Iao Needle – A 2,250 Foot Tall Pinnacle on Maui

Iao Needle - Iao Valley, Maui Hawaii

On the lush island of Maui, a must see is the splendor of Iao’s Valley. Iao Valley and Iao Needle, is named for Iao, daughter of Maui.

The needle itself is said to be Iao’s warrior lover, found by her father and turned to stone. Once a peaceful taro farming valley, the valley at one time turned into the location of great brutality. It is the site of a famous battle (1790) in which King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army during Kamehameha’s push to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

Historians say that warriors from Kahului retreated into Iao Valley where they were bloodily defeated in battle. A local guidebook mentions, “the waters of Iao Stream were so choked with bodies that the area was called Kepaniwai meaning ‘Damming of the Waters.’

Luckily for visitors coming today, Iao Valley is once again peaceful, lush and green.

The highlight of the park of course is Iao Needle, a 2,250 foot tall pinnacle. Due to its height, the Needle is often shrouded in clouds of fog, making for interesting photo opportunities.

There is a short paved trail that goes to a viewpoint, but better photos are from the bridge near the start of the trail. An additional short trails loop down along Iao Stream, which I believe offers the best photos.

Also to be discovered, is an inviting trail that leads farther into the lush rainforest. Unfortunately the trail is  accompanied by a “No Trespassing” sign.  Proceed at your own risk.

There is also a small area planted with native plants such as taro, and an imu pit, used by local people for cooking.

For another memorable photo opportunity, also visible from the park is Puu Kukui, the highest spot in West Maui at 5,788 feet, and also the wettest point.


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