There’s Something Phallic about the ‘Iao Valley State Park

‘Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

‘Iao Valley State Park is one of Maui’s most famous attractions, especially the phallic-like peak called the “needle.” Photo by: By Joe Parks via Wikimedia Commons

‘Iao Valley State Park can be found in nearly every guidebook that can be found about Hawaii. Tourist pamphlets list it as one of the “must see” places on the Maui.

The park is very easy to get to whether you are driving or taking a tour bus and it has paved steps and walkways with signs containing bits of history about the park. It also boasts some of the most exotic and lush scenery in the island and is very suitable for even the youngest or oldest members of your group.

The main attraction of the park is the ‘Iao needle, which is a 1,200 foot peak that has been created through the millennia by the erosion of the much softer rock that surrounds it. In traditional Hawaiian culture the needle is known as the phallic stone of Kanoaloa, the god of the ocean. While the view from the observation deck doesn’t really explain the name of this formation, when viewed from the parking lot the reason for the name becomes clear.

‘Iao State Park is Hawaii’s second wettest area and the valley’s summit can receive an average rainfall of more than 1 inch per day. It doesn’t necessarily rain every day, but the total amounts average out. Most of this water flows off into the ‘Iao stream and is drained by a massive diversion.

The valley is considered to be sacred and was forbidden to everyone except the Hawaiian royalty. The vast, inaccessible cliffs in the valley were used for the burial sites of Hawaii’s chieftains for hundreds of years. In ancient times it was believed that the bones of the deceased held their mana and by stealing or desecrating the bones one gained control and could even bring harm to living relatives.

While many only come to see the ‘Iao needle, if you take the time to walk along some of the many trails you will be rewarded by seeing some of the most beautiful scenery that Hawaii has to offer.

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