The iconic Iao Needle towers 1,200 feet over Maui’s lush Iao Valley rainforest in the shadow of the West Maui Mountains as stream waters partially responsible for the Needle’s form flows from summit to sea, continuing to carve the landscape as it has done for thousands of years.
At 2,250 feet above sea level, the Iao Needle isn’t the tallest volcanic remnant around, but its unique shape, separation from the surrounding cliffs, and history give it special significance and beauty.
Iao Valley was set apart as an ali’i (roylty class) burial ground in the 15th century by the island’s ruler at the time, Kaka’e. This is also the spot where Kamehameha the Great defeated Kalanikupule and his army in a bloody battle on the path to unifying the Hawaiian islands into a single kingdom.
The Iao Needle itself is a volcanic remnant from the extinct West Maui volcano. It has formed over the years through wind and rain erosion. The head of the Iao Valley receives over 380 inches of rainfall annually, making it the second wettest spot in the state.