Posted by: kerryl29 | March 30, 2020

Hawaii Day 13, Part II: Iao Valley

[If you’re wondering why I’m detailing photographic experiences on this blog as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the planet, click here.  Be sure to read the comments.]

When I finished my early morning shoot at Papawai Point I hastily made the 20-odd-minute drive to Iao Valley State Park.  The park is located just west of Wailuku, in the southeast part of the West Maui bulge.  The park gates open at 7 AM…or are supposed to, anyway.  I arrived about five minutes before 7; there was no one else around, but after a few minutes another car showed up…then another.  It was well after 7 and there were at least 10 vehicles waiting to enter when a pickup drove up and someone–an employee of the state park service, I presume–finally unlocked the gates.

Despite the back up at the gate, there weren’t many people present when we entered the park.  I quickly slathered on some sunscreen while standing in the parking lot, then grabbed my gear and made a quick reconaissance of the short official trail network and sized up my photographic options, which were considerably more plentiful than might appear at first glance.  The valley is exceptionally lush, reminiscent of the locations I visited along the Hana Highway or spots on Kauai, and quite a contrast from many of the arid scenes that had dominated my itinerary over the past few days.

The most recognizable symbol in the park is the Iao Needle, a 1200-foot high feature, covered in greenery.  There’s a staircase to n observation deck, which provides a decent view.

Iao Needle Black & White, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Needle, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Most visitors wander up to the observation deck, look at the Needle, and then wander back to their vehicles and leave.  But there are two streams (Iao Stream and Kinihapai Stream) that run through the area that reach a confluence just steps away from the parking area.  I found this general location to be reason enough to hang around for a couple of hours, particularly at a time of day when there aren’t (yet) many people in the park.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Hibiscus blossoms were all over the place.  The Iao Stream area was in open shade while I was in the park, which was helpful.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

I had a pair of waterproof overshoes and I donned them, which allowed me to set up at various spots in the water.

Kinihapai Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Kinihapai Stream Intimate, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

My footwear made it possible to reach certain locations along the stream without getting wet.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

I also found several compositions well up on the bank that I found interesting.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Lots of locals like to swim in the park’s streams, which have specific spots that work well for this.  There are a number of places where it’s possible to jump from bridges or rocks into deep water pools.  More and more people were engaging in this activity as I was wrapping up that morning.

It had grown increasingly warm as the sun began to dominate the sky that day.  I wrapped up at Iao Valley by late morning and moved off to my next location…


  1. Beautiful Pictures!!

  2. Some great photos esp. rocks in river and views.
    You are clearly luck that you are not in lock down

    • Thanks very much!

      BTW, I *am* in lock down (or, more precisely, under a stay-at-home directive), and have been for more than two weeks. All of these Hawaii images were made on a trip last September.

  3. The hibiscus bloom is a nice addition…really says “Hawaii.” And glad you had your waterproof footwear.

    • Thanks, Ellen.

      And those were the same lightweight overshoes that you had in Alaska!

  4. What incredible terrain to journey through and over as you find your next composition.Well seen!

    • Thanks, Jane!

      It wasn’t too difficult to deal with the terrain, once I donned waterproof footwear.

  5. Beautiful scenes and great compositions. I love all that green!

    • Thanks very much!

  6. Great escape! I think your eighth photo could make a terrific monochrome; your first certainly did!

    • Thanks!

      I’ll take a look at that image as a b/w conversion.

  7. […] I wrapped up at Iao Valley State Park it was late morning and, truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I wanted to check out the […]

  8. Oh that tree! and the roots! Loved seeing the roots in several of your stream shots. Beautiful, as always.

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