Welcome to the best things to do in Paia awards show!
If you’re planning a trip to Maui, you don’t want to miss out on the charming town of Paia. Voted one of “America’s Best Small Towns,” Paia has a unique, welcoming culture that attracts hippies and nomads alike.
My boyfriend and I have visited Paia several times, but this time we decided to stay for a couple of nights to really get to know the town. We’ve scoured the internet for recommendations, asked locals for their tips, and tried everything out for ourselves. And boy, were we glad we did! We enjoyed great surfing, delicious food, peaceful religious sites, and the local markets.
Since Paia is such an unmissable stop in Maui, I’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Paia. From laid-back activities like beach bumping, shopping, and eating out to more intense waterfall hikes, helicopter tours, and windsurfing, there’s something for everyone in Paia.
So, if you’re looking for a break from the crowded beaches and resorts of Maui, drive straight into Paia and don’t look back.
You won’t be disappointed!
Go Shopping in Paia’s Lively Markets
Being a small town doesn’t hold Paia back from having some of Maui’s best stores and produce markets. You can get reasonably priced clothes and jewelry from stylish boutiques, a variety of unique packaged food at Mana Foods, and local produce at Paia Farmers Market.
Besides these, you can wander the streets into home goods stores and art galleries on Baldwin Avenue and Hana Highway.
Shop in Paia’s Boutiques
Paia’s boutiques are pricey, but you can look around to find some great deals or enjoy the colorful displays while window shopping.
If you’re searching for suitable beachwear (I always am), don’t miss Mahina and Pakaloha for their chic designs and lovely summer dresses. Also, Heart of Paia sells local artists’ most precious homemade jewelry.
Grocery shop at Mana Foods
Mana Foods isn’t your average supermarket; it’s filled with organic produce, bulk local ingredients, and a fantastic bakery. Their well-stocked aisles have a vast selection of brands that you won’t find anywhere else in Hawaii.
We love stopping here on our way to nearby beaches and stocking up on snacks or getting a packed lunch before heading back.
Pro tip: Go to Mana Foods after eating out in the many restaurants for delicious desserts from their bakery. Their Vegan Chocolate Cake is to-die-for!
Exploring the markets is a fun thing to do in Paia since they’re lively and have something for everyone. Here’s why you’ll love them too:
- You can find clean restrooms and suitable parking spaces in Mana Foods.
- The shops offer great discounts on art pieces and local goods.
- The Paia Farmers Market is set up in the mornings and has a collection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Head to Twin Falls
Paia has no shortage of attractions, and just a 15-minute drive from the town on the Hana Highway, Twin Falls are a gorgeous spot to take in the lush greens of the island. Also, an alternate path here comes through Wailele Farms, where you park in a lot near the farms for $10 per car.
These waterfalls are perfect for families as the trail to the first falls is short and easy. However, it can get pretty muddy and wet on the path, so ensure that younger children and adults wear water safety shoes.
The two falls are spaced apart, so you’ll have to hike further to reach the second one. However, the first one is more famous as its pool is excellent for swimming, and you can try cliff-diving from its 15-ft drop.
We had a lot of fun at Twin Falls and even hiked to the second fall, which was around 45-ft, and much more secluded. You can’t miss a visit to these falls since trekking here is one of the most exciting things to do in Paia.
- Fruit stands at the start of the trail sell fresh pineapple, coconut juices, and delicious banana bread.
- Come early on weekdays to get good parking and a nearly empty trail.
- The falls are a great photo op with lush greenery on all sides.
Surf on the Beaches
Paia has picture-perfect beaches, white sand on sprawling shores, and crashing waves. They’re perfect for snorkeling and swimming, while experts tackle the killer waves for windsurfing – a favorite water sport in Paia.
Baldwin Beach is perfect for a day with the family, and the nearby Baby Beach has safe swimming water for younger children.
Ho’okipa Beach is the best surfing beach on Maui, so make sure to catch the waves here.
Ho’okipa Beach Park – Best thing to do in Paia
Having a large population of green sea turtles on its shores, you can see their entire colonies when visiting Ho’okipa Beach. That’s why people around the world frequent this beach to see its marine life.
Since a rock wall protects the turtles, you can’t get too close, but it’s still close enough to get great pictures of them.
