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While the beach areas of west and south Maui get most of the attention from visitors, a day upcountry Maui offers a unique experience that you can’t get down at sea level. Located on the slopes of the dormant volcano, Haleakala, local small business, farms, and restaurants offer plenty of things to do and enjoy during a day out. And one of the best things about upcountry Maui is the scenery you’ll enjoy as you wind your way up the mountain.
A trip to upcountry Maui is one of our favorite ways to escape the heat of the west side and adventure out as a family. There’s so much to do and see that one day might not be enough to explore this beautiful area on Maui.
Where is Upcountry?
Upcountry Maui is located on the slopes of Haleakala volcano, the island’s highest peak. As you leave the beaches and head uphill, you’ll be greeted with cooler temperatures, greener scenery, and spectacular views.
Is Upcountry Maui Worth Visiting?
If you come to Maui without visiting upcountry, you’re missing out. Here you’ll find a different side of Maui, away from the resorts and pristine beaches. You can visit local farms, hike a volcano, and take in a slower, laid back vibe. You don’t want to miss visiting upcountry on your vacation.
Where Can I Watch the Sunset in Upcountry?
The best place to watch the sunset in upcountry (and in all of Maui) is from Haleakala. While watching the Haleakala sunrise is famous, we think sunset is just as good. Maybe even better. From atop the volcano you can pick any westwardly facing spot and watch as the sun dips down into the ocean and the sky lights up with gorgeous shades of pink. Bring warm clothes (it gets very windy and cold!) and stay after the sun goes down for some amazing star gazing.
If you are driving down in the dark, a word of caution: go slow and take your time as the road is windy and there can often be cattle in the road.
Related read: should you visit Haleakala for sunrise or sunset?
Upcountry Maui Restaurants
There are a number of excellent restaurants in upcountry Maui, but some of our favorites include:
- Hali’imaile General Store: chef Bev Gannon’s original and most awarded restaurant offers farm to table, pacific style cuisine. Reservations are highly recommended, so plan ahead!
- Ulupalakua General Store: grass-fed cattle from the Ulupalakua ranch are the star ingredient in the delicious burgers. This casual deli style restaurant offers counter service food that you’ll eat at picnic tables in their beautiful upcountry picnic area.
- Kula Bistro: brunch, lunch, dinner is all delicious at Kula Bistro. No reservations are accepted so you may have a bit of a wait, but the food is worth it.
- Grandma’s Coffee House: this is a great spot to head after Haleakala sunrise. Grab their homegrown and roasted coffee, some baked goods, and enjoy home style food.
- Mahalo Aleworks/Marlow: Grab a beer at the taproom and brewery and order a pizza next door at the restaurant Marlow. Take them upstairs for a view that makes upcountry so famous.
Upcountry Maui towns
- Makawao: an old paniolo (cowboy) town with a historic, walkable downtown and is home to the annual fourth of July rodeo
- Pukalani: Pukalani means hole in heaven (puke = hole, lani = heaven) or heavenly gate. It’s mostly a residential community, but you can stop in at the locally famous Pukalani Superette
- Kula: this rural, agricultural town is home to farms, gardens, great produce, and amaing views
- Ha’iku: stretching from upcountry to the north shore, Ha’iku offers both mountain and coastal things to do
If you’re exploring upcountry Maui, you’ll need a rental car. We almost always use Discount Hawaii Car Rental for the best prices, without pre-payment.
Top Things to Do in Upcountry Maui
1. Stroll through downtown Makawao
The first time we visited Makawao, I was ready to pack my bags and move from west Maui. The historic downtown is quaint, picturesque, and has good shops and great coffee. Spend time checking out stores like The Mercantile and Driftwood. Grab a coffee at Espresso Mafia. Or pop over and grab food from the small food truck park or a donut on a stick from Komoda Store and Bakery.
2. Learn how pineapples grow
Pineapples are only grown two places in the US: Maui and Oahu. Take the opportunity to tour the Maui Gold plantation and learn how pineapples are grown and harvested. Plus take a pineapple home with you and get tips to help you pick the best pineapple when you’re shopping at the store. We didn’t take our son with us on the tour but it’s definitely family friendly.
3. Feed the goats
Is there anything cuter than baby goats? Possibly my kids, but beside the point. Surfing Goat Dairy offers daily goat tours where you get to meet the goats and learn about their cheese making process. As a tour add-on, you can purchase a cheese plate to enjoy once the tour is complete. It’s a quick tour and fun stop on your upcountry adventure.
If you are visiting the area on a Friday morning, you can also feed goats at Haleakala Creamery. They offer a longer, 75 minute farm tour where you have an opportunity to milk a goat as well as sample cheese and their Goatlato ice cream and caramel sauces.
4. Enjoy a meal at Haliimaile General Store
Chef Bev Gannon’s famed establishment, the Hali’imaile General Store offers a farm to table menu at a renovated former general store. Located just across from the Maui Gold Pineapple plantation, the restaurant offers pacific cuisine fare. The restaurant started as a gourmet take out spot in 1987 and has grown into an award-winning restaurant that is well known around the island. Bev Gannon also owns the restaurant Gannon’s in Wailea.
We love this restaurant and one of my favorite visits was stopping in here for lunch after our pineapple tour.
5. Take in the views at Ocean Vodka Distillery
Upcountry is known for its views and Ocean Vodka Distillery gives you a front row seat for some seriously good bi-coastal views. At the distillery, you can take a tour and enjoy a tasting (21 and older only, of course!). Or you can order food or drinks from their café and sit back and enjoy their view. The café is family friendly so you can bring the whole crew and the parents can sit while the kids have plenty of space to run around.
