The two most popular tourist regions on Maui are the south shore beach communities of Kihei and Wailea and the west shore communities of Lahaina and Kaanapali. If you are looking to escape the sun and sand for the day, we highly recommend a trip up Haleakala volcano to “upcountry Maui”, which is made up of the towns of Makawao, Pukalani, and Kula. The weather cools off drastically as you climb in elevation, the landscape shifts to more of a farming vibe, and the views down over the Maui valley below grow more and more dramatic. We have put together a list of just three (we could easily come up with more) reasons to plan a drive to upcountry Maui.
1. The Cowboy Town of Makawao: Downtown Makawao (if you can call it that) is found at the intersection of Baldwin Ave and Makawao Ave. Poke your head in to various shops that have a western theme, where you can purchase cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and flannel shirts. Various art galleries highlight the views and flora that is found at this higher elevation. Komoda’s bakery has been a family run business for decades on Maui and many locals will argue they prepare the best doughnuts and butter rolls on the island.
2. Parks, Gardens, and Churches: Hit television show Modern Family put Maui’s Lavender Farm on the map as a beautiful garden of purple to explore. Visitors can order snacks and tea as they are surrounded by fields of lavender and amazing views of the island below. Rice Park (pictured above) is a fun place to stop if you have young children. Big grass hills create the perfect playground for children who want to sled down them on cardboard boxes or boogie boards. Right across the street from Rice Park is the Kula Strawberry Field/Garden where you can taste some amazing fruits and vegetables grown locally on Maui. The garden also transforms into Maui’s biggest pumpkin patch in November! Lastly, plan to swing by Holy Ghost Church in the town of Kula. The white octagon shaped church with silver tin roofing was built over a century ago and makes for a great picture. The sun reflects off the tin roof, making this church illuminate like a bright light that is visible from miles and miles away.
3. Wine: Maui’s only winery is located in the town of Ulupalakua. That’s right; we grow our own grapes, ferment them, and then bottle them! The grounds where the tasting room is are actually quite historic as they served as a vacation retreat for ancient Hawaiian royalty. You can taste the wines and learn about the history of Ulupalakua. After touring the winery, head right next door to the general store where you can order some amazing food right of the grill. One of their signature menu items is the elk burger!