Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
If you are looking to experience off the beaten path in Maui, you must check out Hali'imaile. Located at the base of the Haleakala volcano in Makawao, the area is hidden among the sugar cane and pineapple fields in the beautiful upcountry. The land is ideal for farming and the views are spectacular! You can taste a delicious pineapple while gazing out over the crystal clear blue ocean, learn just what goes into making Hawaiian vodka and dine farm-to-table, pineapple plantation-style.
You could easily spend a half-day or even a full day exploring along Hali’imaile Road. It could even make a great stop after visiting Haleakala National Park, as it is not far from the road that takes you to the top.
Here are a few unique things to do in Hali'imaile:
Maui Pineapple Tour: Explore the Many Different Tastes of a Pineapple
The Maui Pineapple Tour treats guests to an entertaining (and yummy!) one-and-a-half-hour tour through the rolling pineapple fields with beautiful ocean vistas. Who knew pineapple fields could be so beautiful!
Our tour guide, Steve, took us around the fields by bus. He knew everything there was to know about growing the perfect pineapple. We learned about the different stages of pineapple growth and how and when pineapples are harvested. Then, he took us to tour the factory where the pineapples are cleaned and packaged.
You’ll even leave the tour with tips on picking the best pineapple back at home from the grocery store. And best of all, you get to eat unlimited pineapple out in the fields and take one home with you!
Hali'imaile Distilling Company: Taste and Learn About Hawaiian Vodka
At Hali'imaile Distilling Company you can tour just how Master Distiller, Mark Nigbur makes spirits for brands including Pau Maui Vodka, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, Paniolo Whiskey and Maui Moon Vodka.
You’ll walk through the facility in a small group to observe each step in the process of making the spirit at the micro-distillery. It’s interesting to see the proprietary pharmaceutical glass stills used in the distillation process, which Mark designed himself. The company’s flagship brand Pau Maui Vodka is crafted from Hawaiian pineapples (the fields are a few steps away!) and by the end of the distilling process, there is no hint of pineapple flavor in the finished product.
Finally, you’ll get to sample! Each tour ticket comes with three tastes of any spirit they make. With many different kinds of rum, vodka and whiskey to choose from, you’ll definitely find at least one favorite! My favorites were Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum Red Head Macadamia Nut (use it in a Mai Tai for a special twist) and Pau Maui’s Oaked Vodka (perfect to add a smoky flavor to a Bloody Mary).
Makai Glass: Watch How Unique Blown Glass Sculptures Are Crafted
The Makai Glass Studio & Gallery turns molten glass into unique remembrances of Maui. Partners Randy Schaffer and Justin Brown each had a long career in glass blowing before opening their own studio together in 2010. The partners run the studio off the grid by a biodiesel generator.
The team makes sculptures of dolphins, waves, whales, turtles and even a “Maui Storm” glass sculpture. Some sculptures can weigh up to 150 pounds. Their inspiration comes from Hawaii’s nature, animals, farm fields, ocean and more. Travelers can watch from upstairs in the studio as the creations are crafted. You can also wander around the gallery’s first and second levels to see Makai Glass on display.
Hali'imaile General Store: Dine in a Pineapple Plantation-Styled Restaurant
Photo via Flickr/Jon Konrath
For a fresh farm-to-table meal before leaving Hali’imaile, look no further than across the street to Hali'imaile General Store, owned by Chef Bev Gannon. The pineapple plantation-styled restaurant cooks up Pacific regional American cuisine with an Asian influence. Chef Gannon is quite the celebrity on the island and known for the famous restaurant, Gannon’s, located in the clubhouse of the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course in southwest Maui.
During the pineapple boom, the restaurant was originally a true general store with a butcher shop, fish market, post office, groceries, clothing and appliances. Chef Gannon purchased the building to begin her catering business and start a take-out deli. The popularity of the deli turned Hali'imaile General Store into the full-service restaurant it is today.
Try the raw bar’s sashimi pizza, ahi poke and don’t forget Bev’s “Famous” Crab Pizza. Hali'imaile General Store is the perfect stop for lunch before or after liquor and pineapple tasting!
There are many beautiful beaches, hikes and waterfalls to explore in Maui. But when you need a break, a stop in Hali'imaile will give you something unique and different to remember from your tropical vacation.