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Mana Foods is a must-experience local store in Paia

If you are anywhere near Paia and you’ve never experienced Mana Foods Grocery Store, then you absolutely MUST spend time in this uniquely awesome place. Mana is a one-of-a-kind, definitely Paia, iconic local place to shop for everything that is largely organic, locally-sourced produce, rare finds in foods like buffalo, venison, chocolate, Jack and Dragon Fruit, with a complete hot and cold food deli, bulk coffee, grains, pasta and on-site bakery. The “chocolate wall” is a chocolate lovers dream come true! You’ll also find home-remedy supplies, health and beauty items and much more in this labyrinth of pure community-driven, health-conscious grocery store. The most important and best reason to visit Mana Foods is the people. The local and surprisingly international patrons are decidedly people-watch worthy. The natural diversity and mix of cultures browsing the aisles are a remarkable sampling of the local flavors including what some might describe as “hippy” or “counter-culture” but they’re just people who live the “Northshore” health-conscious (seemingly laid back) lifestyle. But the Mana crowd is not just the youthful first impression; all walks of local Maui life frequent the place. The conversations and friendly folks that you’ll meet are sure to be one of the highlights of your Maui experience. Mana Foods is open daily from 8am to 8:30pm, located on Baldwin Ave in Paia at 49 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779 | website

Understanding Maui

Maui is a special place filled with real magic that some people have experienced daily for their entire life. To them Maui has it’s own time separate from the rest of the world and that clock comes from within. So don’t be surprised if you notice that this isn’t Kansas anymore. Maui No Ka Oi You’ll hear people from all the different Islands of Hawaii say, “Maui No Ka Oi” when they are describing the island of Maui. It means, “Maui is the best”. And it’s true. They say so because Maui has it’s own energy and vibe. It’s laidback but not boring. There’s always something going on when you are seeking an adventure or entertainment, but there are just as many opportunities for seclusion and relaxation here on Maui. If you are blessed with an abundance of time to explore Maui, you’ll start to understand Maui better if you begin at an unhurried pace. Aloha Friday Every Friday is affectionately called, “Aloha Friday”, and for good reason. It is for all intents and purposes a holiday that is celebrated once a week. Because these are the “islands of Aloha” we embrace and practice Aloha here 24 hours a day, all year long. In fact, Maui doesn’t have a “happy hour”, some claim we have one “ok hour” and 23 happy hours every day. Aloha means so much more then we can share here in this article. You’ll see and experience it for yourself no matter how long you are here. We Celebrate at the drop of a hat There’s always a celebration somewhere on Maui for some reason. Here we have a different “Friday Town Party” in the evening […]

That Small Town Feeling can be Found in Makawao

This little upcountry town is sure to be the most charming small town you’ll experience on Maui. Don’t be surprised to see people walking around town with cowboy boots on, or even riding horses. This is Paniolo country after all. Makawao is located at the intersection of Makawao Avenue and Baldwin Avenue on the Northwest side of Haleakalā. The Nearest town to Makawao is Pukalani. About 6 miles down Baldwin from Makawao is the small town of Paia. Depending on what time and how you arrive in Makawao, parking could be a challenge, so if you arrive by bicycle you’re in luck! There’s even a historic hitching post that reminds us that horses used to line these streets back in the day. If you just rode down the Haleakalā on a bike, this is the first town you come to. If you arrive in the morning you might be ready for a hot cup of coffee or even breakfast. Here’s a short list of places to get food and tasty Makawao goodness. Cassanova Italian Restaurant and Deli Express Casanova has a little “deli express” that’s open most mornings. The lunch and dinner part of the restaurant opens midday. You might find nightly entertainment here as well. Makawao Rodeo General Store The Makawao General Store is also open early and offers coffee and more. SipMe Coffee Shop One of my favorite places is SipMe Coffee Shop. It’s open all week and has fresh coffee, locally sourced treats and Wifi. Polly’s Mexican Restaurant If you’re ready for lunch or dinner, this is the place to get affordable Mexican food made with an upcountry flair. T Komoda Store and Bakery Hours vary so […]

