15 Best Things to Do in Makawao, Hawaii

Makawao, HI
EQRoy / shutterstock.com

Hawaii isn’t just stunning white beaches and tropical islands.

If you want to take a day off on the sand, a sunny drive to Makawao is the best option.

Located on the rural northwest slope of Haleakala on East Maui, the town is popularly known as Upcountry Maui.

Despite its path to modernization, the spirit of paniolo in its past still lingers within the community.

Paniolo refers to cowboy, which comprises a considerable portion of the livelihood and lifestyle of the Maui residents.

Even if it’s away from the shore, the village has different options for adventure, relaxation, and entertainment.

You’ll have a great time wandering aesthetic art galleries and boutiques.

Lose yourself in the wild and exquisite nature escapade, not to mention the therapy spas.

Here are the best things to do in Makawao, HI:

Take a Hike in Makawao Forest Reserve

Paved road of Makawao Forest Reserve
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

Seeking more adventure inevitably reconnects you with Mother Nature, which is the best thing.

Located on the northwest slope of Haleakala, the Makawao Forest Reserve is your spot for great hiking, biking, and running.

If you want to avoid the sun for a moment, explore its dense forest up to the mountains.

You'll get lots of shade and see spectacular views of the ocean and island below.

The foliage is lush and lovely, with a wide range of endemic plants.

Nature trail at Makawao Forest Reserve
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are seven developed trails, including the Renegade Trail, Secret Trail, Ravine Trail, Tweener Trail, Pineapple Express, and the Kahakapao Loop, which stretches about 6.2 miles long.

There is nothing to worry about if you are a beginner at hiking, for easy trails are available.

You can go as short or as long as you want.

Give this hike a try, and you might see incredible creatures in the wild.

A reservoir at Makawao Forest Reserve
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Maui’s Culture in the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center

Nothing is better than visiting a free historic state within just a few minutes from the city’s heart.

You’ll capture the enchanting piece of Maui history at the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center.

Founded in 1934, the center remains open to the public to unlock creativity through visual arts education and preserve the historic Kaluanui Estate.

You will learn about the marvelous process of local artists’ printmaking, blowing glass, and silversmithing with their elegant masterpieces.

The historic plantation manor offers more than 70 different plant species spread across its expansive grounds.

Within the 25-acre grounds, you’ll discover the remnants of the earliest sugar mills in Maui and two of Maui’s largest Cook Island pine trees.

This local treasure opens exciting opportunities for enjoying visual arts, learning Maui’s culture, and seeing the extraordinary views of Maui’s North Shore and West Maui Mountains.

Have Fun at the Eddie Tam Memorial Center

If you are up for energizing physical activities, visit the Eddie Tam Memorial Center.

Locals famously call this place “Eddie Tam.”

It is within walking distance to Makawao Town, located between Ho’omaha Road and Makawao Avenue.

As the gathering site of local sporting events, it is packed with various recreational athletic fields, a well-maintained soccer field, and Bronco ball diamonds.

It also has Little League, extra softball and baseball fields, and basketball and tennis courts.

It is the perfect spot for family fun with its picnic pavilions and vast fun playground, open for your dynamic youngsters.

All the local kids in town know that the park is the best for sliding down the hills with their large pieces of cardboard.

The center also welcomes your furry companions, separating big and small dogs to prevent the little puppers from getting trampled as their bigger friends run and play around.

Find Yourself in the Serenity of the Sacred Garden of Maliko

To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the Sacred Garden of Maliko on Kaluanui Road offers the meditative opportunity you need.

You’ll love the two rock-garden labyrinths.

One of them is a classical seven-circuit labyrinth in the exotic greenhouse.

The other is a medieval 11-circuit labyrinth outdoors.

It is an excellent contemplative path or walking meditation, especially if you are on the journey of finding yourself.

Despite its name, it is more than a vibrant botanical garden with tropical plants and graceful orchids.

You can find a Buddha garden, a peaceful sanctuary, water lily ponds, sitting and picnic areas, an elegant creativity center, a shrine room, and a sacred temple.

Take your time to experience peace, rejuvenation, and inspiration in one moment.

Learn about Hawaii’s Past in the Makawao History Museum

Stop by the tiny yet informative Makawao History Museum on Baldwin Avenue.

Filled with significant displays and photos of Maui’s history, this museum will send the essence of the town’s cowboy past surging through you.

See monochrome photos of the old town and its former inhabitants, antique ranching tools, and retro exhibits of their culture.

The staff is also very welcoming and helpful in sharing the fascinating history of Hawaii with you.

If you have questions, they are more than happy to answer you.

It is a perfect stop as you stroll through the charming tiny houses of Makawao town.

Release Your Stress at the Lumeria Maui Education Retreat Center

To explore and find oneself is the ultimate goal of a traveler.

You can experience incredible self-transformation as you visit the sanctuary for authentic transformation travel.

This place is the Lumeria Maui Education Retreat Center.

Found on Baldwin Avenue, it is more than an ordinary hotel with yoga classes.

Initially built in 1919, the locals renovated the historic compound with a New Age aesthetic.

The eight-acre grounds are exemplary for dance and movement therapies, meditation and yoga programs, metaphysical studies, and healing arts.

It is so serene and peaceful that a cellphone ring or a soft chuckle can startle you.

The vast establishment features a yoga lawn and an elegant saltwater swimming pool for you to enjoy a hot and refreshing bath.

