Knowing the Road to Hana was going to be a test of my oldest daughter’s motion sickness tolerance, we decided to delay it a day due to her experience on the snorkeling trip the day before. So we spent Wednesday exploring the Upcountry region of the island. This area is more toward the interior of the island and includes the areas near Haleakala. We started out in Paia at Café des Amis for some brunch. This is a cute little open-air café on Baldwin Avenue featuring a variety of sweet and savory crepes, salads, and Indian food. My husband and daughter ordered the ham, egg, and cheese breakfast crepe and the breakfast burrito. I opted for the Kale Goat Cheese & Sprout Salad and my other daughter ordered a mixed greens salad. Turns out they were out of sprouts, so they subbed cucumber which was fine with me. We also ordered a sweet crepe – the maui cane sugar and lime juice – to share. It was so good, not too sweet with just a hint of lime. My husband added Bombay Potatoes to his order – they were very good and spicy with a nice Indian flavor profile. As with everywhere else we went, the service was friendly and the food delicious. Paia is a cute hipster town, which we ended up re-visiting the following Monday to do a little shopping.
After lunch we headed over to Ho’okipa to hopefully see some sea turtles, but first took a quick peak at the Buddhist temple at the Maui Dharma Center. The stupa is beautiful with bright colors and can be seen from the road; I took a quick peek inside but I didn’t want to be intrusive or disrespectful so I snapped a picture of the outside befoe leaving. We did not visit the center, but it is open every day for visiting.
Ho’okipa Beach is sort of down below the main highway, with a lookout point above it, next to a field of cows. We didn’t go down to the actual beach area, but went up to the lookout point where there are a few vendors and some nice views. The turtles were not out that day, so we climbed on the rocks and took some pictures.
We decided to head back to Baldwin Beach which is just outside of Paia and is a beautiful long sandy beach. There is a covered area with picnic tables and a bathroom (not fancy). I was shocked that the beach was nearly empty when we arrived – only a handful of folks were there on a sunny afternoon. It only took a few minutes to discover why: the wind was blowing like crazy, which ended up blasting us with sand. We joked that we were getting free microdermabrasion. We tried toughing it out but only made it about 30 minutes before packing up and leaving. It was a little disappointing, but we decided there were plenty of other places to explore so we headed over to Makawao.
Makawao is a cute little town with art galleries, gift shops, boutiques, and cafes. It’s really a charming place. We spent the afternoon going in and out of the shops and galleries and purchased several items including a piece of locally made pottery, a cute dress, and snacks. Pop into the Rodeo General Store to grab a snack and a drink. They have an impressive selection of hot and cold deli items, organic snacks, and plenty of beverages (both regular and alcoholic!). Most of the folks working in the shops were friendly, but I found some of the gallery people to be a bit stuffy. Apparently they take their art seriously here. There is a public restroom behind some of the shops (a sign will point the way) that was old but clean and allowed the opportunity to see some art in the garden areas behind the shops.
Next we drove up to the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. You must add this to your itinerary if you are on Maui. It sounded like a snooze-fest at first, but we all loved it. The views are stunning, the scenery gorgeous, and the smells intoxicating. It’s really sort of a magical place. It usually costs $4 per person, however we didn’t arrive until 3:00 and they close at 4:00 so we were only charged $1 each. There are several paths through the gardens and so many gorgeous sites. I took dozens of photos here. There is also a gift shop (of course) where you can purchase items made with lavender, including some white chocolate lavender popcorn that was just delicious!
Our next planned stop was dinner, but we were looking a bit rough from being sand-blasted on the beach earlier in the day, and shopping and exploring all afternoon, so we popped into a McDonald’s bathroom in Pukalani on our way to the restaurant to change and freshen up. Yes, we used the McDonald’s as a changing room! While we were there we noticed they had a couple local items on their menu: a taro pie for dessert, and Portuguese sausage on the breakfast menu. We considered trying one of the pies, but never got around to it!
Our final stop of the day was at the Hali’imaile General Store for dinner. And it was fab! Probably the best meal we had on the trip. Chef Bev Gannon is an acclaimed and nationally recognized award-winning chef, and the menu reflects her experience and skills. We started with the Kalua Pork & Goat Cheese Wontons and the appetizer special of the day, Avocado Fries. Their signature appetizer is the Sashimi Napoleon, which we considered but at that point, I had consumed rare tuna about 3 or 4 times, so I decided I could live without it. The wontons were delicious and served with a barbecue dipping sauce. The avocado “fries” weren’t fries, but avocado halves that had been fried. Good, but a bit much to dig into an entire half of an avocado. For entrees, I ordered the Steamed Island Fresh Catch which was served with a creamy celery root puree, broccolini, and radishes. It was both light and rich at the same time, with wonderful flavors of lemon grass and celery. My husband ordered the Meyer Lemon Marinated Half-Chicken, which has a longer prep time, but since we had appetizers and drinks, we didn’t even notice if it actually took longer. It was served with goat cheese mashed potatoes which were to die for.
Our daughters opted for appetizers for their mains. Madelyn ordered the popcorn shrimp, which has the cutest presentation in a take-out box with real popcorn sprinkled on top. She also ordered the Burrata and Tomato Salad, which was excellent. Sydney ordered the Brie and Grape Quesadilla which she said was her favorite meal of the trip. It was a unique blend of unexpected flavors. For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Decadence Cake which was good but tasted like the inside of a truffle. The Pineapple Upside Down Cake was wonderful, served warm.