6. Sample honey at Maui Bees
Learn about the lifecycle of bees and where your honey comes from with a trip to the Maui Bees bee farm. The farm offers guided tours and a hands-on honey bee workshop as well as regenerative agriculture farm tours. On the guided bee tour you’re able to open a hive with the beekeeper to get an up-close view of the inner workings of the hive and sample honey. The farm also has a delicious farm stand where you can stock up on local produce or grab some prepared food (their soups are delicious). This is one of our favorite farm tours on Maui.
Get a list of our favorite 15 farm tours you won’t want to miss.
7. Enjoy a gourmet farm to table lunch tour at O’o Farm
If you really want a full farm to table experience, nothing compares to O’o Farm. Visit the 8.5 acre natural farm and walk through learning about their farming process and the variety of food they grow. After, you sit down to a multi-course lunch prepared with the produce grown at the farm. They also offer a breakfast and coffee tour, so you can still do a coffee farm tour even if you can’t make it to one of the Big Island’s famous coffee farms.
The setting for this tour is fantastic and while we did take our son and he enjoyed it, this would be an awesome romantic experience on an adults only trip, like a honeymoon or anniversary trip. O’o Farm also grows the produce for one of our favorite restaurants in Lahaina, Pacific’o.
8. Maui Alpaca
Visiting Alpacas on Maui sounds odd, but it’s the tour we didn’t know we needed until we did it. We enjoyed the Paniolo picnic tour as a family and it was an excellent upcountry experience. We met Janet and her sweet alpacas, enjoyed feeding them and learning to care for them, and then learned about how they make goods with the fleece from the alpaca. We published a short video of our visit to Maui Alpaca.
And, you can get 10% off the paniolo picnic that we did by calling Janet to book and mentioning code HVG.
9. Hike through a volcano crater at Haleakala National Park
No trip to upcountry is complete without a drive up to Haleakala National Park. Visit Maui’s largest volcano and get absolutely incredible views of the crater. In the park you can enjoy hiking, see silversword, which is only grown on Haleakala, and take in the views from 10,000 feed at the Red Hill Observatory.
Haleakala is great anytime of the day, but it can offer a spectacular sunrise and sunset. To visit for sunrise reservations are required and we enjoy using this guided tour for Haleakala sunrise.
10. Sample pineapple wine at Maui Wine
While Maui isn’t known for its wine country, Maui Wine is a really fun stop in upcountry. They offer wine tasting flights or you can purchase wine by the glass or bottle. You can also try their pineapple wine or sparkling wine, which is just a fun thing to enjoy while on Maui! They offer a beautiful setting on their deck overlooking their grounds. We brought our kids and it was a fun, family affair. Reservations are recommended.
11. Get a locally sourced burger at Ulupalakua Ranch Store
If you’re looking for unfussy, but great food, head across the street from Maui Wine to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store. The deli counter inside of the store offers burgers from cows raised at the Ulupalakua Ranch and they try to source as many of their other ingredients locally as well. Grab a spot at a picnic table outside and take in the vibe and fresh air of upcountry. We love combining a stop at the general store with a visit to Maui Wine across the street.
12. Shop at the Kula Farmers Market
In case you haven’t noticed the theme, upcountry Maui is an excellent spot to enjoy farm fresh goodies thanks to the fertile volcanic soil and moderate climate. You can get your fill on produce during the Saturday farmers market. Find things like fresh caught fish (usually sells out early!), macadamia nuts, coconuts, fresh produce, and prepared foods. You might also find some consumable souvenirs to take back home for friends and family.
13. Horseback ride at Triple L Ranch
Spend more time in the countryside with a horseback tour at Triple L Ranch. Private rides of varying duration (from 1 hour and up) are offered on the ranch and you’ll get to learn about the ranching culture as well as history of the area. The ride through the ranch is beautiful with views of the ocean, flowers, and free range cattle. On a clear day, you might even be able to get a view of the Big Island.
Plus, make a stop at the ranch’s Bully’s Burgers for a burger made from free-range, grass-fed cattle.
14. Pick up souvenirs at Kula Country Farms
If you miss the farmers market, but still want to pick up some farm fresh goods and consumable souvenirs to take back home, make a stop at Kula Country Farms. Their farm stand is open Monday through Saturday and you’ll find fresh produce as well as items from local small businesses. During the spring, they offer strawberry and blueberry u-pick and in the fall they have a huge pumpkin patch.
15. Play a round at Pukalani Country Club
For any golf lovers visiting Maui, skip the heat and play a round at the Pukalani Country Club. The club offers a reasonably priced rate for visitors and you’re often treated to an afternoon breeze.
Get Upcountry with a Plan
Make your Maui trip planning so much easier with a planned out itinerary. Our Maui itinerary includes two days upcountry, plus other days around the island so you can see as many great things as possible.
I wanted to let you know that we just returned from 17 days is Hawaii and your information was our go to. We read your newsletters, watched your videos and ordered itineraries for the two islands we spent the most time on. This helped us plan our days and ensured we saw great sights we otherwise would never have known to stop. We referred to the guides often so saving it in files on my phone was perfect. You saved us tons of time energy and money while ensuring we had an awesome trip. Worth every dime and minute we spent on your info.Traci B.
Get The Maui Itinerary
The step-by-step itinerary takes you to all the best beaches, snorkeling spots, restaurants, and sights. You’ll get six carefully planned excursion days to help you see the can’t miss stops no matter how limited your time is.
Get all the details on our itinerary and download it for a memorable and easily planned trip to Maui.