The West Maui mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to this pastoral upcountry scene.

Take a day trip through Upcountry Maui

Beautiful countryside, a cornucopia of crops and gorgeous views await.

You’ve rented a car. It’s a gorgeous day. Put on sunscreen, grab your camera and hit the road! The concierge at your hotel can provide details about the activities and attractions that are mentioned.  

From Kaanapali:
Take Highway 30 east toward Kahului to the junction with Highway 380. Go north on Highway 380 to the junction with Highway 37. Continue on Highway 37 up the slopes of Haleakala volcano.

Drive time without stops:
1 1/2 hours

Along the way:
Makawao town, Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Surfing Goat Dairy, Enchanting Floral Gardens, Kula Botanical Garden, Kula Country Farms Produce Stand, Alii Kula Lavender, MauiWine

maui onions
Kula onions are reputedly so sweet you can eat them raw.
Photo: Franco Salmoiraghi

Upcountry” refers to the verdant belt between the 1,500- and 4,000-foot elevation of Haleakala, the largest dormant volcano in the world. In the district of Kula in this region, sunshine, moisture, climate and rich volcanic soil combine to create ideal conditions for a cornucopia of crops. Think tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, strawberries, peaches, plums, basil, rosemary, cinnamon and much more. Kula onions are reputedly so sweet you can eat them raw.

Flowers also flourish in Kula, imbuing the landscape with fragrance and vibrant colors year-round. King among them is the protea, which comes in an amazing array of shapes, sizes, hues and textures. It’s named after the Greek god Proteus who could change his form at will. The hardy blooms can last for two weeks, and are beautiful even when dried.

Upcountry's flowers give the landscape a lovely fragrance and vibrant colors year-round.
Photo: Tony Novak-Clifford

Foodies will remember Upcountry for treats such as salmon and pesto crepes and spinach, tomato and goat cheese quiche at La Provence; elk burgers and kalua pork sandwiches at Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill; pineapple banana cake, lilikoi (passion fruit) cheesecake and organic coffee roasted on site at Grandma’s Coffee House; and cream puffs, azuki (red bean) pie and guava malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) at T. Komoda Store and Bakery.

Ten miles upland, you can admire sweeping vistas of central and west Maui, Kahoolawe, Molokai and Lanai at Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area. An extensive trail system winds through conifer forests reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. 

A version of this story appeared in the Winter/Spring 2011 print issue of Huakai, a bi-annual publication published by aio Media in partnership with Starwood Properties.