Windsurfers take advantage of strong gusts at Ho'okipa Beach. ©HTA/Tor Johnson
Once an plantation town centered on Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, today Paia enjoys status as one of the top windsurfing destinations in the world. At nearby Hookipa Beach Park — host of the annual Aloha Classic Wave Championships, the crown jewel of wave sailing events — sailboarders perform complex aerial maneuvers. Not surprisingly, Paia boasts at least a dozen surf shops where you can buy sport gear and board accessories. There is a wide range of grungy-chic cafes, juice bars and vegan restaurants plus shops sporting hemp-made products, East Indian imports and funky galleries catering to this community of mellow-yet-obsessive outdoor enthusiasts. A mile or so before entering Paia, you will encounter the Rinzai Buddhist Temple on Alawai Road, while on the eastern outskirts lies the Mantokuji Buddhist Mission, both of which complement the town’s holistic vibe. Speaking of which, flyers posted around town offer yoga classes and acupuncture as an alternative to the upscale spa experience.