Iao Valley State Park was a great place to spend a few hours on our Maui vacation. Here is 5 things about ʻĪao Valley that you may, or may not, have known.

1. ʻĪao Valley Is A Burial Ground For Maui Royalty.

The importance of ‘Īao Valley stretches back across the centuries.

During the fifteenth century, Maui ruler Kaka’e declared ‘Īao Valley would be a burial ground for the āli’i, or the Hawaiian nobility. It’s thought that the bodies were buried in secret places across the 4,000 acres of the valley that now form the state park.

Visitors to the area should take the opportunity to soak up the unique atmosphere that led to ‘Īao Needle and the valley becoming such a sacred place.

To show proper respect to the land, make sure to keep to the designated paths, and don’t attempt to form your own trail.

2. It’s Seen Warfare

The towering height of ‘Īao Needle was once employed as a lookout spot during the days of interisland warfare. One of Maui’s most famous battles actually took place under the watchful eye of the Needle. 

In 1790, legendary Hawaiian King Kamehameha I bought his battle to unite the islands to Maui. The two sides clashed at the Battle of Kepaniwai, one of the most ferocious fights to ever occur on Maui soil.

Despite the local Maui people having the ‘Iao Needle as a lookout point, it was Kamahameha’s forces who triumphed, and changed the course of Hawaiian history.

3. It’s Hard To Miss

The ‘Iao Needle towers 1200 feet above the floor of the ‘Iao Valley, and 2,250 feet above sea level.

It isn’t the highest spot in the valley, but the sudden jutting shape stands out against the sharp cliffs and sloping sides that surround the Needle.

Covered in the lush vegetation of the rainforest, ‘Iao Needle is a remarkable sight from the lookout post, and still pretty impressive from the parking lot. However, if you visit on a really damp day, you might find that even this impressive structure can be hidden in a veil of cloud. 

4. Iao Valley State Monument park will be closed for repairs from August 1st to January 15th. 

Yeah, Itʻs closed to help reinforce the grounds of the park. It may have hindered your vacation this year, but Itʻs for safety reasons. So, go visit Kepaniwai, the park you first drive by to the closed gate.

5. Ke Kula ʻO Piʻilani – A Hawaiian Immersions School.

Ke Kula ‘o Pi‘ilani is an independent Hawaiian school founded in 2016 with the purpose of providing a well-rounded education with equal focus on ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, mea Hawaiʻi, and academic rigor.  Education is delivered from a Hawaiian perspective and through a Hawaiian lens.

This is no longer the Hawaii Nature Center, but an actual school. That being said, school property is private property, thus you cannot park and access the walk ways within the school property. Thereʻs signs and gates saying the same thing, so please respect the learning process for the keiki (children) of the school.

It is a great place to collect yourself, meditate, and just jump into a mountain stream to cool down. Thereʻs restrooms, public grills, and pavilions for your family use. Either way, enjoy your time and create those memories that youʻll be able to share for years to come.