7 Best Farms to Visit In Maui
When you think of Hawaii, the first few things that most likely pop up in your mind are the sun, sand, and waterfalls. And while those may be the primary reasons for vacationing in the Aloha State, there’s actually much more to do than bake in the sun, especially if you’re headed to Maui. Throughout the island are a variety of incredible farms that you’re able to tour, from an organic tropical fruit plantation to a cheese-producing dairy. Many even have on-site restaurants where you can enjoy a true farm-to-table meal. So whether you’re staying in the resort area of Wailea, where a trip to up-country Maui is a short drive away, or making the trek all the way to the rural and peaceful town of Hana (which, by the way, the incredibly winding road with its beautiful vistas is totally worth the two hours from the airport), here are seven exceptional farms that are worth the visit.
Surfing Goat Dairy
One of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll have on the island, Surfing Goat Dairy holds walking tours about every half hour, during which you can feed the adorable animals, see the facilities, and sample its award-winning cheeses that come in a variety of flavors (the Rolling Green with fresh garlic chives is a must). And if you’re not a fan of goat cheese, don’t let your distaste deter you from visiting—the strong gaminess often associated with such cheeses is nearly nonexistent due to Surfing Goat’s use of vegetable rennet to coagulate the milk. The cheeses are so incredibly creamy and delightful that a bevy of restaurants use them, including the recently redesigned Humuhumunukunukuapuaa at the Grand Wailea resort. But before you head out, make your way inside the store and pick up a few handmade dark chocolate truffles. Filled with ganache made from goat cheese, the confections not only have fewer calories, fat, and cholesterol than many traditional butter-and-cream counterparts, but also more vitamins A and B, calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
A four-person operation, Hana Gold is a cacao plantation run by husband and wife Robert and Francine Frost, along with their son and daughter-in-law, who are all largely self-taught and have gone through years of trial and error to hone their craft. The care that goes into their chocolate—they eschew both chemical fertilizers and pesticides and harvest the pods by hand—is evident in the smooth and sweet result. To top it all off, they’re also very community oriented, often working with Ala Kukui—a cultural retreat center—to bring local women together for a fun evening of chocolate making. Visit the Frosts to catch a glimpse of their process, definitely get a bar with Molokai sea salt, and don’t make the mistake of overlooking the miel de cacao jelly, an unsuspected winner made from the fruit that surrounds cacao beans.
Ono Organic Farms
Owned by Chuck and Lilly Boerner, Ono Organic Farms has been open since 1972 and is a leader of the organic movement in the state. In fact, Chuck was a founding member of the Hawaii Organic Farming Association and thoroughly understands the standards needed in order to achieve such quality. Tours occur Tuesday afternoons, in which you not only get to see how a variety of tropical fruit such as jackfruit, sapodilla, and star apple are grown, but you get to sample them as well.
Coffee lovers won’t want to skip out on Oo Farm’s morning tour. You’ll get to try a few different cups of java made from beans grown and roasted on-site between sauntering around the farm, learning about the coffee-making process, and delighting in a breakfast—made with the produce being grown just several feet away from you—some of it cooked in a wood-fired oven. This just might be the best way you’ve ever started off your day.
Alii Kula Lavender
A small admission fee of $3 will gain you access to the beautiful fields of Spanish, English, and French lavender at AKL. Stroll around the garden and envelop yourself in the soft scent while you also admire some of the other flowers and citrus orchards that are grown on the premises. End your visit with a buttery lavender scone topped off with some lavender lilikoi jelly on the outdoor terrace while you enjoy beautiful views of Hawaii.
Maui Tropical Plantation
A great option for kids—hop on the tram and tour a plantation that’s home to more than 40 harvested crops or see it from above when you soar down one of its many zip lines. Afterward, make sure you go to The Mill House for a delectable lunch, in which a good portion of the ingredients used in the dishes are selected from the grounds or purchased directly from local farmers. Although the menu changes regularly, you can’t go wrong with a salad or homemade pasta.
Although it has closed its farm for the time being, Hana Ranch currently has 3,600 acres dedicated to grass-fed cattle. You can stop by and check out the citrus orchards and spot a few of the cows along the way, but for the ultimate experience, the ranch has teamed up with Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea for a tour in which you’ll arrive at the ranch via helicopter (after you’ve seen some waterfalls and lush rain forests along the way), hop on a UTV to survey the property, and end your day with a lunch prepared by Four Seasons Executive chef Craig Dryhurst and Hana Ranch’s chef Gary Johnson. But even if you don’t go on this exclusive adventure, you can still try Johnson’s creations with a private dinner at the ranch’s farmhouse or grab a quick bite at the Hana Burger Food Truck, which has just recently expanded and now includes a more extensive menu. And although you’ve got a few more options to choose from now, the generously sized burgers—get the Instagram-worthy taro buns that have a beautiful purple hue—will always remain a hot item.
There’s so much more to Maui than sun, sand, and waterfalls. Carve out some time to visit these seven exceptional farms.