Insider Tips For Exploring North Shore Maui
The North Shore of Maui provides a rugged shoreline of crashing waves, some of the best turtle-basking beaches on the island, quaint hippie towns, health-conscious eateries, and thrilling activities. This adventurous side of the island is also the starting point for the phenomenal Road to Hana experience, offering the last bit of civilization before the flowing waterfalls and lush forests begin.
Many adventurous activities can be booked for this area of Maui. If you are killing time before or after an exhilarating zip-line excursion or guided hiking tour, or just taking the day to explore another area of the island, there is plenty to do! Here are our insider tips for exploring North Shore Maui.
What To Do In North Shore Maui
Heading northeast on the highway from Kahului, the first major North Shore site is Baldwin Beach, a lovely 1.5-mile stretch of white sandy beach! There is ample parking, a pavilion, BBQ area, restroom facilities, and lifeguards on duty to keep you safe. This can be a windy side of the island, so be prepared for some wind while relaxing on the beach.
I love to set up my beach chair and slowly doze off to the sound of rolling waves and warm sun on my skin. This is one of Maui’s longest beaches, providing ample room to spread out and plenty of space between each party on the beach. I would caution this is not an ideal beach for young kids to play IN the water, as the shore break can get very large here. Swim with caution, and be sure to read up our tips on ocean safety.
Known as the sweet little hippie town on Maui, Paia (pronounced pah-EE-uh, not to be confused with paella, the Spanish dish) is home to outstanding boutique shopping, local craft and artisan stores, and a delicious food scene. I love to pop into the local jewelry stores to pick up something unique for myself or a friend, or explore the art galleries with multiple forms of art. There are SO MANY great places to eat. My top favorites include Flatbread Company (pizza), Paia Fish Market (which recently expanded their space), and Cafe Des Amis (Mediterranean).
You can find parking to the right of the highway, just before the main strip of shops begins. This lot can get filled up fast, so if it is full, not to worry — just make a right up Baldwin Avenue and find street parking. That might require a little walking down to the town, so you can always drop off the family in a safe space before finding your parking spot.
Watch our Facebook live as we explore Paia town, check out the changes since the 2020 shutdown, take a look at some brand new businesses, and meet some of the locals in the boutiques!
A top favorite grocery store for any local is Mana Foods. This is Maui’s twist on Whole Foods for fresh-cooked counter service meals on-the-go, amazing locally-grown produce, and all the non-processed gmo-free Hawaiian and big brand grocery items to fulfill every hippie’s dream. Mana Foods is a great spot to grab a meal to enjoy on the beach or on the trail of your next hiking adventure. This parking lot fills up quickly; please do not park in this lot if you’re coming for anything other than groceries at Mana.
North Shore Maui is known for the active health-conscious community that resides there. That means there are plenty of natural homeopathic remedies and fitness-related activities, like yoga. Within driving distance you can find a handful of wonderful yoga studios offering a variety of classes and specialties. I have attended many classes in the area and personally recommend Maui Yoga Shala, Infusion Barre Yoga, Lumeria, and Maha Yoga & Wellness Center. Find out about more ways that a Maui vacation can make you healthier.
World-renowned big wave surfing and wind surfing take place in the waters fronting Hookipa Beach, just past Paia Town along the highway. This is also where you will likely see the largest collection of honu (green sea turtles) basking on the beach! Hookipa is very busy so please note these few important things when planning a stop here.
When you first turn off the highway, the upper parking area is best for spectators of the big waves and surfers. If the gate is closed, do not block and park illegally — just hit this spot on your way back from your adventure. Parking at the lower beach level is tight, so do not park in small spaces if you’re not comfortable with the size of the parking spot for your rental car.
There is usually a Turtle Team representative from the Hawaii Wildlife Fund near the north end of the beach where you can spot 10, 20, up to 100 turtles basking in the sun at once! They are there to educate the public, answer any questions you may have, and ensure a safe distance between spectators and these beautiful creatures. In the picture above, I count at least FORTY honu (turtles) — they appear like rocks at first but look closely! The Turtle Team representative told us the most they have counted at once was 185!
The first spot along the Road to Hana where you can see a tropical Maui waterfall, walk amongst the bamboo, and enjoy a short hiking trail is Twin Falls at Mile Maker 2. Just 15-20 minutes north from Paia town, you’ll see the Wailele Farm stand on the right side of the road. Twin Falls is on a privately owned and operated farm that graciously allows access to the public through their land to see the waterfalls.
You can support them by enjoying a tasty treat sourced from their farm! Drink out of a freshly chopped coconut, have them blend up a fresh fruit smoothie, or indulge in some unforgettable banana bread. At the time of this blog, parking is limited to 55 cars and is $10 each. Parking enforcement is strict here. If there are no spots, you will have to keep moving. Heading to Hana? We recommend staying at one of these condos or homes.
A quick drive off of the main highway will take you up to Haiku town. This is a nice stop for those who need to stretch their legs or are looking for something less crowded than Paia town. Maui Kombucha provides delicious locally-made Kombucha with lots of other vegan-friendly food items on the menu. Haiku town has a market, yoga studio, fitness studio, a few craft stores, eateries, food trucks, and a cool new butchery and bistro.
Toohey’s Butchery and Bistro boasts of their Hawaii-based meats like venison from Lanai, Big Island chicken, Upcountry Maui lamb, pasture-raised pork, etc. They serve their meat in tacos, burrito bowls, burgers, and salads. Stay nearby in a North Shore bed and breakfast.
My Picks for Where To Eat on North Shore Maui
Mama’s Fish House
Arguably the most well-known restaurant on the island is Mama’s Fish House. Opened in 1973, this restaurant has stood the test of time with its beautiful private location on Ku‘au Bay, the freshest fish caught by their own fishermen each morning, impeccable service, and an ambience of Aloha and authentic Hawaiian decor throughout the restaurant. This is the place to go for a special occasion and is currently booking up 3-6 months in advance. Consider yourself very lucky to get a table here and enjoy every moment immersed in the Polynesian culture, food, and music.
Hali’imaile General Store
Although it sounds like a supermarket, this is a more off-the-beaten-path restaurant for a wonderful meal! The dishes are farm-to-table featuring locally-sourced produce and meats with a blend of Hawaiian flavors with Asian influences in modern preparations. Service is wonderful and Chef/Owner Bev Gannon really knows what she’s doing! Consider this for a North Shore dinner location next time you’re exploring the North Shore of Maui!
Colleen’s At The Cannery
For a more affordable price point, Colleen’s is a popular place to eat! Located in Haiku town, their Happy Hour is great, and breakfast is priced perfectly to grab something quick before a hike. You can also have a full, sit-down meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at an excellent price compared to most restaurants on the island. There isn’t much ambience, but the restaurant is large and typically does not have a wait like you’ll find in Paia.
Paia Flatbread Company
My go-to in Paia! There are many great places to eat in Paia town but Flatbread Company is home to one of my favorite pizzas, so I’m there often. The space is really cool with a very large wood-fired pizza oven, small bar area, and booth and table seating throughout. They have daily specials, and their menu offers classic favorites or build-your-own pizza options.
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