Story and photos by Lehia Apana
8:30 a.m. Before Maui earned its reputation as a travel destination, agriculture was the island’s leading economy. Although large-scale farming has dwindled in recent years, boutique growers and agritourism operations continue to showcase locally grown delights. Get grounded in Maui’s agricultural heritage, starting with the Seed to Cup coffee and breakfast tour at O’o Farm. Stroll through rows of coffee trees and fresh produce — much of which will be part of your breakfast or appear on the menu at the farm’s sister venue, Pacific’O restaurant — and learn about the on-site roasting and brewing process while sipping generous samples of the farm’s own ‘Āina Gourmet Coffee. A delightful farm-to-table, wood-fired breakfast (served around 10 or 10:30 a.m.) rounds out the experience. 651 Waipoli Road, Kula; OoFarm.com
Noon Less than a mile down the road from O’o Farm is the fourth-generation, family-owned Kula Country Farms. Famous for its seasonal pumpkin patches and year-round “u-pick” strawberry fields, it’s a perfect stop for families. Keiki (kids) are invited to meet various farm animals, while parents can browse the well-stocked farm stand’s edible treasures from local growers and purveyors, including baked goods, seasonal jams and honey. On Kula Highway, across from Harold Rice Park; KulaCountryFarmsMaui.com
1 p.m. Ready for lunch? Upcountry residents and savvy visitors flock to Maui Nui Farm’s food truck — called Nui’s Garden Kitchen — for some of the best Thai cuisine on the island. The curries and salads vary from day to day, depending on what’s fresh. 2963-2999 Lower Kula Road, Kula; MauiNuiFarm.com
Or drive south from Kula Country Farms towards ‘Ulupalakua, and in fifteen minutes, you’ll spot bucolic pastures and fragrant eucalyptus trees on one side, expansive views of Maui’s central valley on the other. Follow the aroma of barbecue to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill and try the elk burger, sourced from Maui-raised, grass-fed herds. Bonus: Cross the road to MauiWine’s tasting room, located in what was once the King’s Cottage—a vacation home built in the 1870s for King Kalākaua. There, enjoy complimentary tastings of the vineyard’s wines.
4:15 p.m. Wind down with a sunset ride along the slopes of Thompson Ranch & Riding Stables. The views from this working family ranch are arguably the most spectacular on Maui — seeing it on horseback adds to the charm. From this perch, Maui’s central valley and the neighboring islands of Kaho‘olawe, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i appear as living art. Small groups and personalized attention are especially helpful for first-time riders. Reservations recommended one week in advance. 878-1910; ThompsonRanchMaui.com
Born and raised on Maui, Lehia Apana has explored the island from every angle — and she’s still at it. Each issue, we’ll highlight some of her favorite spots and new discoveries.