Makawao is a charming small town with plenty of small town shopping and art galleries. This is the home of the Paniolo (Hawai’ian Cowboy) so you’re likely to see horses and fields for pasture.
Things To Do In Makawao:
Horse lovers will want to check out the Maui Polo Club, which hosts games at 1:30 PM every Sunday in April, May, and June. Located on Olinda Road at the Manduke Baldwin Polo Arena, this is a great place to check out local horses and riders and see an exciting sporting event. See Maui Polo Club for more information and an updated schedule of events.
Every year around the 4th of July Makawao hosts Hawaii’s largest rodeo. Watch Hawaiian paniolos (cowboys) ride brocs and bulls, steer wrestle, rope, and barrel race. Hawaii has produced several National Champions, and the Makawao rodeo is a place for them to show their skills on their home turf. Search Makawao Town Center for specific dates and times each year.
Makawao has excellent shopping all along Baldwin and Makawao Avenues. Art galleries and unique clothing boutiques are the norm and worth checking out.
A few miles above Makawao, the Waihou Springs Forest Reserve provides a cool, shady respite from the hot Maui sun. This short loop hike is relatively easy, well marked, and allows you to explore a totally different ecosystem than can be found on most parts of Maui. Adventurous hikers can extend their hike by following steep switch backs down to an old stream bed to explore lava tubes.
Waihou Springs Trail in Waihou Springs Forest Reserve
Driving Directions: From Haleakala Highway turn left on to Makawao Avenue (State Highway 400). At the four-way intersection in town, make a right on to Olinda Road. Follow Olinda Road until you see dirt parking on your right. (You will pass a bird sanctuary on your left just before you get to the trail head.) Olinda Road is narrow and windy but has excellent views of Kahului and the West Maui Mountains. Drive slowly and don’t forget to turn around and check out the view.
Hiking Directions – Easy Loop: From the parking area follow the wide chip trail to a t-intersection. Turn right or left to follow the short loop through the forest. Feel free to explore side trails, all are out and back or will take you back toward the parking area. To extend your walk follow the sign to Waihou Springs. There is a bench with a view of Kahului at the end of this out and back spur.
Hiking Directions – Lava Tubes: From the parking area follow the wide chip trail to a t-intersection. Make a right at the intersection and go down a gentle hill. As the trail bends around to the left (the loop trail) you will see an old weathered sign and the Waihou Springs trail to the right. Take this trail and follow it to a bench. Just past the bench you will see a trail heading steeply down the hill to the right. Follow these switch backs to the bottom. Once at the bottom you will see what used to be a large waterfall in an old stream bed. The lava tubes are all through the rock that made up the waterfall. Explore at your leisure. You may want to bring a flashlight.
Spend A Day In Makawao
• Drive up early and pick up goodies at T Komodo Store and Bakery.
• Spend a few hours exploring the Waihou Springs Forest Reserve and hiking the Waihou Springs Trail.
• Come back down to town and grab a picnic lunch at the Rodeo General Store. If you’re not starving, spend some time poking around the many art galleries and shops.
• Drive 4 miles down Baldwin Avenue toward Paia. Look for Rainbow County Park on your left and stop for a picnic. (If you pass the Makawao Union Church on your right you’ve gone too far.)
In general Maui doesn’t have a lot of well-known areas for mountain bikers, but Makawao is a fantastic exception. A few miles above town, the Makawao Forest Reserve is filled with trails to please all levels of mountain biker. Rent a hard tail or full suspension bike from the Haleakala Bike Company and spend a day exploring. To find out some of the lesser known areas to bike, talk to someone at the shop.
Driving Directions: From Haleakala Highway turn left on Makawao Avenue (State Highway 400). Go straight through the four way intersection in town. Just past St. Theresa’s Catholic Church make a right on to Piiholo Road. After you pass Piiholo Ranch Zipline on the left you will see a fork in the road. Bear left at the fork onto Waiahiwi Road. Waiahiwi Road makes a sharp left corner and then a sharp right. At the sharp right it becomes Kahakapao Road. Follow Kahakapao to the top. You will see a yellow gate marking the entrance to the Makawao Forest Reserve. Pass through the gate and go up a very steep hill with deep water bars until you see a parking area on your right. Park here.
Biking Directions: For the most part it’s best to be adventurous and just explore the area. Generally speaking the trails up from the parking area are double or single track and relatively smooth. The trails down from the parking area were made by local shredders and are filled with gap jumps, giant berms, and enough log rides to keep any downhiller happy. Locals often shuttle the downhill trail with trucks and if you’re friendly and you rip you might be able catch a ride.
For a fun less technical ride go through the gate at the far end of the parking area. Follow the double track to a t-intersection with a well marked sign. Go right. Eventually you will do a loop that brings you right back to the t-intersection.
Good Eats in Makawao Town
Makawao Rodeo General Store 3661 Baldwin Avenue – Excellent soups, bentos, and a fantastic deli with local favorites such as ocean salad and ahi poke. The store has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options and everything is delicious. We recommend the carrot ginger soup and the vegan marzipan mistress desert. Yum!
Makawao Sushi and Deli 3647 Baldwin Avenue – Great sushi, friendly owners, and a casual atmosphere make this a great spot to drop in for a Dragon roll. If you’re not a sushi fan they also have great locally made ice cream and fantastic Italian deserts.
Polly’s Mexican Cantino Restaurant 1202 Makawao Avenue – To be perfectly honest the food is run of the mill American Mexican, nothing special. But they do have fantastic margaritas!
T Komodo Store and Bakery Inc. 3674 Baldwin Avenue – This place has some of the best sweet rolls on the island. One of the only bakeries on Maui, definitely stop here if you get to Makawao early in the morning. They open at 7 AM and are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.