Cool Stuff on your Ride Down a Volcano on the Island of Maui

There’s an incredible amount of awesome stuff to see and experience on your way down from atop Haleakalā. Let’s start with the view! From the moment you embark on your journey up Haleakalā, you’ll begin to see glimpses of the majesty that is Maui; vistas and valleys, green rolling hills and so much more… Once you’re near the top you’ll mount your bike for the trip back down. From here on it’s an at-your-own-pace adventure. Don’t forget to stop and snap a few pictures of yourself, and of course the views. The twisting and turning of the road reveals endless opportunities for selfies and staged shots with your friends. On the way up the mountain your guide will show you where to turn on your way back down. The first right on your way down is where the long zig-zag Crater Road runs into Kekaulike Ave (hwy 377) better known as Haleakalā Highway. Much of this area is upcountry residential neighborhoods. Soon after your first right you will see Kula Lodge and Restaurant on your left (Check their hours to see if they will be open during your ride). The next few miles is some of Maui’s most incredible rolling hills and countryside. You’ll see endless views of farms and ranches; Eucalyptus and Jacaranda trees surrounded by vibrant green meadows. There’s just no chance you’ll not stop to take a few pictures in this area. Next up you might see a herd of goats mowing the tall grass on either side of the highway. And often there are beautiful horses standing near the fence just waiting for you to share some of the rich green grass that’s just on your […]

Plan Ahead to Experience the Upcountry Jacaranda

© The Maui Darren Starting sometime in late April or early May, Upcountry Maui will look completely different then the usual rolling green hills and meadows. The slopes of Haleakalā, especially in and around Makawao and Kula, will be changing colors. Every year Maui residents celebrate the annual blooming of the Jacaranda Trees. These normally average looking upcountry trees reveal their bright purple and blueish-purple flowers seasonally. It’s an amazing time to visit the upcountry area by car or bicycle, and truly experience the beauty of Jacarandas blooming everywhere. Maui’s artists and photographers ascend upon the many winding roads of the upcountry and setup their easels and tripods for a day’s worth of capturing the essence of Jacaranda perspectives and landscapes. If you plan ahead to spend the day upcountry you’ll discover Jacarandas around just about every corner. Bring your camera to capture the light and the colors to share with friends. Below are some inspiring Jacaranda images courtesy of local photographer, Darren McDaniel. When planning your trip into Jacaranda territory be sure to consider a bike tour in conjunction with your upcountry experience. You’ll enjoy a different—more personal experience closeup to these majestic blue-purple flowering trees. One very popular Maui artist, Curtis Cost, knows exactly how to capture Jacarandas in all their glory. He puts them right in the center of the painting. This painting is available from the Curtis Cost gallery. Special insiders tip: late in the Jacaranda season you’ll see the ground below Jacaranda trees blanketed with the purple flowers which adds a unique perspective to photography.

Hiking Waihou Springs Trail

For those looking to experience a different side of Maui, this hike is for you. If you’re pressed for time or want to hike and bike upcountry on the same day, this trail is just right! Waihou Spring Trail is just up the road from Makawao in the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve. It is an intermediate level trail that also works as an easy forest stroll if you skip the last part which is a short but steep hike down into a ravine with some interesting caves. Getting back out can be a challenge if you’re out of shape. The trail is about a mile or so round trip and takes about 1 – 2 hours if you’re not in a hurry. This is a short hike compared to some of the others, yet it will give your body a workout and fill your senses with the sights and sounds of the Waihou Spring Forest. The reserve is bordered by the state-run tree experimentation project, which is nearly 100-years old. This secluded hike features a variety of non-native species of trees such as Eucalyptus and Monterey cypress. Additionally, hikers can listen to native island birds such as bright red honeycreepers singing their song. Even axis deer may be seen occasionally. Along the trail, an overlook provides some views between branches of the beautiful trees down the slope of Haleakalā towards the valley. A narrow, steep, and rocky trail leads down into Kailua Gulch. This canyon is scattered with boulders and is home to several caves which are actually old water diversion tunnels can also be seen cut into the face of the cliffs that surround you. Waihou Spring can be […]

Exploring Makawao Town

If you’re taking some time to see Upcountry Maui, exploring Makawao town is a fun way to get a feel for “country” life on the island. The center of town runs along Baldwin Avenue and Makawao Avenue, a walkable area of shops, galleries, and restaurants with an artistic flair and vibrant history. History Photo by Makena Zayle Gadient In the early 1900’s, Makawao was a farming town, part of the pineapple industry that developed in the stretch of land from Haiku to Haliimaile. Beginning in the late 1800’s, cattle ranching in the Upcountry area brought Spanish and Portuguese cowboys to the island. Known in Hawaii as “Paniolos,” these ranchers helped to grow the cattle industry on Maui. Makawao’s downtown began to expand with businesses geared towards the Paniolos and pineapple workers. During World War II, thousands of servicemen were stationed for training near town, and businesses continued to grow to accommodate the community. As military presence decreased in the years after the war, many of the storefronts closed up and remained empty for some time. Makawao finally saw a resurgence of interest in the 1980’s when an eclectic group of artists began to set up shop in the rustic, country style storefronts at the center of town. Today, you can experience the feel of Makawao’s rich history in the shops and eateries where local farming and ranching culture intertwines with artistic craftsmanship. Food You’ll find plenty of great places to eat in Makawao. Polli’s Mexican Restaurant is a local favorite, serving everything from chile rellenos, fajitas, and fish burritos to vegetarian taquitos and margaritas. Across the street is Casanova, an Italian restaurant with a dance floor that is popular with […]

