Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01

Deep in the heart of a Jurassic Park-like jungle, you will find the 2,250 foot ‘Iao Needle, famous for gracing postcards all over Maui. On Mondays, you will also find a roaming pack of Banana Bungalow travelers enjoying their free hiking tour to the valley. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out for me to join the Bungalow’s tour, but luckily a few of the staff offered to join me on their day off. After hitchhiking the short distance from Wailuku to the entrance of the park, we were off.

Iao-Valley
Iao-Valley

‘Iao Valley, like so many tourist-famous sites on the islands, is sacred to Hawaiians. In historic periods of warfare, the high peak of the ‘Iao Needle was used as a lookout by warriors while battles waged in the valleys below. Today, tourists roam the looped trails that travel between viewpoints, short stretches of jungle, and the babbling ‘Iao Valley stream.

Iao Valley Maui

We had a different destination in mind. At the top of the cement path, we slipped under a guard rail and passed a sign warning us not to stray beyond paved trails and set off along a narrow dirt path. Soon, we were in a beautiful, untouched jungle, far from the camera-toting crowds. Had it not been for the good old Banana Bungalow crew, I would never have known this path existed.

Iao Valley Maui

Iao Valley_006

As I couldn’t find reference to this trail in any guidebooks or anywhere online, I can only guess as to the distance or the incline. I know that it took us, a group of four fairly-fit twenty-somethings, about two hours round trip. Along the way I paused frequently to catch my breath, a move I disguised by taking photos of unusual flowers, fruit, and leaf-wrapped stones — a traditional offering.

Iao Valley Maui

Iao Valley_008

Soon, we reached the end of the line — literally. Short of scaling down the sides of the ridge into the valley, we could go no further. So we sat and rested, soaking up the beautiful vistas and the good company.

Iao Valley_009

Iao Valley_010

Iao Valley_011

Iao Valley_012

Iao Valley_013

Eventually we started our descent, this time meeting a few other intrepid hikers along the way. Through the valley we could see all the way to Wailuku and down through to the ocean.

Iao Valley_014

Iao-Valley
Iao-Valley

Iao Valley_015

Back in paved civilization, we cooled off in the chilly ‘Iao Valley Stream. Well, I cooled my feet — it doesn’t matter if I’ve just spent the last few hours hiking, I don’t like swimming in freezing water! I’m what divers call a warm water wussy, through and through.

Iao Valley_016

Iao-Valley
Iao-Valley

Every visitor to Maui should make a scenic stop at ‘Iao Valley. Even on a cloudy day, it was clearly one of the most beautiful spots in Maui’s lush interior. And if you’re feeling brave, try to find the hidden path — it’s back there somewhere! Or even better, check into the in time for Monday’s free tour!

Iao Valley_019

Anyone else try to find secret path’s while hiking? Where was your favorite?

3-devide-lines
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
33 Comments...
  • Gaelyn
    January 14 2013

    It always pays to hang with the locals.
    Gaelyn recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 15 2013

      Absolutely! I feel like my great experience in Hawaii was 90% due to all the great insider info I got from staying with family and friends.

  • Shaun
    January 15 2013

    Never occured to me that Maui would have all these great hiking trails. Should have known better!

    • Meihoukai
      January 15 2013

      It didn’t occur to me that Hawaii would be such a hiker haven either… so glad to have discovered such a gem!

  • Nadia
    January 15 2013

    Ha! I am truly a “warm water wussy”. You dove Iceland in a dry suit….dont think you can claim that one anymore!

    • Meihoukai
      January 15 2013

      Okay, true… maybe I would have gotten in the stream if there was a drysuit for me there 🙂

  • Now THAT is a hike!!! Amazing shots!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 15 2013

      Thanks Andi! Loved this little afternoon of fun 🙂

  • Belinda
    January 15 2013

    What a beautiful experience you got there. I love the photos you’ve taken from the Iao Valley.

    • Meihoukai
      January 15 2013

      Thanks Belinda! It’s a special place and I’m glad I got to explore it a bit further….

  • The Guy
    January 16 2013

    Your pictures make it look like a truly wonderful way to spend a day. Beautiful scenery all around. Was it quite humid?
    The Guy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2013

      Oh yes! This was definitely rain forest heat 🙂 Thank you for the compliment on my photos!

