Hike along the peaceful Iao Valley, a scenic 1600ha region of the West Maui Mountains encompassing lush tropical valleys, waterfalls, swimming holes and one of Maui's most popular landmarks – the 370m-high Iao Needle.
The Iao Needle is a jungle-clad lava pinnacle that soars above the historic Iao Stream at the intersection of two lush valleys surrounded by the emerald cliffs of an eroded volcanic caldera.
Follow the short loop trail from the car park across the bridge spanning the Iao Stream, then along the banks of the stream to the head of the valley – a broad circular amphitheater where four major streams converge into Iao Stream.
From here you can view the Ioa Needle and the often rain-drenched Puu Kukui, the highest point in the West Maui Mountains. The park stretches onwards into lush greenery for a further 16km. Two trails lead further into the valley, but eventually end in private property where No Trespassing signs are posted.
You can also join a guided rainforest walk (Monday to Friday at 11:30 am and 1:30pm; Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm). The price includes entrance to the Hawaii Nature Center where you can see interactive exhibits and displays about Hawaiian natural history. The center is open from 10am to 4pm; admission is US$6.
View native and exotic plants in the Iao Valley Botanic Gardens and don't miss the Kepaniwai Heritage Garden, site of a historic battle giving control of Maui to King Kamahameha and today a pretty heritage park that pays tribute to Hawaii's varied ethnic heritage. It's also the prefect spot for a picnic as it overlooks Iao Stream.
Location: Western end of Route 32,Wailuku
Cost: Free (parking US$5); Guided rainforest walk US$20
Hours: Daily 7am-7pm
Latest update: Iao Valley State Park : 13 January, 2023