Last year, my best friend asked me to join him in Hawaii to celebrate his birthday. He was going to be staying at a beach house in Paia on the north shore of Hawaii. Since it was still a bit chilly where I live in Salt Lake City, the answer was easy... "yes"!
I've been coming to Hawaii since I was 10 years old...at first it was always the island of Oahu, but over the years I've been able to visit almost all the islands – Kauai (where I own a timeshare), Oahu, Maui and even Lanai.
Our flight landed in Kahului and the beach town of Paia is only about 10-15 minutes east along the north shore. We arrived at night, so I really couldn't see anything, but I could sure hear the surf from the beach house we were staying at. There's something magical, almost mesmerizing about the listening to the ocean surf, especially at night. For me, it easily lulls me to sleep. My first morning was beautiful, the ocean was only 50 feet off the back porch and there were shallow tidal pools where the locals loved to go fishing.
When I go on vacation I love to go off the beaten path and Paia is exactly my kind of place – a local surfing town with VERY friendly people and lots of little, funky shops and restaurants. Some of my favorites were the Paia Fish Market - try the mahi mahi burger with onion rings. Cafe Des Amis serves up great crepes with a fun, outdoor patio. No matter what, take the time to check out Mana Foods. It's the local health food/grocery store and it has the coolest items that you won’t find anywhere else. It seems almost everything in the store is organic – really fun. And if you go during the day you should check out their hot and cold deli. We bought a bunch of the buffalo wings...seriously some of the best wings I've ever had! Finally, perhaps the most famous restaurant on the island is just a couple of miles east of Paia. Mamma's Fish House has been right on the beach for about 40 years and the food is amazingly good. The atmosphere is hard to beat and the service was impeccable. I ordered the wild boar and mahi mahi – fantastic! My friends ordered the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi stuffed with crab - mmmmm good! Your meal starts with fresh baked bread and a complimentary "shot" of the soup of the day. Mamma’s Fish House may be pricey, but it is well worth it!
Another great spot on the island is Wailea. There are three or four great beaches but my favorite was Big Beach – just ask any of the locals how to get there. Look for local food trucks selling everything from shaved ice to shrimp scampi along the way. Big Beach is just that... BIG! It stretches along the west coast for almost half a mile - the sand is soft and the waves are perfect for boogie boarding or body surfing.
Also on the west coast, but further north, is Ka'anapali. There are a lot of beautiful beaches here and my favorite place is Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop. It's about five miles before you get to town, look for it on the right, and it is HEAVEN! Yes, their pies are incredibly good, but so are their sandwiches and pot pies...everything is amazing!
I LOVE Maui - hope you do too!! Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI subscribing members who have also visited Maui. Trust me, these photos will not disappoint!