The towering monolith covered in tropical plant life known as the 'lao Needle in the West Maui Mountains, Hawaii.; Shutterstock ID 388732213; purchase_order: 65050; job: ; client: ; other:

Shutterstock / MH Anderson Photography

ʻIao Needle

ʻIao Valley & Central Maui

Rising straight up to 2250ft, this velvety-green pinnacle is Maui’s iconic landmark. Most people shoot their mandatory photos from the bridge near the parking lot. A better idea, though, is to take the walkway just before the bridge that loops downhill by ʻIao Stream. This leads to the nicest angle, one that captures the stream, the bridge and the ʻIao Needle together. During periods of warfare the needle was used as a lookout to spot potential invaders.

The pinnacle takes its name from ʻIao, the daughter of Maui. According to legend, Maui and the goddess Hina raised their beautiful daughter deep in this hidden valley 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 instead Maui turned him into a needle of stone.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby ʻIao Valley & Central Maui attractions

1. ʻIao Valley State Monument

0.35 MILES

If you’ve seen just one photograph of Maui's lush interior, odds are it was of the magnificently phallic 2250ft ʻIao Needle, the green pinnacle that…

2. Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Gardens

0.94 MILES

This unique and pretty park celebrates the various ethnic groups of Hawaii by displaying a building for each one. There's a traditional Hawaiian hale …

3. Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House

2.78 MILES

This small but historically evocative museum occupies the 1833 home of Wailuku’s first Christian missionary, Edward Bailey. He was the second missionary…

4. Kaʻahumanu Church

2.88 MILES

This handsome missionary church, in Gothic New England style, was built in 1875 by missionary Edward Bailey and named for Queen Kaʻahumanu, who cast aside…

5. Wailuku Public Library

2.94 MILES

Designed by Maui-born architect CW Dickey and completed in 1928, the Wailuku Public Library building displays a now-distinctive regional design. Note…

6. Maui Tropical Plantation

3.73 MILES

This longstanding tourist attraction is a cross between a farm, a dining destination and a botanical garden. The large gift shop stocks art, aloha wear,…

8. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

4.17 MILES

For botanophiles interested in native Hawaiian plants, this garden on the grounds of a former zoo has a wealth of knowledge. An excellent new audiotour (…