This is Maui’s paniolo (cowboy) country, or it used to be. The day I saw a sign for espresso in Makawao, I knew things were changing. The transition was almost total when I discovered Sherri Reeve’s delicate floral prints in her gallery and designer aloha clothing at Designing Wahine.
Upcountry has become a rustic-chic place to shop for an afternoon or spend a night or two. Still, if you know where to look the real cowboys still ride the range. Haleakala Ranch takes up much of the foothill slopes, and cowboys herd cattle and take riders out on guided trail rides.
Upcountry’s cool, misty climate is kind to growing things. Brilliant protea and anthuriums blaze in fields and public gardens around Kula. Boutique organic farmers have sprouted to supply baby lettuces and exotic produce to resort restaurants. Maui Gold, once centered around Kapalua, has moved to Hali‘imaile where you can tour the pineapple fields or eat at the General Store, one of Maui’s notable restaurants. You can sample spirits at Ocean Organic Vodka or Haliimaile Distilling Company and wine at MauiWine. Late in the day it’s time to help herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.
Maybe best of all, take time to smell the flowers at Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm.
About mid-day to early afternoon bikers coming down from Haleakala (they start at the entrance to the national park) are on the road, or enjoying a celebratory brunch at Kula or Pa‘ia. Give them a little extra room, or better yet stop awhile and browse an art gallery and have an espresso drink.