From its heyday as the largest town on Maui to its current prominence as one of the 50 Best Small Towns in America, the community of Paia Maui continues to redefine itself. That’s good news for our Maui vacation rental guests who come here to explore the town’s spectacular Maui beaches, remarkable art galleries, fine restaurants and colorful boutiques. This town has the last stoplight too at the start of the famous Hana Highway and is your last opportunity to top your tank before Hana.
Paia stands for “Noisy” and refers to its time as a bustling sugar town. When Paia lost its dynamism to Kahului, the town took a nap until the 1970’s when an influx of paradise seeking hippies arrived. They were followed in the 1980’s by windsurfers who gave Paia another shot in the arm. Over the years the storefronts were revitalized and a new breed of merchants arrived.
Located less than nine miles from Kahului Airport and only 21 miles from our Wailea rentals on South Maui, Paia offers many things to do on Maui. Here are some places not to miss on your Maui vacation.
1. Explore Nearby Maui Beaches at Paia – H.P. Baldwin Beach Park and Ho`okipa Beach
Paia is nestled between two incredible Maui beaches. Baldwin Beach Park has long stretches of sand to roam and offers good swimming during summer. To the far right of the parking lot is the “cove” where swimmers and yogis gathers. On the other side of town towards Hana is Ho`okipa Beach which stands for “Hospitality.” It has one of the best places in the world for windsurfing and is just down the road from Mama’s Fish House. While swimming is not advisable unless the ocean is flat, you will want to linger at Ho`okipa and watch hundreds of kites and sails against the deep blue sky. Both of these Maui beaches have lifeguards on duty, parking and restrooms.
2. Channel your Inner OM at Maui Dharma Center
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lami came here in 2007 to bless the Stupa of this Tibetan Buddhist study center. The Stupa stands 27 feet high and has a large mani prayer wheel. Stop by and visit free of charge during the day at this symbol of peace. For a list of activities, visit the Maui Dharma Center online or call 808-579-8076. Located in upper Paia at 81 Baldwin Avenue.
3. Shop Paia Style
Prices are good for just about everything and the stores are plentiful. Mana Foods is not to be missed and is frequently honored as one of the best health food stores in Hawaii. Their varied selection also includes unique Maui souvenirs of your trip. Art Collectors will like the Maui Crafts Guild which is one of the best art outlets in Hawaii. All artists are islanders and they must use natural materials found in Hawaii. Other boutiques include shops selling Aloha wear, collectibles, jewelry, windsurfing gear and more.
4. Pick Your Local Fish
In addition to vegan restaurants, boxed lunches, coffee bars and Paia Gelato, there are two excellent fish restaurants to fit all budgets. Paia Fish Market has been a local fixture in the center of town since 1989. Go to the counter, order your food then find a seat to enjoy a great meal. Prices are reasonable for lunch and dinner. Call 808-579-8030 for information. Your other option is worth the splurge and one of the best restaurants in the USA. Head to Mama’s Fish House for a great view of Maui’s north shore and terrific local fish. An unforgettable evening awaits but call first for reservations at 808-579-8488.
Now that you have our best tips for a few hours or day in Paia, plan to visit soon and enjoy the town’s incredible surfing beaches, fine restaurants, colorful stores and people. If you have favorite places to go in Paia, we invite you to list them in our comment section below.