My boyfriend and I love visiting Ho’okipa beach to watch the windsurfers, especially when the tide is high. You can see them riding from a distance, so bring binoculars to get a closer look.
However, strong waves mean the water isn’t kid-friendly, so don’t let younger children enter the shore.
HA Baldwin Beach Park – Best thing to do near Paia
Baldwin Beach is a famous spot near Paia since many tourists come here before or after exploring the town. However, the shore spreads for two miles, and it never feels crowded here.
The water is less rough than in Ho’okipa Beach, so it’s ideal for novice surfers and boogie boarders. My boyfriend and I tried surfing in Baldwin for the first time, which was incredibly fun! The water is calm and clear, and you can easily manage your board.
In addition, the beach is famous for its beautiful sunsets, which you can relish from its many shaded spots. Families love this beach and often take children to nearby Baby Beach for much calmer and safer swimming water.
Exploring beaches is the best thing to do in Paia for a day of sand and surf. Here’s what makes them even better:
- There’s free parking and clean restrooms available on both beaches.
- Being close to Paia, you can grab a bite from delis and cafes in town after a day at the beach.
- Baldwin Beach’s northern tip has amazing fire shows and a drum circle that anyone can join on weekends.
Enjoy a Meal from Great Restaurants
Paia is filled with great eateries which use fresh and organic produce in their recipes that make for the most mouth-watering meals.
Restaurants like Mama’s Fish House and Paia Fish Market serve different menus every day with fresh catch. Try the famous Paia coffee, shaved ice from street carts, and gelato from Paia Gelato for snacks and sweets.
Mama’s Fish House
This is the most famous eatery in Paia and all of Maui, and for a good reason. The food is near-perfect, and their drinks hit the spot! However, you’ll have to make a reservation months in advance since their wait list is huge.
Luckily, we kept checking their site and got in on a cancellation. The open-air restaurant has a gorgeous setting, and the servers are super friendly. We had their Grand scallops and Thai curry (heavenly), and we highly recommend anyone visiting Maui to eat here.
Paia Bowls is one of the more laid-back spots in Paia, serving tasty breakfast and brunch options. We loved their acai bowls the most, made from fresh acai and fruits, granola, and lots of toppings.
Their outdoor patio is a great spot to sit after shopping from nearby stores and enjoy a yummy bowl.
Paia Gelato + Paia Bay Coffee Bar
These places have your sweet tooth and coffee cravings covered. Stop by Paia Gelato for a range of new flavors and the softest gelato you’ll ever have!
My favorite is the Paia Bay Coffee Bar for their insanely good matcha latte and cold brews. You can’t go wrong with their breakfast bagels, served with cream cheese, fresh veggies, and smoked salmon (I’m drooling just remembering them).
The town of Paia is excellent for just food touring, with so many cuisines to choose from. Eating out is one of the best things to do in Paia that you can’t miss out on:
- Try Paia Fish Market for food as delicious as Mama’s Fish House (and much cheaper.)
- Get shaved ice from street stands like Tobi’s Shave Ice, where vendors shave the ice and top it with great flavors.
- The food in Paia is locally sourced and not part of any large chains, so the taste is unlike anywhere else in Hawaii.
Visit the Religious Sites in Paia
Historically, Paia was home to people from different religions and ethnicities. So you can find churches, temples, and stupas built from those times in Paia that are still a site for worship and respect today.
Paia Peace Stupa
Located in Maui Dharma Center, this Stupa is a small but alluring location. People visiting Paia must stop by here and meditate and take in the beautiful Center grounds.
As the 14th Dalai Lama inaugurated it, the Stupa is a significant religious site that’s very well-maintained by the Resident Lama. We were in awe of the open gardens and lovely sanctuary on our visit.
A significant aspect of the Stupa is spinning the wheel, which has prayers inside it, said to release in the universe on every spin. Even though visiting the site is free, you can make donations that help maintain it.
Holy Rosary Church
Visiting downtown Paia means passing by the secluded grounds of this church. There’s a peaceful setting inside the church and a monument outside dedicated to Father Damien.
Breathtaking stained-glass windows line the interior walls and are a few stories tall. And you can take pictures of them in the church after prayer hours.
Some things to know before visiting these holy sites:
- The Dharma center has a wonderful Sunday meditation program open for everyone.
