Find the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm at an elevation of 4,000 feet on the slopes of Haleakala in Upcountry Maui. 25 different varieties of the pretty purple plant can be found here, along with olive trees, hydrangea, Protea, succulents, native Hawaiian flora, roses, and more. From guided walking tours and craft classes to picnics and secret garden treasure hunts, a visit to this uniquely magical place (sadly, often overlooked by tourists) is the perfect way to take a break from the usual beach activities that Maui is known for.
The Ali'i Kula Lavender farm (AKL) was founded by Ali’i Chang, an agricultural artist and horticultural master, who created the entire farm from a single lavender plant that he received from a friend in 2001. Currently, the 13.5-acre farm is home to approximately 55,000 lavender plants, and the company continues to be a purveyor of sustainable aloha. Through educational stewardship highlighting the well-being of Hawaii’s communities for future generations, Kula Lavender plays an important part in supporting Upcountry Maui’s sustainable economies through agri-tourism and agricultural education. AKL prides itself on promoting the very best farming practices to respect the natural environment, the "kupuna" (elders), and the "aina" (land).
Ali'i Chang continued to share his love for agriculture as his self-built business grew from one single plant to a thriving multi-acre business, spending his days sharing stories and facts about lavender to the garden’s many visitors. Sadly, Ali'i Chang passed away in 2011 at the age of 69, but his thriving lavender farm lives on while continuing to be one of Maui’s many unexpected highlights.
The farm is located at 1100 Waipoli Road in Kula, about 40 miles from Lahaina and 20 miles from Kahului. Don’t be fooled looking at a map if you’re staying in Kihei or Wailea; the way the roads are set up means driving to the farm will still take upwards of an hour, despite appearing so close together.
While admission to the farm used to be free, a small fee was integrated in 2012 to enable the farm to sustain a small group of farmers and gardeners to tend to the important plants, host tours, and maintain trails for the safety of the guests. Just $3 a person will get you in, with discounts available for Kama'aina, military, and seniors (children 12 and under are free).
Hours of operations are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the last entry at 3:45 p.m.
What to Do and See
Enjoying the tranquility of this relaxing spot is reason enough to stop by, but there are also a number of tours and events put on by the farm for families and couples to enjoy as well. To book tours, visit the website (or contact directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808-878-3004).
Walking Tour: Learn about the health benefits of lavender, as well as its many different uses, how it grows, and history. See, touch, and (most importantly) smell the different varieties of lavender that flourish on property and learn more about the different products that can be made with lavender. The farm offers 30-minute walking tours every day at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. for $12 per person by reservation only. Participants should bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk on uneven ground in certain parts.
Cart Tour: For those who find walking more challenging, reserve a seat on the cart tour for $25 per person. This tour allows visitors to view the farm from the seat of a five-passenger vehicle with a dedicated driver and tour guide, covering more ground than the regular walking tour. The 45 minute-cart tours are available by reservation only, daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Gourmet Picnic Lunch: For a romantic picnic or family-friendly lunch in the garden, book a reserved lunch that includes your choice of wrap, sandwich or salad, chips, a homemade lavender-infused dessert, and choice of beverage. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance and cost $26 per person.
Lavender Treasure Hunt: Children will love to explore the “secret garden” while following a treasure map to the more hidden and underdeveloped sections of the farm. The hunt is open to all ages, and the map leads to special locations that aren’t included in the regular tour. No reservations or extra costs are required.
Throughout the year, the farm also offers crafting classes that change with the seasons, depending on what’s in bloom. Check out the events page to see upcoming lavender-centric events at the farm.
Once you get enough of the gardens, be sure to visit the gift shop, where the soothing scent of lavender continues with every lavender-based product you could imagine; From the obvious lavender teas, candles, and bath products to the more unique lavender honeys (locally sourced straight from the beehives on the property), lavender brownies, cookies, and jams.
Around the Area
The upcountry region of Maui is a unique part of the island, with multiple microclimates and high elevations helping to create a more mountainous, rural atmosphere. Before or after touring the lavender fields, why not take some time to explore some other attractions around the area? Go wine tasting at Maui Wines, located just about 10 miles south of the farm, and try some of the vintages grown and bottled right at Ulupalakua vineyard (the only one on the island). Or head north to the town of Paia, about a 17-mile drive up from Kula Lavender. Apart from being a quaint little surfer town on Maui’s north shore, Paia is also the setting off point to the Road to Hana and the location for one of Maui’s best restaurants, Mama’s Fish House.
The Kula Botanical Gardens are practically next door at less than two miles away, and Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery, an 80-acre organic farm on the same slopes of Haleakala, offers tours and tastings of its locally-produced vodka nearby as well.
Spend some time around the 10,000-foot dormant volcano at Haleakala National Park, where there are multiple hikes and lookouts to enjoy—it is even possible to view the sunrise and sunset from the summit by reservation only.
Tips for Visiting
The lavender love doesn’t have to stop once you leave the farm; the Ali’i Lavender website has a collection of lavender-based recipes, health tips, and tips for growing your own herbs at home.
One of the biggest highlights to the lavender farm is the homemade lavender scones with lilikoi jam or lavender honey and fresh lavender tea offered at the shop. Visitors and locals travel to Upcountry Maui just to get their hands on some of these pastries, and they even sell to-go scone mix and tea bags to bring the farm back home with you.
The farm itself is up on a mountain, so the grounds and parking lot have somewhat of a steep incline. Visitors with walking difficulties may want to bring something to make it easier on themselves to get up and down. Another option is to call ahead to let the office know that you will be dropping someone off in the front of the gift shop first before parking in the lot.
Though it is always good to check the weather before driving on Maui, keep in mind that upcountry is often more than 10 degrees (F) cooler than the warmer resort areas of Wailea, Kihei, and Lahaina. Even if it is warm where you start out, bring along a light sweater or a long shirt just in case.
Custom products made with Kula Lavender from the farm are available for purchase at the onsite gift shop, though you can also find them in stores throughout Maui and Oahu. Each product is hand made using natural, botanical, and organic ingredients.
Not a big fan of lavender? Kula Lavender Farm also has a variety of other botanicals as well, including the unique Protea flower species that blooms in the winter months. Not to mention, the elevated views are just as impressive without the plants and flowers, and the cooler air provides a refreshing break from the coastal heat.
The farm collects a professional photography fee of $50 per hour for professional photoshoots. If you want to have your engagement photos or family photos onsite then the photographer must contact the farm in advance.
Lavender typically blooms in the summertime, but Hawaii’s warm climate means that Kula Lavender Farm contains certain Spanish and French varieties that bloom year-round. If you really want to be engulfed in big fields of lavender, however, plan a trip during the peak during mid-summer from July to August.