Best known for the annual 4th of July Rodeo that has been held for the past 50 years, Makawao is the cowboy capital of upcountry Maui. Located at 1,500′ elevation, the region maintains a cooler temperature. With rain just about everyday in the early morning, the pastures are bright green year round. If country living is for you then Makawao, Maui is the place to be. Along with the abudent pasture land, there are some of the best restaurants on Maui located Up Country. After all, the Hawaiian cowboys (known as paniolo in Hawaii) need hearty meals after a long days work. If you are looking for a change from the beaches and curious to learn more about Hawaiian culture, Makawao Maui is a great destination.

What to do in Makawao

Don’t be alarmed by the chickens that casually stroll in and out of the local shops… You are in the country after all! Makawao feels like a step back in time. Walking Baldwin Ave – the main street in Makawao – you can imagine the days when horses would be tied up out front of the Rodeo General Store.

retail stores in makawao
Chickens make themselves at home at Makawao Retails

The Makawao of today stays true to its historic roots as a ranching town. Around lunch time many of the ranch workers stop into Makawao for lunch, making for an even more authentic Hawaiian cultural experience. If you make it to Makawao early be sure to get a pastry from the famous T. Komoda Store that has been in business since 1916. Other great things to do in Makawao are;

  • Shop for unique souvenirs at quaint boutiques throughout downtown; Enjoy island-style ice cream after taking a leisurely stroll down historic Baldwin Avenue.
  • Attend the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center’s annual Makawao Paniolos Heritage Festival to celebrate local paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) traditions with music, food, art exhibits and more
  • Explore the town’s historic sites, including the Makawao Union Church that was built in 1917 by New England Missionary Jonathan Smith Green.

Makawao, The Cowboy Capital of Upcountry Maui

cowboy capital of maui

If you are looking to get a taste of what cowboy (and cowgirl) culture in Hawaii is like, Makawao is the place for you. Wide open pastures with panoramic ocean views inspire the inner cowboy to come out. Get a taste of local culture and pull up a bar stool at Stopwatch Bar & Grill. This is the best place to grab a cold beverage and talk story with local ranchers.

Watch a Rodeo in Maui

The HHSRA website has all the details about High School Rodeos on Maui. These kids are really good! If you want to see Paniolo’s in action, I highly recommend checking out one of these events.

Makawao Rodeo
Roping Arena in Makawao

While I am not a rodeo person myself, I have to say that the horses here have it pretty good.

upcountry maui

And this bull seems to be very content with the lush green pastures.

cowboy country upcountry maui

A little known part of Maui

If you are looking to spice up your vacation and break away from the tourist norms, be sure to visit Makawao, the cowboy capital of Maui. From local shops to happy live stock, Makawao is a welcome change from the typical Maui vacation.

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