Lavender and a Honeybee
"Can you smell that?" I asked Hua, who was thankfully navigating the winding road, going up and up, as I rolled down the window and stuck my head out like an excited pup. We were in upcountry Maui, on our way to the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, and I could smell it! The faintest trace of that intoxicating fragrance. There was no mistaking it, we were close.
Perched 4,000 feet on the slopes of the volcano Haleakala, Ali'i Kula Lavender is the site of over 55,000 lavender plants blooming across 13.5 acres of serenity. More than 45 varieties of the lovely plant are grown on the farm, 7 of which bloom year round.
Ali’i Chang is the owner and farmer of Ali’i Kula Lavender. Since February 2002, under the warmth of the Hawaiian sun and Ali'i's smiling demeanor, the farm has flourished with not only lavender, but also vibrant proteas, hydrangeas, geraniums, roses, olive trees, and native Hawaiian plants.
While lavender is not a native species to Hawaii, the cool and dry climate, and rich volcanic soil create an optimal environment for it to grow. And yes, I did say "cool climate." Maui sustains a fascinating number of microclimates, and it happens that in lavender country, temperatures can go down to the 40s at night. Remember that if you find yourself sunburned and sweltering just an hour or so away by the coast.
As for how lavender first came to Hawaii, the history is a bit unclear, but supposedly, the herb was brought from England to the royal palace in Honolulu in the 19th century (it seems Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani fancied it). In homage to its noble history, Ali'i Kula Lavender means the Royal Lavender of Kula.
The fragrance of lavender is known to have calming effects on one's being, and indeed, as I surveyed the sweeping vista in front of me and drank in the quiet beauty of the place, I felt a grounding sense of zen.
In fact, Ali'i Kula Lavender's mantra is "Relax, Rejuvenate, Renew," and it seems that every detail and service offered there is to reinforce that mindset. The dragonfly is used as their logo, an emblem that symbolizes rebirth and renewal; quiet sanctuaries are scattered throughout the grounds, picturesque places to just sit and enjoy, maybe even catch a quick nap; and everywhere you look, the mark of thoughtfulness appears.
My favorite? The toaster ovens out on the porch, ready to warm up one of the farm's famous buttery, flaky, Lavender Scones, and a spread of complimentary lavender liliko'i (passion fruit) jelly, lavender strawberry pepper jam, lavender honey, and lavender strawberry syrup.
Which brings me to the dizzying array of lavender products available here (more than 75, if you're counting). Edible, non-edible, sweet, savory -- you name it, they've got it.
Lavender brownies and shortbread cookies, teas, seasonings, jams, honey from the beehives on the property (crazy good), every bath and body product you could imagine, candles, sachets, even pet grooming products!
Apparently, not only does the scent of lavender relax and soothe, it also reduces symptoms from insomnia and vertigo, acts as a natural antiseptic, healing cuts and insect bites, and moisturizes.
I've been slathering myself with the heavenly body butter ever since I got my paws on a jar, and I can say, not only does it soften the skin, it helps to ease the imminent Maui withdrawal you're bound to face once you leave this paradise.
The impressive number of products is made possible by partnerships with more than 25 local businesses like Ono Gelato (responsible for lavender chocolate gelato), Kauai Kookie Kompany (producer of the delectable lavender shortbread cookies), The Hawaiian Fudge Sauce Company (lavender fudge sauce), Big Island Candies (lavender brownies and chocolate truffles), and so on…
"It is our social responsibility to take care of our communities and offer an experience that allows people to 'reconnect' to the land, to each other, and to themselves," says Chang. "We try to create opportunities for 'togetherness'."
It is this spirit of togetherness, collaboration, community that makes this lavender farm up in the mountains truly special. That, and the awesome smelling air.
Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm
1100 Waipoli Road
Kula, HI 96790