The history of this eclectic surfing town on Maui’s north shore can be traced to the opening of the Paia Sugar Mill in 1880.
Plantation camps housed workers of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, and Native Hawaiian descent, and in 1896, the Paia Store was opened to support the needs of immigrant sugar workers.
As the main hub of Maui’s north shore, Paia has undoubtedly experienced waves of change in the last several decades, but it still is overflowing with the energy of its plantation past. Today, approximately 2,700 people call the sleepy surfside town of Paia home.
Despite all of Paia's charm and incredible beaches, the town has managed to avoid becoming gentrified or touristy, and is home a unique mix of eccentric and colorful individuals who are undoubtedly drawn to the town's bohemian atmosphere and laid-back vibes.
Start your day with a cup of coffee and delicious breakfast sandwich from Paia Bay Coffee.
This funky and relaxed coffee shop serves up heavenly coffee drinks and delicious breakfast and lunch items in a hip, eclectic atmosphere with garden seating. It’s a little bit hard to find as the entrance is tucked into an alley, but the dirty chai lattes and espresso drinks are totally worth the hassle.
Then, you’re off to do some shopping in the town’s charming center.
The small, half-mile main drag packs in a ton of cool boutiques, surf and swimwear shops, fine art galleries, tattoo parlors, a bike shop, and even a hemp store.
You'll want to stop at the Paia Peace Stupa for a quick visit as well.
The Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa is the gateway to the Maui Dharma Center, and is dedicated to the late Lama Tenzin, the center's first full-time resident teacher, who passed in 2001. Construction on the Stupa began in 2005, and was finished just in time to be consecrated by the Dalai Lama, on his Holiness' historic visit to Maui in 2007.
For lunch, head to the onolicious Flatbread Company for some of the best pizza in Hawaii.
Featuring locally sourced, organic ingredients, Flatbread Company serves up delicious made-to-order flatbread pizzas baked in a wood fire oven.
There’s little better than spending your afternoon on the beach, and luckily Paia has several stretches of sand to choose from, including Baldwin Beach Park, Paia Bay, and Baby Beach.
Just stay away from Paia Secret Beach, the local nudist hangout - unless you're into that sort of thing.
Now, it’s time to cool down with a scoop of scrumptious gelato from Paia Gelato.
Serving up a plethora of Hawaiian-inspired flavors like Lililoi, Maui Pineapple, Big Island Macadamia Crunch, and Kula Strawberry, this small gelato shop specializes in local flavors and ingredients. Don't forget to pick up a t-shirt or souvenirs for your family and friends.
Be sure to save room for dinner at Mama’s Fish House.
This upscale eatery serves up fresh and local seafood in a Polynesian-decorated space with sweeping ocean views. With 4.5 stars on Yelp and more than 4,000 reviews, it's one of the most highly-rated restaurants on Maui - and perhaps even in all of Hawaii.
Stay the night at either the Paia Inn, or the semi-secret villas at Mama’s Fish House, then head on your way to explore the rest of Maui’s famous Hana Highway.
You see, you won't find any major hotels, resorts, or condos in Paia; there are a few other vacation rentals scattered throughout the town, but only the two major accommodation destinations.