If it's your first time to the island of Maui, then it's easy to find your bearings. Simply look out your plane's window when you're landing (get a seat on the left side of the plane for the best views). That massive mountain that seems to consume the entire skyline is the Haleakala Volcano. It's still active, but it hasn't erupted in centuries.
Haleakala dominates the eastern part of Maui. If you pull up a map of the island to zoom out, then you'll see that Maui has two distinct sides -- a smaller western side and a larger eastern side. Each side looks as if it's its own island, and Haleakala sits right in the middle of Maui's eastern "island."
Wrapping around the eastern side of the 10,000-foot volcano is the world-famous Road to Hana. The road takes you to, well, the city of Hana. But along the way, you'll encounter breathtaking beaches, hidden waterfalls, misty rainforests and challenging hikes. You'll also be treated to a few man-made attractions like local restaurants and arboretums.
And sitting right in the middle of Maui's two islands is the Maui Tropical Plantation. You can find the plantation right where the Road to Hana and the Backside Road to Hana converge, and many tourists choose to make the Maui Tropical Plantation a pitstop at the beginning or end of their Hana adventure. Either way, you can't go wrong.
The Maui Tropical Plantation consumes the majority of the misty Waikapū Valley in the heart of sugarcane country. You'll find more than 40 agricultural products on the plantation, including avocado, papaya, coffee, and macadamia nuts. And if you've never tried tropical papaya, then you're in for a real treat. It's as creamy as ice cream, but the fruit is much more satisfying in the humidity of the Hawaiian islands.
Hawaii sits right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the state benefits from tropical rains and humidity. Add this heat and moisture to fertile soil, and you have the recipe for an abundant life. You can see it in the vibrant crops on the plantation, and you can enjoy this fresh bounty right from the vine inside the plantation's restaurant.
The menu inside the restaurant changes with the seasons, but you'll always find fresh dishes that use the ingredients picked daily from the plantation itself. Let the executive chef of the restaurant indulge you with creations like smoked fish profiteroles, pork musubi, taro leaf risotto, and paniolo ribeye. It's the perfect way to fuel up for the Road to Hana or to cap off your Hana adventure.
The Maui Tropical Plantation boasts one of the island's best zip lines. The plantation offers up five ziplines that range from 300 to 900 feet in length, and the high-speed lines take you over the plantation for soaring views of Maui's bounty. You just might want to hit the ziplines before heading on over to the restaurant. You don't want to lose that tasty lunch.
The Mill House Restaurant inside the Maui Tropical Plantation Grounds offers up an exclusive monthly event called Chef's Table. On select weekends, you can attend an open-kitchen concept inside the restaurant where the head chef will talk you through the set course menu. You are free to ask questions in order to deepen your understanding of tropical cooking and the ingredients found on Maui.
The Maui Tropical Plantation is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tours of the Plantation start at $24 for adults and $12 for kids, and the tours start every hour on the hour.
You can find the plantation on the southern side of Wailuku. That's the same town where you landed at Maui's Kahului International Airport. Simply take Route 30, otherwise known as the Honoapiilani Highway, south out of Wailuku. The plantation will be on your right just as you pass the village of Waikapu and enter the Waikapu Valley.