Historic Makawao Town

Historic Makawao Town-1920s Buildings, Galleries, Stores, and More!
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Historic Makawao Town has buildings dating back to the 1920s that today are charming galleries and stores. A flourishing arts community provides the town with unique galleries and boutiques. Makawao is nicknamed "cowboy town" to link to Hawaii's cowboys, paniolos.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

A stroll down the main street of Historic Makawao Town is a walk back in time. This sleepy little town is in Upcountry Maui and is on the mid-slope of the Haleakala volcano.

Upcountry Maui is home to Hawaii’s cowboys paniolos, which is why Historic Makawao Town earned the nickname “cowboy town” and “Western town.” The history of cowboys can be traced back to King Kamehameha III in 1838. The King invited vaqueros (cowboys) from Spanish California to teach his people how to handle cattle using horses. The vaqueros were called Espanoles (Spaniards), but the Hawaiians pronounced the word as “paniolos.”  

Another reason is that the buildings date back to the 1920s, and the facades look like something you’d see in a Western movie. Historic Makawao Town is home to the Makawao Rodeo. This 50-year-old tradition is the largest rodeo in Hawaii and is celebrated every Fourth of July. Visitors can watch a parade and traditional rodeo events like barrel racing, calf roping, and bareback riding. 

In the 20s and 30s, Makawao bustled with activity when the sugar plantations were the primary source of income. Many Asian families made Makawao home and ran the shops. You can learn about these families as you meander through Historic Makawao Town. 

The other exciting aspect about Historic Makawao Town is its thriving art community. You can visit art galleries and watch glassblowers, sculptors, and painters create works of art. Additionally, the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center offers classes and features a gallery you can peruse. At one point, Makawao was listed as one of America’s top 25 arts destinations. 

While we can’t list all the shops and boutiques, we want to point out the variety of businesses available. 

At the top of your list of places to stop is the Komoda Store and Bakery. Takezo Komoda opened the bakery in 1916, and today, the store’s reputation for fresh baked goods is known far and wide. Inside you’ll find great donuts, malasadas (Portuguese donuts), coconut Danish, cream puffs, and baked bread. Arrive early but plan on standing in line. 

The Dragon’s Den is a herb shop selling healthy, organic products and herbal teas. You’ll also find candles and Made on Maui products. 

Maui Master Jewelers carry custom jewelry crafted by Hawaii’s finest jewelers. They have everything from rings to jewelry made from jade. There are plenty of boutiques for women like The Mercantile, Holiday & Co Maui, and Driftwood.

Art lovers will want to visit Sherri Reeve Gallery, Makawao Fine Art Gallery, Viewpoints Gallery, Jordanne Gallery and Studio, Julie Galeeva Fine Art, and Hot Island Glass. You can find something good to eat at Haliimaile General Store, Freshies Maui, and Casanova Italian Restaurant when you need to refuel.  The General Store has a deli that serves fresh sandwiches and pokes. You’ll also find souvenirs, drinks, beer, and an ATM.

Historic Makawao Town is a bit out of the way, but we’re sure you’ll enjoy its old-town charm, vibrant art community, and paniolos. 

Insider Tip:
On Wednesdays, a farmers market sets up shop on the main street. Vendors sell local produce and flowers.