Things to Do in Upcountry Maui: 6 Awesome Adventures

Upcountry Maui caters to all types of travelers with its diverse landscapes and activities. This region, known for its rolling hills, farms, and panoramic views, offers a unique blend of experiences from cozy cafes and local markets to hiking trails and nature explorations.

Chloe (The Froggy Adventures) walking through the path at Kula Botanical Gardens

While Maui is known for its pristine white-sand beaches and world-class resorts, some find it worth it to go slightly off the beaten path and venture upcountry.

Don’t get us wrong – we love the beaches on Maui, but we also love hiking, art, and botanical gardens – all of which can be found in Maui’s upcountry.

Whether you’re the type of traveler who prefers to stay close to civilization – or the type that isn’t afraid to go off the grid and get their feet dirty, Upcountry Maui has something for you!

Here are our top 6 adventures in Upcountry Maui:

1. Wander Through the Kula Botanical Garden

Chloe sitting on a bench at Kula Botanical Gardens

The Kula Botanical Garden is a living palette of colors and textures. Spread over 8 acres, this enchanting garden is home to hundreds of vibrant plant species, including native Hawaiian plants, exotic tropicals, and colorful blooms.

Bird of Paradise flower in Kula Botanical Garden

We went to the Kula Botanical gardens on a weekday afternoon. The garden wasn’t very busy, and its serene surroundings made it an oasis of calm and presented the perfect opportunity for photographs!

There is a small fee to enter the Kula Botanical Garden – $10 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12.

2. Explore the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center

Mansion at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center

The Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center is a hub for artistic creativity and cultural learning.

Housed on the historic Kaluanui Estate, the Center offers classes in various mediums, from printmaking to photography.

Wooden slug carving at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center museum

Art exhibits featuring local and international artists are regularly showcased in the gallery.

Mazatl mural of hawaiian crow striking a rat
This mural by Mazatl depicts a Hawaiian warrior as an ʻalalā (hawaiian crow) striking a rat colonizer with a spear.

Even if you’re not an artist, the Center is worth visiting for its beautiful grounds alone, complete with a charming historic mansion, sweeping views of the north shore, and a meditative path through a native Hawaiian garden.

Courtyard outside at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center

3. Watch Native Birds on the Scenic Waipoli Road

‘Apapane in the forest
We photographed this ‘Apapane while on the Big Island… the ones on Waipoli Road were too fast!

Waipoli Road, running through the lush slopes of Haleakala, offers birdwatchers a unique opportunity.

With binoculars in hand, watch out for endemic species like the ʻIʻiwi, with its scarlet plumage and curved orange beak, and the ‘Apapane, known for its agile flight.

We saw two ‘Apapane on our drive up Waipoli Road – unfortunately, they darted across the road from tree to tree, so we weren’t able to catch one on camera!

Our favorite memory of driving up Waipoli Road was finding wild plums! They were rather smallish in size, and apparently fruit in the summer, so we were just in time!

View from Waipoli Road in upcountry Maui

If you want to go up the entire length of Waipoli Road, you’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle with ample ground clearance.

The upper reaches of Waipoli Road are unpaved and have muddy, washed-out areas – impossible to pass in smaller vehicles, even with four-wheel drive.

4. Stop at a Fruit Stand in Kula

Kula Harvest Strawberries from a fruit stand in Kula Maui

Kula, nestled on the slopes of Haleakala, is renowned for its lush, fertile soil and favorable climate, yielding a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

A visit to one of Kula’s roadside fruit stands is akin to an intimate tour of Maui’s bounty.

We stopped at Kula Country Farms, and found not only an abundance of fruits – but photo opportunities as well!

Chloe sitting in the garden at Kula Country Farms in upcountry Maui

We found foods such as bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, eggplants, and onions.

It’s even possible to find unique local offerings like lilikoi, mountain apples, and lychee – depending on the time of year.

Here’s our tip: Ask the farmers what fruits are in season – not only will you be picking fruits with the best flavor, you might discover a hidden gem.

5. Stroll the Streets of Makawao Town

Makawao, a historic paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town, combines rustic charm with a vibrant artistic community.

As you stroll down Baldwin Avenue, past its colorful storefronts, you’ll discover a mix of boutique art galleries, unique shops selling locally crafted goods, and charming eateries serving delicious fusion cuisine.

The first place that caught our eye was The Maui Cookie Lady. Its enchanting entrance seemed to promise a world of sweetness beyond its doors.

Once inside, we were greeted by a delightful blend of fantasy and reality, as we found sweets that looked just as magical as the shop itself.

All sorts of merchandise for sale in the fantasy-like Maui Cookie Lady in Makawao Town

Our favorite cookie from the Maui Cookie Lady is its popular ‘Da Half Baked’ – a cookie that encases an entire Oreo AND a peanut butter cup in rich cookie dough 😋

Da Half Baked cookie from Maui Cookie Lady - a sweetness overload!
Da Half Baked cookie from Maui Cookie Lady – a sweetness overload! And honestly, big enough for two people.

Another stop in Makawao town is the Viewpoints Gallery – it’s a must-visit to immerse yourself in the artwork of local artists!

Here, we discovered captivating paintings and photographs and a rich array of meticulously crafted glasswork, woodwork, and textile art.

In addition to its vibrant galleries, Makawao also offers the thrill of witnessing art in the making. While strolling through Makawao, we stumbled upon Hot Island Glass, where we had an up-close front-row seat to the glassblowing process.

Glassblower with glass orb in kiln at Hot Island Glass in Makawao Maui

6. Drive Up to Haleakalā

View of Haleakala crater from Sliding Sands Trail

You’ve probably heard about Haleakalā National Park – especially since it’s the top attraction on Maui.

However, if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to go to Haleakalā, then our answer is a resounding ‘YES!’

Even if you aren’t able to get a sunrise reservation, Haleakalā is still absolutely breathtaking.

In fact, we went up to Haleakalā for sunrise on our last trip and found it to be pretty underwhelming.

Yes, watching the sunrise from Haleakalā is absolutely beautiful – but the mountain was extremely crowded. At times, it felt more like a zoo than a place to relax and watch the sunrise.

Sun rising above the clouds at Haleakala Maui
We had to get extremely creative to try and catch a good sunrise photo without huge swaths of people in the shot.

If you ask around, you’ll find that a lot of locals prefer to go up to Haleakalā for sunset rather than sunrise – it’s just as breathtaking, and you don’t need to fight with the crowds (or wake up at 3 am).

Going to Haleakalā in the middle of the day is perfectly fine as well! You’ll be able to see the entire crater in good lighting (something that’s impossible during sunrise since the sun rises directly behind the crater and washes everything out).

If you want to get directly in nature, we recommend doing a day hike down the Sliding Sands Trail or the Halemau‘u Trail. We’ve hiked both of these trails while backpacking through Haleakalā.

If you visit Haleakalā during the late summer, you might get lucky and catch a Silversword in bloom!

Haleakala Silversword blooming
Here’s a fun fact: Silverswords are closely related to sunflowers – don’t the flowers look similar?

Haleakalā Silverswords are endemic to Haleakalā, so they aren’t found anywhere else in the world. And after a Silversword blooms, it dies – so it’s a special moment to catch one in bloom.

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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