Paia and Dinner on the North Shore: Maui Upcountry Road Trip
Luckily, my hotel, the Paia Inn, proved to be a suitable refuge. From the street, you can't tell that the cheerful yellow building housing the lobby is just one part of a sprawling complex of beachy-boutique cabins that wind down to the water. My apartment-sized room came with a living room, full kitchen and outdoor patio (and shower!). I had time for a quick dip before dinner so I grabbed a complimentary body board and headed out to the ocean, where I floated for an hour or two.
Road Trip Starting Point:
Exploring Maui's Upcountry
My job requires me to eat by myself quite a bit, and while I'm used to it, I always appreciate it when servers go out of their way to make sure that things go smoothly. That means they are solicitous without being overbearing, chatty without being familiar -- and they don't assume that you'll tip less. When I saw the crowds at Mama's Fish House, an iconic restaurant outside Paia that finds itself on many of Hawaii's top foodie lists, I worried that I'd feel out of place among the noisy vacationers and family groups. I didn't need to worry, as my server proved appropriately casual.
The entree prices, however, were anything but. While I'm used to splurging on occasional meals, entrees in the $40-$50 price range are still a shock. Sure, the menu points out exactly who caught the fish (I was told that my Ono, for example, had been caught "along the north shore of Maui by Jeff Holland"). And I did love my sashimi appetizer, served with delicious Hawaiian salt varieties that I vowed to buy later. Yet it seemed an indulgence, particularly on a weeknight; I felt a little guilty splurging on such a rich meal without my husband along to share. I can see why many people save this spot for their big night out on Maui.
Afterward, I took a walk along the sand out front (along with several couples, strolling hand in hand). As I looked out onto the water, the moon peeking through the palm trees, I realized how relaxed I was. My day in Upcountry had worked its aloha magic.
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