Eyeing the Needle

Holiday in Hawaii #7

The rugged West Maui Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the never-ending beaches and tropical gardens of Maui.


To get a closer view of the grandeur of the mountains, we venture inland to ʻIao Valley State Park, where ʻIao Stream has carved a deep valley between the densely forested slopes.

Most people come to the park to see Kuka‘emoku, a volcanic ridge which ends in a sharp bluff rising 370 metres from the valley floor. Also known as ʻIao Needle, this volcanic formation, sacred to Hawaiians, is best viewed from a lookout at the end of a 300 metre walking track.

We begin our ascent to the lookout up a staircase cut into the mountainside before crossing ʻIao Stream. Icy water tumbles down the steep slope over large volcanic boulders and, although there are signs warning of the dangers of flash floods, daring swimmers try their luck.




We continue upwards, stopping along the way to read about the historic Battle of Kepaniwai, which took place here in 1790 when the invading forces of King Kamehameha I defeated the army of Maui.

ʻIao Needle and the surrounding mountain peaks are often enveloped by cloud; ʻIao means “cloud supreme” in Hawaiian. Today is no exception; when we reach the lookout the needle is clear while the mountains are obscured. But as we admire the scenery the cloud lifts, and we have a perfect view of the needle and the mountains set against the deepening blue of the afternoon sky.



On our return journey, a detour off the main path leads us on a circuit into the rainforest, along the bank of ʻIao stream and up the side of the mountain again. Looking down we spot the bright orange flowers of African Tulip Trees high in the canopy.



Another detour takes us further down the valley to the Ethnobotanical Garden, featuring plants brought by the native Hawaiians when they first settled these islands. Just as they would have been 1700 years ago, banana trees and taro plants are watered by ʻIao Stream.


It’s the heart of the valley, giving life and creating the spectacular scenery we’ve enjoyed on our walk today.


ʻIao Valley State Park is open daily. Entry costs $1 for walk-ins and $5 per car. There is no fee for Hawaiian residents.

43 thoughts on “Eyeing the Needle

  1. What gorgeous pictures you have! You really are a travel writer. It is so interesting to see the difference between your first visit description of it and mine. I wrote my only article about Iao Mountain in 2012 when we first visited it. I guess I thought I had told it all because I said nothing about it in my posts this year about our trip. I told nothing of the story of the mountain. I wandered off topic as much as the trails that we followed down to the water. I like the way you weave together description with facts. Really nice job, my friend. 🙂 Tops in my books! http://wp.me/p2jC53-Pv

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Marsha Lee and commented:
    This January Vince and I had the amazing experience of traveling to Maui with a blogging friend from Australia, Ms. Eternal Traveler, Carol, and a good friend of mine from work, Connie Smith. Carol is posting a series of travel articles about our trip. Her pictures and descriptions are fabulous, and offer the fresh perspective of a first time visitor. This trip was her and her husband’s first trip to the “States.” We chuckled – like Hawaii is similar to ANY PLACE else in the States! There’s NO place like home, but it’s not like Hawaii no matter how many palm trees we plant by the pool. 🙂 You’ll love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

      • And that is why we love you so much. Hawaii is just like the mainland because of the yellow fire hydrants! We also have Costco here on the mainland, mountains, highways along the Pacific Ocean, parking lots, traffic jams, malls, expensive houses. All we are missing is the culture, the weather, the place names, and the isolation. Other than that we are identical. 🙂 Oh yes and yellow fire hydrants. 🙂 xxx


  3. Hi Mrs. ET, Manny here. I hope you don’t mind, I copied your post and put it on my website, too. I loved it! Mom said she thought it would be ok. Don’t worry, I didn’t plagiarize – I know what that means. I barely escaped getting in trouble at school in England for plagiarizing my friend Danny’s work. Ute made me put Danny’s name at the top of my paper, and so I didn’t have to go see the principal. Whew! So that’s what I did. Is that ok? Dad used to say it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. Mom said NO! What do you think?


      • I hope soon. Mom said something about December, but she hasn’t been looking recently. She and Dad talk a lot about money, so I hide. Last time they did, Dad said something about me and a job. You can see it’s not safe for me to listen in on those kind of conversations.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Eyeing the Needle by Mrs. Eternal Traveler | Manny's Blog

  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Souter Lighthouse | restlessjo

    • Funny you should ask that, Denzil. We thought that’s what we were going to do. Everyone said it was a difficult walk and the signs said it was steep and narrow and to take care. So we did the first part, to the lookout, which was easy and then wondered where we went next, only to be told that was the end of the walk! I don’t know if people go there now, but before the battle in 1790 soldiers were placed along the mountain tops as lookouts. I would suspect it’s not able to be climbed now because it is a sacred site.


  6. Love you photos and this post. Shortly after Hawaii became our 50th state, we visited and stayed in a tiny hotel on the stream near the base of The Needle. Returned later and hotel was gone. Your photos brought back so many great memories. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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