It’s easy to get lulled into the lazy luxury of surf, sand and sun during a weeklong stay on Maui. Discover epicurean gold and adventurous treasures on the Valley Isle, from the shores of South Maui to the hillsides of Haleakala.
The Haleakala hillsides are Maui’s breadbasket, producing those famed sweet onions, pineapples and much more. The region is connected by Highway 37, so start your morning toward the end of the road at the 23-acre Ulupalakua Vineyards, home to the Maui Wine brand. Though planted in 1975, only recently have the Syrah, Grenache, Malbec, Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Chenin Blanc here received the attention they deserve. Don’t turn your nose up at the pineapple wine, either. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing, especially the Hula o Maui sparkler.
Take a detour from drinks to grab a ranch-raised elk burger at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill, then head to the Surfing Goat Dairy, founded by German expats a decade ago. The kid-friendly tour includes goat feeding and a tasting of fresh chèvres. It’s worth ordering another flight of the award-winning cheeses, many of which have graced White House affairs. Or you can opt for passion-fruit goat-cheese gelato.
Driving toward Makawao you’ll find Hali’imaile Distilling, where Master Distiller Mark Nigbur ferments pineapples in special glass stills to make a series of smooth vodkas, including America’s first oaked version, and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, fronted by rocker Sammy Hagar. You can take only small sips there, but get a full-fledged cocktail at the Hali’imaile General Store across the street, where Mai Tais go great with Chef Bev Gannon’s Asian-American cuisine.
Despite being situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Maui Brewing Company enjoys a strong mainland presence, with cans of Bikini Blonde and Coconut Porter available in 15 states and 13 countries. Visit its Kihei headquarters, where the 45-minute tour includes a full tasting and a pint of your favorite. Smaller, but on a quick ascent, is Koholā Brewery, located in Lahaina, an old whaling town turned tourist shopping mecca. The Lokahi Pilsner is best for the town’s muggy days, but Mean Bean Stout gives a unique taste of the island’s Red Catuaí coffee beans.
Wailea’s resorts emphasize their kitchens and cocktails as much as the views and pools. Go no further than Fairmont Kea Lani’s lobby to find Luana, where mixologist Aaron Alcala-Mosely oversees creative, modern cocktails and spins on old classics. The sparkling new Andaz brings a food-first mentality by offering upscale steak and sushi at Morimoto Maui and traditional-yet-contemporary Hawaiian fare prepared by Chef Isaac Bancaco at Ka’ana Kitchen, repeatedly named one of the state’s top restaurants.
Topping every South Maui must-visit list is Monkeypod Kitchen. Here, bulgogi pork tacos pair nicely with the No Ka Oi, a cocktail that features Thai basil, lime, honey-lilikoi (yellow passion fruit) purée and Ocean Vodka, made from sugar cane and mineral-rich deep ocean water. Downstairs is The Market Maui, the prime place to get locally grown grub or quick, compelling meals by Thomas Keller alum Christopher Kulis. Then head to Wailea Wine for a globetrotting selection curated by Ed Mikesh. He still employs Diane and Alan Beaurline, the couple who founded the shop in 1991.
4 Hour Getaway
There’s no better way to see the entire island than from the top of Haleakala, the 10,000-foot volcano crowned with bizarre silversword plants and massive telescopes. Haleakala Bike Tours gives great info on the ride up, then lets you loose to find your way back down. (There’s a sunrise option for morning people.) Stop for lunch or shopping in Kula or Makawao, or just enjoy the breathtaking views. Finish with celebratory eats and drinks in Colleen’s at the Cannery, an organic cafe with a local focus, next door to the bike company in Haiku.