Mention Maui and visions of sandy beaches, surfers, palm trees, and umbrella drinks come to mind. Maui certainly has all those things, but dive past the postcard perfect shoreline, and you’ll find that Maui’s unique microclimates and wealth of fertile volcanic soil also make it prime farming land. Here are three spots to get an authentic taste of homegrown aloha.
Maui Gold Pineapple Farm
It’s almost impossible to think of Hawaii without thinking of pineapples. Tropical, sweet, and juicy, pineapples taste of smiles and sunshine. Go right to the source with Maui Pineapple Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through golden pineapple fields (not recommended—pineapples are spiky), this is the place to do it since it is the only working pineapple farm in the U.S. you can tour. You’ll visit the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, home to the trademark Maui Gold pineapple, a variety prized for its sweet flavor and low acidity. Check out the packing and shipping factory, head out to the farm, and eat as much pineapple as you’d like, straight from the fields.
You will leave with sticky fingers, a Maui Gold for the road, and more knowledge about pineapples than you’ll know what to do with (like how to select a good pineapple at home, the best way to cut and core it, even how to grow your own pineapple plant from the crown of the one you just ate).
We were poking around upcountry Maui and driving its narrow, twisting roads, but by midafternoon we had to turn around. We had an important date at a lower elevation.
Forget meeting friends for mai-tais or heading to Lahaina for the sunset. We were going to herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.
Herding anything may be the last activity one considers for a Maui vacation. But the dairy is one of several island farms that have opened for public tours over the last few years. They offer the chance to explore the island’s back roads, meet the growers and learn something about the exotic fruits, vegetables and cheeses you’ll encounter and enjoy on Maui.
“It’s a growing national trend,” says Maui resident Charlene Kauhane, a board member of the Hawaii Agri-Tourism Association. “Visitors are looking for authentic experiences, for opportunities where they can meet locals and buy local.”
And sometimes, you just want a break from the beach. So let’s go down on the farm on Maui.
Alii Kula Lavender Farm
Even before you arrive, you’ll detect Alii Kula Lavender Farm from the lovely fragrance wafting over Upcountry. It comes from 45 lavender varieties planted over 10 acres in Haleakala’s foothills. You can meander over paths on your own, or join one of the walking tours. You’ll learn about lavender’s culinary uses and healthful benefits, as well as the farm’s dedication to practicing agriculture in a sustainable way.
Alii Lavender also offers workshops in wreath making and container gardens, and other special events.
This tour will start at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus Culinary Academy for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” of the State of the Art facility and continental breakfast of locally sourced products. Once you’ve satisfied your appetite the tour will continue to the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, where the staff shares a brief history of growing pineapple on Maui and how their farming operations has evolved today. See how pineapple is grown and learn the interesting facts about choosing the sweetest pineapple in the supermarket.
Then it’s off to lunch at the O’o farm, where a plethora of different crops are grown. Providing a unique culinary experience of using the freshest farm ingredients, prepared in creative ways that bring forth all the delicious flavors nature has to offer. After lunch, it’s on to Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, where the tour starts on a sweet note of creamy Lavender Chocolate Gelato. Take the first and only Lavender walking tour and discover the “Language of Flowers”. Buy a Lavender Scone for the road and find out why these scones are so famous!
* Breakfast and Behind the Scenes tour of University of Hawaii Maui campus.
* Pineapple tour and tasting at Hali’imaile Pineapple Tours
* Gourmet Lunch and Tour at O’o Organic Farm
* Ali’I Kula Lavender Walking Tour and Dessert
**Advanced Reservations are required! Call 808-891-4604. Click here for more information.