Hawaiians use the word mana to describe all manner of divine power, and there are places on Maui where a sense of mana is almost tangible. ‘ĪAO VALLEY is one of them. This 10-acre park, 4 miles west of WAILUKU , is crowned by an ancient 2,250-FOOT ROCK PINNACLE, and also is defi ned by the events of its storied history. Known as an important political center in ancient Hawai‘i, it was the site of many battles, and the bones of hundreds of warriors were scattered here. For hundreds of years, Hawaiian chiefs were laid to rest in SECRET BURIAL SITES along the walls of the valley as well. Ancient Hawaiians named this valley ‘Īao (“ SUPREME LIGHT ”) in honor of the god ‘Io, and people came to the site to pay tribute to this important deity. Once used as a NATURAL ALTAR , the strange rock pillar that rises out of ‘Īao Stream is today known as ‘ĪAO NEEDLE . Swathed in green, it stands in the shadow of PU‘U KUKUI MOUNTAIN , the highest peak of West Maui.
To reach ‘Īao Valley, take Highway 32 (Ka‘ahumanu Road) 4 miles west of Wailuku to the end of ‘Īao Valley Road (Highway 320).