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Overview

Under a defunct landmark smokestack, this century-old sugar planter's town lives on as a hip center of surfdom. The last wide spot on Hana Highway, Paia, founded in 1896, caught its second wind in the late 20th century to become Hawaii's windsurf capital in the mid 1980s. That's when windsurfers Laird Hamilton and Hugh England flew to Ho'okipa and Haiku to ride the wild surf. Or, challenge Jaws, a 30-mile-an-hour 70-foot monster, that roars ashore in winter. When surf's flat, everyone hangs ten in town.

With 40 gaily painted boutiques and bistros, Paia is a bustling cluster of locally owned shops full of rare finds. Maui Crafts ...

Under a defunct landmark smokestack, this century-old sugar planter's town lives on as a hip center of surfdom. The last wide spot on Hana Highway, Paia, founded in 1896, caught its second wind in the late 20th century to become Hawaii's windsurf capital in the mid 1980s. That's when windsurfers Laird Hamilton and Hugh England flew to Ho'okipa and Haiku to ride the wild surf. Or, challenge Jaws, a 30-mile-an-hour 70-foot monster, that roars ashore in winter. When surf's flat, everyone hangs ten in town.

With 40 gaily painted boutiques and bistros, Paia is a bustling cluster of locally owned shops full of rare finds. Maui Crafts Guild features fine arts and crafts by local artisans. Nuage Bleu has trendy threads by local designers. Paia Trading Co. is full of collectible Hawaiiana. Na Kani O Hula sells ukuleles and uli'ulis (feathered gourd rattles) to real hula girls. Everybody goes to Charley's for breakfast, and grilled fish tacos for lunch at Paia Fish Market before rejoining the to and fro Hana parade. Unless you've got a friend, there's no place to crash here.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: On Maui's north shore. Paia is the last town on the Hāna highway when heading towards Hāna. Located close to many internationally known windsurfing spots including Ho'okipa and Spreckelsville, it is sometimes called "The World Capital of Windsurfing".
  • Research: Paia | Paia | Ho'okipa Beach Park
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    January when big waves roar ashore at Ho'okipa