Most of the time, I don’t write about the locations I love the most. I may write about cities, islands, countries, or towns – but I rarely give away the places I plan on going to again and again. Today, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite places though – because frankly, the word is already out and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon.
Makawao on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii is one of those places. Everyone who goes to Maui goes to Lahaina, drives the Road to Hana, or visits the hippie town of Pa’ia – but Makawao has stayed off the beaten path. You can go to the little cafe in the morning and not have to wait in line behind a bunch of other tourists or visitors – just the locals. The general store is a great place to grab some local produce or craft beers. The tiny Mexican restaurant has amazing food and great margaritas. You’ll find mostly locals hanging out there. The little Middle Eastern food truck is spectacular.
No, I’m not giving you the names of those places. You’ll find them. Just go to Makawao. Find an AirBnB nearby. Hang out and enjoy the farmers market and the cool upcountry vibe. It’s one of those places that hasn’t been spoiled yet – but in talking with the locals – it sounds like development and more gentrification are coming – so don’t take to long to see it for what it is today.
Makawao sits on the slope of Haleakala, the 10,000 foot dormant volcano that dominates Maui’s view. It is a town known for cowboys, farmers, and a laid back vibe. If you add the elevation to the population – you’ll come close to another 10,000. There’s a big rodeo every year in Makawao and you will find some amazing little galleries tucked away there too. The Makawao Rodeo happens July 4th – 7th. That’s when the parade happens too – but anytime is a good time to be in Makawao.
When I first came to Maui, sometime in the early 2000’s – I was in awe. I’d grown up hearing about Maui – mostly in terms of Maui Wowee – but also about the beauty, how it was place the stars gathered, and one of the most spiritual places on the planet.
My first time here (because I’m here again as I write this) was a budget trip just to see the place. I stayed in hostels, hitchhiked around, swam, drank, smoked my first Maui Wowee and seriously felt the vibe. I don’t have pictures from that trip because I didn’t have a camera and in those days, there were no cameras on phones – but in fact, I didn’t have a phone at that point either.
However, it pretty much felt like this picture. It was awesome.
The next trip was totally different. Troubled relationship, four star resort, great food and wine, luxury experience but with personal and money issues. It felt more like this picture:
Then, there was a trip where I was working as a driver – taking PGA golfers on tours and to their tee times. I was a servant and I hated it – though there were moments like when one of them generously bought me a $150 Kobe Beef hamburger at the end of the Road to Hana. That one felt more like this picture:
After that, I had one trip where I stayed a couple of nights in Lahaina before going to Lanai. That one was a little bit like the first trip but without the carefree – more like I was looking for the carefree but still carrying all my cares. That trip felt like this:
Now, back again and I have to admit – Maui is a great reflector of what you are feeling in your life. It’s a bit like a magic mirror. I’ll be writing about Maui and the adventures and experiences I find here this time around – I’ll try to keep it to the facts and try to understand that what I experience here is still likely a reflection of my own inner experience – at the moment – it feels a bit like this picture – So far, so good!