Paia is an eclectic, laid-back surf town on the north shore of Maui. Filled with bright shops and tasty organic restaurants, it’s the ideal place for tourists that wants to experience all the beauty that Maui has to offer without the crowds. Whether you are looking for a beach bungalow or a bed and breakfast in the heart of Paia town, you’ll find the accommodations you’ll need without massive hotels obstructing the views. It caters to the surfing, windsurfing, kiting, and other water sport communities, and is the beginning of the famous Road to Hana. Paia is where you’ll experience the essence of the aloha spirit and live like locals!
Beaches to Visit:
Ho’okipa Beach: Watch the surfing, windsurfing, and kiting professionals soar off monstrous waves at the famous Ho’okipa beach park. It’s an extra plus that turtles rest at night on the shores, a must see!
Paia Bay Beach: Paia Bay is only a short two to three-minute walk from the center of Paia and is the closest beach to town. This is a great spot for moderate to advanced bodyboarders as the waves can get large and tend to slam on the shore.
Baldwin Beach Park: Baldwin beach is the next beach over from Paia Bay and is arguably the most popular due to the smaller wave conditions. On weekends you’ll see hundreds of locals staking their spot for a long, relaxing beach day.
Jaws: If you’re lucky enough that the famous Jaws wave is breaking when you are visiting Paia, then it’s a must to check it out and is only about 10 minutes out of the way near Haiku. With waves from 40-80 feet high, only the best of the best brave this giant wave, either on a windsurfer, kiteboard, or surfboard. It might be the most extreme sport you ever watch in person!
Things to Do:
Road to Hana: The Road to Hana is famous for its breathtaking coastline, lush rainforests, and its abundance of impressive waterfalls. It definitely should be a bucket list item for anyone visiting Maui. It’s also equally as well known for its over 600 hairpin turns and 59 single lane bridges, so it’s not for the faint of heart or for anyone that gets carsick. There are guidebooks that can help you find the best spots, such as Red Sand Beach, the Seven Sacred Pools and the Pipiwai Trail. However, many guidebooks don’t respect local property and require you to trespass. The best way to experience Hana is to hire a local guide and let them show you around. Maui Pacific Tours specializes in private and semi-private tours that are custom tailored to whichever type of adventure you seek, and guides are happy to show you some local hidden secrets.
Go Shopping: Paia has a great mix of high-end boutiques and affordable shops, and is still much less crowded than the other popular walkable town, Lahaina. Paia itself is basically one major intersection and shops surrounding it for a quarter of a mile each way. However, there are plenty of jewelry shops, clothing stores, and art galleries packed into the area to entertain you for an afternoon. Stop into Paia Gelato as well for some local flavors, such as lilikoi or “sandy beach.”
Try Windsurfing: Kanaha Beach Park is a short drive from Paia and a great location to learn how to windsurf. You’ll find many windsurfers from beginners to experts sailing here. The summer months provide the best time to learn, with minimal waves and fewer crowds. For a full overview on windsurfing in Maui, check out our blog post.
Restaurants to Try:
Flatbread Pizza: Flatbread is easily our top pick. It has a casual, friendly atmosphere that seems like it was made for Paia, with some mouth-watering wood-fired pizza. It’s a bonus that all the ingredients are locally sourced and organic and that there are local beers on tap.
Café Mambo: Café Mambo is an eclectic and open concept restaurant with local artwork on seemingly every wall from the inside out. Open breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Café Mambo is a great choice any time of day. Their fajitas are constantly raved about by both locals and visitors, and their loco moco (a must try local dish) is top notch.
Paia Fish Market: Paia Fish Market is another open air restaurant that is arguably the heart of Paia, with its ideal location on the corner of the main intersection. If you’re looking for some local, fresh fish, then Paia Fish Market is a must. Everything involving fish on the menu is a good choice, from their fish tacos to their ono burger, to their fish and chips.