Maui is often called the best island in the world, and with its white sandy beaches, luxe accommodations, and array of unforgettable vacation activities, it’s easy to see why. And while Wailea, Kaanapali and Kapalua are great coastal towns to visit, there’s another side of Maui that offers a more laid-back, secluded vibe for travelers looking to get off the beaten path. Upcountry Maui is filled with hidden gems for the foodie and the yogi, with plenty of farm-to-table restaurants, wellness retreats, and destinations offering something other than the beach front resorts of coastal Maui. While you may have driven through upcountry while heading to Haleakala National Park, here are 8 reasons to spend a few days or a week exploring the laid back luxury of upcountry Maui.
1. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
In addition to being beautiful and fragrant, did you know that lavender is a natural mosquito repellent and a great natural cure for tension? Take a 1/2 hour walking tour at the 13.5 acre Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm to get up to speed on this wonder plant, and also to take in the stunning mountaintop views of Maui. This is also a great place to stop for lunch amidst lavender fields. Home to approximately 55,000 lavender plants and 45 different varieties of lavender, AKL is a great agri-tourism destination for gardeners or anyone looking to inspire a more rejuvenating outlook on life. You can also pick up some handmade lavender soap, tea, or aromatherapy oil to take home with you.
2. Lumeria Maui
Lumeria Maui encourages visitors to trade “the detached, predictable homogeneity of some of the island’s bustling resort locales for an authentic, inspired, and deeply transcendent experience of Hawaiiana.” This Oprah-approved getaway is part hotel, part spiritual destination offering a bounty of yoga classes, retreats, and healthy locally sourced dining options.
3. Mama’s Fish House
Perennially voted to the top of Maui’s Best Restaurant lists, Mama’s Fish House is a fine dining experience that’s been family owned since 1973. This one’s a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. Mama’s world class fish is caught the same day, and hand delivered by fishermen, whose name and fishing spots are included along with items on the menu—it doesn’t get more authentic than that! Besides the amazing local fish, Mama’s has a great view and tranquil island breezes , perfect for a special occasion.
4. Kula Botanical Gardens
The 8-acre Kula Botanical Garden is located on the slopes of Haleakala and is a great place to stop for a stroll while you’re in Upcountry. Started in 1968 as a display garden for a landscape architect, Kula has since grown into a world-renowned garden for its lush plant life and tranquil setting. There’s more than just pretty plants here, though: be sure to check out the koi pond, waterfalls, aviary, and new carved Tiki exhibit.
5. Maui Crafts Guild
Established in 1974, The Guild is Maui’s only member owned and operated Fine Crafts Cooperative. From custom made jewelry to fine art photography, this is a great can’t miss destination for finding unique, locally made works of art to take home with you. Work for exhibit is decided by a comprehensive jury, and every day one of the artists in residence runs the shop, so you can talk about art with the artists themselves.
6. Surfing Goat Farm
Milk a goat, take a tour of the pastures, or learn about cheese making at Surfing Goat Farm. Located in Kula, on the slopes of Haleakala, Surfing Goat Farm produces the island’s best goat cheese, and lots of fun gifts too, like goat cheese truffles. This is a great family friendly destination.
7. O’o Gourmet Lunch and Farm Tour
Haleakala’s lush volcanic slopes offer verdant ground for some of Hawaii’s best local produce to flourish. Gourmands will love O’o Farm, which supplies some of Maui’s best restaurants. You can harvest your food then dine in an arbor for lunch. From plums to pohaberries, avocado to asparagus, O’o Farm is bursting with fresh produce. This surfer-started farm is a can’t miss for lunch, and at just $58 a person, it’s more than reasonable.
8. Ocean Vodka Organic Farm & Distillery
These are just a few of the many amazing and uncrowded destinations you’ll find in Upcountry Maui. And you might even bump into Upcountry regulars Oprah Winfrey, Owen Wilson, or Willie Nelson! With Island Air’s convenient direct flights to Maui departing for as low as $59 every day, you have no excuse not to extend your stay in Maui and head for the mountains.