Paia (Maui): Where To Shop & Eat

Some habits die hard, and for me, the first thing I’ve always done whenever I have visited any new city or town is to check out the local retail scene. A leftover from my fashion industry days, the other reason was that I was on a mission to find myself a new one-piece swimsuit. At 51 years of age, pear-shaped, and with a lower centre of gravity, swimsuit shopping has a way of testing my self-confidence. But first thing’s first... Breakfast!

Breakfast on our first day in Paia was at Cafe des Amis, a rustic little joint well known for its crepes and curries, so good in fact that they were nominated for "Best Breakfast," "Best Sunday Brunch," and "Best Cajun Restaurant" in The Times of Acadiana Best of 2011. A mouthwatering breakfast crepe of scrambled eggs, ham, gruyere and tomato, and a surprisingly decent latte had me well fueled for the next couple of hours.

I found the retail scene in Paia a delightful surprise. Despite being more diverse than I anticipated for such a small town, there was the refreshing lack of large “fashion chains”. Long may it stay that way! 

Shopping in Paia:

Here is a listing of delightful Paia boutiques and galleries: 

1) Alice in Hulaland -  Alice In Hulaland seems to be a north shore landmark, f illed with everything from handcrafted jewelry, soaps, and Hawaiiana, to Alice In Hulaland T.shirts. Stanton, the owner of Alice In Hulaland, began working in retail in 1971 in Michigan when he opened his first shoe store “Just Looking Bootery.” After years of success in shoes, Stanton moved to Los Angeles where he opened up the historic “Hooray for Hollywood” on Hollywood Boulevard. Stanton not only does all the merchandise buying, he designs all the “Alice” T-shirts as well. While celebrities like Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Santana, Alice Cooper, and Gwen Stefani have all shopped at Alice In Hulaland at one time or another, I couldn’t quite find anything that I “had to have”. Still, I did love the “buzz” of this shop. 19 Baldwin Ave., Paia. 

2) Imrie - With 3 sisters and Mum doing the buying, Imrie’s collection focuses on easy and wearable pieces with a twist. Rather than being age specific, the clothes and accessories define an attitude of relaxed 

3) Indigo - Indigo offers organic, fair trade, one-of-a-kind objects sourced from Rajasthani goldsmiths, silk weavers in Varanasi, and Newari metalworkers. Rugs, jewelry, gifts, art, home furnishings, textiles, and photography from the far, and middle, east, this store is like Aladdin’s cave! My kind of store. 149 Hana H’way, Paia. 

4) Letarte - Decorated like ones ideal beach home, the Letarte store stocks the most divine range of swimwear, coordinated cover-ups, and sportswear guaranteed to have you salivating in no time. This Maui-based label, created by sisters Lisa Letarte Cabrinha and Michele Letarte Ross, made its debut in 2000, and is characterised by a bohemian island chic. However, the gorgeous, and very skimpy, swimwear styles tend to cater to a specific customer -- young and thin -- and the “once over” look from the shop attendant promptly told me that she agreed with me. Still, a lovely store with lovely merchandise. Well worth the visit. Baldwin Ave., Paia. 

5) Love the Beach - Loved the shop, loved the friendly and unaffected attitude of the sales staff. One of the few swimwear stores that still offer a customized service, you can even email your orders through. Just visit their website. Pity I was just passing through Paia, so couldn’t wait for a customized swim suit. Baldwin Ave., Paia. 

6) Mahina Boutique - Originating on Maui's north shore, Mahina is a chain of boutiques that specializes in super-cute women's clothing, jewelry, shoes and accessories at friendly prices. They’ve been voted "Best Boutique" by the readers of Maui Time Weekly in 2008, 2009 and 2010!

7) Maui Crafts Guild - Maui's only artist owned and operated cooperative gallery, the Maui Crafts Guild features 100% locally hand-crafted art. Every aspect of this business has been run by, and for, its members for nearly 30 years. With a membership of about 25 artisans, the guild is a collective of ceramists, woodworkers, print-makers, jewelers, textile artists, photographers, glass artists, basket weavers, and a few who defy classification, transforming everyday materials into works of art. 69 Hana H’way, Paia. 

8) Maui Girl Beachwear - Maui Girl offers the hottest, and largest, selection of beachwear in Maui, if you’re into bikinis that is. Way past my bikini days, Maui Girl’s limited selection of one-pieces wasn’t anything to get excited about. Still, a great store if you’re fit enough, or young enough, to flaunt it. 12 Baldwin Ave., Paia.  

9) Maui Hands - Voted the best gallery in 2007 and 2009 by Readers of Maui Magazine, Maui Hands stocks the works of Maui artists and artisans, some of whom have never shown before. Works include paintings (oils, watercolour and acrylic), lithographs, mixed media, woodwork, jewelry, and furniture. 84 Hana H’way, Paia. 

