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  • Writer's pictureCarol McKee

Upcountry Maui Has Lots of Surprises

Maui... just the word makes me sigh with happiness

Among people who travel to Hawaii frequently Maui ends up to be most everybody’s favorite island. Maui always ends up at the top of travel polls in magazines like Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast too. The beaches are amazing, the restaurants world-class and some of the most luxurious resorts in the world are located there. I like to recommend that visitors spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui… Its charm might just surprise you and it's rugged and wild nature will make you feel like you saw the real Hawaii!

Upcountry Maui is located on the high elevations around the dormant volcano, Mt. Haleakala. This area has fertile slopes that are are home to ranches, botanical gardens, organic farms and liquor distilleries with beautiful views of the sea. It is a fairly easy drive in your rental car from the Ka’anapali resorts on the West side of the island and a longer but still easy drive from the Wailea resort area on the south side. The coastal town of Pa’ia, with its population of laid back surfers and easy going mentality marks the start of the drive uphill. If you get an early start, you might stop in the town of Pa’ia for a cup of coffee and a freshly baked treat. But if you do that then you will also want to stop back in on your return trip in the afternoon after the town is awake and alive!

Here are some fun things to see and do in Upcountry Maui:

1. Makawao Town: The Makawao district is located on the rural northwest slop of Haleakala in East Maui. Makawao Town is a hub for the Up Country and a bit of a cowboy town. This area is mostly dominated by ranches and farms but also has some fun things for visitors. Each year on the 4th of July there is a big rodeo held here. Makawao also offers those that want to hike some good opportunities.

Makawao Town shows a lot of it's cowboy flavor in the style of its buildings, but walk in and you likely will find art galleries, craft stores, boutiques and great cafes alongside more traditional stores where the locals shop and hang out. You will want to stop in at the Casanova deli or the Komoda store for some fresh just-baked pastries and a cup of coffee before you head further upcountry.

2. The Surfing Goat Dairy: This is one of the two goat dairies in Hawaii. The dairy is owned by a German couple and located on 42 acres. When you stop by here you can take a tour, watch the milking of the goats, do a tasting of their fresh cheeses and if your traveling with children they might even let the kids help feed the goats at lunchtime. Rumor has it that they also have a goat that surfs.... not sure about that buy you should ask if you go there!

3. Tedeschi Vineyards-Maui’s Winery: So I bet you did not think that Maui had a winery... but they do! This company makes and sells an assortment of different wines. Not only do they sell wine made from grapes, but they also make wine from pineapples, passion fruit and even raspberries! One of their best sellers is the “Maui Splash”, a fruity, lite and fun wine made pineapple and passion fruit... it should definitely be served chilled. There is a tasting room and a free guided tour or two each day (check their website if you want the tour). These vineyards and grounds are beautiful and not only offer some fun wine but also some breathtaking views.

4. Ocean Vodka Distillery & Organic Farm: Rather drink something harder than wine? Well then this new addition to the Upcountry scene could be for you. A visit there teaches that you can be environmentally conscious and still produce a great product at a competitive price. The farm offers tours , and include a sample of their product. You may also be able to reserve a spot for lunch if you book that at least 24 hours in advance. This allows you to not only to sample the vodka, but also some of the produce from their organic farm.

5. Alii Kula Lavender: This is a favortie spot in Maui for many visitors. Come see the 31 different varieties of lavender growing on this farm in the upcountry with blooms from June-August. While you are there stop and enjoy a cup of lavender tea or coffee along with a freshly baked lavender scone. This venue is a popular spot for small weddings in the summer as well especially because the views are absolutely breathtaking, the smell of the lavender is sweet and the back drop of the blooms is very Instagram worthy. The property has a gift shop selling all things lavender: soaps, lotions, honey & kitchen spice mixes. There is a a Lavender Garden Tea Tour most days and given that it is that is very popular you will want to call ahead for reservations. If you don't want to your time to be that planned out you can visit the property and just wander around on your own to enjoy the views and delightful aromas.

Maui also has some of the best beaches in Hawaii and tons of adventure activities available for the thrill seeker in your life. I will write about those another day. If you do want to go to Maui or anywhere in Hawaii please reach out to me so that I can help you get the best value and the extra perks that come with my affiliation with Virtuoso.

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