Few places on Earth are as magical as the Iao Valley. Located on the western side of Maui, Hawaii, this National Natural Landmark is truly one of a kind. Take a walk on the Ethnobotanical Loop to discover tropical rainforests filled with native flora and fauna. Or, put on your bathing suit and swim beneath a flowing waterfall. In the background, looming mountain peaks beckon hikers and adventurous souls. Iao Valley State Park is one of the most sacred destinations in Hawaii, and a visit should be on your bucket list. Here’s why.
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Discover the History of Iao Valley State Park
As one of Maui’s most important political centers, the town of Wailuku was once home to many battles, including the renowned Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790. It was in the Iao Valley that King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army in his quest to unite the islands, changing the course of Hawaii’s history forever. After the battle was over, the streams of Iao were said to have been red with blood and blocked by bodies. This inspired the name Kepaniwai, or “the damming of the waters.”
Today, the Iao Valley is a peaceful destination where visitors can learn about Hawaii’s history. It’s also a great place to explore and offers a wide variety of attractions and facilities. Check out some of our favorites.
1. The Iao Valley Needle
Rising 1,200 feet from the valley floor, the Iao Needle is one of Maui’s most iconic landmarks. This lava remnant is taller than the Eiffel Tower and was once used as a lookout for Maui warriors during periods of warfare. Take a short hike on the Iao Needle Lookout Trail and climb 133 steps to the top for a stunning panorama of the Iao Valley and Wailuku. Because the needle is sometimes covered in clouds, we suggest heading out early in the day for the best views.
Hawaii Nature Center
TheHawaii Nature Center educates visitors about the importance of appreciating and preserving the environment. Here, guests can enjoy a wide variety of interactive exhibits and programs, including weekend activities, nature excursions, rainforest walks, and environmental restoration projects. It’s the perfect place to connect with the natural beauty of Hawaii.
Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens
Also located within Iao Valley State Park are the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. This beautiful collection of memorial gardens celebrates the different cultures that played a role in Hawaii’s history. Guests can enjoy strolling amongst waterfalls and ponds fed by the Iao stream and view traditional homes of people who came from Portugal, China, New England, Japan, and the Philippines.
Tips For Your Trip
Bring a raincoat.The Iao Valley is the second wettest place in Hawaii, and the summit of the valley receives over an inch of rain per day. Packing rain gear is always a good idea.
Respect the locals.There are some nice places along the park access road to jump and swim in the Iao stream. You may run into local folks here, so be respectful and give them their space.
Pack a lunch.The Iao Valley offers plenty of spots to stroll around and have a picnic. Grab some complimentary snacks from our B&B to bring with you!
Come Home to The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono
After a memorable day at Iao Valley State Park, take an easy 10-minute drive back to our inn. It’s just three miles away and offers some of the best lodging on the island! Browse our guest rooms now to find the room that’s right for you.
The Lokelani Room is a guest favorite. Inspired by Maui’s natural beauty, this gorgeous suite features a king-size bed, full bathroom, and a bookshelf filled with classic Hawaiian novels. It even comes with a delicious homemade breakfast each morning.
Check our availability and book direct today!