Quick note before we get started: I am not in any way affiliated with the O’o Farm or any of their subsidiaries. Just a girl who loves to eat and am always on the lookout for the best experiences while travelling 😉
We just returned from 10 days in Hawaii, and I have to say, it exceeded all of our expectations, which were already quite high! I’ll be writing a few posts over the next couple of weeks covering best places to go on the Big Island and Maui, along with how/where to eat while travelling. I wanted to do this post first, because I just can’t wait to share how amazing this magical place is!
Visiting the O’o Farm in the upcountry of Kula, Maui was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
I first heard mention of the O’o Farm tour when I was researching places I wanted to travel to a couple of years ago. It popped up with excellent reviews and sounded like such an interesting and unusual experience that it stuck with me. When we booked our trip a few months ago, I knew we had to stop in at the farm.
As explained on our tour, this all started with the creation of the upscale restaurant Pacific’O in Lahaina, Maui in 1993. In 2000, the owners (who happen to be French-Canadian!) purchased 8 acres of farmland and it now supplies the restaurant along with several others with the majority of the food served to their customers.
At an elevation of 3,500 feet above sea level one the side of the inactive volcano Haleakala, the O’o farmers are in a unique position to grow over 60 different types of vegetables and fruits including coffee beans, along with stone fruits that are not able to be grown at lower elevations in the Hawaiian heat.
Of note: The red berry is what the coffee bean looks like when picked fresh from the tree (the colour can vary with the type of coffee bean). When squeezed, generally two coffee beans pop out, and while you can technically eat all parts of it raw, the actual coffee beans are not particularly palatable. The red skin of the bean, however, is delicious and tastes a little like a cherry.
There is plenty of citrus growing on the farm as well.
The tour will take you around the main parts of the farm, and the guides are very open to answering any questions you might have and want to make it your tour. There’s also a stop at the farm roasterie to demonstrate how they make their in-house blends. A cow bell rings to bring you to the table for the luncheon, and everything wraps up about 3 hours after the tour begins.
In a Travel + Leisure article about the farm, Chef Daniel Eskelsen was referred to as a “culinary wizard” by the author, which has become a bit of a running joke on the farm. However, while the title is given with good fun, it’s entirely accurate.
This was one of the BEST meals we have ever had.
I don’t mess around when it comes to food, and this was by far the freshest, most creatively made and fantastic meal I’ve ever eaten.
Not only that, but the O’o Farm takes the now-popular term farm-to-table to a whole new level.
You’re experiencing fine dining with a rustic twist and a stunning view of lower Maui and the ocean all at once. The majority of the meal is prepared in a wood-burning outdoor brick oven, and as part of the farm tour, you will pick the greens and beautiful edible flowers to be used in the gorgeous salad that will be part of your lunch.
Chard, kale, arugula, beet greens, radish and Bachelor’s Buttons flowers are just a few of the gorgeous edibles in the basket we collected for the salad.
Lunch is served outdoors at an open air, handcrafted table, and as one of our servers joked, it throws people that your farmer with dirty shoes is the one serving your meal. And by the way, as someone who worked in the service industry for years, they do an impeccable job.
Moreover, all of the staff at O’o Farm are genuinely appreciative of their visitors and are happy to see how much people enjoy the atmosphere they have lovingly created and tended as carefully as their crops.
Lunch was served family style in multiple courses, which I appreciated because it allowed time to truly savour and appreciate each course.
Courses were as follows the day we were there, this can vary based on the season (some info taken from the O’o site to refresh my memory on some ingredients):
The meal, the lovely, knowledgable staff, and the spectacular view of the lower part of the island along with brilliant blue ocean views are pretty hard to beat.
It looks like a painting.
One thing to note: I’m not a coffee drinker and actively avoid coffee for various reasons, including being sensitive to caffeine. But after having a sip from my guy’s mug, I shocked him AND myself by getting my own so I wouldn’t have to share. It was that smooth and delicious. Obviously, we bought a bag to bring home, and they also have house-made preserves available along with several different kinds/sizes of their award winning coffees.
We had around 15 people on our tour, and our guide Andy mentioned that they host around 30 people per tour on average during high season (December – April, generally).
Farm tours + lunch run Monday – Fridays from 10:30am – 1:30pm, and reservations are required in advance with a credit card to hold your spot. You also have the option to bring your own bottle of wine to have with lunch, which the staff will happily store and/or chill for you as appropriate based on the wine.
They also now offer farm tours that are specific to their award-winning coffee and include a delicious farm-made breakfast, running Monday – Fridays from 8:30am – 11:30am as well. Find more info on the O’o Farm website.
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