Here is another revisit from the past. On my first trip to Maui in 1993, I took a helicopter tour. One of the places we flew over was Iao Valley. Looking down, and scared to death, I thought I would like to see the Valley from the safety of the ground. That trip I never got there, or in the subsequent 24 years of trips to Maui. When I moved here about 10 months ago, I wanted to go see it, top of my list of things I wanted to do, but the park was closed due to a flash flood that washed away some of the road and trails.
So my kids woke up bored this morning, didn’t want to go to the beach or really do much of anything. (Bored in Maui, imagine). I poked around on the online Maui guidebook and saw that the park was opened last month. It’s been closed since September of 2016. That’s where we headed the bumper.
Even though it’s only about a 10-minute drive from Wailuku, one of the main cities in Maui, it a gorgeous drive. Take a look.
It was made a National Natural Landmark in 1972 but goes way farther back than that. It was here that the Maui army was defeated in 1790. It’s in a rainforest, and the head of it gets about 386 inches of rain a year, which makes for some treacherous waters at times in the stream. The needle, for which it is famous for, rises 1200 feet above the park floor, and 2250 above sea level. It’s quite a hike up to the lookout point, but well worth it. (And you get a little exercise). Here’s the view from the lookout.
When you get to the top parking lot, which there are more cars than spots, there is a little hut where you pay for the park. $5 bucks for tourists, free if you live in Maui. This attendant had at least 20 years on me. (Might be a good job for me when he retires in 10 years or so). You pretty much park where you feel like it, which goes for all of Maui.
Only a few tourists worked their way to the lookout, like us, and were snapping pictures, but the bulk of people in the park you could tell were local. And they were jumping off rocks into the river just below the lookout.
When we were done, we headed back towards town and stopped at the Gardens which is part of the park (only a few blocks from the top) which had easy access to the river and about 5 or 6 Pavillions. We found a spot to park and headed to the river.
Now here is the really neat thing about Maui and the Hawaiian people. They don’t have parks so a bunch of tourists can come and snap a few pictures, buy some worthless souvenirs (no gift shop here), and steal a rock or a shell. They use the park for their enjoyment. For parties, weddings, birthdays, reunions. The Pavillions were packed with people, and cakes, and balloons, and barbeques, and beer. This is the way it should be. Don’t just save it for the next generation, but show them how to enjoy it. I like that. Here is how they enjoy a beautiful Sunday in the river at the park.
Even though we didn’t bring swimsuits, we waded in the river getting wet. The lesson for the day……Enjoy what you have, where you are, who you are, enjoy your life.
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