Sliding the steaming mug across a counter both polished andscarred by years of use, Al Franco smiles and waits for me to siphis coffee. I’d been drawn into the false-fronted old building bythe pungent aroma of roasting coffee beans. While waiting for a potto fill, Franco explained that his organic coffee is all grown onsmall farms within walking distance of his tiny restaurant -Grandma’s Coffee House – high on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakalavolcano. I take a sip: The rich, black brew is delicious.
With all the vacationers jammed in all the resorts along Maui’sfabled beaches – we can see the white sands stretching far below -I’m surprised that there isn’t a line lingering out the door.Franco isn’t. “A man came in the other day who said he had beenstaying at the same condo in Kihei for 18 years and that this washis first time up here,” Franco recalls. “The poor guy said he wassorry he waited so long.”
That experience is typical of most travelers to Maui. The factis, the vast majority of the island’s vacationers head to the beachresort areas of Makena, Wailea, Kihei, and Kaanapali – and staythere the whole time. They have ample reasons. Maui’s sunny beachesare some of the best in the state and are fronted with shopping,dining, and lodging options for all budgets.
Of course, the same intensity of development that makes avacation along Maui’s west coast so appealing can also make itconfining. The most spectacular and least developed corners of theisland are long, exhausting day trips from most resorts.
The secret to exploring these hidden gems is taking the time todo it right. Maui’s figure-eight system of roads – portions ofwhich are rough and narrow enough in places to make driving a realadventure – lends itself to leisurely exploration. Each of thefollowing drives can be a destination in itself.
That, I tell Franco – just a bit smugly – as he tops off my mug,is what I’ve been doing for years. Let’s go to Hana>