If you are planning to spend a few days in Maui, consider exploring Upcountry Maui!
With pleasantly beautiful landscapes, many farms and gardens to visit, and a laid-back ambience, visiting Upcountry Maui allows you to discover a different side of the Valley Isle, away from the beaches and resorts of the west side.
While sunset at Haleakala (and hiking at the Haleakala summit) are among the best things to do in Maui, you can also enjoy the many ag-tourism opportunities that abound on the slopes of the volcano.
We usually spend a day in Upcountry Maui whenever we visit the island. It’s very relaxing, and you learn a lot if you do a tour or two!
Hali’imaile General Store is one of our favorite Maui restaurants, and as plant lovers, we love touring the farms and gardens. Ali’i Lavender farm always makes the list for us!
Tour a pineapple farm. Taste local wine. Feed a kid goat, or help to milk goats…and taste cheese. Stroll through beds of lavender. Visit a farmers’ market.
You can do all this, and much more, in Upcountry Maui!
In this article, we describe the many exciting things to do in Upcountry Maui, plus how to get there.
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Where is Upcountry Maui?
So, where exactly is Upcountry Maui?
When you talk about “Upcountry Maui,” you are loosely referring to the higher elevations that surround the 10,023-foot Haleakala, Maui’s impressive volcano.
Upcountry Maui is known as a farming and ranching area, with rural landscapes soothing to the eye, a misty cooler climate, and fabulous views out to the coast.
Hawaiians have farmed the rich volcanic soils of these slopes for a long time, growing crops like sweet potato and taro. And it’s here that the paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, learned to lasso cattle from vaqueros brought in by King Kamehameha I!
The main communities in Upcountry Maui are Kula, Makawao, Haiku, and Pukalani. If you choose to ride a bike down Haleakala, for example, you’ll likely stop in the tiny town of Makawao.
The weather is a little cooler at these higher elevations in Maui, so bring a jacket. And if you plan to visit the Haleakala summit, throw a warm blanket in the trunk to wrap around yourself at the top!
Best Things to Do in Upcountry Maui
1. Take the Maui Pineapple Tour
The Maui Gold pineapple isn’t just any pineapple! It is known for its exceptional sweetness and flavor, and its high Vitamin C.
One of our must-do things on every visit to Maui is get some papaya, some lilikoi, and a Maui Gold pineapple to enjoy in our vacation rental. Delicious!
In Hali’imaile in Upcountry Maui, you can take a tour of a working pineapple farm owned by the Maui Gold Pineapple Co.
On the farm tour, you’ll learn about how the Maui Gold pineapple is grown, and get to see the pineapples at different stages of growth.
Standing in a pineapple field in Maui, watching an expert slice a pineapple, and sampling the sweet juicy fruit right in the field where it’s grown is an incredible experience.
At the end of the tour, you’ll get an “airport-ready” Maui Gold pineapple to take home.
The super popular tour is 90 minutes long and, with several departure times during the day, can easily fit into a day trip to Upcountry Maui.
>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!
2. Try the Delicious Cheese at Surfing Goat Dairy
Touring Surfing Goat Dairy is one of the coolest things to do in Upcountry Maui!
Maui’s largest commercial dairy, Surfing Goat Dairy offers tours if you want to meet the cute goats, watch the milking, or peek into the cheese-making process at the farm.
Located in bucolic Kula, Surfing Goat Dairy has more than 120 milking goats and a tradition of honoring the land and nurturing their animals.
Best of all, their cheeses and truffles are delicious!
Kid-oriented 30-minute Surfing Goat Dairy tours allow you to interact with adorable kid goats (under 3 months old!) and even bottle-feed one! Kid season is usually December through March.
You can also take a 30-minute casual tour of the farm, where you’ll meet the animals, feed goats in the pasture, and get a look at the cheese production.
An evening chore and milking tour is a one-hour experience that allows you to assist with milking the goats!
At the end of your tour, you can pick up a flight of delicious dairy cheeses to take back to your accommodation. We love their herby Garden Fantasia cheese on toast!
Tour prices range from $25.00 to $40.00 for an adult, with discounts for children 3-11 years old. Book tours online.
3. Explore the Kula Botanical Garden
Spread over eight acres on the slopes of Haleakala, Kula Botanical Garden is a pleasure to stroll. It isn’t very big, so in about an hour you can take a self-guided tour through the entire garden.
