Americas

Finding Home: Paia

My first look at Maui's North Shore

Hello Go Girls! I’m Megan, and I might as well admit that I’m in a major period of transition. As of now, I don’t have a permanent home base of my own – so I thought I’d focus my writing on Go Girl around finding home – wherever you are. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got two hometowns and a tight community in at least three places around the world. It’s just that right now my bags are somewhat permanently packed, and my most prized possessions are stacked in carefully marked boxes (the majority of which first went into storage almost three years ago).

My first look at Maui's North Shore

I go through phases with this transition – sometimes thrilled by the unknown, other times exhausted by the constant packing and unpacking and the equally foreboding “…” that is my future. BUT, one of many upsides to transition is the freedom it’s given me take advantage of travel opportunities that a full-time job might prevent. This is how I found myself in Maui for two weeks leading up to Labor Day. Turns out two weeks in Hawaii = two looooong blog posts, so I’ll start off by sharing a bit about the lovely town I got to call home for two weeks.

The setting: The quickly transforming town of Paia, a short stop along the Hana Hawaii on the North shore of Maui. Paia is mostly inhabited by mainland transplants, including Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson (when they’re not working or on the road). A classic t-junction “downtown,” Paia is kicking its hippy reputation by filling itself with trendy boutiques selling island-inspired jewelry, gauzy beach cover-ups and imported treasures from around the world. I scored a great little dress at the more affordable Mahina from the 50% off rack – but most boutiques were far out of my price range. Aside from shopping, the town has a handful of delicious restaurants – my favorite was the old-time Paia Fish Market on the corner, famous for its daily line out the door (a guy on the flight over told me their Mahi Mahi Fish sandwich is the best on the island…I ate there twice in agreement).

Traditional Hula Dancers at Fourth Friday Celebration

Paia’s grocery is a natural food store called Mana Foods– practically bursting at the seams with every possible raw food / vegan / natural option I’ve ever seen along with a wonderful selection of bath and body goods. They have a great deal on non-dairy, coco-based soft serve ($1.19 for a small, $2.19 for a large!) but I still splurged a number of times at the local Green Banana Frozen Yoghurt shop (spending more than I care to admit thanks to their plain tarte with dark chocolate covered acai berries…oh so delicious). Had there not been an unexpected south swell that took me to the beach most days for surfing, I’d have tried to work it off at one of the local yoga studios I saw people flock to on cooler afternoons. I found evenings in Paia to be quite mellow but was lucky to be in town for a Fourth Friday and a great Hula and Tahitian performance by a local studio in front of the Green Banana. I loved seeing the tiny wahinies keeping their ancestral dances alive – It was a far cry from the often-overdone luau performances in the resort areas.

As small as it is, Paia’s got a newly renovated restaurant called Charley’s that boasts a sizeable stage where travelling bands and locals alike entertain. Willie and his sons are regulars – often unannounced and unplanned. All in all, it’s a delightful town off the typical Hawaiian tourist path – not a bad place to call “home” for a couple weeks. I’m out of room, but I’ll post next on how Maui ended up offering me a lot more than a quiet vacation by the sea….

meganmac
A choir geek from the age of 7, Megan visited Eastern Russia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan before she’d finished middle school. Home-stays and singing in cathedrals became an expectation (try not to hold it against her if she still invites herself over in a foreign land or bursts into song if the acoustics are right). Often preferring to stay a while, Megan has spent time living in Costa Rica, South Africa and most recently, Kenya where she pursued graduate studies in International Development at the University of Nairobi from 2008-2010. She’s currently back in the U.S. and ready to go whichever way the wind blows. Passionate about increasing opportunities for women through education and job skills training, Megan looks forward to exploring on Go Girl how travellers define “home” when their heart is shared with communities all over the globe.

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2 Comments

  1. Come back quickly!

  2. Here’s hoping Ajja – stay tuned for part 2 🙂

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