While Maui’s beaches are arguably the destination’s most visited attraction, the often overlooked Upcountry region near the center of the island makes for a worthwhile getaway.
Known for its rural and agricultural bent — drive past goat herds snoozing in the shade and riders on horseback instead of golf courses and 4-star restaurants — a day in Maui’s Upcountry takes you off the beaten path and plunges you into the country heartland of the island.
(Featured image: Makawao welcome sign. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson)
About Upcountry Maui
In Upcountry, farms thrive in the volcanic soil on Haleakala’s west-facing slope. Visit the area’s quaint towns, such as the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao. The historic plantation architecture draws visitors to its main street, along with its local boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
And while Upcountry lies near the center of Maui, seemingly a world away from the shoreline swells, its elevation (the largest Upcountry towns lie anywhere between 1,500 to 3,500 feet above sea level) reminds you that you’re still on an island. At many of our favorite Upcountry stops, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping ocean views.
Where is Maui’s Upcountry?
Maui’s Upcountry region lies near the center of the island, on the westward facing slope of the Halekala volcano. The larger Upcountry towns include Makawao, Kula, Pukalani, and Haiku.
Our 10 favorite things to do in Upcountry Maui
From farm tours to souvenir shopping excursions, Upcountry has plenty of sights and activities to immerse visitors in this unique side of island life.
1. Cuddle Goats at Haleakala Creamery
I have two pet goats at my Pacific Northwest home, so it’s safe to say that I have a special place in my heart for the feisty ruminants. And don’t get me started on farm tours — swoon!
So it should be no surprise that I’ve toured two Upcountry Maui goat farms, Surfing Goat Dairy and Haleakala Creamery. Both tours were delightful, with plenty of face time with the milking goats, the goat kids, and tastings.
Haleakala Creamery was particularly satisfying with their selection of sweet and savory tasting offerings. At the microfarm, we tasted their goatlato (goat milk ice cream), goat yogurt, and my favorite — caramel sauce.
Not to mention major cuddle time with both the resident ranch dog and baby goats. Tours by advance reservation only.
Haleakala Creamery, 170 Ho’omaika’i Place, Kula, HI, 96790
Surfing Goat Dairy, 3651 Omaopio Road, Kula, HI 96790
2. Snack on a pastry from Grandma’s Coffee House
Coffee lovers looking for an authentic cup of joe in paradise can look no further than Grandma’s Coffee House. Four generations of coffee growers have mastered the cultivation of coffee beans on Maui — without chemicals or pesticides.
You can’t go wrong peeking into the pastry counter and selecting a buttery pastry to top off your coffee break. The pastry shelf at this quaint cafe is filled with enticing goodies for a sweet treat. Or order a hearty meal of kalua pork or a loco moco for breakfast.
Grandma’s Coffee House, 9232 Kula Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
3. Watch glassblowing at Hot Island Glass
Admire the artisans at work at this family-owned Makawao glass studio. Take a seat in their viewing area and watch the resident artists transform molten glass into stunning jellyfish sculptures, vases, bowls, or platters.
Hot Island Glass, 3620 Baldwin Avenue Suite 101-A, Makawao, Hawaii 96768
4. Buzz around the Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a free honey tasting (and an epic view) at the Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary in Kula. Dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of honeybees to the environment, the Upcountry beekeepers welcome visitors for both free self-guided garden tours and paid experiences, such as an immersive bee adventure tour.
Shop the sanctuary’s boutique for bee-related souvenirs such as Maui honey, essential oil spray, beeswax candles, and jewelry.
Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary, 16655 Piilani Highway, Kula, HI 96790
5. Get a taste of the paniolo life at Ulupalakua Ranch Store
For major paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) vibes, head to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store. The rustic stop comes complete with wooden rocking chairs on the front porch and cowboy hats for serious Upcountry style.
Then mosey to the counter in the back and order a burger. Take your pick from a Maui Cattle Co. beef burger, Ulupalakua elk burger, or a Maui lamb burger — there’s even a taro burger on the menu. Pull up a seat outside and watch the grill pros work their magic while you soak in the view.
