How to Visit Iao Valley State Monument (2024 Update!)

This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

A very iconic place to visit on Maui is the beautiful Iao Valley State Monument, one of the most notable state parks on the island. This guide will dive into how to visit, why you should, and more!

Below, you will find out how to visit the Iao Valley State Monument as well as a bit of its history.

Are you planning your trip to Maui last minute?

If you’re traveling to Maui last minute, you want to ensure you have lodging/tours ahead of time! Below are some of our top picks on the island!

🌴  Best tours and activities on Maui:

  1. Sunset cruise from Kaanapali (has an open bar!) 
  2. Small group Road to Hana trip (much better than driving!)
  3. Haleakala sunrise tour (with breakfast!)

🛌  Places to stay in South Maui (Kihei/Wailea/Makena):

  1. Four Seasons Resort Wailea (ultimate luxury- White Lotus filming location!)
  2. Mana Kai Maui
  3. Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa (amazing pool area!)

🛌  Places to stay in West Maui (Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua):

  1. The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas (in Ka’anapali)
  2. Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort 

🚗  Traveling to Maui independently? Be sure to book your rental car ahead of time to ensure availability!

The famous Maui landmark was closed for some time but recently reopened to the public… with reservations!

Iao Valley State Monument travel guide
Iao Valley State Monument travel guide

In this guide, I will also detail how to make reservations so that you can enjoy this iconic spot as I did.

If you have any questions or tips, please leave them in the comments below! Thanks!

About Iao Valley State Monument

Iao Valley State Monument is situated in the central part of Maui and covers a 4,000-acre space where it is possible to see one of the most famous landmarks in Hawaii, the iconic Iao Needle rock that looks like a straight pick jutting up into the sky!

Besides being a well-known Maui landmark, Iao Valley has a pretty interesting history.

Iao Valley is a sacred place with a complex history
Iao Valley is a sacred place with a complex history

In 1790 in Iao Valley, the Battle of Kepaniwai happened between the Army of Maui and King Kamehameha I. The king won and this forever changed the history of Hawaii.

Today, the park is held as a sacred space by Hawaiians, and it is important to be mindful of this (and the history) when visiting.

How to Get to Iao Valley State Monument

Iao Valley State Monument is located only 3 miles away from Wailuku (and 5 miles away from Kahului).

You can rent a bike and cycle on the highway to Iao Valley State Monument, or you can opt to take a taxi from Kahului to Iao Valley State Monument.

Inside Iao Valley
Inside Iao Valley

This taxi will cost you approximately $30. From Wailuku, it will cost you around $15.

Most people choose to rent a car and drive around Maui (and the famous Road to Hana), so this is also an option.

The road from Wailuku to Iao Valley becomes a bit windy, but only for a short amount of time.

Papaya trees inside of Iao Valley
Papaya trees inside of Iao Valley

When I suggest renting a bike above, that is only if you are willing to cycle those types of roads. It is not a long distance, but it does have some blind spots and inclines!

Parking at Iao Valley

There is a fair amount of parking at Iao Valley, and the new reservation system helps keep numbers under control!

When you arrive, you will see a large lot that will likely be filled up because people don’t realize there is an additional one right around the corner. Keep driving and turn left, and you’ll see that (somewhat hidden) parking lot.

Parking at Iao Valley
Parking at Iao Valley

Parking is $10 but you will pay that when you make your reservation (keep reading to see how to do that).

Accessibility at Iao Valley

Iao Valley is wheelchair-friendly throughout many areas (but not entirely in others).

There is a handicap-accessible bathroom that is newly built and the main pathway to see the needle is wheelchair-friendly. 

Newly constructed bathrooms at Iao Valley
Newly constructed bathrooms at Iao Valley

You will not be able to go further inside to the trails or the newly renovated hut.

How to Make Reservations for Iao Valley

As of May 2023, Iao Valley State Monument requires reservations for those not residing in Hawaii. This is still in effect today.

Exploring Iao Valley State Monument
Exploring Iao Valley State Monument

The process is easy but does require a paid fee. The fee is $5/per person and $10 for parking. All will be paid in advance.

You can reserve your timeslot at Iao Valley State Monument here.

Things to Do in Iao Valley State Monument

The main and famous landmark in Iao Valley State Monument is 1200 feet high (or 690 meters) and it is a vegetation-covered lava remnant rising sharp rock formation surrounded by cliffs and a forest.

Visitors can also swim in the Iao Stream during the hot Hawaiian days and that makes for a great stop during the hike.

However, make sure you check the weather beforehand because flash flooding is common in Maui!

You can swim in the water - at your own risk
You can swim in the water – at your own risk

In Hawaii, the first settlers brought with them (by canoes) the “canoe plants”. You can check them out in the botanical garden and see a part of the island’s history there.

Take a tour with a guide at the Hawaii Nature Center which is located at 875 Iao Valley Road.

Gorgeous flora in the park!
Gorgeous flora in the park!

This will allow you to learn about the history of Iao Valley’s ecology and the wild fruit and flora that grows there. Also, it gives you a chance to sit at the cafe and sip on some refreshingly cool drinks.

Popular Hikes at Iao Valley State Monument

Iao Valley State Monument is home to a famous hiking trail called the Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop.

It is an easy Maui hike and is merely 0.6 miles long.

Trails inside of Iao Valley State Monument
Trails inside Iao Valley State Monument

The paved walking trail takes the hiker to the lookout point, from where it is possible to see the amazing scenery of the Iao Needle, and then it passes through the ethnobotanical garden.

Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

When you drive into Iao Valley, you will see Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. Do not fail to stop here for a bit!

This park is a botanical garden, and I think it is one of the most underrated quick visits on the island!

Kepaniwai Heritage Garden
Kepaniwai Heritage Garden

The 7.60-acre park and heritage gardens are located along the Wailuku Stream, and they honor the different cultures that have made Hawaii what it is today.

You will see everything from Portugal to Japan honored here.

At Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens
At Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

The park was previously an area of turmoil back in the day (the Battle of Kepaniwai took place here in 1790), but today it is a peaceful spot that honors the many cultures that call Hawaii home and live in harmony with one another.

Iao Valley State Monument Visitor Info

  • Working Hours: Every day From 7:00 am – 6:00 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm)
  • Entrance Fee for Residents: Free
  • Non-Residents Fee: $5
  • Toddlers fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10
Inside Iao Valley
Inside Iao Valley

Have you ever visited the Iao Valley State Monument? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments! Thanks!

More Maui Travel Guides

Pin this Iao Valley State Monument Guide

Looking to visit the iconic Iao Valley State Monument on Maui? This short guide gives you all the details to do so! How to get there, what to do, and more! | Places to visit in Maui | Maui state parks | State parks in Maui | Things to do in Maui | Iao Valley Maui | Maui things to do | Maui landmarks | Maui attractions | Maui hiking | Maui itinerary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *