After leaving the resort areas of South and West Maui and the commercial centers of Wailuku and Kahului, only one town remains before the 50-plus mile Road to Hana wends its way into the eponymous village: Pa'ia. The official jumping-off point for the three-hour Road to Hana drive, Pa'ia is the last town with a commercial center on the Hana Highway. Though small, this former sugar plantation town is home to a handful of eateries where you can fill up before hitting the road.
Many people embarking on the Road to Hana leave early in the morning and buy box lunches for picnicking beside a waterfall. Yet, you need fuel to drive, and Charley's (charleysmaui.com) has long been considered one of the better places to fill up. Located in downtown Pa'ia on the Hana Highway, Charley's has been a local institution for decades. Consistently voted the best breakfast on Maui, the eatery was named for the owner's Great Dane and remains a favorite watering hole for musician and frequent diner, Willie Nelson.
Anthony's Coffee Co.
If you prefer a higher octane fill-up, Charley's friendly down-the-street rival, Anthony's Coffee Co. (anthonyscoffee.com), is the place for you. Originally a simple coffee shop, Anthony's now offers a full breakfast and lunch menu along with its renowned coffee and smoothies. Even more conveniently, Anthony's sells box lunches for the road and will lend you a cooler to keep everything fresh for your picnic. Local resident and pro surfer Laird Hamilton swears by Anthony's espresso and is a frequent visitor when on the island.
Moana Bakery & Cafe
Don't let the name of the restaurant fool you; Moana Bakery & Cafe (moanacafe.com) is more than what its name implies. A full-service restaurant, with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, Moana Bakery and Cafe specializes in Pacific Rim cuisine that showcases locally sourced produce and proteins. Live music is featured four nights a week, including an open-mic night on Tuesdays. Reasonable prices and friendly service make the already delectable chili-seared ahi with Molokai sweet potatoes taste even better.
Mama's Fish House
If driving the road back from Hana in the dark isn't enough motivation for you to turn around, a dinner reservation at beachfront Mama's Fish House (mamasfishhouse.com) will inspire your return. Just outside Pa'ia, near Ho'okipa Beach Park, Mama's has been serving up some of the freshest, locally caught seafood on Maui since 1973. The fish selection changes daily, and the menu will tell you who caught the fish and on which boat. Decorated with inspired, old-Polynesian style (think tasteful Trader Vic's), Mama's Fish House also serves up deadly tiki drinks that make the menu prices go down a little more easily.