Upcountry is Maui’s little secret. Occupying the slopes of the towering 10,023-foot Haleakala Volcano, it’s a far cry from the postcard-perfect beaches and resort-lined shores so often equated with the island—although the sunsets are equally as spectacular. Here the smell of eucalyptus trees replaces the rustle of palms and ranching and farming still dominate the local lifestyle.

Here the smell of eucalyptus trees replaces the rustle of palms and ranching and farming still dominate the local lifestyle.Upcountry is where you throw on a light flannel and take a morning drive through the crisp mountain air, perhaps stopping to relax on the porch of a family-run coffeehouse where the patrons and staff all know one another by name.

The rolling rust-colored landscape of Haleakala Crater on Maui.

The amazing landscape of Haleakala Crater in Upcountry Maui. Photo © Christopher Howey/123rf.

It’s a place to hike on the forested trails of Polipoli or Hosmer’s Grove, take in the view from the summit of Haleakala, or gaze all the way to the shoreline from 2,000 feet while tasting wine at Maui’s only vineyard. It’s also Maui’s most artistic community. In the ranching town turned New Age outpost of Makawao, it’s just as easy to buy a saddle as it is to purchase freshly blown glass or boutique clothing. Whether you’re catching a Sunday morning polo match, eating freshly baked, homemade doughnuts, or buying farm-fresh vegetables straight from the source, you’ll see a side of Maui you never expected.

Getting to and Around Upcountry Maui

Select parts of Upcountry are serviced by the Maui Bus (808/871-4838), although no routes extend into Kula. The three bus stop locations which link Upcountry with Kahului are in front of the Pukalani Community Center, in front of the Makawao Library, and in the center of town at Hali‘imaile. Rates are $2/person, and the bus makes stops at the Kahului Airport as well as at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Mall where you can link up with other lines. The earliest bus leaves from Pukalani Community Center at 6:30am, and later buses run every 90 minutes until 9:30pm, although the last service of the day only goes as far as Kahului Airport. For buses heading farther Upcountry, the earliest departure from Kahului is 6am and the latest is 9pm. Check online for a detailed schedule.

Map of Upcountry Maui, Hawaii

Upcountry Maui


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.