Maui Blog - Georgie Hunter R(S)

Historic Downtown Paia - Maui Hawaii - Sugar Plantation Town

maui sugar cane fields in bloom - Hawaii 

Welcome to Paia - Maui Hawaii

(see an artist's view of Historic Downtwon Paia and Makawao - short video)

Welcome to Paia Maui Hawaii, 96779          PAIA MAP

If you come to Maui and drive east from the airport, along the Hana Highway, you'll come to the small oceanfronttown of Paia.  It's all historic!  Paia Maui was once a thriving sugar plantation town in the 1800's with a sugar mill, hospital, train station, worker housing and commercial district.  Paia was actually 2 towns back then... Paia with the mill, the railroad station (now a retail home furnishings store) and the housing, and Lower Paia along the shoreline, where the shops and restaurants and movie theaters were located, serving the community. 

I guess you could say the whole downtown oceanfront area is pretty much the historic district, as there has not been a lot of new construction in the center.  New buildings, like our Post Office are built to keep the character of the town consistent.  Old and new mix it up for special events.

Being an oceanfront location, Paia has experienced tsunamis in historic times.  In April 1946, Paia experienced the largest tsunami in Hawaii's recorded history, which was the result of an earthquake originating in Alaska.   Only 1 person in Paia perished in that event.

Once upon a time, Paia was a busy place, with one of the biggest populations on the island, and the oldest sugar plantation on Maui.  Before Kahului was built - this is where a lot of the sugar cane workers lived.  The very first phone line in the Hawaiian Islands was installed in Paia, according to old timers.  A lot of the old stuff has gone already, like movie theaters, most of the camp houses, and shops. 

Even in the 28 years I have been frequenting Paia I have noticed a lot of the old time shops close their doors and become Real Estate offices!  Our office is located in what used to be a gas station back in the day.  The local Thai Food restaurant is also in an old service station, at the other side of town, about a block away.  Get your hair and nails done in a unique setting.


 Paia Maui shops on Baldwin Ave.

A lot of the shops in Historic Paia were run by Japanese and other immigrant families who originally came out as indentured workers to work in the fields.  Paia's local people were a mix of Americans, Asians, Puerto Ricans, Portuguese, and Native Hawaiian who lived and worked together in harmony, as they do now.  As they prospered, some would start their own enterprises to serve the needs of their neighbors.  You can still see some of these names on the stores:

  • Horiuchi Market
  • Nagata Store
  • Ikeda Store
  • Bersamin's
  • Quinsaat
  • Garcia

Aerial picture of Paia now, which isn't a whole lot different from this perspective.


Maui Moonbow boutique


Old is new in Paia... some things never change.  You can shop for so many timeless things in such a small place:

  • surfboards - sport of Hawaiian kings
  • aloha shirts- keep cool in the tradewinds
  • hula skirts - classic beach wear
  • jewels and gems - from around the Pacific Rim
  • shells souvenirs - from the seven seas
  • coconuts by the truckload
  • fresh fish and fish tacos
  • fish prints - a Japanese art goes Maui style
  • local pottery - hand thrown and built in Haiku workshops
  • glass art - creations for the home


If you're thinking about moving to Paia, check out some other posts in the Paia relocation package.

link to website for The Hunter

 Call or EMAIL directly to The Hunter

Maui Realtor Georgina M. Hunter R(S) 808 283-0635

Team member: Jim Sanders Realty Inc.  Paia HI 96779

Would you like to receive my PAIA NEWSLETTER?   OCEANFRONT MAUI FOR SALE



Comment balloon 20 commentsGeorgie Hunter R(S) 58089 • April 06 2008 11:18PM
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