Hiking the Iao Valley

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The 2 250 foot Iao Needle was yet another free tour offered by the Banana Bungalow. Prior to going on this trip, I looked at my grandparents old trip photos of when they visited Maui back in the 1960s/1970s. It was safe to go home and tell my grandfather that the needle looks the same today as it did for him back then!

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I was excited to enjoy the bungalow’s free hiking tour of the valley. We had been going to a lot of beaches and doing plenty of snorkelling, so a hike into Maui’s tropical forest was a nice change from flippers and salt water. We loaded up the van and only a short ways from Wailuku, we arrived at the entrance of the park.

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Located in Central Maui, just west of Wailuku, is the Iao Valley. A park that is 4 000 acres in size, this rainforest has large peaks surrounding the lush valley of the Iao Valley State Park. Thousands of tourists visit this spectacular wonder each year, taking in its beauty.

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Besides its natural, tropical beauty, Iao Valley has great historical significance in Maui. Within the valley, you will find the Iao Needle, a sacred place to Hawaiians. It is the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai, where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered Maui’s army in his quest to unite the islands in 1790. The Iao Needle was used as a lookout point by warriors while battles occurred in the valleys below. With clouds raising up within the valley, which surround the needlepoint, and the cliffs of the West Maui mountains in the background, the Iao needle makes for a picture-perfect location!

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The hike took us about an hour to reach the top and then another hour for our descent. We paused often to admire the views, take stunning photos, along with breaking for water and trying fresh guava that had fallen from some of the trees in the valley.

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One of the most stunning views I have ever seen, was the view from the peak of our hike. Through the valley we could see the ocean off in the distant, just nestled between the crescents of the valley hills.

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After descending from our hike, we cooled off in the Iao Valley Stream. I just cooled my feet, not brave or daring enough to dive into the frigid water, while my friend read Harry Potter for some much needed rest and relaxation.

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If you vacation in Maui, don’t just stick to the beaches and coasts of this island – make your way inland and come hike the Iao Valley. Even if you are not a hiker, you can pay to enter the park and walk around the enjoy the beautiful and lush gardens around the valley base. A short tour, but yet another wonderful free tour offered by the Banana Bungalow.

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Have you ever hiked the Iao Valley?

Where have you experienced one of your best hikes?

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