Paia, Mauiʼs Little Secret 

Although sharing the same island of Maui as Ka'anapali and Lahaina, Paia is another world away. Back in the 1880s, the primary branch among the biggest sugar mills in theregion was erected near Paia. The popularity of the sugar mill, owned by the Baldwin Company, attracted Asian and European expatriates who were also involved in the caneindustry. Up until the 1940s, residents depended on the flourishing sugar industry in orderto develop the area. However, the 1950's saw the decline of the cane industry.

Though some plantation owners continue to operate at this point, many decided to move on and venture in other agricultural industries. Interestingly enough, what savedPaia from becoming a virtual ghost time was the arrival of the hippies in the 1960's, who contributed greatly in transforming the town.

Free-spirited and enterprising, the hippies opened the first few arts and craft shops and specialty restaurants in Paia. The 1990s saw this once sluggish town embrace a new identity, that of capital of windsurfing in the whole world. Highly touted as "The Windsurfing Capital of the World," Paia's calm and moderately tempered Ho'okipa Beach is perfect grounds for amateur and pro surfers.

Paia has retained that small country town feel, mixed with a bohemian and alternate edge, that has now been long lost in many parts of Hawaii. But Paia is definitely not a "backwater" town. The clusters of old plantation style wooden buildings house a startling array of specialty stores and boutiques that offer high quality merchandise from innovative designers and artisans. And if the shops were a pleasant surprise, the innovative restaurants for such a small town blew us away.


6 Best Things To Do In Paia:

1) Makawao, a “Pianolo” Town - Our drive to Kula took us to the “paniolo” upcountry town of Makawao. The “paniolos” were the first cowboys in the United States. Long before there were cowboys in the Old West, paniolos came to Hawaii in the early 1800's from Mexico to teach the Hawaiians how to herd cattle. Once a typical, rough and tumble, cowboy town, Makawao still retains much of that cowboy flavor in the facades of its buildings, and boutiques that stock everything “cowboy”, from saddles, boots, belts, hats, to bandannas, cowboy themed Tees, jeans, and the “must have” Western shirt. And each year, on the weekend of the 4 July, Makawaoʼs population swells as the island comes together for the Makawao Rodeo.

Over that weekend, activities such as bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, and a community parade, bring visitors from far and wide to this little town. However, Makawao is not just about all things “pianolo”. Sitting side-by-side the “pianolo”
retailers are art galleries, boutiques, craft stores, cafes and eateries.


2) Makawaoʼs Art Scene - The art scene in Makawao is impressive for such a small town, so much so that it is said to be on its way to rivaling Lahaina and Wailea, two of Mauiʼs larger and more commercial towns. But apart from the various art galleries that dot the town of Makawao, a visit to Hui Noʼeau Visual Arts Centre is a must.

Located on the outskirts of the main town of Makawao, Hui Noʻeau occupies the historic Upcountry estate, Kaluanui, a spacious Mediterranean style home designed in 1917 by distinguished architect C.W. Dickey for Harry Baldwin and his wife, Ethel, who founded Hui Noʻeau in 1934. In 1976, the late Colin Cameron, grandson of the Baldwins and former president of Maui Land & Pineapple Co., generously granted Hui Noʻeau the use of Kaluanui as a visual arts centre. In that time, Hui Noʻeau have converted the main house to gallery and classroom spaces, studios, offices and a historical exhibition space. The in-house dairy now serves as Mauiʼs only public photography darkroom space. The stables and tack rooms are now a ceramics and jewelry studio and the large carriage house has been renovated to house printmaking and multi-use studios. Hui Noʼeau Visual Arts Centre, 2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao.

3) Aliʼi Kula Lavender Farm - Owned by Aliʼi Chang, the Aliʼi Kula Lavender Farm occupies a 13.5 acre estate with over 45 different varieties of lavender flourishing, some of them all-year round. Peter and I took ourselves on a self-guided tour of the farm, and the views from the estate are breathtaking, with the musky scent of lavender permeating the atmosphere. The mood at the Aliʼi Kula Lavender Farm is definitely chilled-out, tranquil, and serene. Lavender pot pourri, soaps, potions, and lotions are not all that are available for sale at Aliʼi Kula Lavender Farm. Aliʼi Changʼs creative streak has led him to collaborate with local growers and businesses to produce unique products, such as Lavender Coffee, Lavender Chocolate Truffles, Lavender Chocolate Gelato, Lavender Tropical Sunscreen, etc. The list goes on and on. For the guided Walking Tour times, and products available online, go to www.aklmaui.com

4) Oʼo Farm - Owned and operated by PacificʼO and IʼO restaurants in Lahaina, Oʼo Farmʼs impressive bio-dynamic practices and farming techniques focuses on emulating natureʼs virtue of balance, harmony, and self-regulation in growing produce. This pioneering project, that of bringing the gardens and farm into harmony with natureʼs cyclical rhythms, views the land as a living force, with us, as humans, an extension of it. The result of biodynamic farming is not only lower impact on the farm environment, higher soil fertility, biological pest control, but an increased flavor in the produce and higher levels of nutritional benefits for the end consumer.

