Away from the hustle of Kahului and Kihei, centrally closer than the journey to Hana, and embedded in the slopes of Haleakala, lies a pastoral world of hills and ranches. You might even see a real Paniolo (Hawaiian for Cowboy) grilling a grass-fed sustainably-raised elk.
Upcountry Maui is a wonderful place to experience Old Hawaii. The buildings and fields form a grand plantation full of stories linking to the mana of the island's past. The weather is cooler, sitting high up the slopes of Haleakala, allowing temperate plants to achieve their full lifecycle including flowering and fruiting. This bounty is apparent driving the snaking roads through Kula and 'Ulupalakua as farm stands pop out of curves bartering juicy starfruit, golden papaya, and beautiful hand-picked protea bouquets grown with love.
We spent most of our time in upcountry breathing in the heavenly scent of lavender at Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm and indulging in cheese flights by humanely raised goats (we also watched some kids surf.)
Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm is located 4,000 ft up Haleakala. Rolling hills offer vistas of Central and West Maui. Visitors are invited to tour their 13.5 acre farm exhibiting 45 varieties of lavender. The lavender smells like heaven, and begs visitors to roam freely, meditate and relax amongst a well taken care of land. The cool climate of the farm allows them to grow a large number of botanical specimens rare in Hawaii such as hydrangea, apple trees, peach trees, olive trees and more. We recommend ordering a cup of lavender tea from their cute cafe to keep you warm throughout your excursion.
Surfing Goat is a smelly yet delicious dairy with cute, little goats prancing about. Owned by an expatriate German couple, the 42-acre pasture welcomes visitors to sample gourmet goat cheese (our favorite was called Rolling Green and Garden Fantasia which definitely tasted like an entire garden inside of a scoop of cheese,), play with baby goats, and even milk some if you sign up for the tour. Surfing Goat Dairy cheese can be found in organic supermarkets across Oahu or you can check out their website for additional recipe ideas.
Protea are abound in Upcountry, and the farmer's market is always overflowing with flowers. The Upcountry farmers market occurs every Saturday at 7AM to Noon at Kulamalu Town Center. We cant wait to come back and are already planning on the Makawao Rodeo in July!
Photographs by © Sara Mayko 2015