A common misconception about shopping Upcountry is that it’s all “hippies and new-agers” selling incense, crystals and Rasta-colored tie-dyed laptop cases made in Indonesia. While there are a few spots in Paia that loosely fit this mold (Mandala Ethnic Arts, Primitive Rhythm, Island Roots), the greater part of Upcountry features upscale boutiques, specialty shops and art galleries. And most, if not all, feature locally made products.
We know this because we took a shopping tour recently through Paia, Makawao and Kula. And we found a great deal of unique gifts for that pesky “person who has everything” we’re faced with every damn year.
We always like to start off holiday shopping with a little alcohol. The Wine Corner in Paia is great place for that. Along with the usual suspects—international and domestic wines, beers and Blanton’s Single-Barrel Bourbon—they also feature Maui-made, 80-proof, Braddah Kimo’s Mo’ Bettah Silvah Rum. Perfect for those chilly, 70-degree nights when you’re itchin’ for some holiday spirit, like hot buttered rum.
Just down the street, Hana Hwy. Surf is one of several shops in Paia where you can find swimsuits, board wax, T-shirts and a slew of feet-liberating slippahs. But in addition to surfboard rentals and lessons, Hana Hwy. Surf also features the Huck Doll—a five-inch, bendable, extreme sports action figure/surf dude and board with magnetic traction so you can map out your latest rippin’ maneuvers. Awesome!
If it’s baubles you need, you’ll find some sophisticated accessories made by local jewelers at Neuge Bleu. Or try Currents’ low-impact jewelry made from radiator core, roofing materials or airplane and plumbing parts at Maui Hands gallery, where 85 percent of all art comes from Maui artists—the rest comprised of artists who reside on other Hawaiian islands.
I don’t know why but every year we eyeball the Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags at Biasa Rose boutique. No, we don’t have children but we’re considering having a kid just so we can adorn ourselves with those stylish, satin, Asian-print numbers. Seriously, these bags could easily be used as laptop or book bags, too.
A quick stop at Milagros for a tequila shot to erase that last comment about having a kid and we’re off to Alice in Hulaland. You see, we believe people just don’t wear enough hats these days. So our job this holiday season is to ensure all our friends and family are covered, from derby and fedora to cloche, Balibuntl and trucker. Alice in Hulaland has all these and more from San Diego Hat Co., Goorin, Shady Brady Hat Co., as well as vintage hats from early 20th century Hollywood movie sets.
Venture up Haleakala Highway and you’ll find a couple hidden treasure troves of unique, local gifts. In Kula, stop by Keokea Gallery for one-of-a-kind art or next door at Fong Store for a dollar hot dog—although hot dogs don’t generally wrap well so you might just want to eat the evidence. There’s Kula Lavendar Farm, too, where you can get any number of locally made lavender products like soaps, candles, culinary rubs and other great-smelling, relaxing and tasty purple things.
Then there’s Kula Marketplace—a nearly department store-sized place filled with local art, handmade candles, jewelry, clothing, gourmet foods, wines and real orchids cast in silver (Forever Maui Orchids). There’s Maui jams and jellies like Jeff’s Li Hing Mui Mango Jam, local artist Mark Hickson’s Pele Ware with bits of actual lava rock embedded in ceramic bowls, and The Original Slipper—a decorative wall hanging, spoon rest, paperweight, napkin holder or whatever.
No upcountry shopping extravaganza would be complete without a quick stop—or in our case, a few hours—spent in Makawao. If it’s art you’re looking for, you may be overwhelmed with the possibilities at galleries like Viewpoints, David Warren, Deybra, Maui Hands and more. You’ll also encounter a bevy of boutiques, where you’ll find gorgeous designer wear, stylish beaded jewelry and fabulous shoes—like the Calleen Cordero “Sarita,” a pair of distressed silver Mary Janes at The Mercantile—all of which we can’t afford but hey, if you’ve got the dough, more power to you.
But amidst all the shopping you’ll inevitably do for yourself, there are some great eclectic finds: Zen Wind capiz shell chimes at Collections, skidless yoga towelmats in a rainbow of colors at The Mercantile, Hawaiian print tablecloths at Holiday & Co., cowboy boot purses with rhinestones and fur trim at Aloha Cowboy Western Wear & Tack, and vintage decanters at Pink by Nature.
Then congratulate yourself with a hot cocoa, hot toddy or hot paniolo—hey, it’s one-stop shopping—for a day well-spent in marathon gift-buying Upcountry.