Sightseeing south of Lahaina is an interesting mix of archeology, informative tours—especially for coffee enthusiasts—and unconventional fun. You’ll need to plan ahead for everything except visiting the petroglyphs, which are easily accessible by the public, and while it’s at times possible to do all of this in a single day, expect it to be a very tight schedule.
For every 1,000 people who snorkel at Olowalu, probably only one makes it back to the ki‘i pohaku, or petroglyphs behind the Olowalu General Store. Hidden a half-mile back in the recesses of Olowalu valley, the 70 rock carvings on the face of Pu‘u Kilea date to a time nearly 300 years ago when there was no written language and drawings were one of the only ways of communicating other than storytelling, song, or dance.
The Olowalu valley is an area that is heavily steeped in Hawaiian history, and though a century of sugar cultivation and the encroachment of modern development has eroded the traditional village sites, there are still a number of families living back in the valley who aim to perpetuate the lifestyle of their ancestors. To find the petroglyphs, drive on the road behind the Olowalu fruit stand at mile marker 15 and proceed on the paved segment, which runs back toward the valley. After half a mile you will see signs for the Olowalu Cultural Reserve, and when the road turns to dirt, the petroglyphs will be on the rock face about 200 yards down. Unfortunately, some of the petroglyphs have been vandalized, so visitors are kindly asked to keep a respectful distance from the rock face.
Piliani Kope Coffee Farm
The Piliani Kope Coffee Farm (15 Wailau Pl., 808/661-5479), high on the hill in the Launiupoko subdivision, offers tours that will walk you through every step of the coffee process. Hawaii is the only U.S. state where coffee is commercially harvested. Aside from having a stunning ocean view, this working coffee farm produces some of the island’s best coffee and is an educational experience. Ninety-minute tours are held regularly on Tuesday and Thursday during the cooler morning hours at $10/person. The farm just requests that you call a couple of days ahead to confirm the exact timing.
During September through December when the farm is processing coffee, there is an in-depth, three-hour, $90/person processing tour covering every single aspect of the growing and roasting process. This tour also includes lunch and offers the island’s best insight into what has become the fastest-growing and most successful crop on Maui.
Maui Dragon Fruit Farm
The Maui Dragon Fruit Farm (833 Punakea Lp., 808/264-6127), also in the Launiupoko subdivision, makes for a curious combination of agriculture and adventure. Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit native to Central and South America, although it’s most often seen in markets throughout Southeast Asia. With the consistency of an apple but the look of an exotic poppy seed muffin, dragon fruit is one of the most colorfully named as well as colorful produce species on the island. In addition to the dragon fruit, various other crops are grown on this certified organic farm. Daily walking tours take place 1pm-2pm daily for $25/adult.
Additional adventure activities are available throughout the farm such as a 450-foot-long zipline and an enormous, plastic “Aquaball,” which is filled with water and then rolled 450 feet downhill (with you inside, of course). The zipline inclusion is $80/adult or $50/child, and the Aquaball is $100/adult and $70/child. Zipline tours of the farm take place at 10am, 2pm, and 5pm, and the Aquaball tour is at either 11:30am or 3:30pm. Combine the farm tour, the zipline, and the Aquaball into a zany package for $140/adult or $100/child.