Time to leave the bustling resort areas, and sweltering temperatures of Lahaina and Makena behind, and discover the other and certainly more hidden side of Maui. Upcountry is worlds away from the bustle of the beaches. The pace is island-style and many things are still done in the old ways. While paniolos (cowboys) are busy rounding up cattle from horseback, fine art & cappuccino are being offered alongside the latest fashions just down the road. The diffused light of day and the golden sunlight of afternoon give the rich green pasturelands an otherworldly feel.
Maui has often been called the perfect paradise, an island that exists at the fulcrum of the forest and beach. No place exhibits the wonderful juxtaposition of Maui quite like Olinda. Nestled on the slopes of Haleakala, Olinda is the perfect hideaway. Pine trees recall a northeastern warmth while Eucalyptus reminds one that the tropics are never far.
You'll get the feeling of being on top of the world, while remaining just minutes away from the conveniences of civilization. Slightly cooler than Makawao, Olinda sits at 3000 to 4,000 feet above sea-level. It is a refreshing change from the intense heat of many of the beach-side resort towns down at sea-level.
The views are breathtaking, the scenery spectacular, and the privacy makes one feel like they are in their own, personal paradise. If there is a heaven on earth, it is in enchanting Olinda. There are hiking trails to be found all over for those that love the outdoors including a wonderful walking trail three minutes up the road and Makawao town is just six minutes away to grab an early-morning coffee or a late lunch. One can read the day away under a canopy of banana leaves or watch the sun turn the sky brilliant shades of pink and orange as it drops slowly into the sea below. There are brilliant stars at night and storybook blue skies during the day.
Friendly neighbors are kept hidden and there is a lofty feeling to "being on the hill," residing in that spectacular space of freedom, solitude, adventure and warmth that is the ideal of home.
Perched at 2200 feet above sea-level, on the cool, green slopes of Haleakala, peers the eye of the forest, Makawao Town. The weather in Makawao range between 60 to 80 degrees during the year and also depending upon time of day as well. This is why so many, residents and visitors alike, find these cooler Makwao temperatures so refreshing and comfortable.
Makawao was once a rough and tumble cowboy town is now a lively community of entrepreneurs that mixes a general store and an old fashioned barber shop with health food, fine art, restaurants, and a collection of boutiques unrivaled throughout the islands. Old timers and new-age types live side by side in upcountry harmony. Art, clothing, and gifts designed to delight every taste now decorate windows that once held homegrown produce and jars filled with "3 for a penny" candies.
Park your car in the lot on Makawao Avenue and take a stroll through a town like no other you'll encounter. And get ready to shop... With shops as distinctively different as this spunky little cowboy town itself, you'll find 12 boutiques, 11 galleries, 7 eateries, hair salons, a bakery, health food, a yoga center, Chinese herbs, cappuccino, a sports bar, and a general store that carries a selection of wine that will surprise even the experienced connoisseur.
Each year, on the weekend following the 4th of July, all the island gets together at Oskie Rice Arena to celebrate at the Makawao Rodeo. Preceded by the famous rodeo parade, paniolos from all over the state compete for prizes in bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, and whatever unique rodeo fare our organizers deem judgeable. The parade, with stagecoach, floats, hula groups, antique cars, and good fun for all, displays some of the finest horses and riders on Maui.
This is not the only time the community gets together to celebrate. May is the month the local art community meets in the streets to compete in the Great Makawao Paint Out. The contest results can be seen at Viewpoints Gallery at the end of the month.
The art scene in Makawao has become quite a phenomenon and is on its way to rivaling Lahaina and Wailea in popularity. With galleries and studios up and down the streets, the New York Times has referred to Makawao as the Sedona of the Pacific. Saturday Is the day the magic happens in the art world. Many artists are in the galleries on that day, so its a great time to check out Magic in Makawao.
Until the 1940s, the town of Makawao provided such things as groceries, kerosene, horseshoe nails, and dried squid to the surrounding farming community. When 34,000 servicemen from the 4th Marine Division settled in just over the hill, the town was changed... as was the society that supported it. When the marines went home, Makawao became a collection of closed stores with just a handful of survivors. Over the years, many new businesses came and went. It was not until the 1980s that things began to stabilize, and the Makawao of today took shape.
If you're looking for the real Hawaii, the one the local folks call home... take a drive Upcountry. After you've spent the early hours of the morning at Haleakala Crater, Makawao is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a day on Maui. Visit one of the many art galleries, watch a glass blower at work, shop till you drop and have dinner at your choice of restaurants. If you're not a shopper, check out the energy center for a massage or yoga class. Or get your nails done. Or sip cappuccino at a cafe on the street. Or stop into the local sports bar. Or go horseback riding at Piiholo Ranch. There's so much to see and do, there must be something just for you. Hawaii is more than just a beach... spend some time discovering the real Hawaii.
Just a few short minutes from Makawao, across Haleakala Highway, is the town of Pukalani. The name Pukalani comes from two Hawaiian words "puka" meaning small hole and "lani" meaning sky (or heavens). This is actually a very accurate name, as often when there is rain in the towns of Makawao, Kula and Haiku the weather will be beautiful within this tiny town nestled on the slopes of Haleakala. The elevations of Pukalani range approximately between 2,000-4,000 feet with cooler temperatures in the evenings and very comfortable temperatures during the day.
