While Maui is famous for its beaches and golf courses, there are many wonderful things to do beyond the resorts.
Living and working in Kapalua is idyllic, but when I have a day off, one of my favorite day trips is to loop between the towns of Paia and Makawao. Paia is a sleepy beachside town filled with little cafes and shops. Paia is close to tourist mecca Mama's Fish House, and one of the windsurfing world's most photographed spots: Hookipa Beach Park. My favorite stops are The Fish Market (great sandwiches), Milagros (local margaritas), the Flatbread Co (homemade pizzas), and Cafe Des Amis (desert crepes galore!). For the shopper, there's Biasa Rose boutique, Nuage Bleu, and Tamara Catz, along with a myriad of swimsuit shops and gift boutiques.
Makawao, the town where I grew up, is famous for T. Komoda's Bakery and their golden cream puffs. Living in this small cowboy town in the 70's, our family had a farm account at the bakery, where you would sign for groceries and baked goods, settling up at the end of the month. Komoda's is home to one of my favorite childhood memories: since Makawao was a rural area and homes were spread so far apart, we didn't really have trick-or-treating for Halloween. My favorite person at the store was Violet, and one Halloween, she gave me a brown paper bag, swept her hand across the candy counter, and said "you can have anything you want-fill the bag!" My eyes lit up, and, of course, I was sick to my stomach by the time we had taken the ten minute drive home. If the bakery is open, and you happen to be there in the morning, don't miss one of their delectable treats: cream puffs, long johns, malasadas, cakes and pies are all worth a try. Makawao is now filled with upscale boutiques and art galleries, and a stop at Viewpoints Gallery to see the latest in local artwork is must on any trip I make upcountry.
As you wind your way back down to town, don't miss the Haliimaile General Store, which is on a little side-road between Paia and Makawao. Over the past twenty years, this converted plantation store has become one of Maui's most celebrated local restaurants. The vision of Chef Bev Gannon for her Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, the restaurant is a charming nod to the Maui of the past melded with today's gourmet culinary experience. After lunch, I love stopping by the deli counter and grabbing her beloved Crab Pizza to cook at home later.
If you've seen Paia and Makawao, you can spend the day in Kula, beginning with a visit to Alii Kula Lavender. This is Maui's first and only lavender walking tour, with over 45 varieties of lavender grown here. Alii Chang is the colorful artist who considers his ten acre farm his canvas. When I was younger, my father and I would go to Hana every year to see him at Alii Gardens, which was filled with vibrant tropical flowers. Since moving to Kula, his lavender farm has grown into one of Maui's most popular gift brands: at his shop and others, you'll find the local lavender in everything from aromatherapy and bath products to delectable seasonings, chocolates, sauces and dressings for the cook in the family.
Just past the lavender farm, is Maui's Winery, Tedeschi Vineyards, set in picturesque Ulupalakua. Established in 1974, the winery is surrounded by some of Maui's most beautiful ranch lands, with a tasting room housed in a cottage originally built for the Merrie Monarch, King Kalakaua. If you happen to take the drive upcountry in early summer, you will be surrounded by jacaranda trees in full bloom. There are several local artists that call the upcountry their home, and are known for painting the gorgeous panoramic views and these trees heavy with purple blossoms: George Allan and Kari McCarthy, who are shown at Makwao's Viewpoints Gallery and Curtis Wilson Cost, who has a delightful show room in the Kula Lodge.
If all of this wine tasting makes you hungry, consider taking a culinary tour of O'o Farms. This 8.5 acre farm is where famed West Maui restaurants pacific O' and I'o grow their ingredients for a truly fresh farm to table dining experience. The farm hosts gourmet lunch tours, where guests learn more about organic gardening practices, and enjoy a picnic style lunch prepared from ingredients just picked on the farm. (When in season, you'll find wild raspberries to pick along the way).