How to spend one fine day in Upcountry Maui


mapWhen you’re in Maui, do yourself a favor and spend a day in Upcountry Maui. It’s the region that’s on the slopes of Haleakala, away from the crowds and bustle of popular beach towns.

Upcountry is all about slowing down (even more than normal), cooling off and getting a glimpse of people and places still preserved in the spirit of old Hawaii.


Here’s a sample itinerary to help you enjoy a memorable day in Upcountry Maui:

Watch the sunrise on Haleakala

Despite its immense popularity, watching the sunrise from Haleakala is not a cliche. Be sure to check the time of sunrise then set your alarm accordingly. The drive from Kihei/Wailea is a bit over two hours, so leave 2 1/2 hours prior to sunrise time just to secure a great spot and do not feel rushed driving up the hill.

Once you make the windy drive to the summit before the sun comes up, you’ll witness a single moment of magic which words cannot describe.

Tip: Be sure to pack warm clothes, some food and drive carefully — it can get crowded up there!

Get breakfast and coffee at Grandma’s


On your way down from the summit, stop by Grandma’s Coffee House in Kula. This one-room plantation-style cottage is small — only about 6-8 tables — but it’s filled with authentic local charm and a deck that looks over the valley while chickens peck around at ground below.

Grandma’s serves up delicious made-to-order full breakfasts (try the “Bullseye Breakfast”), specialty coffee drinks and decadent baked goods (and lunch, too).

Tour a dairy and a distillery

Have you ever seen a surfing goat? Probably not, but you can check out the Surfing Goat Dairy which is also in Kula. Here you try some goat cheese ocean — it’s reported to be yummy — and sign up for a tour of the property. If you have kids, they’ll enjoying petting the baby goats that roam around.

If you’ve got more time or goats aren’t your thing, head over to the Ocean Vodka Distillery in Kula. You can take a 30 minute tour which takes you through the entire process of planting organic sugarcane to distilling to bottling. At the end, you get to taste vodka (of course) — and rum — from your souvenir shot glass.

Grab lunch in Makawao

It’s time to eat again! Go to Pukalani Superette in Makawao. It’s a family-owned grocery mart with cold beverages, hot prepared Japanese and Hawaiian bento lunches of all varieties and LOTS of aloha. If you’re into non-GMO, organic and vegan fare, don’t worry — they’ve got you covered.

Afternoon visit to lavender farm

You wouldn’t think a lavender farm is a thing to visit, but think again: the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a mini-getaway with drop-dead gorgeous views, cool weather and sweet-smelling lavender all around.

You might consider ordering a scone and tea and staking out a nice spot to sit, enjoy yourself and meditate on the clouds.

Enjoy a delicious dinner

Dining choices in Upcountry Maui range from casual Mexican cantina (Polli’s Mexican in Makawao has a great happy hour!) to upscale Pacific Rim cuisine (Hali’imaile General Store, pictured above).

If you’re up for a little more driving, go for fresh, authentic sushi at Nuka in Haiku or Satrang, the 5-star Yelp-rated Indian food truck.

Watch the Milky Way

Want the full effect of a day spent Upcountry? Then finish off with some world-class stargazing.

Back up on Haleakala (and neighboring Mauna Kea on the Big Island as well), views of the Milky Way in the night sky are unparalleled. In fact, you might even feel like you’ve never seen stars before.

We would be delighted to be part of your next Maui vacation. If we can assist you with planning your perfect Maui vacation, please contact our Sunny Maui Vacations’ team at or at 808-240-1311 Extension 21. Let us help you reserve your vacation rental condo in South Maui and assist you with island recommendations and activity planning through our in-house Concierge at 808-240-1311 Extension 71.

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.