on December 25, 2006
This scenic gem is located at the end of Highway 32 (which becomes Iao Valley Road) just 5 miles west of the town of Wailuku-Kahului (the commercial center of Maui). It is a short drive or leisurely day-long hike from town.Hidden deep in the Hawaiian Rainforest on 6.2 acres of land, this lush, stream-cut, stunning valley is home to the Iao Needle, a huge forested spike-shaped lava remnant. The Iao Needle rises 1200 feet from the valley floor, and is quite an imposing sight upon first glance.Upon arriving in the park (there is no entrance fee), find a shady parking spot and climb up the small hill to the visitor center, where there are restroom facilities and a bunch of good information signs. Learn about the history of the monument and the valley. You will learn how the valley was once the site of one of Hawaii’s most famous battles, where King Kamehameha I destroyed the Maui army in 1790, effectively uniting the Hawaiian Islands. The stories of the stream being dammed up by the many fallen bodies will surely send chills down your spine.From the information area, there is a nice walkway heading out over the streams. The natural beauty of the area is intense, and it is possible to swim in a shallow lagoon fed by the warm waterfalls and streams. Simply climb off of the beaten path and join the masses as they wade through the warm shallow water.If you’re not in the mood to get wet, stick to the path and you’ll eventually round a small corner to the Iao Needle viewpoint, where you can get some decent photos of the mountainous formation. The valley walls here are also very picturesque, these being the walls of the dormant volcano Pu'u Kukui. Enjoy just strolling around the beautiful paths around the park, admiring the unique fauna and flora of the area. This isn’t the place to come for high adrenaline excitement – it’s a relaxing, quiet setting in the heart of nature, perfect for a romantic stroll or a moderately challenging hike.The nearest hotels to the park are in Kahului, and the park is made more for day trips than extended stays. The park is open from 7 AM to 7 PM, and you can stay as long as you wish during that time. Food and refreshments are NOT available in the park, so bring your own. There is also no clean drinking water available whatsoever. There is a couple inexpensive grocers in nearby Kahului for cheap picnic food choices. The park is family friendly, and children will enjoy the sights. Wading in the shallow stream can be especially fun for children. The trails are easy enough for children to walk without complaining too much. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit this beautiful monument, it is simply one the most amazing things to do on this island.
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