Stopping for Lunch in Paia

Photo Courtesy Sonny Abesamis On your visit to Maui’s north shore, be sure to stop for lunch in Paia. This charming little beach town has a variety of fun shops and restaurants, all within walking distance. In between Baldwin Beach and Hookipa Beach Park, you’ll find the center of town where Hana Highway meets Baldwin Avenue. Take some time to stroll along the storefronts and do a little shopping while you check out all the food choices. There’s something for everyone, from seafood to pizza and burgers to vegan and raw foods. Here are a few ideas for a great lunchtime meal: Paia Fish Market 100 Baldwin Ave. paiafishmarket.com If you’re looking for fresh fish, this is the place. Since 1989, Paia Fish Market has been serving up quality seafood, salads and more. The menu is varied and the prices are affordable. Each day the fish offerings are listed at the counter, with choices ranging from ono and mahi to opakapaka and salmon. Lunch plates can be prepared charbroiled, Cajun, or sauteed. The fish and chips is nicely portioned, crispy, and well seasoned. The salads are big and full of fresh veggies, and they can be topped with fish or chicken. The market also has a number of appetizers and even serves burgers and pasta. Beverages include beer and wine. Milagros Food Company 3 Baldwin Ave. milagrosfoodcompany.com With indoor seating and an outdoor patio dining area, Milagros is right in the middle of all the Paia town action. Serving gourmet southwest food with local ingredients, this family run restaurant combines Maui flavors with freshly made salsas, beans, guacamole, and tasty entrees. You’ll find fresh fish here too, along with Tex-Mex […]

The 5 birds you might meet exploring upcountry Maui

Photo Credit: James Brennan The island of Maui is home to a variety of beautiful birds, and the Upcountry area of Haleakalā is a great place to enjoy the wonders of bird watching. At just below 7,000 feet, the higher altitude of Hosmer Grove Campground at Haleakalā is a perfect spot to catch a glimpse and hear the sweet songs of Maui’s avian wildlife. Along the summit route of Haleakalā National Park, you’ll come across a number of distinct birds. Enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the forest songbirds called honeycreepers. While some honeycreepers are more abundant in the area, sighting of others can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Here are five birds to look and listen for on your adventures: Maui Alauahio Known as the Maui Creeper, the Alauahio is a foraging bird that creeps along tree trunks and branches searching for insects to eat. The Alauahio is a social creature with bright yellow feathers and a short, straight bill. In small flocks, they are known to boldly approach people. This creeper is a more commonly sighted bird in the area. Listen for their chirping song. Maui Alauahio Hawaii Amakihi Photo Credit: USGS photo by Dennis LaPointe Similar in appearance to the Alauahio, the Amakihi is Hawaii’s most common native green bird. Males are a bright yellow-green while females are a more graying-green. Both have short, downward curving bills that are slightly longer and more curved than the Alauahio bill. Another distinguishing feature is the black streaked lore between the bill and the eye. Hawaii Amakihi Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill) With only an estimated 500 of these honeycreepers remaining in the wild, Kiwikiu are a rare sight. […]

An Epic Maui Experience on the slopes of a dormant volcano called, Haleakala

Connect with a part of Maui far above the resorts and the reefs. See views of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, Molokaʻi, Lanaʻi, and Kahoʻolawe. Glance around and you may also spot a few rare and fragile Silversword (ʻāhinahina in Hawaiian which literally means, “very gray”), which only live inside Haleakalā National Park. Motivate yourself to wake before dawn to behold one the most breathtaking sunrises on earth at a place known as the “House of the Sun.” Witness the beginning of day from Haleakalā summit, standing with friends awaiting the first glimmer of the distant Sun. As it reveals itself and rises, light spreads across the clouds in dazzling patterns that demand non-stop photos and respect for nature. Every epic minute the view changes, beautiful and dramatic. As Sun rays beam over the vast volcanic floor, distant cinder cones and the Sliding Sands Trail appear in sight. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely! Seeing the sunrise at Haleakalā is one of the most unforgettable Maui activities you will experience on vacation. To add more unique, exhilarating fun to your trip, you can bike down the mountain all the way to Paia—literally from the mountain to the sea. The downhill bike option is extremely popular because it allows you to see Maui sights and scenery you would never see otherwise—at your own pace. When you really want an adventure that you can’t stop talking about, check out any of these highly recommended Maui bike tours: On the Haleakalā Sunrise Tour, spend an hour at the summit at sunrise snapping photos and experiencing your place in the Universe. On the informative ride up, you will hear about the local area and […]