Visit Paia for a Day
By Kathy Englert
South Maui is a great place to spend your vacation. The vacation rentals available in Kihei and Wailea are world class.
However, if you need a break from the tropical sun or the calm ocean of South Maui, a drive to the North Shore of Maui is the perfect change of scenery. After a short drive on the Mokulele and Hana Hwys, park and spend some time in Paia.
Paia is a town perfectly suited to walking and window shopping. Head out in the morning and have breakfast at Charley’s to start you day. Charley’s is a landmark in Paia and a favorite of the legendary Willie Nelson. Eggs Benedict is a house specialty made with canadian bacon, ono (a firm white fish), or spinach and it is too good to pass up. Pair your breakfast entree with a bloody mary or a mimosa made with fresh-squeezed orange juice for a perfect morning meal.
If all that Hollandaise sauce has you worried about getting back into your swimsuit, take a walk through town. Baldwin Avenue and Hana Hwy are lined with an eclectic selection of shops. After browsing custom made bikinis, beach hats, boutique clothing, and organic produce you’ll be ready for lunch.
Paia has several fantastic lunch options. From Vietnamese food at Fresh Mint to duck burgers at Cafe Mambo to crepes at Cafe de Amis you can’t go wrong in Paia. However, if you only have one day to spend in Paia, head into Flatbread Pizza on the Hana Hwy. The open air seating, “primitive wood-fired oven,” and long list of local fresh ingredients set their salads and pizzas apart. If you are looking to buy local and prefer to see certified organic ingredients on the menu, then Flatbread will exceed your expectations.
For dessert, walk to the traffic light. Ono Gelato, at the end of Baldwin Avenue, makes their gelato fresh every day. Try a few free samples before you settle on a flavor for a cone or a cup. Their gelato is made from local ingredients, with a focus on sustainability. Ono Gelato also has several dairy free sorbets and coffee made from locally grown, Maui coffee beans. If you want to take a pint home, but worry about it melting on the drive back to Kihei, don’t worry, they have another shop at the Azeka Mall.
Before you head back to your South Maui Condo, take a few minutes to enjoy Baldwin Beach Park. The large lawn is a perfect place to spread out a towel and enjoy a book, or hunt for shells along the beach. Boogie boarders will enjoy the shore break on the Paia side of the park, and families with small children should check out the tide pools at the sheltered “baby beach” on the Sprecklesville end of the park.
Alternately, you can drive a few minutes past Paia on the Hana Hwy to the world famous Hookipa Beach. In the fall and winter, the swells from storms to the north produce waves that thrill surfers and bystanders alike. The tradewinds also make Hookipa a favorite spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding and the upper parking lot provides plently of stunning backdrops for photographs.