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Iao Valley State Park free

End of Iao Valley Road | Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793
Iao Valley State Park Photo info
janhatesmarcia/Flickr
  • Type: Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
  • Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
Overall Rating: 4.0 (4.1)
Value: 5.0 (5.0)
Facilities: 3.0 (3.0)
Atmosphere: 4.5 (4.5)
About these ratings

Like Haleakala National Park, Iao Valley State Park offers visitors the chance to admire something other than the beach. This 4,000-acre, 10-mile-long park in Central Maui boasts a verdant landscape and striking rock features — the most famous of which is the Iao Needle. Rising roughly 1,200 feet into the air, the Iao Needle (known in Hawaiian as Kukaemoku) was formed by erosion and is now dressed in the island's tropical foliage, leading it to appear green. In addition to the stunning landscape, Iao Valley visitors will be exposed to the park's legendary history: It was here that Maui's tribal army lost to the forces of King Kamehameha I during the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790. It was the victory at this battle that allowed King Kamehameha to unite the entire Hawaiian archipelago under his rule.

Iao Valley State Park features numerous hiking trails, many of them leading to or offering excellent views of the Iao Needle. The most popular path is the 0.6-mile Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop, a paved walkway that leads straight to the iconic rock formation and through a botanical garden. And, according to one TripAdvisor user, "In addition to reading about the history of the park you will also see amazing specimens of volcano cones that formed back in the day when the entire Hawaiian Islands were formed." Even if you don't plan on exploring beyond the Iao Needle Lookout Trail, travelers recommend bringing plenty of water; although the park has restrooms (located at the beginning of the Lookout Trail), there is no drinking water or other refreshments offered on the grounds.

The Iao Valley State Park is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and you can access it from Highway 32. There is a $5 parking fee (though Hawaiian residents can leave their cars for free). To learn more, visit the park's official website.

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