The garden, located in Kula, contains tropical species from all over the world. Most specimens are labeled with the name and the country of origin. There are many mature trees, vines, and plants to admire and photograph.
We loved the many flowering plants: colorful birds of paradise, giant proteas, hibiscus in several colors, and fragrant plumeria among them.
Of course you’ll find some native Hawaiian plants here as well.
There’s also a tiki exhibit to photograph, a koi pond, and a small pond and waterfall.
Kula Botanical Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last entrance for the day at 3.15 p.m.
At the time of writing, admission is $10.00 per adult and $3.00 for kids 6-12. You can buy tickets at the gate.
4. Visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Spread out over the slopes of Haleakala in Upcountry Maui at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a lovely peaceful place to stroll.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm contains about 55,000 lavender plants, with about 20 different varieties of lavender!
While lavender isn’t a Maui native, it thrives in the Mediterranean climate of Kula.
While most of the varieties at the farm bloom in the summer (that’s a heavenly time to visit!), Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm also boasts a few varieties that bloom year-round.
And other than lavender, you’ll find olive trees, proteas, fruit trees, hydrangea, and succulents growing at the farm.
So no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find something to appreciate as you take a self-guided tour of the farm.
If the store is open, be sure to pick up some lavender-forward bath products, and if the cafe is open, try the lavender scones and tea!
The farm is open for tours Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is an admission fee of $3.00 per adult.
5. Tour O’o Farm
A tour of O’o Farm is one of the most delightful experiences you can have in Upcountry Maui!
Located above Kula, O’o Farm is a popular agritourism destination on Maui, producing many crops in rotation in a sustainable and natural manner. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs are all grown on the farm.
The views of the coast from the farm are a bonus!
O’o Farm offers a couple of tour experiences, either of which is a great way to learn about organic farming, native Hawaiian plants, and caring for the ʻaina (the land).
The walking tours of the farm are led by a team member, and each tour ends with a delicious (and nutritious!) meal prepared by the O’o Farm chef and team.
The Coffee and Brunch Tour is a “seed to cup” tour that focuses on the coffee bean. The 3-hour tour begins at 8.30 a.m. and is offered Mondays through Fridays.
The Gourmet Lunch and Farm Tour is a more general tour of the farm that ends with a gourmet lunch prepared with fresh ingredients. The 3-hour tour starts at 10.30 a.m. and runs Mondays through Fridays.
Tours can be reserved online at the farm’s website.
6. Stroll Makawao
The quaint and tiny town of Makawao in Upcountry Maui is a delightful place to explore.
Makawao has a paniolo past, and every year on the Fourth of July, the Makawao Rodeo celebrates the cowboy traditions for which the town and the region are known. There’s a parade and many competitions to watch!
Today Makawao is a renowned arts community, and strolling the town to browse the many shops and galleries is a must.
Holoholo Surf offers beautiful dresses and swim wear if you are looking for a colorful island-feel outfit!
You will likely see artisans working as you walk: from glassblowers to painters and sculptors, a variety of artists work and sell their works here.
Be sure to stop by the Komoda Bakery for one of their tasty pastries. We love the cream puffs and the malasadas!
The bakery is open 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on all days of the week other than Wednesdays and Sundays.
If you love photographing old churches (Hawaii has some pretty ones like the Wai’oli Hui’ia Church on Kauai’s north shore and the Lili’uokalani Church on Oahu’s north shore), then stop by the Makawao Union Church, which dates back to 1917.
>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!
7. Enjoy a special meal at Hali’imaile General Store
We’ve been known to drive all the way from the west side just to dine at Hali’imaile General Store. If you are planning to spend a day in Upcountry Maui, ending your day with dinner here is a no-brainer.
Nestled in the midst of pineapple fields on the lower slopes of Haleakala, Hali’imaile General Store dates back over 100 years, when it was the store for the pineapple plantation.
Hali’imaile General Store became a restaurant in 1987, when the store was bought by Chef Beverly Gannon and her husband Joe. The restaurant is currently run by the Gather Restaurant Group.
There’s plenty of seafood on the menu at Hali’imaile, but you’ll also find great vegetarian options and meat dishes. We love the coconut veggie curry (you can also get it with seafood), and their sashimi Napoleon is renowned.
Make sure you leave room for dessert. We like the dark chocolate mousse with chocolate cake, and the lilikoi crème brûlée is delectable.
The cocktails are to-die-for good as well!
