Back to the Top

Upcountry Maui

Time to leave the bustling resort areas and sweltering temperatures of Lahaina, Ka‘anapali, Kihei, Wailea and Makena and discover a different and certainly more hidden-side of Maui. Upcountry Maui, as locals call it, is worlds away from the bustle of the beaches. This region of Maui is comprised of several towns that sit on the slopes of Haleakala Mountain. The pace is island-style and many things are still done in the old ways. While paniolos (cowboys) are busy rounding up cattle from horseback, fine art & cappuccino are being offered alongside the latest fashions just down the road. The diffused light of day and the golden sunlight of afternoon give the rich green pasturelands an otherworldly feel.

You can't say that you've seen Maui, until you have been "Upcountry"! So, let us introduce you to a few of the well-known towns, sights to see and some of the great things to do during your stay at Aloha Cottage.   

Upcountry Maui Highlights

Olinda

Maui has often been described as the perfect paradise; an island that exists at the fulcrum of the forest to the beach. No place exhibits this wonderful juxtaposition of Maui quite like Olinda does. Nestled on the slopes of Haleakala, Olinda is the perfect hideaway. The scent of pine trees recall memories of New England warmth while the smells of eucalyptus and tropical flowers reminds one that you are most certainly in Hawaii.

Olinda is a tiny, peaceful and friendly community of working farms, ranch lands, local homes and private estates. It truly feels as if time has stood still and you have discovered Shangri-La on Maui. Olinda offers a very different Maui experience. One gets the feeling of being on top of the world, while remaining just minutes away from the conveniences and modernization of civilization. Slightly cooler than Makawao, Olinda sits at 3500 to 4,000 feet above sea-level – and this elevation ensures that the vistas are truly breathtaking! Best of all, the privacy found in Olinda makes one feel like they can actually have their very own slice of paradise all to themselves! If there is a heaven on earth, it quite possibly exists here in enchanting Olinda.

With mild days and cool nights, there is no need for air-conditioning. Olinda is much more comfortable than the hotter, more arid regions along the coastline. Wake up to the sounds of birds, and breathe the clean mountain air that is laced with sweet aromas of tropical flowers and eucalyptus trees.  This is why we chose this special place on Maui as our home and created Aloha Cottage as a way to share it with others.


Makawao

Perched at 2200 feet above sea-level, on the cool green slopes of Haleakala, is the historic Paniolo (Cowboy) Town of Makawao. The weather in Makawao usually ranges between 60 to 80 degrees during the year and also depends upon the time of day as well. This is why so many residents and visitors alike, find these cooler Makwao temperatures so refreshing and comfortable.

Makawao was once a rough and tumble cowboy town and is now a lively community of entrepreneurs that mixes a general store and an old fashioned barber shop with health food, fine art, restaurants, and a collection of boutiques unrivaled throughout the islands. Old timers and new-age types live side by side in upcountry harmony. Art, clothing, and gifts designed to delight every taste now decorate windows that once held homegrown produce and jars filled with "3 for a penny" candies.

Park your car in the lot on Makawao Avenue and take a stroll through a town like no other you'll encounter. And get ready to shop... With shops as distinctively different as this spunky little cowboy town itself, you'll find 12 boutiques, 11 galleries, 7 eateries, hair salons, a bakery, health food, a yoga center, Chinese herbs, cappuccino, a sports bar, and a general store that carries a selection of wine that will surprise even the experienced connoisseur.

Each year, on the weekend following the 4th of July, all the island gets together at Oskie Rice Arena to celebrate at the Makawao Rodeo. Preceded by the famous rodeo parade, paniolos from all over the state compete for prizes in bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, and whatever unique rodeo fare our organizers deem judgeable.  The parade, with stagecoaches, floats, hula groups, antique cars, and good fun for all, displays some of the finest horses and riders on Maui.

This is not the only time the community gets together to celebrate. May is the month when the local art community meets in the streets to compete in the Great Makawao Paint Out. The contest results can be seen at Viewpoints Gallery at the end of the month.

The art scene in Makawao has become quite a phenomenon and is on its way to rivaling Lahaina and Wailea in popularity. With galleries and studios up and down the streets, the New York Times has referred to Makawao as the Sedona of the Pacific. Saturday Is the day the magic happens in the art world. Many artists are in the galleries on that day, so its a great time to check out the Art Magic in Makawao.

Until the 1940s, the town of Makawao provided such things as groceries, kerosene, horseshoe nails, and dried squid to the surrounding farming community. When 34,000 servicemen from the 4th Marine Division settled in just over the hill, the town was changed... as was the society that supported it. When the marines went home, Makawao became a collection of closed stores with just a handful of survivors. Over the years, many new businesses came and went. It was not until the 1980s that things began to stabilize and the Makawao that we know today took shape.  

If you're looking for the real Hawaii, the one the local folks call home... take a drive Upcountry. After you've spent the early hours of the morning at Haleakala Crater, Makawao is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a day on Maui. Visit one of the many art galleries, watch a glass blower at work, shop till you drop and have dinner at your choice of restaurants. If you're not a shopper, check out the energy center for a massage or yoga class.. or get your nails done. You may want to sip cappuccino at a cafe on the street or stop into the local sports bar.  Horseback riding and Zip Lining at Piiholo Ranch are a few more options. There's so much to see and do, there must be something just for you. Hawaii is more than white sandy beaches... we invite you to come and spend some time discovering Upcountry Maui!

