7 Artistic Towns in Hawaii You’ll Love

Step away from the ordinary in Hawaiʻi to discover artsy towns filled not only with galleries, but also hip boutiques, record stores and low-key restaurants. From a former plantation district on the tiny island of Lānaʻi to the street art mecca in the heart of Honolulu, you’ll feel the magnetic pull of these colorful cities.

1. Pa’ia, Maui

The sand-dusted streets of this beach town are lined with art galleries, including the Pueo Gallery, Maui Crafts Guild and Art Project Pāʻia.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

As soon as you arrive at Pāʻia, you will feel the vibrations of free spirit. Once a quiet plantation neighborhood, Pāʻia is now a vibrant surf hub on Maui’s North Shore, attracting international athletes as well as local artists and introverted travelers. The sand-dusted streets of this beach town are lined with art galleries, including the Pueo Gallery, Maui Crafts Guild and Art Project Pāʻia. But among the art emporiums, you’ll also find casual eateries like Café des Amis and Flatbread Pizza Co. as well as surf shops like Hi-Tech Pāʻia. While in town, be sure to head up Baldwin Avenue to visit the Maui Dharma Center and see its stupa where you can learn about Tibetan Buddhism. And be on the lookout for businesses hidden behind the bikini shops like Pāʻia Bay Coffee or the consignment shop behind Biasa Rose.

2. Wailuku, Maui

Wailukumural

Drive through Wailuku and the vibrant murals by local artists are sure to catch your eye.
Photo: Grace Maeda

Drive through Wailuku and the vibrant murals by local artists are sure to catch your eye. But it is well worth parking the car and exploring this corner on foot. nestled below `Iao Valley, Wailuku is developing its arts scene through Small town big art. The foundation works with local artists to celebrate the island’s vibrant culture through visual, experiential and performance-based arts. These creative vibes cross the street to cozy cafes like Maui Coffee Attic, eclectic antique stores like Antique Freak and nostalgic record store Request Music. And like its emerging art scene, Wailuku is building its reputation as a foodie destination through restaurants like Shikeda Bento Papastry shop. The bento offers a modern take on the classic bento as well as delicate French-inspired pastries. The borough is also home to chef Sheldon Simeon’s newest restaurant, Tiffany’s. The “Top Chef” alum has revived the beloved mainstay, condensing the once 150-course menu down to a set menu of 50. Longtime Tiffany regulars needn’t worry; Simeon kept popular dishes like kimchi fried rice and honey walnut shrimp. Of course, he has left his mark on the menu by adding new dishes such as sautéed squid with gochujang or mapo tofu with Sichuan pepper.

3. Kailua, Oʻahu

Kailuamural

As you stroll through Kailua town, be on the lookout for traffic jams and murals decorated by local painters, like this one by Native Hawaiian artist Sara Saffery.
Photo: Mia Anzalone

Best known for its golden beaches and turquoise waters, Kailua’s charm goes beyond its stretches of sand. Here, you can order brunch at a barbecue restaurant, sip beer at a philanthropic brewery, and shop for beachwear and one-of-a-kind souvenirs at local art shops. So, spend a leisurely morning or afternoon in Kailua. Start with brunch at Easy’ Que, then visit the stores of artists Nick Kuchar and Lauren Roth, and finish with a craft beer flight at Grace in Growlers. As you stroll through town, be on the lookout for traffic jams decorated by local painters and murals by Native Hawaiian artist, Sara Saffery.

4. Kaka’ako, O’ahu

Kakaakopowwowmural

Each spring, artists from around the world flock to Honolulu’s Kakaʻako neighborhood for the Pow! Wow! street arts festival. This fun mural was painted in 2018.
Photo: Tracy Chan

Kakaʻako is undeniably the mecca of street art in Hawaiʻi. Each spring, artists from around the world flock to Honolulu’s Kakaʻako neighborhood for the Pow! Wow! street arts festival. Dozens of murals are painted which result in a magnificent passageway gallery spanning several city blocks. The murals remain on display for an entire year until the next festival. But Kakaʻako is more about street art. The area, which was once known for its body shops and cinema, is now inhabited by cafes serving artisan lattes, very neat clothing boutiques and trendy record stores. Stop at the mall SALT to Our Kakaʻako to see for yourself.

5. Hanapēpē, Kauaʻi

Talkstorylibrairiekauai

Since 1997, the weekly art market has drawn crowds to the historic streets of Hanapēpē.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

In Kauaʻi’s “biggest little town”, historic buildings are packed with family restaurants, quaint shops and more art galleries than any other neighborhood on the island. And Friday Art Nights are when this typically sleepy town wakes up. Since 1997, the weekly art market has drawn crowds to the historic streets of Hanapēpē. Like many events, Art Night was put on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the weekly festival has restarted in July 2022. Galleries are once again welcoming all to experience the art of the island’s creatives while local restaurants and shops remain open.

6. Hōlualoa, Hawaii Island

Konatreehouse

Along Mamalahoa Highway, you’ll find colorful collectibles at Barbara Hanson Art, stickers and crafts at Kona Tree House, one-of-a-kind sculptures at Glyph Art, and one-of-a-kind pieces. ʻukulele at Hōlualoa ʻUkulele Gallery & Workshop.
Photo: Grace Maeda

The peaceful town of Hōlualoa rests on the slopes of the dormant Hualālai volcano between Kailua-Kona and Keauhou. Surrounded by hundreds of coffee farms, Hualālai is in the heart of Kona coffee country with some of the best java you’ll find in the islands. But the village is also known as an artistic enclave. Along Mamalahoa Highway, you’ll find colorful collectibles at Barbara Hanson Art, stickers and crafts at Kona Tree House, one-of-a-kind sculptures at Glyph Art, and one-of-a-kind pieces. ʻukulele in Holualoa Ukulele Gallery & Workshop, which is located in the town’s former post office. If you’re on the island in November, be sure to stop by the annual Hōlualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll to sip Kona coffee blends while shopping for crafts created by local artisans.

7. City of Lānaʻi, Lānaʻi

Gallery Michaelcarrol

Although small and quaint, the town of Lānaʻi has its own distinct and artistic personality. Stop by the Lānaʻi Art Center and Michael Carrol Gallery to get a glimpse of the city’s artistic talent.
Photo: Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) / Lānaʻi Hospitality Partners

The town of Lānaʻi was established in the early 1900s as a plantation town during the boom of the pineapple industry. Today it is still the main hub of the island which is home to only around 3,300 residents. Although small and quaint, the town of Lānaʻi has its own distinct and artistic personality. Stop by the Lānaʻi Art Center and Michael Carrol Gallery to get a glimpse of the city’s artistic talent.

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