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The ancient district of Kula makes up the majority of Maui’s Upcountry, an inland area of the island sitting along the western slopes of the Haleakalā volcano. Unlike the tourist hubs of Lahaina and Wailuku, Kula is mostly rolling hills and farmland, home to less than 7,000 people. The sunny days, cool nights, and rich volcanic soil create the perfect conditions for growing the fresh fruit and vegetables that are served in Maui’s top-rated restaurants. In fact, you can just think of the district as one big garden, bursting with aromas of tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, lavender, and orchids. The farm-to-table phenomenon has given way to many incredible ranch tours and tasting experiences, while a drive east along the North Shore will take you into the jungly paradise of heavenly Hana.
Kula Town — The town of Kula is loosely divided in 2 parts—Upper Kula in the higher elevations closer to the volcano, and Lower Kula further to the west.
Haleakalā National Park — To the east of Kula, Haleakalā National Park is home to the dormant Haleakalā volcano, which stands at towering 10,023 feet (3,055 m). Within the park, you can catch sight of exotic plants, rare birds, and lava fields. Come here in the early morning to see the sunrise over the crater, or at night to watch the sunset in the west. You can also tackle the volcanic slopes by bike or take to new heights with a helicopter landing on the crater. Surrounding the park are numerous forest reserves including Koolau, Hana, Kahikinui, and Kula. Here, you can hike trails through tropical nature preserves to see cascading waterfalls and magnificent coastal views.
Kula has a wealth of wonders for the eyes, but if visiting for the first time, you simply can’t miss the chance to see the city and surrounding regions from above. On a full-day tour, soar over Haleakalā National Park in a helicopter, gazing down upon lush forests, coastal cliffs, and the moon-like landscape of the volcano. Back down on ground, finish the day with visits to some of the Upcountry’s top highlights. Cruise through the old plantation town of Paia, browse the galleries that line Makawao’s main road, and stop to tour Kula’s dairy farm and distillery.
There’s no end to the outdoor adventure that the Upcountry has to offer. Just outside of Kula, you can zoom through eucalyptus trees on a ancient lava tube. For ocean lovers, Kihei, roughly a 30-minute drive from Kula, offers seaside activities such as surfing lessons, snorkeling, and kayaking. Cowboys-in-the-making will love the chance to put their horse-handling skills to the test with a private lesson at Piiholo Ranch.
Of course, not all of your outdoor excursions have to be so adventurous. On a guided tour, journey your way through the Upcountry’s most stunning farms, taking in tranquil views of fields of lavender, pineapple, citrus, and avocado. For even more serenity, embark on a drive along the famous Road to Hana. Bask in the breathtaking beauty of peaceful forests, postcard-worthy beaches, and majestic waterfalls.
Treat your taste buds to the exotic flavors of Hawaii on a food tour of the historic city of Paia. With a local leading the way, sample island-grown produce such as papayas and rambutans, and culinary creations like Hawaiian shaved iced and macadamia nut pancakes. There’s fun to be had for imbibers, as well. During a visit to the Hali'imaile Distillery, you can sip on a tasting of small-batch brands including Maui Moon Vodka and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum.