There’s something about Maui
It makes you want to just stand still and take a deep breath. Maybe it’s how the sun noses through the cumulus canopy, casting a misty shine across the island valleys. Maybe it’s the air, heady and sweet with plumeria, or the mellow sounds of gulls and surf along the shores. For me, it’s the bracing jolt of Moose’s cold brew.
“Locally grown, hand-roasted,” Ryan “Moose” Gross tells our group, jotting our names onto travel cups before filling them with coffee.
Relaxed and affable, Gross is known as the “Craft Sherpa” for Maui Craft Tours, a culinary- and community-focused outfit that seeks to showcase the artisanal traditions of “Old Maui.” The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Carrie and David Adelmann, the organization introduces visitors to the eco-conscious island known for its farm-to-table cuisine and cowboy culture.
On my first morning in this primordial paradise, I’m travelling from the elevated Kula countryside and the slopes of the Haleakala volcano to Kihei on the southern leeward coast. Although it’s barely 9 a.m., I’m already geared up for a day of pineapple wine and coconut beer as I clamber into the back of the colourful tour van.
As the second-largest island in Hawaii, Maui has abundant natural resources and its sub-climates make an ideal setting for a horticultural history that harkens back to early Polynesian settlers, who arrived as early as 450 AD. It’s believed these voyagers introduced taro, coconut, banana and sugarcane to the islands. In the late 18th century, Westerners arrived with cattle, coffee and pineapple—and a new age of industrial agriculture began.