-by Amber Johnson
Maui’s “upcountry” is a cluster of sites located 2,000+ feet up the slope of the famed crater Haleakala. What we expected: a welcome respite from our sunburned couple of days at the beach. What we did: fell in love.
Parts of this region are referred to as the “Maui Alps.” With cooler temperatures, gorgeous bi-coastal views and a tropical forest, it was easy to see why so many locals live here. Watching the sunrise and sunset from atop 10,023-foot Haleakala is legendary.
Kula Lodge. When you think of Maui, you don’t exactly think of a rustic retreat with a roaring fire but that’s you’ll find at Kula Lodge, which we nicknamed the “Garden of Eating.” Perched like a Swiss Chalet at 3,200 feet along the Haleakala Highway, the food is good and the drop-dead views of the Pacific Ocean and West Maui mountains are even better. The private tropical gardens are bursting with carnations, protea and other blossoms as the birds chirp wildly in the avocado and Jacaranda trees. Try the macadamia nut baked brie, Country Chicken Curry or the Kiawe Smoked Pork Pizza topped with homemade pineapple salsa and mango BBO sauce.
Kula Country Farm. Be sure to stop at this quaint stand if you’re craving fresh fruits and vegetables or jams to take home as souvenirs. Run by a fourth generation local farming community, they’re renowned for their U-pick island strawberries, Kula Onions and sweet Kula corn. The property is small but inviting with striking ocean views, a great place to picnic and a few animals (my daughter took about 100 pictures of the fat rabbit). I secretly inhaled the Macadamia Nut Magic Cookie Bar and I wish I could recommend the orange crème jam I bought but it was confiscated at airport security.
I demand a do-over.
Kaanapali Beach Bums
If Maui has a signature beach, it is 3-mile long Kaanapli Beach’s white sands and crystal clear water in West Maui. Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort and five hotels and six condominium villages face this popular beach. Translation: The beach is beautiful and the snorkeling is incredible but in many places, you’ll have to navigate the crowds to enjoy it.
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About Amber Johnson: Amber is a Canadian-born mom of two, family travel writer, Denver Post “Family Cents” columnist and Editor and Founder of the award-winning MileHighMamas.com, the newspaper’s expansive social media network for moms. As a lover of laughter and life, she is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.