By Amy Wolf, Sunset travel editor
Here’s a dirty little confession: Until recently, I was anti-Maui. I’d never been there but I didn’t really want to. The place gets so much love and so much press that it sapped my curiosity.
But Paia, the little plantation town en route to Hana, made me change my mind. Paia is heaven on earth. It’s small, quirky, and bohemian. I’d move there in a heartbeat if anyone would give me a job there. (Anyone?)
So, now that vacation season is upon us, I suggest you go to Paia. Once there, here are the cool things to do:
1. Watch windsurfers strut their stuff—or to strut your own, at Ho’okipa Beach. This is what people come here for.
2. Swim at Baby Beach, which is technically called Paia Bay, in the neighboring town of Spreckelsville. (You can easily walk here from Paia, even barefoot in the sand if you wish.)
A reef close to shore creates a calm, sandy-bottomed pool that’s great for baby and you.
3. Eat breakfast at Cafe des Amis, a warm, artsy little place with a chalkboard menu of Mediterranean and Indian crepes and wraps, both sweet and savory. My spinach and feta wrap was delish. So was my baby’s chocolate banana crepe (which I ate most of). My baby drank all of my mango smoothie. I didn’t share my latte, because it was to good.
4. Get groceries at Mana Foods. This place had me in a frenzy. I wanted to move to Paia just to shop here. The produce was so prime it was like art. The prepared food was so wholesome and fresh that I bought several pounds of it. And the wall of gourmet chocolate bars—well, you can imagine. Any store with a wall of chocolate deserves a visit.
5. Meet and eat at Flatbread Pizza Company. This is where Paia’s nightlife happens (it’s one of the few places to stay open late), and it also happens to have the best pizza on the island: wood-fired, with all organic ingredients like homemade maple-fennel sausage and organic produce.