Makawao is a town in Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country beside the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano. The Paniolo culture of horseback riding and cattle wrangling has been present here since the 19th century, with green hillside pastures and ranches throughout the area. The Paniolo influence can still be felt — with horse-hitching posts in the streets and with the unique architectural style of the downtown buildings. Rodeos take place some weekends here, the largest of which is held annually during Fourth of July.
In the past, plantations covered this densely forested area. The name ‘Makawao’ means “eye of the forest.” The higher elevation in this area makes it especially conducive to agriculture, including pineapples and the Maui onion. Today, the town of Makawao is known for its thriving art scene. As such, there are dozens of art galleries, shops, small restaurants and boutiques to explore along the town’s main street.
Makawao is located in what is known as the Upcountry of Maui. To get there, travel from Kahului (the airport) up the Haleakala Highway and turn left onto Makawao Road.