10 Essential Stops on an Upcountry Road Trip

From exploring the wonders of Kula Botanical Garden to savoring fresh produce at O‘o Farm, your road trip through Upcountry will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the island’s interior.

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Upcountry Maui, with its rolling pastures and sweeping bicoastal views, is often overlooked in favor of the island’s coastal regions. But Upcountry offers more than just a pretty backdrop to Maui’s luxe resorts. A road trip through this area reveals charming small towns, fragrant lavender fields and immersive farm-to-table experiences. 

Jacaranda blooming in Upcountry Maui
Jacaranda blooming off Kula Highway. Photo by Ron Decamp.

Plan your next trip to Upcountry Maui with these ten essential stops. 

Makawao Town

 Makawao has long been known as a hub for Maui’s paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, who settled the region for ranching in the mid-1800s. Today, visitors are drawn to Makawao’s historic main drag for its unique shopping, dining and art galleries. 

Local boutiques are housed in Plantation-style false front buildings alongside lei shops, cafes and century-year-old bakeries. Opened in 1916, Komoda Store and Bakery is one of the island’s most acclaimed – and oldest – bakeries. Visitors and residents often line up in the early morning to be the first to get their hands on Komoda’s famous stick donuts and giant cream puffs. 

Yet it’s Makawao’s art galleries that warrant deeper exploration. At Hot Island Glass, visitors can browse colorful glass pieces and watch glassblowers create stunning artworks in real-time. Across the courtyard, Viewpoints Gallery is a museum-like jewel box featuring artwork from over 40 Maui artists. 

Maui Cookie Lady in historic Makawao Town
Historic storefronts along Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Photo by Jason Moore.

Kula Lodge Restaurant 

Nestled at 3,200 feet on Haleakala’s west-facing slope, Kula Lodge is an iconic Upcountry landmark. This private home-turned-restaurant once hosted glamorous parties, hosting stars like Frank Sinatra and Katharine Hepburn. 

Today, Kula Lodge is a popular stop for diners before or after visiting nearby Haleakalā National Park. Guests can choose to dine beneath a gazebo on the outdoor garden terrace or in the cozy dining room, where wraparound windows frame million-dollar views of the south and north coast. 

The property also features a botanical garden, artisan marketplace and five chalets for visitors seeking a rustic, off-the-beaten-path stay. 

15200 Haleakala Highway, Kula. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 am to 9 pm. 

Kula Lodge and Restaurant is famous for their views — and breakfast delights. Photo courtesy of Kula Lodge.

Kula Botanical Gardens

Less than a ten-minute drive from Kula Lodge on Kekaulike Avenue, visitors can gawk at colorful botanicals and native plants at Kula Botanical Gardens. Wheelchair and stroller-friendly walking paths meander past vibrant protea, orchids, bromeliads and natives like koa and ‘ohi‘a lehua

Aside from the garden’s 2,000-plus plants, the property features an aviary, a koi pond, carved ki‘i (tiki), and several gazebos and vine-draped bridges. A Jackson chameleon exhibit and the odd nene sighting do well to entertain the keiki

638 Kekaulike Avenue, Kula. Open daily, 9 am to 4 pm. Entry to Kula Botanical Garden is $15 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and free for children under six. 

Visiting Kula Botanical Garden has long been one of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui. Photo by Serene Gunnison.

O‘o Farm

Set in the misty Upcountry highlands, O‘o Farm is an eight-acre organic farm dedicated to sustainable agriculture and culinary excellence. The allure? The farm hosts two walking farm-to-table tours daily. Guests first receive a guided tour of the gardens before enjoying a breakfast or lunch using products picked along the way.

Both tours underscore the importance of regenerative farming – highlighting native plants, beneficial insects and O‘o’s unique no-till approach. Coupled with splendid views and a multi-course meal, O‘o Farm is a perfect blend of education and indulgence. 

651 Waipoli Road, Kula. Open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 3 pm. Reservations required for tours. 

Grandma’s Coffee House 

Grandma’s Coffee House has been a gathering place for locals since 1918, when “Grandma,” Minnie Franco, started growing, pulping and roasting coffee in her Keokea home. Generations later, the Franco family is still at it – handpicking, sun-drying and roasting coffee in-house. 

The morning breakfast rush at Grandma’s usually sees a line of visitors and residents waiting to order from the busy counter. Espresso machines whirl and steam while the kitchen churns out heaping loco mocos and plates of eggs, Portuguese sausage and rice. Meanwhile, lunch features a variety of sandwiches, plus local favorites like chop steak and saimin. 

