Say “aloha” to Maui’s sweet boho town
Start the day with a cup of aromatic joe from local beans, freshly baked banana bread, or bagels in the garden of Paia Bay Coffee (43 Hana Highway). Café des Amis (42 Baldwin Avenue) calls for an al fresco lunch on a bamboo-filled patio, where you can enjoy crêpes plump with local greens, cheese, and veggies, or curry wraps. Fear not, the line out the door at Paia Fish Market (100 Hana Highway) moves quickly and the famed affordable ono burger with Cajun rice and slaw is worth the wait. For a casual dinner, hit Milagros Food Company (3 Baldwin Avenue), for great people-watching on the patio and Southwestern fare with Maui twists, like hand-rolled ahi taquitos and Lilikoi Ritas with passion fruit and top-shelf tequila. For true local flavor, try a Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde alongside a Kahlua pork wood-fired pizza with Maui pineapple, local goat cheese, and organic mango barbecue sauce at the kick-back Flatbread Company (89 Hana Highway). For some of the freshest, most delectable fish, head up the Hana Highway to Mama’s Fish House (799 Poho Place). Since 1973, the seafaring Christenson family has helmed this seaside Polynesian fantasyland with tiki torches and hanging outrigger canoes. Fresh catch from their personal fishermen is transformed into opakapaka ceviche with Tahitian lime and star fruit, or kampachi sashimi with pineapple-pom compôte and Hawaiian black sea salt—all enhanced by libations like a Mai Tai Roa Ae or potent rum-infused Scorpion. End the night at Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon (142 Hana Highway), the only late-night watering hole in Paia, and a favorite of Willie Nelson—you never know who might drop in for a jam session.
Commune with nature and the aloha spirit at Lumeria Maui (1813 Baldwin Avenue). Perched a few miles above Paia, the former sugar plantation estate is a charming Craftsman-style retreat. The 24 guestrooms are filled with details such as Italian linens, four-poster beds, and river rock shower floors, while outside a giant Buddha from Thailand overlooks the massive main lawn, ideal for sunrise yoga. Try the Lumeria Glow Cleanse, a gentle juice detox, or revitalize from organic farm-to-table meals. Take surf lessons from big-waver Buzzy Kerbox, stand-up paddle with world champ Suzie Cooney, get lomi lomi’d by a Hawaiian healer, or learn about the art of aromatherapy. Authentic in Hawaiian spirit, Lumeria has been embraced by the local Aunties and Uncles. For travelers preferring a seaside boutique hotel in the heart of town, there’s the Paia Inn (93 Hana Highway), a funky cluster of bungalows originally built in the 1930s. The inn retains its old-school Paia charm but has modern tricked-out interiors. Enjoy a low-fi breakfast of Belgian waffles and a mango papaya smoothie, prepared by their Barcelonan chef, Situs, then head to the 3-mile white sand beach out back.
Head to Ho’okipa Beach, “the windsurfing capital of the world” (2 miles northeast of Paia), to watch aerial acrobatics and kiters in action. Head to Haiku to the Pe’ahi Lookout (3 miles northeast of Paia), aka “Jaws,” where big-wave surfers like Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama get towed in to catch monster waves. Hop on a Trilogy catamaran for snorkeling off Molokini and a chance to swim with the honu (green sea turtles) at McKenna reef. This fourth-generation family sail company serves up homemade cinnamon rolls, barbecued chicken, and tales of the island (and the friendliest crew on Maui). Head upcountry for a traditional Hawaiian paniolo cowboy adventure at Piiholo Ranch for a mind-bending ride through the eucalyptus forests and pastures that afford dramatic 360-degree views of the patchwork of farmlands, ocean, and the Haleakala Crater.