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A Driving Tour of Upcountry Maui

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Pa'ia Town
A Driving Tour of Upcountry Maui

Pa'ia Maui

Photo by John Fischer

For many visitors Maui will always be known for its resorts, fine beaches, snorkeling and whale watching, Haleakala, and the Road to Hana. Maui is much more, however, and a great way to see some of the other Maui is to drive through Upcountry. The drive starts at the North Shore town of Pa'ia, continues through the paniolo town of Makawao, to Kula known for its flowers, vegetables and ranches and ends at 'Ulapalakua where you can have eat fresh Maui beef for lunch while sipping a glass of Maui wine.

Pa'ia was a former plantation town when sugar was king on Maui and then became largely forgotten until the 1980's, when the windsurfing craze brought thousands of the world's best windsurfers to nearby Ho'okipa Beach, known as the "windsurfing capital of the world." Since then the town has become the center of activity on the North Shore.

The buildings still look much like they did at the turn of the 20th century, but new businesses have arrived in the form of art galleries, craft and curio shops, a great bakery, over fifteen restaurants including the fine Pa'ia Fish Market, where you can get a great meal for about 1/4 of what you'll pay elsewhere.

As you drive into town on the Hana Highway, there's a municipal parking lot immediately on your right. You can park there, wander through town and easily be back to your car in less than an hour. If you arrive in the early morning, you'll likely see groups of bicyclers finishing their downhill ride from the summit of Haleakala.

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