Daniel Eskelsen of O'o Farm discusses the menu for
today's gourmet luncheon, which includes a salad of
greens and fennel flowers collected by our tour
group, as well as herbed focaccia and roasted
rosemary chicken, baked in a wood-fired oven
on-site, as well as the fresh catch, sauteed in
lemongrass oil and served wtih farm vegetables....
Hawaii — The plantation town of Paia, with its single
stoplight along a main drag edged with bikini shops, arty
boutiques and tempting little locavore eateries, is a
surfer haven these days.
American tourists throng Lahaina, a 45-minute drive to the
west, Europeans head for this windsurfing capital on the
north shore for all the right reasons. There are no big
resorts here, just a handful of small inns and a few dozen
Paia’s charms are appreciated by celebrities, surfers
and French expats alike. Willie Nelson occasionally drops
in at Charley’s bar, we’re told. And Gene Simmons
opened a Rock & Brews here two years ago.
a rock ‘n’ roll meets beer hall vibe at the latter —
an open air sipping-noshing spot with long communal
tables, flat screens airing surfing competitions, ball
games and rock footage, and plenty of rock memorabilia. It’s
all caressed, blessedly, by a cooling breeze. Order a
Local Flight ($10) and the pours, which include Maui
Brewing’s Bikini Blonde and Big Swell, arrive on a
Stratocaster-shaped serving tray.
town, which makes the perfect jumping-off spot for treks
to Hana or Maui’s Upcountry, is flush with quirky little
spots to grab a bite or get your java fix. Stroll down an
unprepossessing driveway just off the main street and you’ll
find Paia Bay Coffee, for example, where you can sip a
latte in an oasis of lush tropical plants. Other local
eateries range from the 26-year-old Paia Fish Market to
the 6-month-old Hana Ranch Provisions, which celebrates
the organic ingredients raised at the end of the famous
Road to Hana.
bottled water, bison jerky or another critical food item?
The Mana grocery store is so winsomely crunchy, it makes
Whole Foods look corporate. There’s an entire aisle
devoted to the seaweed genre, from nori to furikake.
Organic, vegan, gluten-free — you name it, it’s here
someplace in the towering, narrow aisles.
grown accustomed to Bubba Gumped seaside scenes, with
their trademarked restaurants, beer o’clock T-shirts and
souvenirs that run the gamut from tacky to tawdry. But
this is the opposite. Paia’s main street is blissfully
bohemian, the beach vibe translated into hand-blocked
prints on covet-worthy bedding at Pearl Butik, cheeky
bikinis at Maui Girl and other swimwear shops, and
stunning underwater photography at John and Dan Cesere’s
beach town has a beach, too, with playful waves rolling up
pretty much perfect.
a sampling of attractions in Paia proper:
Restaurant & Saloon: 142 Hana Highway;
Brothers Photography: Find this underwater photography
gallery at 83 Hana Highway; www.ceserebrothers.com.
Company: There’s always a line at this wood-fired pizza
restaurant at 89 Hana Highway; www.flatbreadcompany.com.
Ranch Provisions: This farm-to-table restaurant is at 71
Baldwin Ave.; www.hanaranchprovisions.com.
Foods: Shop for grocery items at 49 Baldwin Ave.;
Girl: A beachy boutique at 12 Baldwin Ave.; maui-girl.com
Bay Coffee: Grab coffee and breakfast at this outdoor
cafe, which is actually around the corner from its street
address of 115 Hana Highway; www.paiabaycoffee.com.
Fish Market: Find this casual seafood eatery, which is
known for its fish burgers and fish tacos, at 100 Baldwin
Butik: A home decor store at 71 Baldwin Ave.;
& Brews: Find Gene Simmons’ brew and nosh spot at
120 Hana Highway; www.rockandbrews.com