Ulupalakua Ranch Store, 14800 Piilani Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
6. Sip and shop at Maui Wine
For the ultimate taste of local Maui, reserve a tasting at Maui Wine’s King’s Cottage Tasting Room — originally built in the 1870s for the last reigning king of Hawaii — and order a flight or wine by the glass. Our favorite? The pineapple wine, which is made from Maui Gold pineapples.
Step inside the cottage to shop for local fare, such as handmade home goods and Upcountry-crafted sweet treats. Or keep your Maui vacation going even after you make it home, and sign up for a twice-yearly wine shipment with their wine club.
Maui Wine, 14815 Piilani Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
7. Stop and smell the flowers at Ali’i Kula Lavender
While the Mediterranean lavender species isn’t native to Maui, the fragrant plant flourishes in the dry Upcountry climate. At 4,000-foot elevation, you’ll find 20 varieties of lavender among the farm’s 55,000 lavender plants.
Take a self-guided tour and soak in the views while winding your way through the walking paths. And don’t forget to visit the gift shop for lavender souvenirs to bring home, such as gardener’s lotion and lavender-strawberry pepper jam.
Ali’i Kula Lavender, 1100 Waipoli Road, Kula, Hawaii
8. Nosh on malasadas and donuts on a stick
A trip to Upcountry Maui wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the historic T. Komoda Store and Bakery. This charming Makawao purveyor of rolls, pastries, cream puffs — and, yes, donuts on a stick — has been a Maui staple since 1916.
Get there early to snag T. Komoda’s fresh treats — they disappear in a flash. And pack a little patience. You’ll probably have plenty of company when you visit, as long lines are typical.
T. Komoda Store & Bakery, 3674 Baldwin Ave Makawao, HI 96768
9. Stroll through a peaceful botanical garden
Take a self-guided tour at a heaven on earth for plant lovers, an 8-acre garden. Kula Botanical Garden’s tranquil winding paths lead you from one splendor to the next — from rainbow eucalyptus trees to an orchid house, resident chameleon enclosure, bird sanctuary, koi pond, and more.
Kula Botanical Garden, 638 Kekaulike Avenue, Kula, Hawaii 96790
10. Pick strawberries or pumpkins from Kula Country Farms
In the spring, pick your way through the Kula Country Farms strawberry farms for luscious red berries while admiring the valley views from this Upcountry roadside fixture. Or enjoy the farm’s sunflower and pumpkin patch in the fall.
The fourth generation family farm also operates a year-round farm stand offering local produce, along with honey, jams, and baked goods.
Kula Country Farms, 6240 Kula Highway, Kula, Hawaii 96790
Getting to Upcountry
To get the most out of your day while in Maui’s Upcountry, we recommend renting a car. You’ll find bus service in the towns of Makawao, Pukalani, and Kula — but a rental car will get you farther afield for serious exploration.
Renting a car for your Upcountry travels also affords you maximum flexibility for choosing which spots to visit and making stops on your timeline.
Where to eat in Upcountry
As the agricultural heart of Maui, Upcountry has its share of island eateries. Taste the Upcountry life at these popular stops:
- Kula Lodge and Restaurant, Kula – Rustic island vibes with wood-paneled walls and furniture, the expansive dining room windows and stunning vista views make this Kula restaurant more than just a pit stop on the way up to the Haleakala summit.
- Kula Bistro, Kula – Cozy and casual family-style dining. The bistro offers both island favorites (such as loco moco and mahi mahi benedict) along with Italian dishes such as bolognese and lasagna.
- O’o Farm, Kula – Score a meal with a tour at O’o Farm, an 8.5-acre farm that supplies ingredients to the trendy Pacific’O restaurant in Lahaina. Breakfast and lunch tours available with advance reservation.
- Bully’s Burgers, Kula – Drive south on Piilani Highway, and keep going until it feels like you’ve driven to the end of the island. The road keeps going, but on your left you’ll find a solitary burger joint overlooking South Maui and the ocean beyond. Swing your leg over the saddle rack bar facing the vista views or pull up a picnic bench while you wait for your meal.
Beyond Upcountry Maui
Have some extra time after touring Maui’s Upcountry? Stop at laid back Paia town, once a bustling sugar town turned current-day surfer destination, health food hub, and boho beach attraction.