If you are curious about the simple perfection of bio-dynamic farming, and would like to be reminded of what vegetables should REALLY taste like, do book into Oʼo Farmʼs Gourmet Organic Tour. It costs $50 per person and runs every Wednesday and Thursday, from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. 

Hot apple cider and pastries are served before a gathering and discussion of Oʼo Farmʼs ecologically sound biodynamic practices, after which the group returns to the picnic grounds, where you can view lunch being made before savoring the fruits of their pickings over a glass of wine. Guests are welcome to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to enjoy with lunch. Reservations for Oʼo Farmʼs Gourmet Organic Tours are essential and numbers are limited, so do call ahead on
808.667.4341.

5) The Surfing Goat Dairy - The Surfing Goat is a must-see, if you are into your cheeses. As the GPS tends not to work too well in this area, itʼs best if you go by the old-fashion directions provided by the Dairy and watch out for the surf board at the entrance of the farm.

The goats are milked at specific times, and the farm, naturally, revolves around the goats, so itʼs not advisable to just show up without a booking. The tours are fascinating, particularly if you have children. A 20 minute tour costs about $7-$12, and gives you the opportunity to feed and pet the goats. The hour-long milking tour at 3:30 pm gives you the chance to go out to the pasture, learn about the breeding process, watch the dogs do a bit of herding, and milk the goats. Both tours give you a good background on the cheese making process, with cheese tasting included. If you have the opportunity, try the cheese wrapped in grape leaves, called the Napa Wrap. Divine! Apart from the cheese, the setting is absolutely beautiful, and the Surfing Goat staff are knowledgable and friendly.

6) Communing with Nature On Twin Falls - Maui is chock-a-block full of secret waterfalls, secluded coastlines, tropical rainforests filled with exotic flaura and fauna, valley ridges, and hidden streams, particularly on the north shore. So after days engaged in traveling, shopping, eating, and sightseeing, we thought it high time to have a heart-to-heart with nature, and what better way to gently ease ourselves into the activity than on a walking trail to Twin Falls.

Twin Falls is only the first of several waterfalls along the road to Hana, and is located between Paia and Huelo. With an absence of signage prior to getting there, we were told to look for the 2 mile marker along the Hana Highway, then keep an eye out for the fruit stand whose past incarnation was a school bus, with a sign on its roof saying “Twin Falls”. We found it easily enough; the trail started pretty much the minute we parked our car and walked past the bus. We were instantly grateful to the local who recommended that we, A) take our swimmers with us on this hike, and B) told us to take proper shoes with grip that we didnʼt mind getting wet. It allowed us to navigate the various terrain, including shallow waters with a rocky base and lots of mud.

The hike to Twin Falls is a relatively short (half hour), and an easy one at that. The surrounding area is picturesque, peaceful, and lush as only a tropical rainforest can be. Twin Falls itself is small, as far as waterfalls go. But this gave us the opportunity to swim right up, and under, the falls, giving us great relief from the sweltering heat. What a special experience! It was like a little patch of Eden. After swimming to our heartʼs content, and hiking back to the “school bus”, we treated ourselves to some coconut milk, straight out of the coconut. And although we brought along our own snacks, reports on the banana bread were nothing short of sensational.

What To Bring on your Twin Falls Hike
  • Water and snacks
  • Swimmers and towel
  • Shorts and walking shoes with grip that you don’t mind getting wet
  • Mosquito repellant (for your legs and arms)
Directions to Twin Falls: Between the town of Paia and Huelo, at the intersection of Route 400, the road changes from Highway 36 to Highway 360 and the mile markers start over again at zero. Past Mile Marker #2, keep an eye out on the right hand side of the road for the fruit stand-cum-school bus, with “Twin Falls” sign on the roof. Pull over and park you car along the side of the road.

Nervous About Going Off The Beaten Track? Leave It To The Experts!



As John Keats once said, the poetry of the earth is never dead, and never has this saying held more truth than in Mauiʼs north shore. If youʼre longing to plunge yourself into nature but donʼt know where to start, leave it to the experts, Hike 

Maui. They have been organizing walks through Mauiʼs magical wilderness for 27 years. Waterfalls. Rainforests. Volcanoes. Led by trained naturalists, you could not be in better hands. You go with the experts. www.hikemaui.com If surfing is your thing, then contact Dream Surf Trips. Guys trips, girls trips, world class destinations, exclusive billabong giveaways, beginner to advanced. Now is your chance to book your perfect wave! www.dreamsurfadventures.com and www.girlsurftrip.com.


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