Maui's Iao Valley State Park

You don't need to drive as far as Hana to see an awe-inspiring, verdant landscape on your Maui vacation. Nestled within the protective peaks of the West Maui Mountains is Iao Valley, a misty paradise of forest, streams, rainbows and cascading waterfalls. Encircled by the sheer, green walls of Iao's Pu'u Kukui Crater you will find the Iao Needle. This natural rock formation juts 2,250 feet from the valley floor, like a pillar to the sky. The 'Iao Needle has always been a sacred place in native Hawaiian culture and was once used as a natural altar to the gods.

Iao Valley was also the very ground on which King Kamehameha the Great, the first man to unite the Hawaiian islands, defeated Maui's army in 1790 and claimed the island as part of his unified kingdom. Now the area is preserved and protected as one of Maui's state parks.

If you plan to visit Iao Valley, it's best to arrive in the morning, as clouds frequently huddle around Iao Needle in the afternoons. There are beautiful Chinese and Japanese gardens and a few easy hiking trails around the area, if you're interested in exploring. While the park does have restroom facilities, it does not have drinking fountains, so we recommend bringing a bottle of water along. Like Hana, Iao Valley is a lush, rainy environment, so it's always a good idea to bring mosquito repellent.

Visiting Iao Valley is a beautiful excursion that won't take up your entire day. Since the main areas of the park are well paved, access and parking is easy, and it's a safe, fun place to bring children. The valley's striking natural scenery, combined with the cultural designs of the Chinese and Japanese gardens, make it a wonderful place for photo opportunities.

You can find Iao Valley State Park by taking Highway 32 (Ka'ahumanu Road) West out of Wailuku. Highway 32 becomes Highway 320, which leads directly to the park, at the end of the road. Like most of Maui's natural places, Iao Valley State Park is free to visit.

We hope you have a fabulous time on your Maui vacation. If you need any assistance with your vacation rental accommodations, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!