I’ve said it before, there’s more to Maui than beautiful beaches. I get it. You’ve dreamed about swaying palm trees bowing to the azure sea and the spectacular colors as the sun dips into the Pacific and transforms the sky into psychedelic hues – and you won’t be disappointed! After all that is the quintessential Maui and the main reason millions of people vacation on Maui year after year. But after a few days on the beach, do yourself a favor and take a drive Upcountry!
In general, the laid back “island time” mindset is evident throughout the islands but Upcountry Maui, in particular, has remained delightfully un-affected by the pace of modern America. The mountain air is refreshing, and surprisingly cool even in summer, (so take along a light jacket). And despite its laid-back vibe, has all the ingredients to send your senses, and yourself, on a thrill ride!
WOULD YOU TRY THIS?:
The many quaint, funky and delicious restaurants, some tucked in and around painted alleyways, offer creative menu items with Maui beef, local seafood and farm fresh ingredients so search them out and plan on enjoying at least one meal in historic Makawao. One of my favorites is Polli’s Mexican Restaurant. The nacho appetizer can be a shared meal on its own but it’s hard to stop there.
The shops are full of an eclectic assortment of items from hand-blown, colorful glass works, jazzy jewelry, inspiring artwork and trendy clothing to cowboy hats, fresh local spices and herbal remedies. Park the car and stretch your legs on a stroll through this Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town and warm up for what’s to come…
Approximately 4200’ up the slopes of Haleakala, is the must-try Haleakala Zipline course with Skyline Eco Adventures. There are several cool things that set Skyline Eco Adventures apart – aside from being the premier zipline tour in the United States. First – obviously – is the incredibly exhilarating zipline course itself. At first daunting, because it’s just plain unnatural and really hard to convince yourself to take that first step into nothingness, but with the reassurance of the friendly and knowledgeable guides, you soon find yourself running off the platform and zipping 750’ over ravines that plunge 100’ down with fragrant eucalyptus trees whizzing by at 40 mph! And all you can think about is how you can’t wait to do it again!
Committed to preserving Hawaii’s land and promoting its culture, our guides Jeff and Ben, explained about native species of birds and pointed out some of the 1500 Koa trees – a native hardwood – that have been planted by Skyline Eco Adventures over the past 10 years in an effort to replenish the Haleakala Ranch land that the course traverses.
And, you don’t have to zip to enjoy it! Fear of heights is pretty high up on the phobia list, so if you or someone in your group suffers from this – no worries! They can hike along! Unlike some other courses that go “tree to tree”, the Haleakala course is mostly land based so as long as they’re up for some short hikes between zips, everyone can partake which is great because ziplining with Skyline can be a multi-generational activity. On our tour, three generations of one family shared the experience, no doubt making memories that will be reminisced at family gatherings for years to come.
Even if some members of your group aren’t up to the hike, for whatever reason, adjacent to Skyline Eco Adventures is the all-organic, tranquil Maui Lavendergarden –known as the farm with the green heart – with panoramic views of the valley. A gazebo, picnic tables and the recently added food booth serving Maui cattle burgers, fresh organic salads, and teas and coffees grown right on the grounds (no pun intended) offer a pleasant place to wait. By the end of the summer Maui Lavender plans on opening its gift shop on-site featuring bath and beauty care products, organic jellies and jams, coffee, teas and more.