10) Moonbow Tropics - Awarded Best Specialty Store in Maui by the Governor’s Award, this cute store stocks everything from cool island gifts, jewelry, sandlas, bags, tees, womenswear, and Hawaiian shirts.  27 Baldwin Ave., 

11) Oceania Maui - Oceania Maui offers a mouthwatering array of handmade silver jewelry, teamed with pearls, shells, and semi precious stones, and a delicious array of silk sarongs, of which I am already proud owner of. Well worth a visit. Hana H’way, Paia. 

12) Paia Contemporary Gallery - A walk through this gallery was like a refreshing mind-cleanse from all the business of the outside world. With a distinct focus on the abstract art world, Paia Contemporary Gallery features paintings, etchings, and sculptures by a core group of local and international talents. A “must see” if you’re into the contemporary arts, Gallery Coordinator Mathew Nall will only be too delighted to walk you through this unique gallery experience. 83 Hana H’way, Paia. 

13) Paia Mercantile - Your one-stop gift and home accessories shop for all things “island”. Charming and quaint. Lovely people too. 2 Baldwin Ave., Paia.  

14) Tamara Catz - With a new line designed every 6 weeks, Tamara Catz specialises in one-of-a-kind dresses, resortwear, and bridal wear that features light and fluid fabrics embellished with beading and embroidery. If I had to get married all over again I’d do it “Island Style”, and I’d get my dress at Tamara Catz! 83 Hana H’way, Paia. 

15) Tropikidz - A fabulous store with a vibrant, tropical ambience, Tropikidz stocks the coolest kids’ clothes and accessories. 90A Hana Hwy., Paia. 
By the time I finished scanning Paia's shops, exhaustion had set in. What with the journey from Australia the day before, the time difference, the 2-3 hours of walking the shops of Paia.... Thankfully, Peter, in all his wisdom, had booked us both for a deep tissue massage at North Shore Chiropractic and Massage with a young lady named Rochelle, an extremely gifted masseuse.  As Rochelle worked on the knots in my neck, shoulders and back, I drifted in and out of a dream state, thinking how great it was to be alive. Check this place out! North Shore Chiropractic and Massage, 16 Baldwin Ave., #A - 

Dining In Paia:

Our first foray into dining at Paia was at the Paia Fish Market, where the menu is very simple. They do fish. Lots of it. All day long.... Fish and Chips, Fish and Salad, Fish Tacos, Fish Enchiladas, Fish Burgers ..... you get the picture.... However, the difference is that they do it very, VERY, well. I chose a huge serving of broiled Mahi-Mahi with salad for around the US$12.00 mark, and it was sublime! Not only were the prices of this place beyond reasonable, the fish was done to absolute perfection. The servings, except for the fish taco, are very generous.

Seating is no frills, with communal tables and benches lining the restaurant. The ordering system is easy: You line up, give your order, pay, and sit down and wait for your number to be called. Don't let the long line at the counter scare you off. If there are 2 of you, get your partner to save you a seat on the bench, you go and place the order, then sit down and wait for your number to be called. If you're alone, the atmosphere at the Paia Fish Market is so relaxed, people will only be too happy to share their table with you if you can find a spare seat anywhere. 

Our Favorite Restaurants In Paia: 

* Cafe des Amis - 42 Baldwin Ave., Paia - 
* Paia Fish Market - 100 Hana H’way, Paia -
* Mana Foods - 49 Baldwin Avenue, Paia. 
* Mama’s Fish House - 799 Poho Place. Paia. (808) 579-8488
* The Flatbread Company - 89 Hana Highway. Paia. (808) 579-8989.

Our Favorite Food Store: 

As Peter and I love to cook with all things fresh and organic, Mana Foods was like dying and going to culinary heaven. Known as the best organic/natural foods market on the island, if not in Hawaii. Mana’s grocery department offers a vast array of organic, natural, international and gourmet foods, and Fair Trade coffees and teas. Their produce department emphasises island grown and organic products including exotic fruit, herbs and spices. Mana even has it’s own bakery that caters to wheat free and vegan customers, with specialty breads and pastries baked fresh daily. For the carnivores, Mana’s butchers provides fresh grass fed island beef, local seafood, organic chicken and gourmet meats, while the dairy section offers the largest selection of specialty cheeses on the island. And as for your health care needs, there is a separate section that sells all the health supplements, Chinese herbs, homeopathic remedies and luscious lotions and potions for the skin and hair.   

Rustic and unassuming on the outside, Mana’s product range, sold at “honest” prices, needs to be seen to be believed. Shame on the larger cities of the world who haven’t managed to put together a food and produce store half as good as this one in little ol’ Paia! 49 Baldwin Avenue, Paia.

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