If you are looking for something different than the normal tourist path, consider a breakfast or lunch at O’o Farms. There is a huge potential for the right group experience and the farm folks are educating more people everyday to sustainable gardening and GMO, organic produce. They raise crops to support all of their restaurants on Maui pretty much exclusively. They do not ship their produce off the island. They now have award winning coffee grown and roasted on the farm. They offer breakfast and lunch tours which are designed to be both experiential and educational five days per week. Advance reservations are required so if you think you might like this experience, make your reservations early as they are frequently hosting private events and the groups are relatively small.
Arriving at the farm was an hour and fifteen minutes from the North side where we stayed. The drive was similar to Haleakala but not as far and daylight. The view was amazing from the farm. There was a sign indicating where the farm was…so we pulled in and parked next to the car. We were the fourth car there and about 20 minutes early. We headed down a path through the gardens and didn’t really see any facilities. Someone a few minutes later said they were up the hill just a little ways. Good to know if you have never been there before and need to use them. (There’s no signs indicating anything other than parking and a sign that says the Tour Stars Here.
At just before 10:30 am, our guide arrived.
After outlining the schedule and telling us the history of the farm, we proceeded to begin the walking tour. We walked through the orchard first; there were many coffee plants and we were treated to a taste of the coffee cherry. The coffee bean is not really a bean but a fruit. We roast the seeds or “beans” to make the coffee that we brew. The cherry is delicious and full of good antioxidants.
They harvest their coffee and roast it fresh each week for their coffee shops, all of which are on Maui.
From there we went tasted Loquats and then went up to meet the chef. Here is is telling us about what he picked this morning to prepare the menu for the day.
From there the tour group filled a basket of freshly picked greens from which the salad was made for the day. Everyone could participate in the harvest as they chose and taste testing was allowed and even encouraged. The whole idea is to feed people off the farm where the food is gathered from only a few feet from where it is prepared and served. The wood burning stove you see behind chef is the preparation for all of the food. Here’s a photo of our salad basket…yummy it was!
Once we brought the greens to chef, we were given a quick tour of the coffee roasting area. This is where they have both wet and dry processing of the beans as well as the roasting and bagging equipment allowing them to roast fresh coffee weekly to meet their coffee demands. A small gift shop allows you to purchase and bring home your favorites.
Lunch was served under the patio and everyone in the group sat together and ate family style. It didn’t always work out, in fact, we had no place setting as we kept being gracious and allowing the bigger parties to sit together…so we ended up without a place to sit in the end. Ancil remedied it for us but it was definitely awkward for us. I was not a fan of each party seating themselves. Couples I recommend you hold your position in space there or those parties of five plus sadly will be happy to have you not sit together. Our ohana (family) for the day was not a good ohana in that regard so I was very uncomfortable – and it takes a lot for me to feel that way in a crowd.
Lunch was interesting. Everything was grown there but it seemed to me that too much was crammed into each dish. Simpler sometimes is better. So interesting is my best description. I love the concept; just didn’t love the food preparations. The dessert and coffee were the best and we purchased some coffee beans to bring home.
The next stop in our journey for the day was at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. This was a very lovely quiet garden setting with a wide variety of lavender planted amidst other interesting plants. There were lovely scents and flowers throughout. The lavender scone was delicious – a soft sweet flavor that is hard to beat. Do try it if you find yourself there! We spent an hour walking through the gardens. They do offer guided walking tours; we chose a self-guided experience…but if you are really interested in plants and lavender do take the guided tour. It’s not very handicapped friendly as everything in on a hill so just be aware that there will be limitations to what can be seen and done if there is impairments or even difficult walking on uneven terrain. The gift shop is still worth a stop. They also offer a discount for seniors and military. The regular price is $3 per person to enter ($1 off is the discount price).
The views from both the road and the farm and amazing. Here are a couple of shots from the day.
You can see that as the day went on the clouds moved in more as is typical in the upcountry. Layers are advisable as it can get chilly with the cloud cover.
From the upcountry, the road we took led us to the local cowboy community called Makawao. The quiet and quaint downtown stole our hearts immediately. The people we met were friendly and happy! If there was a place we wanted to really spend more time, it was Makawao. There were many art galleries, stick donuts at T Komoda Store and Bakery, and open air restaurants in the downtown area. It was an artist’s haven! The gallery was a home for mostly local Maui artists and offered residency programs and workshops to help their artists become the best they can be. And the artwork on display was amazing! It’s hard to believe that on such a small area of land, there are so many talented artists producing some great works!
Our final stop for the day was a Napili Market area where we bought some take home ribs from Mama’s BBQ and Ribs and some salad stuff from the market next door. Dinner and great conversation on the lanai completed another perfect day in Maui!