Friday, April 24, 2015

Upcountry – The Heart of Maui (And Where Hobbits Would Live)

If hobbits lived on Maui, they’d live Upcountry. Hobbits like warm, comfortable houses, with good food, beautiful gardens and a warm fireplace. They don't rush about unless they must and would rather stay at home. You can live like a hobbit Upcountry.

Upcountry is a very literal term, like upland. Up, meaning higher in elevation, and country, meaning out in the country.

Upcountry is a state of mind, as much as a place. But it’s a place with fuzzy edges. Nestled on the slopes of Haleakala Crater, Upcountry includes Kula, Ulupalakua, Pukalani, Hali’imaile, Makawao, Olinda, and parts of Haiku and Paia. Some people might not consider inland areas of Haiku or Paia as Upcountry, but the further one gets from the shore, the hillier and cooler it gets.  

Upcountry is in the center of Maui, where the heart would be, 
and where hobbits would live.
Upcountry serves as an anchor. While Maui is changing through construction, tourism, and newcomers, especially along the shore lines, Upcountry is resistant to change. The fact that there is no public road from anywhere along the busy South Shore of Maui directly up the hill to Ulupalakua is a testament to the resistance to development. Roads eventually mean houses, traffic, and less open space.

View towards South Maui from Ulupalakua.

For those not familiar with Maui, Upcountry conveys images of ranches, rolling hills, forests, eucalyptus trees, purple jacaranda trees blooming in the spring, persimmon orchards, paniolos – our term for cowboys, rodeos, goats, cows, pasture land, horses, Maui polo, small farms, exotic protea flowers, lavender fields, estates, and even a winery! The Upcountry Farmers Market is considered by many to be the best farmers market on Maui.

Spring is jacaranda season in Upcountry Maui.
Upcountry is pastoral with beautiful mountain to ocean views, stretching from shore to shore. People who wander Upcountry for the first time often look stoned in appreciation of the view, or express a sudden desire to paint. Sunsets are also incredible Upcountry.

Glorious Upcountry sunset.

Upcountry is cooler than the rest of Maui. During the winter months, temperatures can dip into the 50s or even lower at night!

Erik Blair's Facebook post about 39 degree weather on Maui

Upcountry is also the favorite place for people in Kihei (Maui's South Shore) to dump wild chickens and roosters. They figure there are already so many feral chickens Upcountry, what's another dozen? 

Upcountry residents seem to value tradition and respect. You might see a bumper sticker that says “Respect the culture.” While it could belong to anyone living anywhere on Maui, it feels especially true of Upcountry. I also suspect that typical Upcountry residents are more stubborn than the rest of us, and more reserved.

Sweeping vista of Maui's North Shore towards
West Maui and the island of Molokai.

Horses in Hali'imaile.
(By the way, while I have your attention, three friends are running interesting projects:

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the Ato Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!


  1. Beautiful photos!

  2. I spent a couple of hours looking for some photos that conveyed the Upcountry feeling, and it was surprisingly difficult because I've taken so many photos of Maui. Even though they are mostly all tagged or labeled, it takes a while!

  3. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge 2015!

    Great post. I'm following you on your listed social media sites. Congratulations on making it past the first half. And thanks for visiting me.


    These are great pictures. You really made me want to visit.

  4. Elizabeth MuellerApril 24, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    *sigh* I love the sound of Upcountry. Is it difficult buying land to live there? Or are the folks there resistant to newcomers? Here in Utah, the place to be is along the foot of the mountains where the view of the stretching valley glitters in the sunset. Yeah, they think they are all that. xP

    Elizabeth Mueller

    AtoZ 2015

    My Little Pony

  5. I think I would really enjoy wandering around Upcountry! I would image it would lend itself to some great photographic opportunity!! -

  6. The Husband and I stayed 10 days in a B&B in the upcountry. That was Heaven. sigh.

  7. I'm sure you would. There's a photograph around every bend!

  8. I always expect to see Julie Andrews waltzing down a hillside.

  9. Oh yes.. expensive as all get out. Even more expensive than some oceanview property, which I mentioned in my comment on your blog. Maui land prices are hideous!!! I guess it's good if you're selling. Bad time to buy. $600k for a 3 BR house seems to be the latest price. Can't find anything good for $300k except for a tear down on a small bit of land, like 8000 sq feet.

  10. You're different from most tourists to Maui! Usually they want to be right on the ocean, or as close as possible.

  11. Some tourists to Maui never get much farther than the beach in front of their condo, so exploring Upcountry reveals some other faces of Maui. Even though I'm located kind of Upcountry, it's not the same as going further up.


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