Maui For Foodies: The Best Maui Food Tours, Tastings & Events
If you love food and drink, Maui will not disappoint! The island offers an astounding range of food choices, from trendy celebrity-chef restaurants to local “plate lunch” food trucks and roadside huli huli chicken stands. Our island produces a variety of gourmet food products and craft beverages (pineapple wine or sugar cane vodka, anyone?) and hosts some fabulous annual food & beverage events. Here are my recommendations for the best Maui food tours and experiences. This is Maui for foodies!
MAUI FOR FOODIES: UNIQUE MAUI FOOD TOURS & TASTINGS
MAUI CRAFT TOURS
For an easy and fun way to experience Maui’s farm and food destinations, you can’t beat Maui Craft Tours. They offer small-group tours exploring the island’s top food & beverage crafters, including many of the places I mention below in this blog–-local brewers, winemakers, distillers, coffee roasters, farms, and eateries. Leave the driving to someone else so you can relax and thoroughly enjoy your taste of Maui!
Photo © Maui Craft Tours
Ever been to a vodka farm? Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery is located in upcountry Maui. Enjoy a tour of this 80-acre sugar cane farm and distillery, which produces Ocean Organic Vodka, the only spirit in the world made from sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water. There is no admission fee to visit the farm and gift shop; there is a fee for the half-hour tour, which includes a tasting of Ocean Vodka.
SURFING GOAT DAIRY
Just down the road from the vodka farm, this charming certified-humane goat farm produces more than 30 delicious (and national award-winning) goat cheese products including aged soft cheese, chevre, and quark. There is no admission fee, so you can stop by anytime to sample the products. But three guided tours are available for purchase, and I personally love the 2-hour Grand Dairy Tour offered on Saturdays. Fun and informative! You can feed and milk the goats, learn about the cheese-making process, and enjoy a very generous tasting of the dairy’s gourmet goat cheeses. Come hungry!
Situated on a historic estate in Kula (upcountry Maui), surrounded by trees that are well over 150 years old, MauiWine’s tasting room and gift shop could not be situated in a more picturesque setting. The winery (formerly known as Tedeschi Winery) started in 1974 and now produces a range of unique pineapple wines as well as traditional estate wines. Wander the lovely grounds and stop by the tasting room to sample these wonderful handcrafted wines. Guided tours of the grounds are complimentary; there is a fee for wine tasting.
MAUI BREWING COMPANY
Maui Brewing Company, Hawaii’s largest craft brewery, offers 45-minute guided tours of its gleaming brewery facility in Kihei, ending with a tasting (there is a fee). And if you want to enjoy a meal along with your brewsky, you can dine at the large new signature restaurant that opened here in 2018. Even if you’re not a beer drinker, it’s a great restaurant. Family-friendly. . . and Maui Brewing Co. makes a really yummy root beer, too!
MAUI PINEAPPLE PLANTATION & DISTILLERY TOUR
The Maui Pineapple Tour is an authentic 90-minute tour of a working pineapple plantation in Hali’imaile (near Makawao). You’ll learn about “all things pineapple” and go right into the pineapple fields to sample sun-ripened fresh-picked Maui Gold pineapple, an extra sweet variety. Plus you’ll leave with your own pineapple, boxed and ready for travel (included in the tour price). You can also choose to include a 30-minute distillery tour of Hali’imaile Distilling Company, producers of Pau Maui Vodka, Fid Street Gin, Mahina Premium Rum, and Paniolo Blended Whiskey, and/or lunch at Hali’imaile General Store, one of Maui’s top restaurants.
MAUI FOR FOODIES: GREAT MAUI FOOD & BEVERAGE EXPERIENCES
THE CHEF’S TABLE AT THE MILL HOUSE
An interactive “must do” for foodies! Join your fellow diners in a private open-air hale (thatched house) at Maui Tropical Plantation as the culinary team from The Mill House, one of Maui’s most acclaimed farm-to-fork restaurants, prepares and serves a 6-course meal right before your eyes. The ever-changing menu at The Chef’s Table features the freshest and most innovative ingredients and is absolutely delicious. Offered Saturday nights.
O’O FARM GOURMET LUNCH AND FARM TOUR
O’o Farm in upcountry Maui offers a genuine “farm to fork” experience, starting with a tour of the 8.5-acre farm, during which you will harvest the produce for your meal. Then relax and enjoy a chef-prepared gourmet lunch incorporating the farm-fresh products, set on the slopes of Mount Haleakala with stunning views of the island. Offered on selected midweek dates. Also available, a similar O’o Farm experience for breakfast that includes a coffee farm tour: The Seed to Cup Gourmet Breakfast and Tour.
CHAMPAGNE HALE AT THE CLIFF HOUSE
Montage Kapalua Bay offers this “pop-up” lounge venue on a limited seasonal basis, and it is a truly extraordinary experience. The Champagne Hale (pictured) features Veuve Clicquot champagnes and gourmet appetizers in a spectacular setting directly on the water in the tiny, historic Cliff House—surrounded on three sides by the sea. The champagne is pricey, but for upscale travelers (or a special splurge) this is an exquisite way to enjoy a Maui sunset. The pop-up Rosé By The Bay occupies this venue at other selected times, featuring fine rosé wines. Check the Montage’s web site for current dates for these Cliff House events.
