ʻIao Needle

ʻIao Needle information

The velvety green pinnacle that rises straight up 2250ft takes its name from ʻIao, the daughter of Maui. According to legend, Maui and the goddess Hina raised their beautiful daughter ʻIao in this hidden valley, hoping to shelter her from worldly temptations. But a merman(half-man, half-fish)swam into the valley one night and took ʻIao as a lover. When Maui discovered the affair he snatched the merman and threatened to cast him out to sea. ʻIao pleaded that she could not live without the sight of her beloved, so Maui instead turned ʻIao’s lover to a needle of stone.

Whether you believe in legends or not, this place looks like something from the pages of a fairy tale. Clouds rising up the valley form an ethereal shroud around the top of ʻIao Needle. With a stream meandering beneath and the steep cliffs of the West Maui Mountains in the backdrop, it’s the most photographed scene on Maui.

Just a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot, you’ll reach a bridge where most people shoot their photos of the needle. A better idea is to take the walkway just before the bridge that loops downhill by the stream; this leads to the nicest photo angle, one that captures the stream, bridge and ʻIao Needle together.

If the water is high you’ll see local kids taking bravado jumps from the bridge to the rocky stream below. You might be tempted to join them, but expect to get the stink eye – not to mention that the rocks below are potentially spine-crushing for unfamiliar divers. Better to take your dip in the swimming holes along the streamside path instead. Even there, however, be aware of potential dangers – the rocks in the stream are slippery and there can be flash floods.