What: Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town and a renowned art community
Where: Upcountry Maui
Located on the mid-slopes of Maui’s Haleakalā volcano, Makawao has one foot in its plantation past and another in its thriving arts community. This charming town was once named one of the top 25 arts destinations in the United States.
Makawao is the biggest little town in the region locally known as Upcountry Maui and is famous for its Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolo. Since the late 19th century, horseback-riding paniolo have wrangled cattle in Maui’s wide-open upland fields. The Makawao Rodeo, held yearly on the Fourth of July, is Hawaiʻi's largest paniolo competition and has been an Upcountry tradition for more than 50 years. The weekend events include a parade and traditional rodeo competitions such as barrel racing, calf roping and bareback bronco riding, all with a few Hawaiian twists.
For a snack, follow the locals to get a famous cream puff from T. Komoda Store. Established in 1916 by Takezo Komoda, a Japanese plantation worker, this little store and bakery does big business. Lines can be long in the morning when everything’s fresh, so come early. The bakery is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.
You can also spend the afternoon meandering through the eclectic shops, boutiques and art galleries. It’s a town of working artists, where you can watch glassblowers, wood sculptors and painters as they fulfill your order. Makawao is also home to the Hui Noʻeau Visual Arts Center, where visitors can take classes and explore free gallery exhibits. The combination of its paniolo heritage and its lively artistic community make Makawao a unique stop on your visit to Maui.