With great interest in New Age spirituality, its tranquil grounds will catch your attention.

Feel the Cowboy Spirit in the Makawao Stampede Rodeo

Everyone anticipates this annual and momentous event, the Makawao Stampede Rodeo.

First started in 1956, the rodeo happens every 4th of July in the family-owned Oskie Rice Arena.

The family also renovated the arena to accommodate more people and upgrade the wholesome experience.

You can also have fun for all ages with many exciting activities arranged each year.

It is now a 3-day celebration packed with colorful food booths.

Join a vigorous parade to the Oskie Rice Arena, or listen to musical performances.

Watch the championships of the town’s favorite sport, the rodeo.

Satisfy your Italian Cravings in the Casanova Italian Restaurant

Built in 1986, the Casanova Italian Restaurant digs deep within the roots of the Upcountry Maui lifestyle.

Located at the corner of Baldwin and Makawao Avenue, this restaurant shows you an excellent Italian dining experience.

It is a must-try restaurant because you can also mingle with many Maui residents and visitors from the Haleakala Crater.

Casanova’s signature dishes present pasta, fresh salads, pizzas, and seafood at the best prices.

Savoring the best Italian food and enjoying a lively social gathering are the best ways to spend a trip.

Behold the Art of Glass Blowing in Makai Glass Maui

Your trip to Makawao isn’t complete without witnessing the mystical process of making glass in Makai Glass Maui.

Located on Haliimaile Rd, the vast art gallery features unique glass-blown sculptures with a breath of aloha.

Signifying the Hawaiian Spirit, the shining and colorful glass pieces illuminate the essence of the sea and volcanic formations on the island.

Apart from the beautiful glass sculptures, you will see local artists in their furnaces as they melt, blow, and shape the decorative glasses.

You are free to look, buy the glass works of art, and bring home the essence of the Hawaiian spirit.

Experience a Drink of Hawaiian Spirit in Hali’imaile Distilling Company

Alcohol barrels in Hali’imaile Distilling Company
Silent O / Shutterstock.com

The Hali’imaile Distilling Company gives you a tasty sample of “Hawaii in a Bottle.”

Heading to Haliimaile Road, you can take a tour of the state-of-the-art distillery surrounded by the broad fields of Maui Gold pineapples.

What’s more exciting is that they offer three free samples in the tasting room.

You can check out a great variety of choices of rum, vodka, whiskey, and gin.

Enjoy and savor the taste of ultra-premium Hawaiian spirits.

Enjoy a Fun Shopping Experience in the Maui Hands Art Galleries

If you are the kind who loves to collect unique and memorable items, then this is a suitable place for you.

Check out the work of over 300 fine artists and Hawaiian artisans in one location.

Marvel at the beauty of their creations in the Maui Hands Art Gallery found on Makawao Avenue.

Maui Hands displays original paintings, photography, vivid prints, fantastic woodwork, glasswork, ceramics, stunning sculptures, and home goods within the city.

You can find unique original Hawaii artwork, ranging from Ni’hau shell leis to beautiful jewelry and souvenirs.

Search for the item closest to your heart and bring it with you.

Recharge Yourself at the Ho’omana Spa Maui

Only in Ho’omana Spa Maui can you find authentic Hawaiian healing for mind, body, and spirit.

This ideal place of relaxation is located on Piiholo Road, dedicated to bringing you authentic Lomi-Lomi massage.

You’ll experience the traditional Hawaiian back-walking and soak in a soothing herbal bath to unwind your muscles.

Besides enjoying your relaxation, it is also a teaching spa, where you can learn a lot about massage basics.

Relaxation blended with learning makes your time getting pampered worthwhile.

Bring Home a Souvenir from Hot Island Glass

Who wants to see more glass-blown art?

Visit one of the famous stores, the Hot Island Glass, on Baldwin Avenue for astonishing glass sculpture pieces.

Chris Richards owns the shop.

You can watch creative artists create glass objects from scratch.

The artisans welcome you casually without salespeople buzzing around you.

A wide array of purchasable glass choices includes plates, bowls, fish, vases, starfish, seashells, and more.

Saddle up, relax, and drink your coffee in the bar as you observe beautiful objects built from molten glass.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out Exciting Water Sports in the Maliko Gulch

The waters of Maliko Gulch
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

Did you already miss the water?

Perched in the northern end of Maui, you can reach the Maliko Gulch after a 20-minute drive from Makawao.

It is a scenic bay where you can try different watersports, including fishing, surfing, one-person canoe, and jet ski support.

It is the meeting point of fresh stream water and salty ocean water, away from the towering cliffs as a refuge from turbulent winds.

Swimming in the clear and refreshing waters of the bay gives you the ultimate instant recharge.

Surf Your Worries out in H-Poko Point

What is Hawaii when surfing is not on its bucket list?

The H-Poko Point is a beautiful cape close to North Paia Beach and Hookipa Park Beach.

You need to travel 14 minutes from Makawao to reach this cape.

As it juts out to the vast blue horizons and into the sea, it is the perfect place for regular surfing, windsurfing, and swimming.

As one of the best-known shoreline landmarks on Maui, this place lets you beat the heat in style.

Final Thoughts

The words serene, aesthetic, and energetic aren’t enough to describe the beauty the city offers.

As a great reminder that there are more than just beaches in Hawaii, you will feel a deep impression of Hawaiian culture during your trip.

Start packing your bags and bring the whole family to your trip to Makawao.