Gone are the days when an 8 inch beard, plaid button down shirt, fake black-rimmed spectacles and an iPhone full of aerial food shots were the prerequisites for calling yourself a ‘foodie.’ Fortunately, this overused term is now a common catch-all for anyone whose priorities dare lie in the realm of both food and beverages, and we’re certainly not too ashamed to include ourselves in that category.
Whether you’re planning your first trip to Maui or are a long-time resident looking to branch out of your local dining and drinking habits, we’re here to offer some well-rounded travel tips for appreciating the best of what Maui’s ‘foodie’ scene has to offer.
Maui for Foodies: Top Travel Tips
Attend a Maui Chef’s Table
If you consider your palette to be somewhat refined, meaning you’d be highly disappointed if you were served Hamburger Helper and a lukewarm glass of Franzia over Kobe beef and a Napa Valley Cabernet, perhaps the best way for you to uncover Maui’s serious ‘foodie’ scene is to attend a Maui Chef’s Table event. Located at the stunning Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation, Maui Chef’s Table includes six – or more – courses of carefully curated farm-to-table dishes, locally sourced and headed by award winning chef, Jeff Scheer, and his talented team.
Photos courtesy of The Mill House.
Can’t commit to a multi-course dinner? No worries; join our Ultimate Craft Adventure, Taste of Maui, Pineapple Express or Taste of Upcountry tours, all of which end with an opportunity for you to sample craft cocktails and farm-to-table pupus (with a view!) at The Mill House.
Take a Cocktail Class
You may have taken a cooking class or two, but have you mastered the art of mixing your own craft cocktails? Take home a brand new skill you’ll be sure to utilize at your next dinner party – or Wednesday night, am I right? – by attending an ‘Art of the Cocktail‘ class at Travaasa Hana, Maui’s east coast luxury resort in the heart of Hana.
Master the basics of bartending, from muddling to martinis, and craft your own delicious cocktail(s) using the island’s freshest local ingredients, from fruit purees to herbs to locally-distilled craft spirits. While you must be a registered guest of Travaasa to attend, you’re also welcome to participate in a number of other cultural and culinary experiences, from Hawaiian throw net fishing to smoothie classes and more.
Sample the Goods at an Upcountry Market
Though Maui has an assortment of daily, weekly and monthly local farmers’ markets to choose from, we love the Upcountry setting and selection at the Kula Country Farm Stand, which features an assortment of fruits and vegetables all locally grown and harvested on Maui in a picturesque setting on the slopes of Haleakala. Open Monday through Saturday, this is an excellent spot to stock up on some of the Valley Isle’s freshest produce, from strawberries and lilikoi to lettuce and zucchini.
If you want to bring home a taste of the tropics, we suggest stocking up on one of their seasonal craft creations like Strawberry Hawaiian Chili Pepper Jam, Kula Onion BBQ Sauce, Kula Strawberry Syrup, salad dressings, marinades and more. Join us for a visit to the Kula Country Farm Stand on our Taste of Upcountry tour.
Try Maui Craft Coffee
Who says craft drinks have to include liquor? (…although we’re certainly not against it. Ahem.) While Maui certainly has plenty of craft beer, wine and spirits to choose from, one lesser recognized craft creation often comes in the form of everyone’s favorite morning beverage: coffee.
While Hawaii won’t hold the title of ‘the only U.S. state to grow coffee’ for much longer, we still recommend sampling some of Maui’s locally grown, harvested and roasted coffee varieties while here on the island. There are several excellent locations to sample Maui roasted coffees, from farms to boutique coffee shops, but Mill House Roasting is our top pick for its idyllic location in the heart of Maui Tropical Plantation. Pro Tip: All of our Maui Craft Tours begin with a coffee tasting and mid-morning snack at this very location. Hey, we never promised not to brag.
Attend a Foodie Festival
If eating, drinking and general merriment are high on your list of Maui must-dos, you’re on the right island. Check the local calendar of events and plan to attend one of Maui’s many foodie – and boozy – festivals, including:
Maui County Ag Festival: Typically hosted every April at Maui Tropical Plantation, this festival is a celebration of everything agriculture-related, from food booths to a pancake breakfast, chefs’ collaboration dinner, farm tours, cooking demonstrations and more.
East Maui Taro Festival: One of the most authentically Hawaiian festivals on Maui, the annual East Maui Taro Festival is held in April in the remote town of Hana. Guests are encouraged to enjoy unique events like the Taro Pancake Breakfast in Hana Bay, as well as traditional poi pounding demonstrations, farmers’ markets, food booths and other local highlights.
Maui Brewers Festival: Hosted annually at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center every May, the Maui Brewers Festival is a chance for both local and international craft beer brewers to give local residents and travelers a taste of their top brews. If you’re into craft beer, be sure to mark this event down in your calendar. (And call an Uber.)
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival: Located at Kapalua Resort in June, Maui’s Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is the longest running food and wine event in the country. Attendees will enjoy an array of curated craft events, from wine tasting seminars to a seafood festival, Grand Tasting event and other highly anticipated culinary happenings.
Made in Maui County Festival: Held every November at the MACC, this festival not only features bottled delights from Maui’s local winemakers, brewers and craft spirit makers, but a huge assortment craft food items and popular Maui food trucks.
We hope you’re ready to up your foodie-finds on The Valley Isle, and be sure to join us for a tour of Maui’s top craft food and beverage providers, including behind-the-scenes production tours with master brewers, boutique farmers, chefs, coffee roasters, spirit-makers and more.