- There’s mass in the church early morning on Sundays.
Take a Helicopter Tour
Most of Maui’s lands are obscured from view, being in inaccessible valleys and on difficult trails. The helicopter tour is perfect for you if you cannot hike steep hills or drive for miles to see scenic drops.
Multiple tours go over different areas but to see Maui’s North shore and nearby towns in all their glory, try the Hana Rainforest Tour. Unlike other aerial tours, this one includes a stop in the Hana rainforest, where you can get on-ground and explore the taro fields of the Wailua Valley.
We loved flying over the gorgeous landscape of Paia, Haiku, and the Road to Hana, which showcased lush forests and waterfalls. In addition, the captains are great on the tour as they describe all the nearby landmarks and fly very smoothly.
The helicopter tour must be a definite addition to your holiday as it’s the most fun thing to do in Paia. Here’s how to get the best experience:
- The helicopter service is Maverick, so book your tour with them directly to avoid third-party fees.
- There are only seven seats per Heli, including the captain, so it’s perfect for smaller groups.
- The rainforest landing is 20-minutes long, and in their private area in the forest where you can take pictures.
Take a Yoga Class in Paia
All of you worrying about getting out of shape on vacation will love doing yoga with the skilled instructors and hippies of Paia town. The classes range from beginner level to advanced and even feature intense workouts.
Since there’s a range of studios close to each other in the same area, their prices are similar, and you can visit any. For example, try the Maha Yoga & Wellness Center for yoga or dance classes, followed by a spa treatment including foot massages.
I went on the weekend when they usually have meditation combined with yoga and had such a relaxing time getting a deep stretch. I highly recommend that people take these classes after hiking or other intense physical activity.
Whether you take a class or go for a spa treatment, you’ll find it one of the best things to do in Paia.
- The instructors are really friendly and guide beginners throughout the class.
- Maui Yoga Shala offers a 200 hr yoga program that’s laborious, but all yogis will love it.
- If you wander to Kula town nearby, they offer trendy and cute goat yoga classes.
Wrap Up: The Best Things to do in Paia
If you’ve come this far in the article, I assume you’re already hooked to this small town. And for good reason, since Paia gets a ton of tourists each year (if the months-long waitlist at Mama’s Fish House is any indication). As a result, the town isn’t commercialized and retains its peaceful, relaxed feel.
You can stop here for just a few hours or spend a night like we did to appreciate all it has to offer. Either way, you’re in for a great time.
Want to get some gifts for the family back home? Shop in the markets lining Paia’s streets for jewelry, beachwear, and souvenirs.
Want to experience aerial views of the island? Take the Helicopter tour over North Maui and get breathtaking views of Paia, Haiku, and Hana.
Need a few hours for self-healing? Meditate at the many religious stupas in Paia.
Paia’s got you covered!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What is Paia, Maui known for?
Paia is known for its vibrant small-town vibe, the friendly locals that occupy it, and the very laid-back atmosphere of the town. Unlike other places in Maui, which are famous for beaches, Paia is recognized for its great eateries, boutiques, yoga culture, and the best place to start the Road to Hana.
Is Paia worth visiting?
If you’re looking for a day of exploring art galleries, shopping at farmers markets, and hanging out with townspeople on the beaches, then Paia is definitely worth visiting. And because there’s no resort in sight, you’ll get to beat the usual tourist crowds.
How do I get to Secret Beach Paia?
To access this clothing-optional beach, park at Paia Bay and enter the small wooded area bordering the west end of the bay. Then, cross it to reach the beach’s shores. Alternatively, you can also get here from a red dirt path along the rock sea wall that borders the sand beach between here and Baldwin Cove.
What are some places to eat in Paia?
For delicious lunch and dinner options, try Mama’s Fish House and Paia Fish Market, which serve a variety of seafood and drinks. If you don’t care for seafood, places like Cafe de Amis have Italian, Mediterranean, and Indian food. Try their famous shaved ice from street stands, the gelato from Paia Gelato, and the best acai bowls in Hawaii from Paia Bowls.
How is shopping in Paia?
Shopping in Paia is a premium experience, with elegant boutiques and organic produce markets. You can get a break from Hawaiian shirts and hula skirts typical in every store and shop for good swimwear, beach dresses, and lovely statement jewelry pieces in Paia.
Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Brigitte