 


Pukalani

Just a few short minutes from Makawao, across Haleakala Highway, is the town of Pukalani. The name Pukalani comes from two Hawaiian words "puka" meaning small hole and "lani" meaning sky (or heavens). This is actually a very accurate name, as often when there is rain in the towns of Makawao, Kula and Haiku the weather will be beautiful within this tiny town nestled on the slopes of Haleakala. The elevations of Pukalani range approximately between 2,000-4,000 feet with cooler temperatures in the evenings and very comfortable temperatures during the day.

Pukalani offers shopping and a few grocery stores. One of the oldest grocery stores on Maui is the Pukalani Superette. Since 1927 this family-owned grocery store has been serving the local community daily. The inventory reflects the lifestyles of the new Upcountry blended with the needs of the locals. One can find almost everything at this famous local supermarket.

Not to be outdone, Pukalani also has its share of modern means of relaxation. For golf lovers and enthusiasts, there is Pukalani Country Golf Club which has amazing views overlooking the vast Pacific and the Valley Isle of Maui. Built in 1970, this Pukalani country club features 18 holes that have driving and putting ranges covering nearly 160 acres. The club also has a bar and restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a snack bar. 

At the Town Center of Pukalani, visitors have different choices with a number of restaurants and coffee shops available. The Foodland supermarket offers a large selection of grocery options including sushi, wine and spirits.  For some family fun, head on to the Pukalani Community Center, which offers amenities such as lovely free public pool, tennis and basketball courts and soccer and baseball fields. For regular joggers, the place also has a paved path around the park that you can use for your early morning exercises.

Additionally, Pukalani offers fitness options like yoga, Zumba, and more! There are local coffee shops, an antique store, a fabulous local Italian restaurant called Serpicos. They serve outstanding and affordable Italian pastas plus stellar east-coast-style thin-crust pizza. They even have a yummy cannoli too!

Pukalani also has Real Estate offices, medical and dental clinics and excellent alternative health professionals as well. Despite it being a tiny town, there is a lot to offer anyone. For many of the upcountry residents, it offers the welcomed-option from driving down the mountain into Kahului for many items.


Pa‘ia

Located at sea-level, and several minutes from the cowboy town of Makawao, this bohemian North Shore beach town of Paia stands at a crossroads. From here you can start the adventurous jungle drive to Hana, which is approximately 40 miles away. In fact Paia is the last real town en route, so this is the place to provision up for things like groceries, gas, maybe a gourmet lunch or a final cappuccino to go. Or you can turn mazurka (uphill) at Paia's traffic signal, and drive the winding Baldwin Avenue into the foothills area that we call Upcountry Maui. This choice links Paia to East Maui's network of small towns, old shops, farms, ranches, and  other scenic surprises. Either way, when you see Paia's bright-colored antique buildings clustered along the Hana Highway, you know that you've left behind the resorts, the condos, and the crowds. You're headed into the Maui countryside.

Regardless of where its crossroads lead, Paia is a great place to visit all on its own. Parking and walking is the best way to explore the town. (You'll find an ample public lot, no charge, on Hana Highway, Kahului side, mauka.) You can spend hours scooting around the narrow, uneven sidewalks; under awnings and overhangs, poking into boutiques and antique shops and old markets. Paia comprises one of the finest collections of chic boutiques found anywhere, with everything from one-of-a-kind bikinis and designer couture, to fine art and native handicrafts. Also, Mana Foods is the best organic/natural foods market on the island, if not in the state. Many Maui visitors go immediately to Mana Foods to stock their fridges upon arrival.

Paia is also home to a bona-fide center for Tibetan Buddhism. Just look for the brilliant new stupa, or shrine, on the Hana side of Baldwin Avenue. Paia is a great spot for places to eat as well. This little town has fifteen easygoing places for excellent dining restaurants, cafes, bakeries, fresh fish, organic foods and raw food.  Everything is locally owned and personal in scale.

There's a free-spirited carnival quality to Paia. It hasn't quite hooked into the elaborate machinery of the tourist industry, and it doesn't take itself very seriously. People are young; they dress with abandon. Colors are bright. You hear music in the park and European accents in the voices around you. This is a surf town, and much of its contemporary character derives from its nearness to Hookipa Beach, which is world famous for its ideal windsurfing conditions.

In fact, Paia sits near the most accessible coastlines on Maui's North Shore. Just west of town is Baldwin Beach, a huge stretch of sand favored by island residents for sunbathing and body surfing. Minutes from Paia in the opposite direction, is Hookipa Beach Park which provides Maui's finest perch for watching the stunts of surf-riders. There are five distinct surf breaks here and frequent world-class competitions for board and sail athletes.

Beneath its present air of youth and whimsy, Paia has roots that go back to 1880. That's when Alexander and Baldwin changed Maui's history by creating their first sugar mill. The sugar company literally invented the town by building camps for its workers. These workers came from all over the world and their descendants now live Maui-wide and make up the multi-ethnic majority of our resident population. But in the 30s and 40s, Paia's heyday, ten thousand people lived right here, making up one-fifth of Maui's total population. In those days, Paia included a hospital, movie theaters, huge dry-goods stores, small hotels, barber shops, photo studios, two of the island's largest schools and even a railroad depot. Certainly the place lived up to its name, Paia, which means noisy.