Maui isn’t all beaches and coconut trees and swimsuits. If you do it right, you may need to pack a sweater.
If you neglect the misty, cool, lush green slopes of Upcountry, you’ll miss an entirely different world on Maui. And that, my fellow travelers, is a shame.
Upcountry is loosely defined as Haleakala’s slopes and the areas surrounding the dormant volcano. Even if you did none of the activities listed below, a leisurely drive through the blooming jacarandas with peeks of the shoreline below is worthwhile.
During my visit to Maui last month, we spent multiple days exploring Upcountry. The numerous offerings of Upcountry meant we couldn’t just spend one day meandering through this area - and that was perfectly fine by us.
If you need a break from the beach, Upcountry is the perfect escape.
DAY 1: A MORNING IN UPCOUNTRY
This isn’t the first time I’ve sang the praises of this adorable roadside stop in Kula. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a right way and a wrong way to start your Upcountry morning, and the right way is at Grandma’s Coffeehouse. Fresh coffee and sweeping views? Yes, please.
My friend and I grabbed two hot coffees and a slice of chocolate chip pumpkin bread to split before swinging through the creaky wooden door to the patio. Birds curiously jumped around us, begging for scraps, while we sipped our drinks and plotted our day. Locals and tourists alike sat side by side. The patio is cozy, enveloped in tropical flora and fauna, making us feel like we discovered a well-kept secret - if it weren’t for the vibrant turquoise paint of the exterior, that is.
MORNING YOGA WITH GOATS
If you’re not into yoga, but you’re into cute goats and fresh mountain air, add this to your Upcountry checklist.
We didn’t let the misty rain stop us from having a blast while *kind of* doing yoga as little goats roamed about, nibbling on flip flops and hogging yoga mats. We didn’t break a sweat during the short and simple yoga flow, but we spent plenty of time bribing the goats with cereal for the perfect selfie.
ALI’I KULA LAVENDER FARM
There is a place that I religiously visit each time I step foot on Maui, and that place is the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. A flower fanatic like myself simply can’t get enough of this beautiful setting. Wandering through the gardens, I’m always bound to find some new exotic plant I’ve never seen before - from proteas to succulents to (of course) lavender.
After we thoroughly covered the 17 acres, we browsed the gift shop, where I inevitably scooped up a few lavender-themed souvenirs to keep me content back in Michigan. Before the afternoon clouds rolled in, we sat on the patio to sip our lavender kombucha and sample the delicious macaroons and scones sold on site.
A VISIT TO THE FARMACY
After coffee, pumpkin bread, tea, and scones, you’d think we’d be full, but you’d be wrong. It was lunchtime and the options were plentiful. We made a stop at the Farmacy where we treated ourselves to salads, soups and sandwiches, all fresh from local farms.
It’s not uncommon for one of the lovely women behind the counter to come out and offer free samples of whatever they’re crafting at the moment. Our freebie of the day was a smoothie chock-full of tropical fruits.
DAY 2: FRIDAY NIGHT BLOCK PARTY
AN EVENING IN MAKAWAO
Maui does this incredibly fun thing every Friday, where a different town on the island hosts a block party. Food trucks, vendors, and live music are on schedule - all for the low admission price of free. On this particular Friday night, the block party was being held in Makawao. An artsy hub on the slopes of Haleakala, Makawao hosts gallery after gallery full of talented artists and their work.
We spent the evening browsing the artwork and then plopped down on the curb to eat our freshly fried empanadas for dinner while the full moon illuminated the crowded street. A live band played Hawaiian music. We spotted a tent where a local family was selling sugar soaked malasadas, so we decided to round out our “fried” themed dinner and purchase a few of those.
DAY 3: HARVESTING OUR LUNCH
O’O FARM LUNCH TOUR
Raise your hand if you think about where your food comes from. Anyone?
We got an up close look at the process of organic farming during a tour of O’o Farm, where we were treated to a hands-on tour followed by multi-course lunch overlooking the sweeping vistas of Upcountry. Eating food that we had just helped harvest was an eye-opening way to experience the gourmet meal.
Ending the afternoon with a decadent chocolate dessert and roasted-right-there coffee was an especially lovely way to wrap up our final afternoon in Upcountry.
There are endless opportunities in Upcountry, suiting various interests. You could honestly spend an entire week exploring this sloping wonderland and still miss a few gems. After multiple stays on the island, I’ve yet to scratch the surface.
I guess that’s a problem I need to keep chipping away at, yes?