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Beijing Is Better Late Than Never at the 11th Annual Music Festival
Upcountry Maui's Sweet-Smelling Secret
October 20, 2008 at 4:32PM by Chris Schmicker |  comments

Maui's balmy beaches and bustling seaside resorts are old hat for most repeat visitors. Upcountry Maui, however, reveals unexpected (and lesser-known) charms like Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, a homegrown Hawaiian idyll high up on the slopes of Maui's tallest mountain.

Ankle-deep in pungent lavender that spills down the steep slopes in well-tended rows, you may find yourself feeling a bit light-headed. It isn't the sweet fragrance, but rather the simple thrill of discovering the unexpected on an island that can often feel anything but. This is not Provence after all, where lavender fields are as ubiquitous a sight as, say, taxis in New York.

Ali'i Chang (pictured, right) opened his farm in 2002 after watching lavender gifted from a friend thrive in the region's rich, volcanic soil and cool, arid climate. (Nighttime temperatures here can dip to the high 40s.) Six years later, Chang now cultivates 45 varieties of the herb across 13.5 heady acres.

A relatively unknown stop on the road from Wailea to Makawao when I first visited in 2003, Ali'i Kula Lavender has now expanded to offer walking tours, wreath-making workshops, tea service (think buttery lavender scones with soothing herbal tea) and more to a growing number of visitors. Olive trees and beehives added recently to the property will soon contribute lavender-infused olive oil and honey to the shop's selection of locally made products.

Chang's enthusiasm for the "Kula lavender lifestyle" is as winning as his warm sense of aloha. Towards the end of my tour on that first visit, Chang noticed I'd taken an interest in a striking yellow flower growing in pots outside the shop. Producing a well-used trowel from his smock, he cheerfully dug up a few seedlings and wrapped them in a paper towel for me to take home on the flight to Honolulu.

Picnicking in the sweet-smelling fields with a lunch basket from the farm's café, watching clouds skip across the West Maui lowlands and the ocean beyond, you'll soon realize: the jar of lavender bath salts in your bag is not the only souvenir you'll take away from this visit.

Ali'i Kula Lavendar FarmALI'I KULA LAVENDER
1100 Waipoli Road
Kula, Maui, HI 96790
(808) 878-3004
aliikulalavender.com

Upcountry Maui offers many surprises for travelers seeking a break from the beach. Don't miss these other delightful diversions:

SURFING GOAT DAIRY - German expats Thomas and Eva Kafsack craft award-winning cheeses at their South Kula farm. surfinggoatdairy.com.

TEDESCHI VINEYARDS
- Maui's only commercial vineyard offers wine tastings seven days a week. mauiwine.com.

HUI NO' EAU ARTS CENTER - Housed in a historic 1917 mansion, the center exhibits local artists' work and offers art classes to the community. huinoeau.com.

MAKAWAO STEAK HOUSE - Honoring the region's paniolo (cowboy) legacy, this local favorite serves up delicious kiawe-grilled steaks. (808) 572-8711.

Tags: Maui, Hawaii
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Beyond Botswana: Two New Luxury Safari Camps and a Name Change to Boot
Beyond Botswana: Two New Luxury Safari Camps and a Name Change to Boot
Town & Country Travels Home
Beijing Is Better Late Than Never at the 11th Annual Music Festival
Beijing Is Better Late Than Never at the 11th Annual Music Festival
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