If you're looking to get away from the typical touristy Hawaii, Haiku is an ideal base for a stay in Maui. Located on the North Shore, about 20 minutes from the airport in Kahului, it's a central location if you want to include Hana and Haleakala as well as beaches in your holiday.

Haiku is a tiny, quiet town hidden in the jungle: your first trip there should be in daylight, or you might miss it entirely! But this is where you meet the real Hawaii. Accomodations here are B&Bs or vacation rentals, generally run for love, not money. Your host will likely be an excellent resource for planning activities and recommending restaurants. 

Visit the Pauwela Cafe, where the locals have their own seats against the wall to watch the comings and goings. Everyone is friendly and helpful, and you can pick bananas and avocados off the trees on your way home. The Pauwela Cafe is on W Kuiaha Rd, along with a couple of boutique stores.

The main town centre is at the intersection of Haiku Rd and Kokomo Rd. It doesn't look like much, but there are a number of surprisingly good restaurants here, along with a hard-core bike shop (for insane people who want to cycle up Haleakala).

The larger, slightly more touristy (but very quaint and fun) town of Paia is ten minutes away. Paia has lots of good restaurants and cafes, and a great specialty foods store, but for serious groceries you need to head into Kahului or even Kihei.

The beaches near Haiku are for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, and not for beginners, either, but it's worth going to Ho'okipa Beach just to watch the experts. Baldwin Beach on a calm day is good for boogie boarding, and if you go to the far west end of it there's a protected bit where kids can go in the water, but otherwise you'll need to drive 45 min into Kihei to find a family beach or go snorkeling (but it's a perfectly doable day trip).

The famous road to Hana is everything they say it is, and starting from Haiku is necessary if you want to try to do it all in one day. Note that food options in Hana are limited, so you might want to bring a picnic lunch (and there are places in Paia that will supply one for you).

There's a shortcut from Haiku to the Haleakala Highway, if you can get a local to tell you how to get there; otherwise you can go to Paia and start from there; it's about an hour and a half to get up to the top (by car: takes a bit longer on a bike!) If you just want to lie on the beach, then don't stay in Haiku, but if you like adventure and prefer to be off the beaten track, you'll definitely like it here.