We love Maui. Like, really love it. We got married on the west side of the island in 2013 and have managed to make it to Maui at least once a year for the last 6 years. We’ve tended to stay on the west side (throw up your dubs! \/\/ ) since the weather is so ideal. Downside to perfect weather and calm waters? Snorkelsons! So many tourists and lots of big condos. So, this past March we decided to go north and get a less howlie experience up in Paia.
Paia is a cute little surf town on the north side of Maui. We found a rental house right on the water and booked it for a week in early March. Verdict on the north side? We loved it… but it was definitely different. I’ve always dreamed about settling in Hawaii someday and slowing down to the island pace. The Bay Area is a rat race and it only seems to be moving faster - or maybe I’m just getting old :) Anyway, staying in a house in a sleepy little town and shopping for groceries with the locals really helped frame what full time on the island could feel like. I know it's not the same as being there every day since we were not working, but made it easier to see the end game. Some notes on highlights from our stay below...
Mama’s Fish House is probably my favorite spot on the island and we always make it there once when we visit. It’s the best restaurant setting ever and the food is amazing. But, damn, is it pricey. Even though we stayed 5 minutes away from there, we could only justify going twice, but had excellent meals both times.
We ended up cooking at the house quite a bit, as we had an amazing view from the dining room and wonderful selection at Mana Foods. They have all our faves from whole foods plus a bounty of local produce and meat. The grass fed beef from Molokai is like nothing else. Of the short list of restaurants in Paia, our favorite was probably the Paia Fish Market. Everything is fresh, fast and delicious.
Stuff to do:
We decided to take a lesson on Stand Up Paddleboard to get some technique pointers. I know it looks easy, but if you’ve ever been stuck paddling in against the wind, you know it can be tough. We found Scott at HST Maui and he was awesome. Three hours later we were ready to roll - turns, wind strategy, and basic balance all in check.
There are lots of small beaches on the north side that are way less crowded that Ka’anapali. Tavares, Baldwin beach, Paia Bay and Ho’okipa are all lovely. Watching the surfers and windsurfers from the Ho’okipa lookout is a blast.
Chris “needed” a new Ukulele, so we found Mele Ukulele in Kahului. What a great shop! Super friendly, amazing selection, and he found a beauty made of 100% Koa wood.
There were a couple of days of downpour on the north side, so we did the short drive to Olowalu and it was sunny and calm. There is pretty good snorkeling right off the road and we had a nice expanse of beach all to ourselves.
Where we stayed
The house was perfect in many ways. The interior had been recently updated with new hardwood floors and new appliances. The backyard opened up onto the ocean, with a path down to lava rock, not beach. There was a huge family of turtles (easily 10 -20 ) that played in the waves around the lava rocks every evening. It was really magical just to sit and watch them swim, eat, and play. I think the turtles may have been my favorite part of the whole trip.
But....there were the spiders. Have you ever seen a cane spider? Trust me, you don’t want to. They are harmless, and actually even useful since they eat bugs like roaches. But, man, are they huge. We caught and released 5 while we stayed in the house and I flushed one down the toilet. Just imagine this friend currying over you while you sit on the couch. WTF.
So… while we enjoyed the house and had a great time overall, we might be going back to the westside condos where they spray for bugs a little more aggressively :)
Overall, an amazing, relaxing experience. Maui, can't wait to see you again!