Iao Valley A Lush Stream-Cut Valley in West Maui

Iao Valley

With places like the Lankai Beach and the Panalu Beach, Hawaii appears to be a beach focused touristic destination. Though it is true that a big share of the $10 billion revenue that it makes from tourism comes from its beaches; still that is not all what Hawaii should be applauded for. Deep inside the tropical terrain of Maui –the second largest island of Hawaii, there are forests that are seemingly untouched by the hand of humans, or so it seems.

One of the most talked about attraction in the island of Maui is the valley of Iao; a scenic beauty that has 2 major attributes; water and fire. The way Iao Valley is shaped now is firstly due to the volcanic movements and eruptions in the old times (fire) and secondly due to the stream that cut through the place eventually turning into a valley (water). So yes, fire and water teamed up to create a spectacle that bedazzles tons of tourists every day now.

The valley was acknowledged by the US government as a US National Natural Landmark since more than 30 years.This is probably due to its historical significance and the natural beauty. There was a time when this place was home to a live volcano. The West Maui Mountains where the valley is located used to be a volcano and is now turned into a vegetation spot. That is comical.

One of the most interesting and admired feature of the valley is the Ioa Needle.That is a lava remnant that is shaped as a very sharp ridge. Don’t get us wrong, it doesn’t exactly look like a needle. It actually rises 2250 feet above sea level and is by far the steepest, nearly vertical green mantled rock outcropping. One is taken back at once by the  sheer steepness of it, but once you get over the awestruck feelings you can dig in deeper to get better looks at the Iao Needle. There is the Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethno-botanical Loop where you can get an overlook unlike anywhere else!

Apart from its mesmerizing beauty, Ioa Valley has a highly significant historical value.It was regarded as one the most sacred places by the ancient Hawaiian tribesmen who related the Lao Needle to one of their gods named Kane. Many of the chiefs were buried there owing to its sacredness. The great battle of Kepaniwai between the Hawaiians and Kamehameha’s army was in these grounds, and the Lao Needle was where the Hawaiian’s retreated.

If history isn’t your subject,I suggest that you stick your head right into the forests that start after the pedestrian track. Indeed the guided tracks are beautiful, but I would adviseyou to do a little off rail hiking through the dense trees if you want a more intimate experience. Enjoy!

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