YESTERDAY BEGAN AT 3:45AM — that was necessary in order to hit the road by 4:15, to make the sunrise over Haleakala, the otherworldly volcanic crater that occupies much of Maui’s bottom half, at 6:28. It’s a one-hour trip from where we’re staying at a historic B&B in the upcountry town of Makawao, but we set off at the time advised by Cherie Attix, the inn’s proprietor — and still couldn’t find parking at the summit.
Sunrise at Haleakala National Park is that popular, that much of a must-do, that hundreds, maybe thousands, brave the early hour and bitter winds at 10,000 feet, and so did we, wrapped in borrowed jackets and fleece blankets.
As the sun broke through the streaky clouds, changing the sky’s colors minute by minute, it seemed as if the world was being born anew. All that was missing was a celestial soundtrack, though the wail of an ancient Hawaiian chant did waft up to where we were perched on an outcropping of lava rock.
It was only the start of a day’s circuit of activities in Maui’s upcountry, which took us off-highway into unspoiled hills and grazing pastures with frequent glimpses of the sea.
We did it all. First we sampled goat cheeses flavored with mangoes, jalapenos, lavender and more at Surfing Goat Dairy, below.
Then we checked out the heavenly-smelling lavender farm, below, at Kula, where varieties of lavender are inter-planted with other flowering shrubs for even greater horticultural ecstasies.
They do a brisk business in weddings, as does the 9-acre Kula Botanical Garden, jam-packed with eye-popping specimens I’d never seen, including the corncob-like hill banksia from Australia and meyer asparagus fern, below.
The garden is the life work of Warren McCord, who came to Maui from California with his wife Helen some 40 years ago, and with whom we had the pleasure of chatting as his African gray-crowned cranes, below, preened in the background.
We finished up our afternoon at Maui’s only winery, sampling sparkling wine made from pineapple in their tasting room, set among mature trees on hills that roll down to sparkling water.
Terrain near Ulupalakula, above
Our perfect base for two nights is a homey hilltop B&B in Makawao called Hale Ho’okipa, a 1924 Arts and Crafts-style cottage that Cherie, a Bay-area transplant, bought and renovated in the 1990s (I’m sitting in the parlor as I write this, in my pajamas).
She thinks it may be a kit house, perhaps from a company called Pacific Ready Cut. If so, it’s a top-of-the-line one. Its central space has tapered oak columns, the generously proportioned rooms have high ceilings, and there’s a big, bright country kitchen.
Two of the bedrooms, including our Rose Room, below, have bay windows overlooking a yard filled with trees that provide passion fruit, star fruit, bananas, and avocados for the inn’s lavish-yet-healthy breakfast spread.
Yesterday we chatted with guests from Virginia, and this morning from Switzerland, while Cherie told us a bit about the house’s history. Built by Frank and Theresa Gomes, Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii who raised 13 children in the house, it was originally surrounded by open fields (suburban-style houses have since spring up around it).
The house had fallen into neglect when Cherie bought it, but still maintained its original wood-paneled walls and ceilings, above, claw-foot tubs, and quirky details, like a light switch in our room that twists.
Now, fully restored and decorated with period-appropriate furnishings, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. (Cherie is also a licensed realtor, with local listings starting at 229K. Go here to see them.)
We had dinner on Friday night at Hali’imaile General Store, above, a serious foodie palace in a converted farm building, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with a separate vegetarian menu. Who would have thought grilled tofu and greens could make a person so happy?
Last night we ate at the colorful Cafe Mambo in the nearby hippie enclave of Paia, above, which does a variety of world cuisines from Middle Eastern to Mexican, and does them well.
Flatbread, another popular Paia eatery
Despite cramming a load of touristic activities into the past few days, I’m probably an atypical visitor to Hawaii. With all there is to see and do, I have yet to get to the beach.