Maui Farms: Stop & Smell the Lavender

Idyllic farms abound across Maui. Many open their doors to visitors and have terrific island-grown products for purchase. To spend the day farm-hopping, join Marilyn Jansen Lopes and her husband, Rick. The sweet, knowledgeable guides of Maui Country Farm Tours ★★ (; 808/283-9131) offer an overview of Valley Isle agriculture and regale guests with anecdotes and extra treats along the way. They share their love of Maui plus historic background of the island’s sugar mills, coffee plantations, family farms, and vineyards. Tours in eight-seat, air-conditioned buses start at $160 and include lunch. Their Halfway to Hana tour features tropical fruit tasting and waterfall dips when weather allows.

If you want to explore Maui’s upcountry farms on your own, start by taking a detour on wild Omaopio Road to meet the frisky kids at the sweet, off-the-beaten-path Surfing Goat Dairy ★★ (3651 Omaopio Rd., Kula;; 808/878-2870; Mon–Sat 9am–5pm, Sun 9am–2pm). When you spot the surfboard nailed to the tree, you’ll know you’re close. Daily farm tours are $12 adults and $8 for kids. Book in advance if you want to help with evening chores—milking mama goats (Mon–Sat 3:15pm; $17 adults, $14 children). Cheese aficionados will appreciate the Grand Dairy Tours: 2 hours of cheesemaking and sampling the farm’s award-winning chèvre, quarks, and truffles.

Never heard of a vodka farm? Neither had I until Ocean Organic Vodka ★★ (4051 Omaopio Rd., Kula;; 808/877-0009) opened just below Surfing Goat Dairy. Sustainably harvested organic sugarcane is blended with deep ocean mineral water to make fine-quality liquor. See how it’s done at this solar-powered distillery halfway up the leeward slope of Haleakala. (The views alone are worth the price of admission.) Fun and informative tours are $12 a person (ages 12 and up). Lunch ($27) can be added with 24-hour advance notice. Those 21 and over can sample various spirits (and vodka-filled truffles!) and take home a souvenir shot glass. It’s open daily 9:30am to 5pm.

Stop and smell the Alii Kula Lavender ★★ (1100 Waipoli Rd., Kula;; 808/878-3004), at this gorgeous property set high up on the leeward slope of Haleakala. On the 30-minute walking tour (5 tours daily; $12 with advance reservation), you can sniff multiple varieties of lavender and tropical flowers and leave with a fragrant bouquet. The store is chock-full of great culinary products (lavender seasonings, honey, jelly, and teas) and bath and body goodies (the salve is a lifesaver). General admission is $3; lunches and/or treasure hunts for kids can be arranged with 24-hour notice.

Also on Waipoli Road, O’o Farm ★★★ (651 Waipoli Rd., Kula;; 808/667-4341) hosts scrumptious seed-to-cup breakfast tours and gourmet lunches. It’s pure delight to stroll through the 8 1/2-acre citrus and coffee orchard and biodynamic farm, which was planted to supply the owners’ West side restaurants: Pacifico, Feast at Lele and Aina Gourmet Market. Pluck your own coffee beans, learn how ripe cherries become drinkable roasts, and then settle under the vine-covered canopy for a feast. Chef Daniel Eskelsen makes magic happen with his outdoor wood-burning oven, delivering dish after mouth-watering dish to the rustic table. The focaccia with Hawaiian sea salt is worth the price of admission all by itself. It’s BYOB and costs $58—well worth it if you make this your main meal of the day. Bring sun protection, a light jacket, walking shoes, and your camera. The views from this elevation are stellar.

Tip: If you’re a history buff, buy a “Passport to the Past” for $10 and gain admission to Maui’s four best museums: the Baldwin Home and Wo Hing Museum in Lahaina, the Bailey House in Wailuku, and the A&B Sugar Museum in Puunene. The passport is sold at each of these locations.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.