You’ll find Hali’imaile General Store in Makawao. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner and is open daily (lunch from 11 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. until 8.30 p.m.). Make reservations!
8. Browse the Upcountry Farmers Market
Visiting Upcountry Maui on a Saturday? Be sure to stop by the weekly farmers’ market!
The Upcountry Maui Farmers’ Market brings together lots of local producers and offers a variety of fresh locally grown organic vegetables, tropical plants and fresh flowers, macadamia nuts, coconuts, and colorful fruit.
The market also offers packaged foods like yummy lilikoi butter (you have to get a jar!), coffee, raw and vegan foods, and even ethnic prepared foods like Thai and Indian!
We found the vendors friendly when we visited, and the market made for a fun stroll. We picked up some sweet papaya and some lilikoi butter.
The Upcountry Maui Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Kulamalu Town Center in Pukalani. You’ll see signs for it as you approach!
Bring cash to make purchases at the farmers’ market.
9. Try a Burger at Ulupalakua Ranch Store
Ranching is as important a facet of Upcountry Maui as farming, and Hawaii’s paniolo culture is maintained at Ulupalakua Ranch, where more than two dozen Hawaiian cowboys were employed in the 1960s and 70s.
The ranch is spread over 18,000 acres on the southern slopes of Haleakala.
Ulupalakua Ranch also partners with other organizations to preserve the native flora on the lands owned by the ranch.
If you enjoy a good burger, you have to visit the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill, where you can have a burger made with grass-fed beef raised on the ranch!
You can choose from beef, lamb, elk, and venison, and pick from unique toppings such as grilled pineapple, kimchee, or Portuguese sausage.
The meat-lovers in our family love their lunch stop here whenever we visit.
You’ll find the Ulupalakua Ranch Store in Kula. The store is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
10. Enjoy a Tasting at MauiWine
Maui’s first working winery was established in the early 1970s by C. Pardee Erdman, the owner of Ulupalakua Ranch.
Many of the existing old estate buildings were taken over by the winery, and what’s now the tasting room was built in the 1870s to accommodate King Kalākaua, the last king of Maui.
The winery developed pineapple wine while the vineyard was growing, just as practice, but today the estate’s pineapple wines featuring Maui Gold pineapples are much in demand!
The vineyard is now fully mature and the estate produces many fine wines.
We visited MauiWine on our very first trip to Maui over 10 years ago, when our Road to Hana Tour stopped at the winery on the way back. We’ve been back several times since, because we love the pineapple wine!
MauiWine offers flight tastings and wine by the glass, and reservations are strongly encouraged. Ask to be seated outside on the patio of the King’s Cottage Tasting Room!
If you are a guest with a reservation, you can take a self-guided tour of the estate: they will give you a map.
MauiWine is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
11. Tour the Ocean Vodka Organic Farm + Distillery
Ocean Organic Vodka and Distillery is set on 80 acres on the beautiful slopes of Haleakala in Upcountry Maui.
Made with deep ocean mineral water from the Kona Coast in the Big Island, and organic sugar cane, Ocean Vodka is a treat!
You can visit the farm + distillery in Kula for a tasting. During the experience, you’ll learn about how the farm grows several varieties of Polynesian sugar cane, and how the cane juice is used to create the distilled vodka.
If you want a bite to eat, there’s a cafe on the property and you sit outdoors to enjoy local fare and cocktails made with Ocean Vodka.
The farm and cafe are open everyday and tastings are offered from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. You can reserve online, although they also accept drop-ins.
12. Stop by Kula Country Farms
The farm stand at Kula Country Farms is a great place to stop for fresh fruit and other local products if you plan to visit when the Upcountry Maui Farmers’ Market isn’t open.
They carry local produce from many local farmers, and they grow a variety on their own farm. Look for strawberries, blueberries, squash and other vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
Between February and June, you can pick your own strawberries. If you are traveling with young kids, this is an activity they will love! In the fall, there’s a colorful pumpkin patch.
There’s also a children’s garden to explore, and farm animals to see.
Kula Country Farms also offers varieties of honey made in their own hives, jams, and baked goods made fresh daily. Yum!
The farm stand at Kula Country Farms, located in Kula, is open year round, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!
13. Tour Maui Tea Farm and Enjoy a Tea Tasting
Like many of the businesses in Upcountry Maui, Maui Tea Farm is a family owned and operated enterprise located in Kula.