Dine on the open-air patio, or take your plate to-go to enjoy at nearby Sun Yet Sen Park. Don’t forget a freshly baked pastry for the road. 

9232 Kula Highway, Kula. Open daily, 7 am to 2 pm. 

Photo by Mieko Horikoshi.

Ali‘i Kula Lavender 

Who knew Maui had an ideal climate for growing lavender? At 4,000 feet, the climate is so suitable for lavender that the plants at Ali‘i Kula Lavender require no irrigation. Instead, the 20 varieties of lavender growing on the property simply “sip” moisture from the mist that rolls through several times a day. 

Etched into the hillside on Waipoli Road, this 13.5-acre farm also boasts an assortment of blooms – from proteas and hydrangeas to birds of paradise – which guests can admire while exploring the farms’ walking trails. 

However, the biggest allure at Ali‘i Kula Lavender is the fragrant gift shop, which features a head-spinning array of apparel and lavender-infused beauty products and treats. The outdoor seating area—complete with 180-degree bicoastal views—is the perfect place to enjoy a lavender lemonade and fresh lavender scone with lilikoi jelly. 

1100 Waipoli Road, Kula. Open Friday through Monday, 10 am to 4 pm. Entry is $3 per person, with $1 off for military, seniors or kama‘aina. Entry for children under 12 is free. 

Ulupalakua

Near the crux of Haleakala’s south and west flanks, Ulupalakua is a small ranching hamlet surrounded by undulating pasture land – and not much else. This country region might seem quiet, but it’s home to two Upcountry establishments that justify the long and winding drive. 

Ulupalakua Ranch Store is a paniolo outpost turned must-visit foodie destination. Part general store, part ranch grill, Ulupalakua Ranch Store serves burgers with grass-fed meat raised on the ranch. Guests can choose between beef, lamb, elk or venison burgers, or opt for plate lunches like hamburger steak or kalbi ribs. Sit outside on picnic tables amid ‘ohi‘a trees humming with honeybees and admire views of Molokini and Kahoolawe to the west. 

Across the street, visit the historic Rose Ranch, now home to MauiWine – one of only three wineries in the state. Sip on sweet pineapple wine or juicy red blends as you nibble charcuterie and admire the stunning grounds. 

Ulupalakua Ranch Store: 14800 Piilani Highway, Kula. Store open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Grill hours are 11 am to 3:30 pm.

MauiWine: 14815 Piilani Highway, Kula. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. 

Views from MauiWine, best things to do in Upcountry Maui
Sip on the Rose Ranch tasting flight and enjoy stunning scenery at MauiWine. Photos by Serene Gunnison.

Kula Country Farms 

Pull over at Kula Country Farms for a roadside top-off of fresh, local fruits and veggies. Set on 55 acres, this fourth-generation family farm grows an array of produce, from famous Maui onions to blueberries and squash – all of which is for sale in the property’s rustic and well-stocked farm stand. 

In October, families flock to Kula Country Farms pumpkin patch to select the perfect pumpkin. February sees the opening of the farms’ Strawberry-U-Pick season, which runs through June. 

6240 Kula Highway, Kula. Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm. Open Sundays seasonally. 

Maui Bees

Maui Bees is a family-owned apiary that produces raw, organic honey while fostering sustainable beekeeping practices. Guests can tour the gardens, participate in a hands-on honey workshop and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in our ecosystem. The farm’s commitment to organic methods ensures that the bees thrive in a healthy, pesticide-free environment—and also results in pure, flavorful honey. Maui Bees also hosts seven-course farm-to-table dinners, which include a tour of the Bee Museum and gardens.

150 Pulehunui Road, Kula. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8:30 am to 5 pm. 

Photo by Erika Erickson.

Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery

Each bottle of the popular Maui spirit brand Ocean Vodka is distilled at Hawaii Sea Spirits, set on an 80-acre organic sugarcane farm in the foothills of Haleakalā. Hawaii Sea Spirits produces a variety of spirits using its sugarcane and, in Ocean Vodka’s case, deep sea mineral water sourced from the Kona Coast.

While Hawaii Sea Spirits offers spirit tastings and distillery tours, most guests are content with a visit to the property’s farm cafe, which boasts a selection of craft cocktails, flatbreads and exceptional views. 

4051 Omaopio Road, Kula. Open daily 10:30 am to 6 pm. 

From exploring the wonders of Kula Botanical Garden to savoring fresh produce at O‘o Farm, your road trip through Upcountry will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the island’s interior, its community, landscapes and unhurried pace of life.