The Lao Valley is an attraction in Maui that can best be appreciated when you know a little of the historical background. Otherwise this appears to be just like another park. Fortunately, there are information boards that give you a summary of the Valley’s history and the 1,200-foot rock pinnacle, which is 2200 feet above sea level, called the “Lao needle”, also known as the phallic stone of the god of the ocean (Kanaloa.)
In 1790 at the Battle of Kepaniwai, King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui's army in his quest to unite the islands. Even with Lao needle serving as a lookout point, Kamehameha defeated Maui's forces in a ferocious battle that ultimately resulted in the unification of the Hawaiian islands and the formation the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. The bones of hundreds of warriors are scattered here including those of Hawaiian chefs buried along the walls of the valley.
Claimed as the second wettest place in Hawaii (the wettest, on Kauai, is also claimed, unofficially, the wettest place on earth), the summit of the valley receives an average of over an inch of rain per day. Much of this water flows into the Lao stream.
When you first enter the park, a paved 0.6 mile walk provides access to a footbridge. You could also descend to an exhibition area where the park has modeled what the greater valley (just outside of Lao) once was. They have constructed a hale with thatched roof common for the time, and have many examples of plants that were cultivated there then. Being in a historical area, I was expecting to see indigenous Hawaiian plants, but the plants I saw were mostly introduced into Hawaii by western explorers in 1700s displacing many of the native Polynesian plants.
To reach the Valley take Highway 32 ( Ka’ahumanu Road) four miles west of Wailuku to the end of the Lao Valley Road. On the road through Lao Valley, and before the State Park there is also the Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens, commemorating the multicultural history of Maui, with buildings and gardens representing Hawaiian, American missionary, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipino cultures. The gardens were restored in 1994, and are a nice place to stroll around, take photographs and have a picnic lunch.
The Lao valley is a nice place to have a leisurely walk and the ridge-top look out shelter which has 133 steps to get to, offers an amazing view of the valley and Kahului harbor, if you’re fortunate to have a clear day! The whole attraction can be 'covered' in 10 minutes or even longer, depending on what you wish to do there. Great photographic opportunities, interesting historical background and one of the tourist destinations in Maui.
There are restrooms, clear signage, bins for trash cans, but no drinking water. Not wheel chair friendly.
Opened Daily 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 pm.
Entrance Fee: Parking fee $5.00 per car. Hawaii residents need not pay a fee.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.