Beginning 1,600 feet upslope from Maui’s beaches, a unique province emerges. This is Maui’s UPCOUNTRY, a scattering of picturesque communities blessed by fresh mountain air, cool afternoon mists, sprawling RANCH LAND, DELIGHTFUL BOUTIQUE FARMS—EVEN LAVENDER FIELDS.
Tucked neatly into the slopes of sprawling MT. HALEAKALA, these communities have developed a distinct character of their own. An eclectic mix of historic and contemporary influences, it’s where the traditional paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) still rides and a community of ARTISTS AND SPIRITUAL HEALERS holds court.
Upcountry is a short drive from the coastal resorts and communities of lower Maui. Take Haleakala Highway (Highway 37), and keep an eye peeled for towns like PUKALANI, MAKAWAO, KULA, KEOKEA, HALI‘IMAILE and ‘ULUPALAKUA.
Makawao, population 6,327, is the hub of Upcountry Maui. Shaded by fresh eucalyptus leaves that rustle in the breeze and infuse the air with a crisp, clean scent, Makawao will steal your heart and leave you pining for more.
In the past, Makawao was a bustling paniolo town where ranch hands would come to pick up dry goods or a bite to eat before heading home after a long day branding cattle or working at the dairy. Today, whispers of the town’s paniolo past are still evident—hitching posts appear along Baldwin Avenue, and the annual 4th of July parade and rodeo draw crowds from across the state. Eclectic boutiques filled with LOCAL ART, HANDCRAFTED JEWELRY, DESIGNER CLOTHING and more line the streets.
In the rural areas, boutique farmers are making an appearance. Small farmers with lots of imagination are experimenting with both new and traditional crops, gradually transforming the landscape from a blanket of rolling green cane to a colorful patchwork of small, innovative farms—some of which are open for tours.
Our suggestions include Maui-grown wine and lavender. Up the mountain on ‘ULUPALAKUA RANCH, MAUI WINE (mauiwine.com) grows grapes for its red, white and sparkling pineapple and grape wines, and ALI‘I KULA LAVENDER FARM (aliikulalavender.com) in Kula, harvests LAVENDER YEAR-ROUND, thanks to Maui’s warm, tropical climate. See “TOUR A LAVENDER FARM” for more on Kula’s lavender farm.