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Iao Needle | Maui Vacation Visitor Guide


Second only to Haleakala Crater, the Iao Needle is one of the most famous things to do on Maui. This ancient valley once only available to royalty, is located only a short drive from our Maui vacation rentals. If the Hana Highway seems daunting and you want to experience a rainforest awash in green, the Iao Needle is the place to go.

Iao Needle – a National Natural Landmark

This is what remains of a volcanic caldera in the West Maui Mountains. Its single spire rises to 1200 feet above the historic valley. At first glance the Iao Needle looks like it is free standing. When you walk behind it you will see that a narrow ridge connects it to the valley wall.

Things to Do on Maui – Iao Needle Highlights

Arrive early or late afternoon for best parking. Pack a swimsuit in case you decide to cool off in the stream. A rain jacket may be nice to carry too since this area receives on average 1-inch of rainfall every day. A paved .6 mile trail goes to a scenic viewpoint. There is also a short walk through the botanical garden where you can learn about vegetation.

Stay on the paved trail for safety. If you do venture beyond it, wear hiking boots and be sure that you turn back when you get to the dense forest. Beyond this point, the trail becomes very muddy.

Hawaiian History of Iao Needle

Iao stands for “Supreme Light” and has been a place of pilgrimage since ancient times. Long ago only royalty walked here. That’s how sacred this region has been to the Hawaiian people. In the 15th century, King Kake`e designated it as an Ali`i burial ground. Then in 1790, the valley was the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai in which Kamehameha the Great defeated the Maui army in his quest to unite the islands. Calm has returned and now you can experience this cultural highlight on your Maui vacation.

What to bring: Water and bug spray. Wear hiking boots if you go off the trail. Be prepared for rain.

Facilities: Parking is $5 per car. Restrooms on site.

When to Visit: 7am to 5:30pm, October 1-March 31. Closes at 6:00pm rest of year.

Directions: Iao Needle is located close to Wailuku.

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