Pukalani offers shopping and a few grocery stores. One of the oldest grocery stores on Maui is the Pukalani Superette. Since 1927 this family-owned grocery store has been serving the local community daily. The inventory reflects the lifestyles of the new Upcountry. One can find bundled firewood, chicken feed, wild Alaska salmon, diapers, lentils, mustard seed, greeting cards, fresh flowers, fishing equipment, cough drops, extra virgin first cold press olive oil, ice, beer, tofu scramble, baked goods, Carr’s Table Water Crackers and the list goes on, not to mention every staple a home might need from light bulbs to aspirin to hamburger. One kind find everything to the surprising at this famous local supermarket.
Not to be outdone, Pukalani also has its share of modern means of relaxation. For golf lovers and enthusiasts, Pukalani has a golf course available in the area. Pukalani Country Club, found at the hillsides of Maui, has a view overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean and the Valley Isle of Maui from Mount Haleakala, a now-extinct volcano whose Hawaiian name is translated as the "House of the Rising Sun." Built in 1970, this Pukalani country club features 18 holes that have driving and putting ranges covering nearly 160 acres. The club also has a bar and restaurant, which serves breakfast to dinner, including snacks.
At the Town Center of Pukalani, visitors have different choices with the number of restaurants and coffee shops available. Among these are Pizza Hut, Subway, and Starbucks. There is even a Foodland supermarket that offers an impeccable selection of grocery options. For some family fun, head on to the Pukalani Community Center, which offers amenities such as lovely free public pool, tennis and basketball courts, and soccer and baseball fields. For regular joggers, the place also has a paved path around the park that you can use during your early morning exercises.
Additionally, Pukalani offers fitness options like yoga, Zumba, and more! There are local coffee shops, an antique store, a fabulous local pizza joint called Serpicos that serves outstanding, and affordable, Italian pastas plus stellar east-coast-style thin-crust pizza. They even have a yummy cannoli too!
Pukalani also has Real Estate offices, medical and dental clinics and a some excellent alternative health professionals as well. Despite it being a tiny town, there is a lot to offer anyone. For many of the upcountry residents, it offers the welcomed-option from driving down the mountain into Kahului for many items.
Located at sea-level, and several minutes from the cowboy town of Makawao, this bohemian North Shore beach town of Paia stands at a crossroads. From here you can start the adventurous jungle drive to Hana, some 40 miles away. In fact, Paia is the last real town en route, so this is the place to gear up for the trip groceries, gas, maybe a gourmet lunch or a final cappuccino to go. Or you can turn mazurka (uphill) at Paia's traffic signal, and drive winding Baldwin Avenue into the foothills area that we call Upcountry Maui. This choice links Paia to East Maui's network of small towns, old shops, farms, ranches, and scenic surprises. Either way, when you see Paia's bright-colored antique buildings clustered along the Hana Highway, you know that you've left behind the resorts, the condos, and the crowds. You're headed into the Maui countryside.
Regardless of where its crossroads lead, Paia is a great place to visit all on its own. Parking and walking is the best way to explore the town. (You'll find an ample public lot, no charge, on Hana Highway, Kahului side, mauka.) You can spend hours scooting around the narrow, uneven sidewalks; under awnings and overhangs, poking into boutiques and antique shops and old markets. Paia comprises one of the finest collections of chic boutiques found anywhere, with everything from one-of-a-kind bikinis and designer couture, to fine art and native handicrafts. Also, Mana Foods is the best organic/natural foods market on the island, if not in the state. A lot of Maui visitors go immediately to Mana Foods to stock their fridges.
Paia is also home to a bona-fide center for Tibetan Buddhism. Just look for the brilliant new stupa, or shrine, on the Hana side of Baldwin Avenue. Paia is a great spot for places to eat as well. This little town has fifteen easygoing places for excellent dining restaurants, cafes, bakeries, places for fresh fish, for organic foods, you name it. Everything's locally owned and personal in scale.
There's a free-spirited carnival quality to Paia. It hasn't quite hooked into the elaborate machinery of the tourist industry, and it doesn't take itself very seriously. People are young; they dress with abandon. Colors are bright. You hear music in the park and European accents in the voices around you. This is a surf town, and much of its contemporary character derives from its nearness to Hookipa Beach, which is world famous for its ideal windsurfing conditions.
In fact, Paia sits near the most accessible coastlines on Maui's North Shore. Just west of town is Baldwin Beach, a huge stretch of sand favored by island residents for sunbathing and body surfing. Minutes from Paia in the opposite direction, Hookipa Beach Park provides Maui's finest perch for watching the stunts of surf-riders. There are five distinct surf breaks here, and frequent world-class competitions for board and sail athletes.
Beneath its present air of youth and whimsy, Paia has roots that go back to 1880. That's when Alexander and Baldwin changed Maui's history by creating their first sugar mill. The sugar company literally invented the town by building camps for its workers. These workers came from all over the world and their descendants now live Maui-wide and make up the multi-ethnic majority of our resident population. But in the 30s and 40s, Paia's heyday, ten thousand people lived right here, making up one-fifth of Maui's total population. In those days Paia included a hospital, movie theaters, huge dry-goods stores, small hotels, barber shops, photo studios, two of the island's largest schools, and even a railroad depot. Certainly the place lived up to its name, Paia, which means noisy.