Maui – Paia
Surf and Hippies
But that’s not all. There’s health food too, and lots of it. Paia is one of the few towns we’ve explored in which home cooking and burgers are the exception and not the norm. Every restaurant leans towards vegetarianism.
Paia is located on the north coast of Maui, about twenty minutes via a slow drive from the airport. You may think you’ve been transported a few decades back in time. Long hair, tattoos, loose clothes and surfboards are everywhere. Having come straight from the plane, my jeans and brown shoes were very much out of place. I viewed my wardrobe as flying my freak flag high.
Paia is a tourist town. The central part of Maui is easily driven, and the drive from Kanapali is only about an hour. From Wailea, the other area with expensive resorts, is about a 30 minute drive. Plus, it’s close to the airport and Costco. If someone’s in for a week and makes a Costco run, Paia is a short diversion for lunch and a walkabout.
However, the walkable area is small, and the small cafes and coffee shops tucked back in nooks and crannies are easily accessible and still frequented by locals. And make sure you stop by the Magical Spinning Mural. The mural doesn’t spin, but the girl does. Of course, it’s an optical illusion, but it’s a really cool one.
The Land Beyond
The new age vibe extends beyond Paia. Head down the road to Haiku or up the hill to find retreat centers, alternative churches, more vegan restaurants, and of course Kombucha on tap and local coffee houses. The surf vibe diminishes as you move up the hill, but so do the short term tourists.
We found the Paia area, and Hawaii in general, as very generous with the share boards. Mana, the local health food store, has got a large, as does the Temple of Peace up the hill. As we always say, physical share boards are great ways to explore for yourself the offerings of the community. [We’re not saying that pictures of share boards make for the most dramatic view of a place, but businesses that help create community through share boards deserve a shout out.]
Ho’okipa is the location of our favorite picture spot. It’s also a spot for kite surfing. Depending on the wind, you find either surfers or kiter surfers at the spot, and from the lookout you can find photographers with large lenses. Our iPhone 6s was better suited for the rocky shore. It’s well worth the short drive east.
A little farther east you’ll find the turn for Jaws (Pe’ahi in Hawaiian). Jaws is the largest surf break on Maui and, according to the on-line Maui Guidebook [LINK], “The biggest wave surfed in the world each year has been at Pe’ahi more than any other place.” Those waves don’t reach their max potential unless there is north shore swell. If there is, we’d recommend a drive or walk down. During our trip, the swell wasn’t in, but we headed down anyway. And thanks to some good signage, we were able to find our way down the one-lane dirt road, which we successfully navigated in a modest rented sedan on a dry day. If you want some spectacular videos, do a search on Youtube. There are a bunch.
Yoga and more
There’s plenty of yoga in the area, and we’ll go into it our page. A word of caution, Paia is small. There are only two in town, but head up to Makawao or over to Haiku for more. And, of course, check the share boards.