NA HOKU DINNER
Na Hoku means “the stars” and Napili Kai Beach Resort offers this intimate oceanside dining experience set outdoors under the stars on a private bluff overlooking Napili Bay. You’ll watch the sun set into the sea, then enjoy a four-course dinner (including wine paired with each course) served by your own dedicated waitstaff. Dinner by torchlight and starlight. . .magical! Na Hoku Dinner
MAUI FOR FOODIES: OUTSTANDING LUAUS
It’s fun (and enlightening) to try local cuisine when you travel, and you’re in for a real treat when it comes to sampling Polynesian and Hawaiian food. A luau provides a great introduction to these foods, with most luaus offering buffets of traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork, poi, and Molokai sweet potatoes (a local purple variety). However, the following two Maui luaus truly stand above the rest for doing something extraordinary with the food. Both are highly recommended — especially if the culinary experience is a top priority for you at a luau. (Pictured: The Feast at Mokapu, Andaz Maui)
THE FEAST AT MOKAPU, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort (South Maui)
The talented chefs at the Andaz Resort forgo the typical luau buffet and kick things up several notches with dishes that will turn the head of even the most discerning foodie. The Feast at Mokapu brings dish after family-style dish to your table, many of which will be the best you’ve had on Maui. Locally-caught fresh fish, grilled ulu salad, black pepper Kauai prawns, and pulehu ribeye steak are just a few of the delicious dishes you’ll find in front of you. The Andaz luau features a beautiful oceanfront setting, a great show, and offers premium seating for those who want a table close to stage.
FEAST AT LELE, 505 Front Street, Lahaina (West Maui)
Feast at Lele features a smaller, more intimate venue than the typical luau . . . more like a fine dining luau experience. Associated with the Old Lahaina Luau and Pacific’O Restaurant, this unique luau offers a lovely show and a five-course, sit-down (no buffet) gourmet dinner of Pacific Island foods. Tables are individual — you can actually reserve a table for two, if you wish, or a table just for your family and friends. And it’s right on the beach. Really. Your feet are in the sand while you’re eating!
MAUI FOR FOODIES: ANNUAL MAUI FOOD FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
FIRE IT UP! BBQ OF THE PACIFIC
The Grand Wailea hosts Fire It Up!, a delicious annual event every July, featuring top BBQ pitmasters from across the U.S. for a big ol’ beachfront barbecue! Hawaii’s meats, seafood, and produce–cooked exclusively with fire–are showcased at this two-day event. Details & Future Dates
WAILEA RESTAURANT WEEK
Twice a year, in spring and fall (usually May and November), Wailea’s fabulous, world-renowned restaurants celebrate Restaurant Week Wailea with three course, pre-fixe menus ranging from $29 to $59 per person. This is a great opportunity to experience these acclaimed restaurants at a value price and support a worthwhile cause while you’re munching — a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Maui Food Bank. Details & Future Dates (Here are some great Wailea condos to stay at)
HAWAII FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
This statewide event takes place over three weeks on multiple islands in the fall, showcasing Hawaii’s locally grown foods and featuring a roster of internationally known master chefs and culinary personalities. Hawaii Food & Wine Festival events take place on Maui each year (usually October) in the Kaanapali Beach Resort area. Details & Future Dates (Stay nearby at these Kaanapali accommodations)
KAPALUA WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
One of the granddaddies of Hawaii food events! This longstanding (four decades and counting) Maui food festival features wine tasting seminars, cooking demos, the Kapalua Seafood Festival and fabulous Grand Tasting event. Join renowned winemakers and celebrity chefs for this delicious weekend in Kapalua. Usually takes place in June. Details & Future Dates (Places to stay in Kapalua)
MAUI FILM FESTIVAL’S “TASTE” EVENTS
There are three wonderful food fests that take place in conjunction with the annual Wailea Film Festival: the Taste of Summer, Taste of Wailea, and Taste of Chocolate culinary events. Take your pick! The film festival usually takes place in June. Details & Future Dates Stay in a nearby Kihei hotel or condo
MAUI BREWERS FESTIVAL
If craft beer is your thing, this one’s for you! Featuring more than 40 breweries–craft beers from the mainland and Hawaii—food booths, door prizes, a home brew competition, and live music in the courtyard lawn area at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Usually takes place in May. Details & Future Dates
SEED TO CUP COFFEE FESTIVAL
Hosted by the Maui Coffee Association, this event is all about great coffee! Meet local coffee farmers and roasters, watch coffee processing demos, and enjoy plenty of opportunities to taste various coffees (pictured) and coffee-inspired foods. Live entertainment all day. Usually takes place in August at Maui Tropical Plantation. Details & Future Dates
The annual Maui County Agricultural Festival (Maui AgFest) at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku helps raise awareness about Maui’s agricultural and livestock products. The day-long event includes Maui’s largest farmer’s market, food booths and trucks, a pancake breakfast, Grand Taste event, and the Grown on Maui Chefs’ Collaboration Dinner. It’s hosted each spring/early summer (May or June) by the Maui County Farm Bureau. Details & Future Dates
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Candy Aluli, Publisher
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