Planning the basics of a Maui getaway is a relatively simple task: With endless waterfalls, bamboo forests, and miles of coastline, it’s clear you’ll spend plenty of time communing with nature. But beyond the beaches and viewpoints, what does a trip to the locals’ Maui look like? After all, you chose Maui — what sets it apart from the other islands?
Lots. From Maui-made jellies to gourmet goat cheese truffles to surfing goats, here’s your insider’s peek on what makes the Valley Isle so incredible. You’ll leave feeling the aloha — and with something special to bring home to your ohana (family).
Eat fresh at Moku Roots.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority
The creative plant-based meals at Moku Roots, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant and market in Lahaina, are that rare combo of both innovative and traditionally delicious. The farm-to-table menu is a delight and includes dishes like the mac-nut-based vegan cheese and macaroni noodles; the yuca-based falafel wrap (which comes in locally made tortillas featuring 100% organic flour); and their famous taro burger.
Best of all: Moku Roots prides itself on being a zero-waste company — your to-go food is wrapped in ti leaves or served in reusable tins, and the drinking straws are made from papaya stems. If you have a kitchen at your hotel or condo, consider ordering a produce box so you can enjoy local fresh fruits and veggies throughout your stay.
Play with the “kids.”
Photo: Daeja Fallas/Hawaii Tourism Authority
Plan a day trip to Kula to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy, a 42-acre working dairy farm with a milk room, ripening room, cheese room, and retail shop. You’ll know you’re in the right spot if you see fences made of surfboards — and goats trotting up and down surfboards in their goat playground. Take your pick from several tour options, like the Grand Dairy Tour, to learn about the cheese-making process; the Daily Casual Tour for a quick overview of the farm; and the Evening Chore and Milking Tour for some hands-on experience milking goats and getting them ready for bedtime.
Next, treat your taste buds to a cheese flight. You might be surprised by how many flavors there are — look for the Mo’ Betta Feta, which is ripened for five months in olive oil and brine; the O Sole Mio, a sun-dried tomato blend; and the Udderly Delicious, a salted chevre, which was served during the festivities at Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration.
Make sure to leave room for a gourmet goat cheese truffle or two. Flavors include Balsamic Strawberry, Rum Raisin, and Lilikoi Martini, each topped with a dark chocolate shell. If you’d like to bring gifts home, consider the plumeria-scented goat milk soap. And if you have energy (and room!) left, nearby Haleakala Creamery is also a worthy pit stop — they serve goatlatos, a delectable ice cream made with fresh goat’s milk.
Picnic at Iao Valley State Park.
Photo: Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism Authority
The 4,000-acre, 10-mile-long Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui, just west of Wailuku, is a wonderful place to cool off on a warm day thanks to the Iao stream that flows through it. Try going on a weekday morning to find a spot to yourself.
The star of the show is the impressive 1,200-foot pinnacle known as the Iao needle (or Kukaemoku), which makes for a gorgeous photo opp. Anywhere you explore here, though, the dramatic views will give you the feeling you’re roaming around Jurassic Park. Walk the short hiking paths, stroll through the botanical garden among the canoe plants and guava trees, and, most importantly, take it slow.
Keep in mind: This is the second wettest place in Hawaii, so don’t forget your rain gear. It’s also important to stay weather-alert due to the chance of flash flooding. If you notice changes in the color of the stream water or a difference in the water level, head for higher ground right away.
Sip volcano-grown wines.
Wine grapes grow very well in Maui’s rich volcanic soil. For proof, look no further than the popular 16-acre MauiWine vineyard, located on the southern slopes of the Haleakala volcano in Ulupalakua.
Take the tour, and you’ll sample wines like the Maui Blanc pineapple wine (which they’ll tell you was invented by accident but has become one of their most popular), chenin blanc, grenache, malbec, and viognier. Along the way, you’ll learn about the property’s history dating back to the 1800s and the wine-making process, all while taking in ocean views of Maui’s south side.
By now, you’re beginning to get a sense of just how broad the theme of “Made on Maui” can stretch. What other local treats will you discover when you’re here?