The slopes of Haleakala descend gently to the lower altitudes of central Maui. The area about halfway down is known as the Upcountry, Maui's cowboy district: Ranches, horses, wooden fences and fields of wildflowers dot the landscape, away from the bustle of commercial activity on the island. If you seek tranquility, hike or ride horseback in these hills and look down to see the glittering coastline of Kihei and Wailea.
Upcountry Maui's higher elevations translate into cooler weather and a more pronounced change of seasons than in the coastal areas.
Hawaiian cowboys (paniolos) ride herd on several large ranches in the Upcountry. The paniolo mystique draws visitors to the town of Makawao, home of a thriving arts community. Settled by Portuguese immigrants in the late 1800s, it retains a friendly, rural flavor. The town's Old West facade includes hitching posts. There, visitors can take a yoga class and watch a rodeo in the same day.
Upcountry Maui has a rich agricultural history that continues to thrive at the hands of creative residents. Botanical gardens grow everything from calla lilies to Christmas trees. A lavender farm welcomes guests for tours, craft lessons, tea and scones. A winery produces red, white, sparkling and specialty varietals, while a goat farm crafts award-winning cheeses in a bucolic setting with unparalleled views down to the sea.
Small, picturesque burgs dot the winding roads of Upcountry Maui, presenting opportunities for shopping, dining, adventuring and touring. In Kula, for instance, visitors can pick their own produce at an organic farm and watch it get transformed into a lunchtime feast or grab a cup of coffee for a drive up the slopes of the volcano. In Haiku, you can rent two-wheelers and explore the beauty of the area under your own power, and in Pukalani, you can zipline across the slopes of Haleakala.
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