Belly up to the mango wood bar and sample distinctive island wines at Maui's Winery. // © 2014 Maui's Winery
Feature image (above): Picturesque fields invite family strolls at Alii Kula Lavender in upcountry Maui. // © 2014 J. Anthony Martinez
From harvesting your own picnic ingredients to milking a goat, the Kula district in upcountry Maui takes sightseeing to new heights.
While the Valley Isle lays claim to countless seaside pleasures, once you journey up the slopes of Haleakalā, a more rural side of Maui makes itself known.
With its fertile soil, Kula — a Hawaiian word meaning open meadows — features picturesque farms ripe with agricultural and sightseeing options. Dramatic panoramas from the mountains to the sea further enhance the experience.
Here are five fun stops that make a drive through Kula memorable.
Alii Kula Lavender
Violet-hued fields spread out across 13.5 acres at this aromatic attraction. It’s all about lavender here, with approximately 55,000 plants that include 45 different varieties. During guided and self-guided walking tours, guests learn about the plant’s history and versatile uses, ranging from culinary to medical. Crafting classes, gourmet picnics, special event venues and lavender products for sale add to the appeal.
Kula Botanical Garden
Purple bromeliads, white ginger and feathery protea find their home alongside native koa and kukui trees at this eight-acre attraction and home of hundreds of plant varieties. Jackson chameleons, Nene geese, carved tikis, waterfalls, a koi pond and a covered bridge enliven the setting. Tour it solo or with a guide, then savor a picnic while enjoying the sweeping view.
Maui's Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch
Home of Tedeschi Vineyards, this commercial winery — the only one on Maui — boasts an 18-foot-long bar made from a single mango tree. There, guests can taste distinctive wines prepared from island pineapples and grapes. Free guided tours share the rich history of the ranch, where 19th-century King Kalakaua was a frequent visitor. From 2,000 feet above sea level, the vistas are intoxicating.
Tomatoes, squash, plums and cherries are just a handful of the riches grown at this nine-acre garden of Eden. The O’o Farm is owned by Maui chef James McDonald, and its crops supply his island restaurants and culinary endeavors. Guests join in on the harvest during tours and then enjoy a super-fresh outdoor lunch prepared with the same ingredients. A cup of Maui coffee rounds out this satisfying outing.
Surfing Goat Dairy
Ever wanted to milk a goat? This family-friendly spot lets guests do just that. During tours, visitors follow the cheese-making process from start to finish. Afterward, they can sample numerous spreads, from chevre with black truffles to Purple Rain made with local lavender. Other products include soaps, goat cheese truffles and lilikoi (passion fruit) cheesecake, a taste of Maui heaven in Kula.