The hostel provides free daily transport to the park and we were dropped off at 10:00 am ready to explore.
Admission to the park is free although there is a $5 parking charge.
The Iao Needle is jaw dropping and is the first thing you see as you walk into the park and stand on the viewing bridge. At 2250 feet high the Needle is taller than the Eiffel Tower. The valley is also the site of Maui’s worst battle in 1790.
Most visitors stick to the concrete paths and walk for 20 minutes or so around the Needle and viewing platform. We were keen to explore further so went off the beaten track, bypassed the ‘path closed’ sign and headed into the jungle. We had been advised by locals that this was OK and perfectly safe and the signs are there so the park isn’t liable for any accidents. It is after all a 4000 acre national park!
As advised we kept the river to our left and followed well worn footpaths. The views of the river and mountains were awesome. We didn’t see anyone else for a couple of hours as we made our way through the jungle, through a variety of trees and plants including a small group of random banana trees!
We put our climbing experience into practice as we did a bit of scrambling up and down rocks which were fairly easy and there were mostly plenty of branches to grab hold of!
We had lunch by the river which was also great for dangling our feet in the cool water. We decided to turn back after lunch and kept much closer to the river this time.
The Kepaniwai Heritage park is located just outside the Iao National Park entrance which contains sections displaying Japanese, Korean, Portugese and other cultures. We eagerly approached the park in anticipation of a cold beer or even an ice cream but areas are set up for people to bring their own food, picnics and barbeques…
We had chosen a good day to visit the park which is one of the wettest places on earth. We had clear skies and plenty of sun all day.
Points to note for hiking the park:
There are many hiking opportinities in Maui. Below are a few of our tips for hiking in the Iao National Park:
Signs in the park entrance inform you to beware of flash floods which can occur suddenly and without warning. We visited on a dry clear day with no rain forecast so we felt it was relatively safe to be close to the river.
If you are prone to insect bites you may wish to take insect repellent. We have found ‘Incognito anti-mosquito’ to be very effective.
Whilst there are restroom facilities at the park entrance there are no snack bars so take plenty of snacks and water.
There are a few trip hazards, low branches etc.
Stick to the pathways and don’t stray too far from the river.