farms, trails, and foodie delights to explore. One rainy day in Maui, we set off to explore the Upcountry area of Maui that includes Hāliʻimaile, Makawao, Kula, and Kēōkea. Although this area is only 4ish miles from the beaches of Wailea at it’s closer points, the Up Country is at 3,000+ feet of elevation and feels worlds apart (with views that are truly out of this world).
We began our day at the Ali`i Kula Lavender farm, draped in the cool clouds of the Haleakalā hillside. The lavender farm is a MUST if you are visiting the upcountry ($3 per person to wander and sample in the giftshop; $17+ to take the well-reviewed tours). Pro-tip: take a mug and you can get a free cup of lavender coffee or lavender tea from the gift shop (which taste great and are a wonderful thing to sip as you wander the gardens). And, oh my, what marvelous gardens they are!
It was truly a delight to be in the gardens. But as the clouds turned darker and the rain began, we moved on down the road to Maui Wine for some of the best pineapple wine made anywhere. (it sounds gimmicky, but they pull it off…trust us) Have a flight (prices start at $10 for 5 heavy pours) and don’t miss the sparkling wines, they will help even the most jaded traveler to ‘find their aloha’. Just as wonderful is the history and the scenery of the former cattle ranch that features the only natural turquoise flowers that either of us had ever seen.
After the liquid aloha, we were getting hungry, so we made our way to Surfing Goat Dairy, Maui’s premier goat farm. With fresh and aged goat cheeses (as well as some delightful goat cheese chocolate truffles), we decided to eat a cheese flight and skip the farm tour (mostly because we were hungry…and it was raining). The cheeses were pretty tasty, and the farm itself is quite picturesque.
Having experienced the nature of the Upcountry, we wanted to spend some time with its people so we went shopping in the quaint town of Makawao. Local craftspeople and friendly shop keepers (and more wallet friendly prices) made shopping on the main street of Makawao as welcome break from the posh boutiques and national chains found in the tourist traps.
After ‘stimulating the local economy’ for a bit, we had worked up our appetite again. A brief search for an Upcountry treasure, led us to the Hali'imaile General Store (a charming storefront that has been converted into a gourmet but unpretentious restaurant). Feasting on crab pizza, crispy duck, sea bass, and pineapple upside-down cake, we gained back every calorie we expended on the days adventure. It was totally worth it as the day was a success despite the rain in paradise.