| High on Maui |
Haleakalā, 10,023-feet high, dominates Maui. Dormant but magnificent, she is the House of the Sun. On her rich volcanic raiments, in the Kula district, is Upcountry Maui, agricultural highlands of stunning beauty and breaktaking vistas all the way down to the liquid diamonds of the Pacific. Up here, where early settlers found the cooler climate perfect for living off the land, things don’t just grow, they thrive. So can you, in a green lodging nau wale no (just for you), Upcountry-style.
Close to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao, under stately banyan and monkeypod trees, rests a 1927 plantation manager’s house and 4 cottages called Banyan Tree House Bed and Breakfast. The area is known as Sunnyside, and while the sun shines dependably, the comfortable Upcountry climate makes air-conditioning as unnecessary as a fireplace down at sea level. These days, this 2-acre estate, with its views to Haleakalā, the West Maui Mountains, and the North Shore, is in the hands of eco-spirit Marty Herling, a former San Francisco organic restaurant owner. He’s taken the place green and wants to make it greener (his latest project: a new apartment for himself and “community center” for the property, employing solar and radiant heating).
The main house has the feel of a bygone era, with a marvelous living room, formal dining room, restaurant-quality kitchen, plus 3 bedrooms with private baths; it can be rented as a whole, or as individual guest rooms (or even as a 4-bedroom, 4-bath by including the attached cottage). Each cottage sleeps 2 or more; one has a full kitchen; and one is retrofitted for wheelchair access. Pick organic fruits of the season, relax on the tree swings, hammocks, the Jacuzzi, or 50-foot saltwater pool. Or use this as your jumping-off point for Maui exploration—you’re only 15 minutes from the beach and the island’s windsurfing and surfing meccas.
No pesticides are allowed, except occasional centipede control, and cleaning is nontoxic. Even renting a bedroom in the main house, you have full run of common areas, including the gourmet kitchen.
Right in historic Makawao town, you gotta love it: a 1924 Craftsman-style B&B on the historic registers where notes in guestrooms remind, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Innkeeper Cherie Attix has devoted more than a decade to restoring—and greening—her Hale Ho`okipa. This is vintage charm with an eco-spirit amid banana trees, flowers, lilikoi vines and a majestic Cook Island pine. Her work continues: an old redwood water tank will catch rain for garden irrigation, and solar hot water heaters will be added in the house.
She encourages guests to do a little restoration themselves by offering suggestions for “voluntourism”: daytrips to restore habitat on the slopes of Haleakalā or coastal areas, archeological sites, an ancient fishpond. She herself is a certified guide who leads “Hawaiian walkabouts.” At breakfast, as guests ask advice for their day, Cherie weaves in culturally sensitive issues—how to approach native Hawaiian sites with awareness and respect. She also reminds guests to unplug electronics they’ve brought, to reduce energy use. For families (kids aged 9 and older) or couples traveling together, the Kona Wing is a 2-bedroom suite with shared bath. The master bedroom’s large bay windows overlook yellow hibiscus and the lanai; the additional den/bedroom has 2 pillow-top futons. The B & B’s country kitchen is available to Kona Wing guests.
Breakfasts offer the property’s organic fruit. Bed linens are line dried. Ask for the delightful Rose room with its large bay windows and small fridge; it has both shower and claw-foot tub. The sunny Hibiscus room is ideal for a cozy couple.
No matter which green lodging suits you best, your Upcountry stay will be crowd-free and carefree, a perfect antidote to the push-pull hurry-hurry of the modern world.