Maui’s Small Towns

With all that our island has to offer, most residents will concur that Maui well deserves its no ka ‘oi moniker. Ask us about our favorite town here, and things get a bit more complicated. So we did just that: Asked local experts what’s so good about their towns. We’re not taking sides—we love them all.


Wailuku | Makawao | Kīhei | Lāhainā | Paʻia | Hāna

Hamoa Beach
Hāmoa Beach


Before indulging in Hana’s wonders, you’ll need to brave fifty-plus miles of snaking roads, single-lane bridges, and enough blind turns to give you chicken skin. The reward is arriving at one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers, whose isolation has preserved its rustic beauty and endless charm.

Our resident advisors:

  • Kau‘i Kanaka‘ole, kumu hula (hula teacher) of Halau o Nakaulakuhikuhi and executive director at Ala Kukui retreat center
  • Michelle Prest, manager at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar at Travaasa Hana

What’s the best way to experience Hana?

KK: You cannot just come to Hana for the day. I tell people they have to stay at least two nights, so they can spend time relaxing at the beach or going up to the mountains and just immersing in the slower pace. The simple fact that you cannot get phone signal everywhere in Hana can be a good thing — it forces you to decompress.

What sets Hana apart?

MP: I’ve had guests tell me, “The rooms and views are beautiful, but we come back for the people and how you folks make us feel as part of your ‘ohana.” That’s how it is among the people who live here, too. We really are like a big family.

KK: The land is just as much alive as the people are, and recognizing that fact is important for the longevity of this place. People who live here understand that, and so we have a respect for the land. It’s just one way we try to keep Hana, Hana.

Favorite spots?

MP: Hana Bay is like our town square, and our parties or any other special occasions are all held there. It’s a very sacred area for us and we treat it as such. I love  going to Fagan’s Cross and viewing the coastline. Whenever I’m stressed, I’ll hike up there and it reminds me how small we are compared to what’s out there, and that brings me peace.

Are there any iconic shops?

KK: There’s Hasegawa [General Store], which is an old mom-and-pop store that sells everything from buttons to screwdrivers to T-shirts to ice cream. And if they don’t have something, they’ll order it for you. When I need a gift for a special occasion, I’ll go to the I Love Hana Art Boutique, which sells items from local artisans.

Favorite eateries?

KK: Chow’s lunch wagon is just down the road from Hana’s only gas station, and they’re pretty famous for their Korean chicken. Troy’s at Koki Beach is another great spot. His fish is fresh and he catches it himself. He’s only there on Thursdays and some Saturdays.

What’s there to do at night?

MP: [Preserve Kitchen + Bar] has a kanikapila (jam session) night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and some of our musicians and hula dancers come into the restaurant and entertain. Staff members or whoever is in the audience will just get up and dance.

They also recommended:

Watching the surf roll in at Koki Beach or playing in the shore break at nearby Hamoa Beach . . . going for a hike along the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls . . . savoring the flavors at Pranee’s Thai food hut across the road from Hana Ballpark . . . or devouring a gigantic plate lunch at Braddah Hutt’s BBQ Grill.LA



  1. I used to live out near the East end of Pi’ihana Road for 8 years. Many times on Sunday mornings I would drive up to Iao Valley at 6:45am, just when the ranger was opening the gate to the Needle. When I would arrive at the top, I was the only one there and I would go hike up to the high observation point at the top of the steps. The air was so fresh and clean with a little moisture from the mist. I always felt a spiritual presence that would give me chicken skin. The silence from the lack of people made it all the more special, almost like I was transported into another dimension of space and time. One time I took my brother up to the bridge right in front of the gate at midnight on a full moon. We were silently looking down at the water below when all of a sudden a shadow came across the lone street light that’s there. As we looked up and looked back at the water, an apparition appeared on the rock below. I swear he looked like an ancient Hawaiian dressed in feathers and he was glowing white. We looked at him for maybe 4 or 5 seconds and ran like lightning to my jeep and tore off out of there. We couldn’t talk for at least 5 minutes, finally looking at one another and yelling out, “What the f*** was that…?!!!” I’ll never forget Maui, I love her with all my heart and soul. With aloha…


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