Paia Stories and Tips


The main street in Pa'ia. Photo, Paia, Hawaii

One of the quaintest places you will ever encounter in Maui is the little town of Pa’ia; the last real town you will meet on your start to the Hana highway. Pa’ia’s charm rests in its total lack of pretension and interest in wooing visitors- there are no great views or waterfalls to attract the hordes, no aquariums or exhibition centers to entertain children- in fact the scenery here is downright ordinary. Yet the disheveled appearance of the town and its ‘bizarre’ characters roaming around the tiny streets give the town its own unique character. The townspeople look like they have just time-traveled from Woodstock; almost everyone is, to varying degrees, feathered, sequined, tattooed, dreadlocked and riding on a Harley. The quirky Holy Rosary Church , houses a memorial to Father Damien who worked at the leprosy settlement in Molokai. Oh, and wearing shoes are optional here.

Pa’ia is surprisingly known to be second to Lahaina in terms of shopping; not so much in terms of its scale but more for the unique and eclectic selections offered here. A world of wonderful, unfamiliar merchandise often unavailable elsewhere make Pa’ia a paradise for shoppers who are looking for the unusual and exotic. One-of-a-kind stores like Bead Heaven and Hemp House are a welcome change after seeing thousands of chocolate-covered macadamias and paper hula skirts. In addition to the ubiquitous surf shops and liquor stores, one cannot help but smile at aptly moniker-ed shops like the Big Bugga Sportswear.

Pa’ia also offers fantastic array of dining opportunities. Anthony’s Coffee Co. is a morning must –stop on your way to Hana. The coffee is sublime and prices are extremely reasonable, ranging from $3 -$7 for breakfast and lunch. If you are hankering for more baked goods, swing by Cakewalk Pa’ia Bakery for unusually delicious cakes but be prepared to pay quite a bit more for your indulgence. Also, don’t miss the best and finest shaved ice on Maui ($3-$5) at the Aloha Island Shave Ice at 77 Hana Highway. For a top quality experience and great seafood, look no further than Mama’s Fish House . It is expensive- (about $35 for lunch and $ 50 for dinner) but their location right next to a beach and tide pool more than makes up for the price.

Just outside of Pa’ia , Ho’okipa Lookout is such a premier windsurfing spot on the island that only expert windsurfers are allowed to surf after 11a.m. Even if you are taking advanced lessons here, you need to bring your own gear as windsurfing companies are not allowed to deliver gear here. Local users actually roam around to ensure that no beginners are allowed at this sacred spot. Yet all these restrictions only succeed in making Ho’okipa an inspiring place to appreciate the skills of the experts as they streak faster than the wind in the open blue ocean.

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