Paia Bay

Paia Bay on Maui’s North Shore: Great Boogie-Boarding, Body-surfing, and Beachgoing
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Paia Bay offers a nice North Shore beachfront and some top-notch body-surfing and body-boarding for experienced ocean users. In winter especially, huge surf here can make getting in the water dangerous but provides fantastic ocean-watching. Close proximity to Paia Town with its hippie ambiance and plentiful cafes and shops is a plus.

- The Local Expert Team

Easily reached from the hippie village of Paia, the Paia Bay beachfront makes a great stop on a tour of Maui’s North Shore. It’s particularly known for its boogie-boarding, body-surfing, and surfing, though these activities are best pursued by intermediate to advanced practitioners. If you aren’t one, though, it’s still a great sand-between-your-toes hangout with prime surf-watching.

You can walk to the beach at Paia Bay from the town of Paia, or park at Lower Paia Park with its restrooms, showers, and other facilities. There isn’t a lifeguard here, and you should bring along your beach-day snacks.

A steady surf break close to shore here draws practiced body-boarders and body-surfers. If you’re a good, strong boogie-boarder or body-surfer, you might consider experiencing the break for yourself. It’s all the better if you’ve got a local showing you the ropes. Fins are a good idea, given the swim and depth involved. You may also see surfers riding offshore breaks here. 

Some folks also give garden-variety swimming a go here, but that’s only for very calm conditions. The surf here is commonly big; in winter especially, it gets downright huge. The large breakers are dangerous enough, but there also tends to be gnarly rip currents underway in these conditions. That’s more than all but the most experienced locals should be tangling with.

But hefty winter swells or storm seas can be attractions in and of themselves if you sensibly stay out of the water. Paia Bay is impressive to see with big waves breaking. And anytime, even if you aren’t yourself an experienced-enough boarder or surfer to attempt the surf break, it’s fun to watch the locals work it. Sunsets here are pretty darn nice to see as well.

There are beachfront trees at Paia Bay Beach providing some shade. Expect wind—but that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, this is Maui’s windward coast, bathed in the steady northeasterly trades. Heck, you’re only a hop, skip, and a jump west from Hookipa Beach Park, arguably the world’s best windsurfing destination.

Speaking of, you can easily combine Paia Bay with ocean-watching at Hookipa, where ace windsurfers put on an amazing daily spectacle. And a bit east of that, the world-renowned surf break called Jaws is another sight to see.

You can also head westward on foot from Paia Bay Beach to reach Baldwin, Spreckelsville, and Baby Beach. Meanwhile, the town of Paia is well worth exploring as well (and the perfect place for lunch on your Paia Bay beachgoing day). 

Whether you’re good enough to boogie-board at Paia Bay or not, its beachfront is a dramatic and lovely place to visit along Maui’s North Shore. 

Insider Tip:
-You can find some parking at the Paia Town Public Parking: here.
-Those walking between Paia Bay Beach and Baldwin Beach will skirt Secret Beach. That’s a well-known nude beach, so expect some bare flesh. (Public nudity’s illegal in Hawaii, but needless to say you wouldn’t know it at certain, particular Maui beaches such as Secret.)