The north shore town of Paia, Maui is now over 103 years old and has a history of diversity and change. The birth of the town can be traced back to the opening of the Paia Store in 1896. Before that it was the creation of the plantation camps which housed workers of the Paia Sugar Mill. The mill opened in 1880 and the store was eventually built to support the needs of the immigrant sugar workers. The Paia Sugar Mill attracted a culturally and ethnically diverse group of workers, and this legacy of an international population has played a big part in shaping Paia into what it is today. The early sugar mill camps housed workers of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese and Native Hawaiian backgrounds. All of these different cultures left a mark on Paia’s early days.
Another re-invention of Paia happened during the flower-power 60s with the arrival of counter-cultural “hippies” from the mainland United States. Looking for a different way of life, these new arrivals fell in love with Paia and helped to set the tone for what what it is today. These hippies saw the potential in Paia’s quaint architecture, left over from plantation days, and began opening art galleries, craft stores, and other tourist attractions. It was the late seventies and early eighties when a group of guys realized that Ho’okipa Beach was great for windsurfing. In fact, they realized it might have the best windsurfing conditions in the world, and windsurfers from all over descended on Paia throughout the eighties and nineties to try their skills at Ho’okipa and other spots like Spreckelsville. And did we mention the yoga lovers? Paia is a mecca for those who practice and live yoga. The Maui Yoga and Dance Shala has made Paia a destination for yoga and for yoga teacher trainings over the years.
Today, all those diverse influences continue to play a role in the unique offering that Paia town is. Just steps away from pristine north shore beaches, Paia is a bustling bohemian, surfer village with new age vibes and is frequented by adventurers, sight-seers, celebrities, and fun-seekers. You may notice humorous bumper stickers like ‘Welcome to Paia, don’t feed the hippies’. Cool, little independently owned cafes and boutiques line the colorful streets and you may see coconuts being sold out of vintage VW buses. The beach starts at Paia Bay next to the Paia Youth Center and a big grassy park with a basketball court. The winter months typically see big surf on the beach and boogie-boarders swarm the central waters while the surfers paddle out to the east. If you want to see more beach head towards the trees and just beyond you’ll find the clothing optional ‘Middles Beach’ with tamer waves and more nature vibes. If you continue on, you’ll hug the shore line past more trees until you find ‘The Cove’ which is the beginning of Baldwin Beach. The Cove is a nice place to swim anytime of the year and a gathering spot for locals, families, yogis and free-spirits. Friday sunsets host a drum-circle and dance jam.