ʻĪao Valley State Monument


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On our second day in Maui, we took a ‘Best of Maui’ excursion through the ship. Our first stop was the lush ʻĪao Valley State Monument, about 20 minutes drive from Kahului.


ʻĪao Valley was once burial grounds for the kings. In 1790, it was also the site of a brutal battle where King Kamehameha defeated Maui’s army in his quest to unify the Hawaiian islands. This was called the Battle of Kepaniwai (damming of the waters) because the bodies of the slain blocked ʻĪao Stream.


ʻĪao Valley is known for a 1200 foot spire called the ʻĪao Needle or Kūka’emoku. The Needle is a lava remnant carved out by erosion. We took the Iao Needle Lookout Trail, a half mile paved path leading uphill to a scenic overview.


The mountains surrounding ʻĪao Valley receive 386 inches of rain annually, making it the second wettest spot in Hawaii. The valley is a dense rain forest, fed by all that rain and the ʻĪao Stream.


As we came back down from ʻĪao Needle Lookout, we took the Ethno-botanical Loop at the bottom of the hill.  This short path winds through specimens of plants brought to the valley by the ancient Hawaiians.


Here, we also saw this fairly large spider and a lizard. There is also a trail along the stream, but we didn’t have time to walk that one before returning to the tour bus.


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Location: 54 S High St, Wailuku, HI 96793

Designation: State Monument, National Natural Landmark

Date established/designated: July 1, 1961

Date of my visit: April 15, 2019