Nestled in the lush greenery of the 'Iao Valley is the natural rock formation called the 'Iao Needle. The green-covered stone protruding from the valley floor is actually an old basaltic core (volcano remnant). The 'Iao Needle is 2,250 feet above sea level, or 1200 feet tall from the valley floor.
The traditional name is Kuka`emoku and it's known as the phallic stone of Kanaloa (Hawaiian god of the ocean); thus the 'Iao Needle was once used as a natural altar. The name 'Iao is pronounced "EE-ow." The 'Iao Needle is surrounded by a very lovely walkway and garden of lush tropical plants. Surrounded on all sides by the Pu'u Kukui Crater, it was the site of one of the most famous battles in Hawaiian history.
In 1790 King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army in his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands. It is said that when the battle was over, the stream was so damned with all the bodies that the water ran red with blood. The site was named Kepaniwai "damming of the waters." Nearby in the valley, you'll find the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. Take Highway 32 (Kaahumanu Road) west out of Wailuku. This road turns into Highway 320 which leads directly to the 'Iao Valley State Park. Those looking to enjoy the scenic park must follow social distancing measures and wear protective face masks for the duration of their visit.
Park gates open from 7 am to 6 pm. Non-residents are now required to pay $5 for walk-ins and $10 for cars - as of this writing.