Maui Tea Farm grows varieties of teas and tisane herbs. Although they focus on teas, you’ll find other fruit and vegetable trees and plants on the farm, from avocado and apples to lychees, blueberries, squash, and kale.
There’s a gorgeous gazebo on the farm that makes for a great photo!
Maui Tea Farm offers tours. Their Meet the Tea Tour is limited to 10 people, for a personalized experience.
The tour leader offers lots of information on the plants you’ll encounter on your tour, making it an enriching experience if you enjoy plants.
As a tea lover, I loved this tour!
The one-hour tour is a walking exploration of the farm, followed by a guided tasting of two of the farm’s teas. It costs $36 per adult and $18 per child 5-11.
You can book a tour online.
14. Play a round of golf at the Pukalani Country Club
Set at an elevation of 1,100 feet on the beautiful rolling hills of Upcountry Maui, the Pukalani Country Club features gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and Maui.
The country club offers an 18-hole golf course spread over almost 160 acres.
If you want to play a round in a beautiful setting on your Maui vacation, book a tee time online!
The Pukalani Club House Restaurant and Bakery is open everyday and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We’ve had lunch here on our way to the Haleakala summit, and the burgers are delicious!
15. Hike Hosmer Grove
The lowest elevation hike in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park, the Hosmer Grove Trail is a must-do if you enjoy birdwatching.
Hosmer Grove is a great place to spot Hawaiian birds like the i’iwi, a bright red Hawaiian honeycreeper, or the ‘apapane, also a small red Hawaiian songbird. They are both endemic to Hawaii.
You may see other varieties of birds as well: Hosmer Grove is one of the birding hotspots on Maui.
The hike is a pleasant stroll that takes you through a grove of introduced trees to native shrubland. Keep your eyes peeled for flowering plants as well.
The grove is interestingly the result of a failed experiment. Ralph Hosmer planted several non-native trees here to stop the erosion caused by ranchers denuding the area of local forests. Some of the species have become invasive, and park staff constantly have to push them back.
The trailhead is located at mile marker 10.5 on Highway 378, just after you enter the national park.
16. Enjoy Sunset at the Top of the Haleakala Crater
One of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui is to head to the summit of Haleakala in the evening to enjoy sunset above the clouds!
While both sunrise at Haleakala and sunset are iconic Maui experiences, you don’t need a reservation for sunset and you can drive up if you see that the weather is good and you’re likely to get a sensational sky at sunset.
While the actual summit is the best place for sunset at Haleakala, you can also watch it from the Haleakala Visitor Center or the Kalahaku Overlook in the Summit District.
If you don’t mind driving down in the dark, you can also stay back to stargaze if the sky is clear and moonless.
Be sure to arrive about 30 to 60 minutes before sunset so you can find a parking spot and settle into your viewing location before the sun sets.
And be sure to bundle up…it’s about 30 degrees cooler at the summit of the volcano than it is on the floor of the island, and early and late in the day it’s freezing cold.
There is an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle to access Haleakala National Park, and the ticket is valid for 3 days. If you have a National Parks Pass, be sure to bring it along!
How to Get to Upcountry Maui
You’ll need a rental car to get to Upcountry Maui from the west side or from Hana.
The best way to get to Upcountry Maui is to drive to Kahului, and then take Highway 37 (or side roads) to the places you want to visit (see map).
Here are driving distances to Kula in Upcountry Maui from various parts of the island:
Kahului — 13.9 miles, 22 minutes
Kapalua — 44.6 miles, 1 hour and 8 minutes
Kaanapali — 39.4 miles, 57 minutes
Lahaina — 35.9 miles, 50 minutes
Kihei — 22.3 miles, 35 minutes
Wailea — 26.6 miles, 40 minutes
Paia — 11.2 miles, 22 minutes
Hana — 45.9 miles, 1 hour and 54 minutes
Tours that go up to the Summit District of Haleakala go through Upcountry Maui, so you’ll get a taste of the beautiful countryside as you drive through the region. Some even stop at Makawao.
But to truly experience this beautiful part of the island, you should rent a car and spend a day in Upcountry Maui!
Map of Things to Do in Upcountry Maui
The Best Maui Tours
Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?
Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!
A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!
A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!
A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!
Renting a Car in Maui
The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.
Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.
We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.
Where to Stay In Maui
Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.
By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.
We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.
We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.
More Maui Travel Inspiration
If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!
If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.
If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!
Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.
One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!
Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!
We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.
If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.
Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.
We also have articles on popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.
If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.
Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.
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