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Exploring Maui’s North Shore

According to Fodor’s, Paia is one of “America’s Best Small Towns,” but if you blink, you might just miss it. So keep your eyes peeled, because Paia offers notable gems that will add a relaxed vibe to your vacation experience.

Planning on driving the Road To Hana or perhaps taking a sunrise bicycle ride down Haleakala? If so, you’ll be passing right through Paia to do so.

Paia Maui Hawaii

Paia, Maui

Though tiny, Paia is packed with adorable shops and art galleries, and several excellent eateries. Not as big a snorkeling destination as some of Maui’s other regions, it’s probably known most for its eclectic and earthy local residents.

Home to a massive hippie population, a stroll through Paia Maui feels a lot like a stroll back in time—to the 1960s!

Surfboards in Paia Maui Hawaii

Shopping And Dining

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a store in Paia that sells tie-dyed tee shirts or hemp necklaces, but we’ll let you decide which boutiques best fit your taste.

Instead, here’s a list of some favorite Paia restaurants, one of which—Mama’s Fish House—is widely considered one of the best restaurants in Maui.

  • Mama’s Fish House
  • Flatbread Company
  • Mana Foods
  • Paia Fish Market
  • Thai Spice
  • Charley’s
Flatbread Pizza Maui Hawaii

Flatbread Company Paia

Flatbread Pizza Paia Maui Hawaii

For folks departing on The Road to Hana it’s a tradition to stop at Charley’s for a hearty breakfast.

Though Charley’s is rustic and totally unpretentious, don’t be surprised if you see a few familiar faces while you’re downing your eggs and morning Joe.

Charley’s is a popular hangout for famous surfers, musicians, and other celebrities.

It isn’t a restaurant, per se, but the Paia Farmers Market is a great place to pick up some locally grown produce or enjoy a variety of delicious, fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, and vegetarian cuisine.

Pop by while you’re in town and grab a few nutritious treats.

Farmers Market Maui Hawaii

Baldwin Beach

There are several nice beaches in the North Shore area with Baldwin Beach Park being the largest of the bunch. The parks at Baldwin Beach offer lifeguards, and even a pavilion for parties.

When the conditions are right, Baldwin can be great for swimming and boogie boarding.

The eastern and westernmost ends of Baldwin Beach are calmer and therefore more ideal for young swimmers. In the evening, take a romantic stroll and watch the sun set behind the West Maui Mountains.

Baldwin Beach Maui Hawaii

Baldwin Beach

Hookipa Beach

Considered the windsurfing capital of the world, and featured at the head of this guide, Hookipa Beach Park is worth a peek on your journey.

You’ll find a cliffside perch, replete with food-cart and stunning views, just above Hookipa on its east side.

Sit back and enjoy the windsurfers from above while snacking on cookies, coffee, and sometimes even tacos and sandwiches.

Windsurfing Maui Hawaii

Hookipa is not the best place for swimming, nor for learning how to surf or windsurf, but it’s definitely a fun spot to chill out while observing the pros in action.


As you drive a little further east along the road to Hana, you’ll come to the rural community of Haiku, Maui.

With the exception of a very small handful of stores and restaurants, Haiku is mostly comprised of farmland and private homes tucked well away from roadside view.

The north part of the island of Maui get’s its fair share of precipitation so expect the region to be rich with verdant natural beauty.


Between Paia and Haiku, you’ll also find “Jaws,” one of the most ferocious and intimidating surf spots on the planet.

This is where professional surfers flock during winter months and waves can reach heights of over 60 feet! To put things in perspective, that’s about as high as a 5-story building—scary!

Naturally, most mortals prefer to watch the pros safely from dry land.

Jaws Maui Hawaii

Jaws, Maui

The swells at Jaws can be fickle, so it’s difficult to predict whether the monster waves will be rolling in while you’re on the island.

You’ll have a better chance of seeing pro surfers if you visit Maui between December and March.

Rainforest Zipline

For a pulse-raising sport that you can actually participate in during your Maui vacation, you might try ziplining!

Haiku happens to be home to one Maui’s top zipline adventures. This 7-line course is perfect for all ages, and is great for beginners and thrill-seekers alike.

Maui Zipline North Shore

Twin Falls

This attraction is more populated with visitors than you might think, but If you’re looking for an easily accessible waterfalls hike, Twin Falls delivers the goods.

Located about 20 minutes past Paia, at Twin Falls you’ll find a couple of different hikes ranging from about ½ to 2 miles.

If you’re looking for pristine natural beauty, head out east for the Pipiwai Trail near Hana.

People walking at Twin Falls Maui Hawaii

Twin Falls Hike

People waiting to cliff dive at Maui hawaii

Twin Falls Maui Hawaii

Be sure to wear appropriate shoes, and bring towels and swimsuits, as you’ll also find terrific swimming holes. If mosquitoes tend to find you appetizing, bug repellant is also recommended.   

Stay The Night Or Continue To Hana

Haiku certainly isn’t touristy, but if you like a more rustic vacation experience, rentals can be found here in private residences and B&Bs.

If you’re like most folks, though, you’ll probably just pass through Haiku as you navigate along the beautiful Road To Hana.

Road to Hana Maui Hawaii

North Shore Maui In a Nutshell

For many folks, Maui’s North Shore is simply a stop-over before and after The Road To Hana. We hope this article gives you some options for exploring North Shore Maui as a destination unto itself.

Nearby and Notable

Maui’s North Shore is located near a number of other popular Maui activities and destinations. Here’s a list of the biggies:

  • Haleakala Sunrise
  • Upcountry Maui zipline adventures
  • Maui Winery (Tedeschi Winery)
  • The Road to Hana
  • Kula and the Kula Botanical Gardens
  • Kula Lavender Farm
  • Makawao
  • Maui helicopter tours
  • Iao Valley
  • Maui Tropical Plantation
  • For info about the other Hawaiian Islands, sign-up for the Hawaii Vacation Guide newsletter!

Sunrise at Haleakala Maui Hawaii


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