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Upcountry Maui Vacation Highlights


While Maui beaches and the verdant Hana Highway capture the imagination, not to be missed are the sweeping vistas and small towns of Upcountry Maui. Oprah lives here too amidst cattle ranches and a Hawaiian culture embraced by the paniolo. Located in the foothills of Maui’s highest peak, Haleakala Crater, we suggest that you spend an entire day upcountry with our Maui travel tips.

If you leave early enough to catch the Maui sunrise at Haleakala, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the mountain, have lunch in Kula or at Ulupalakua Ranch, and end your day with dinner at Makawao.

Upcountry is more than a geographical area to the people who live there. It’s a way of life, a frame of mind.

Makawao – You can buy a sack of feed, designer jeans and even glass art all on the same street. This is the last real paniolo town on Maui. Locals flock to T. Komoda Store for their famous cream puff, a tradition since 1916. Makawao is also home to the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center with its free gallery exhibits. The town is a lively mix of paniolo heritage and a vibrant artistic community. It is also a good stop for food with its many restaurants serving everything from vegetarian to a steamy bowl of saimin.

Kula – Known as the flower basket of Maui. Its bounty is staggering with flowers everywhere and vegetables growing like Sweet Maui Onions. As you gain heights along Kula’s lanes, you will look back on West Maui and a perfect view. Wide-open spaces and rolling green hills fringed with trees dot the landscape. Kula is a different Maui; quiet and serene.

Tedeschi Winery – You’ll pass Ulupalakua Ranch before arriving at the only winery in Hawaii. You can taste the wines at the 100-year old tasting room which is a plaster and coral building. Be sure to sample their Maui Splash, a light and fruity wine made from pineapple and passion fruit.

Alii Kula Lavender Farm – In full bloom during the summer, lavender is a perfect fit for the slopes of Haleakala. Thirty-one varieties are grown. Stop at the gift shop or call ahead for the Lavender Garden Tea which includes everything from hot scones to a garden tour.

Surfing Goat Dairy – On the return to your Maui vacation rental, this stop is a visitor highlight for everything from cheese to handmade chocolate. Located 10 minutes off the main highway.

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