Upcountry on Maui is a term that is used to describe the area on the Haleakala side of Maui away from the shoreline.  Basically if you want to visit the beach you must gasp…drive there!  The largest towns Upcountry Maui are Pukalani, Makawao and Kula.  Since upcountry sits higher in elevation the temperatures here are much cooler than the rest of Maui. Obviously the higher you go, the colder it gets.

10 ways to explore upcountry maui

Getting To Upcountry Maui

As it is possible to explore Maui via public transportation and tour buses I recommend renting a car to explore the Valley Isle.  Renting a car gives you more freedom and is the best way to explore Maui.  

Upcountry Maui is about an hour drive if you’re coming from Lahaina traffic depending.  If you are coming from Kihei/Wailea its a about 30-45 minute drive.  Plan on spending most of the day in upcountry Maui, as there’s much to do.

ways to explore upcountry maui

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Just up the road from the Ocean Vodka Distillery is the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm.  If you go on a tour you’ll learn how to care for the goats and how the Dairy Farm makes the delicious goat cheese.  I always stop in here when I am showing people around but I don’t go on a tour.  There’s a gift shop where you can buy all the different flavors of goat cheese.  There’s usually baby goats nearby for you to pet as well!  Baby goats and a flight of goat cheese, need I say more.

Ocean Vodka Distillery

The location is beautiful set on a 80-acre organic farm on the slopes of Haleakala in Kula.  Here they grow sugar cane which is what this vodka is distilled from.  As you tour around the farm you’ll have panoramic ocean views and may cross paths with a chicken or 2.  The second half of the tour, you’ll be able to sample their organic vodka and rum.  This is personally one of my favorite vodkas for its clean, crisp properties.  Tours run daily and you’re gifted with a shot glass as a keep sake.

Visit Maui’s Only Winery

The drive up to Ulupalakua Ranch is worth the trip in itself.  You will see several beautiful palm lined streets as you wind up the road to the tasting room.  Sample a wine made from pineapples for an authentic Hawaiian experience.  Remember you have a limit of 6 bottles per checked bag for your flight home, the wine makes an excellent Christmas present.   Open daily til 5.

Wander Makawao Town

Makawao is a small town Upcountry Maui that has rich ‘Paniolo’ history.  Paniolo’s or ‘Hawaiian Cowboys’ have been around the Makawao area since the 1800’s.  When most people think of cowboys they think of the American cowboy but the Paniolo is a bit more badass as to be considered a Paniolo they have  to have mustaches.  

As you cruise through this historic Maui town don’t be surprised to see a Paniolo strolling around.  If you happen to be here during the 4th of July make sure you check out the Makawao Rodeo.

Explore Polipoli Spring State Park

Polipoli Spring State Park is located on the Kula Forest Reserve on the slopes of Haleakala crater.  There are 4 different hiking trails that you can use to explore the area.  Due to its elevation is does get cold and rainy so make sure come properly dressed.

Sample Spirits Pau Vodka 

The PAU Distillery is located just outside of Makawao Town in Upcountry Maui.  The tour walks you through the process of how the PAU spirits are created and bottled.  PAU creates several spirits including the flagship vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey which you are able to taste at the end of the tour in the tasting room.  PAU vodka stays true to its ‘Aloha Spirit’ as it is made from Maui Gold Pineapples and other local ingredients. Tours cost $10 per person and takes a half hour to 45 minutes.

Eat at Hali’maile General Store

Located directly across the street from the Pau Distillery is the Hali’imaile General Store which has been around since 1988.  It’s a great restaurant to have lunch at while you’re touring around upcountry.  The menu is American with Hawaiian and Asian twists  like the Kalua Pork Enchilada Pie and my person favorite the Coconut Fish Curry.  If you’re having dinner be sure to sample a craft cocktail or 2.  They also have a beautiful wine list.  Open for lunch Monday through Friday and nightly at 5 p.m.

Saturday Morning Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning there is a farmers market held in Kula from 7 am to 11 pm.  This is where you can get the cheapest and freshest produce on the island.  There will also tents selling their fresh product like poke bowls, turmeric shots, and small ‘plate lunches’.  Fresh fish, macadamia nuts, tropical flowers and plants can all be found at this farmers market.  Don’t forget to bring your reusable bags and your appetite.

Haleakala Crater

Most people visit upcountry only to watch sunrise or sunset on at the summit of Haleakala Crater. While this is a great way to see the sunset there are other ways to explore Haleakala.  You can hit the trails and traverse down Sliding Sands Trail into the crater. The hike is strenuous but worth the pictures and what an experience to be hiking inside a volcano.  You could also bike down the switchbacks from the summit of the volcano to Paia Town.

Check out Prices and Tours Here ↓

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

The 13.5-acre farm sits nicely on the slopes of Haleakala Crater.  The farm is filled with 25 different varieties of lavender, olive trees, hydrangeas and more.  There’s a gift shop where you can buy the local lavender products like essential oils and soap.  Soak in the sights as you sip lavender tea and eat a lavender scone.  Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm.

help planning your maui vacation ↓

XX Jess

Enjoy this Post?!?! Pin in for Later ↓