  • Belinda @ Esthetician careers
    January 16 2013

    Yeah it was all beautiful Meihoukai.
    Belinda @ Esthetician careers recently posted..

  • TammyOnTheMove
    January 17 2013

    You had me when you mentioned trekking and Jurassic Park. I love trekking in environments like this. This looks really stunning. Oh by the way I have tagged you in the latest travel blogger tagging game – Travel Blogger Best Dozen Project. 🙂
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 18 2013

      Ooooo fun, thanks for tagging me! I’ll try to get that post up soon 🙂

  • Jenna
    January 29 2013

    Wow–this area looks so beautiful. Amazing photos! That’s awesome you got to go on a that trail–the Banana Bungalow crew seems great!
    Jenna recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2013

      Thank you so much Jenna! Yeah, it’s always great to have inside info.

  • Susan
    June 11 2013

    Thank you for this! I hiked this trail about 15 or so years ago & couldn’t find it in any books, not even the even the one I was sure I had found it in the first time. You’ve made my trip!

    • Meihoukai
      June 12 2013

      You’ll have to thank Banana Bungalow really… I never would have known it was there if not for them! Such a lovely trail!

  • Kim Warner
    September 6 2013

    Hi Meihoukai,

    First of all I appreciate your initiative. I can say that your site is one of the best informative sources for hiking in Maui.

    Now I am coming to your post. First of all I got stuck on the pictures used in this write-up. Actually I had gone for a hiking tour in Maui. I had enjoyed Maui Rain Forest Hike, Maui Mountain Hike, West Maui Waterfall Hike, Maui Valley Hike etc. I had also been in Iao Valley. But I did not enjoy the complete view of this place due to the shortage of time. But after reviewing your post, I think I will have to prepare a plan for another hiking tour in Maui. But this time Iao Valley will be the prime spot to see.

    Thanks for sharing this. I really loved it. Please keep sharing..:)

    • Meihoukai
      September 7 2013

      Thanks for the kind words, Kim! Maui was a magical place for me and I hope to return again soon!

  • Michelle
    December 12 2013

    We hiked this route today. We were lucky to get out just befor the rain started. We used the GPS and it says that it was 2.6km/1.6 miles round trip and it took us about and hour and a half.

    Lovely route, we would do it again. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.

    • Meihoukai
      December 13 2013

      So glad this was useful to you, Michelle! Thanks for letting us know the mileage — I’m sure that will be very helpful to future hikers! Happy travels 🙂

  • mike
    February 25 2015

    the trail goes much much further-u only went about a third of the way

    • Meihoukai
      February 25 2015

      Interesting! So to continue on we’d have to go down into the valley then I take it? We went to the end of the ridge.

      • mike
        February 26 2015

        ridge? u mean the clearing on top of the hill-about 45 minutes from parking lot? anyway, the trail goes all the way to the “wall”-cant go any further without climbing equipment-maybe 2+ hours from parking area-or you can follow “lower” stream to the end-“hike” up hill to Olowalu stream which takes you to Lahaina side-the trail the Princess took to escape when the island was attacked back in the day-I guess both are more “treks” than hikes so your info is quite good/accurate-thanks:)

  • Jasmin
    May 28 2015

    We went to Iao looking for a hike and were surprised by how short the paved walk was. I googled hikes in Iao and found this amazing blog. You motivated us to explore and get off the beaten path and we had an absolutely incredible experience. This ridge hike was definitely an absolute highlight. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Meihoukai
      May 29 2015

      Yay! That makes me happy to hear, Jasmin 🙂 I too was surprised by the short paved path in Iao. So glad I had someone to show me this secret path — and that I got to share it with you guys!

      • Corrina
        March 7 2016

        Hi Meihoukai, was it easy to spot the trail from the rail you ducked under?

        • Meihoukai
          March 7 2016

          From what I remember it was, though it’s been years now so my memory is a little rusty 🙂 Good luck!

  • maile
    January 16 2016

    Meihoukai, thanks for sharing. I find that joining the local Sierra Club usually gets me on the best trails. You should be careful hiking in Hawaii-always go with locals…haoles are not welcome everywhere.

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2016

      Is there anywhere you would particularly caution readers not to hike themselves? I was lucky to be with kamaaina, but many travelers won’t have that option.