Iao (EE-ow) Valley State Park, with walking trails through the lush and verdant tropical vegetation, was a short drive from the cruise port, took just a couple hours to visit, and admission was free. The lushness is due to plentiful rainfall but luckily, we had a perfect day.
In addition to abundant natural beauty, this area possesses great historical significance. In 1790, Kamehameha the Great won a decisive and bloody battle here that eventually resulted in the unification of the islands into one kingdom for the first time under King Kamehameha I.
Adjacent to Iao Valley State Park we discovered a free county park, Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens, which is a tribute to the various ethnic groups of Hawaii. We enjoyed the Chinese pagoda, tranquil Japanese gardens, native thatched hut, Filipino nipa hut, and a New England saltbox, among others. This would be an ideal spot for a picnic with the facilities provided on-site.
Post Script: Tribute to a Good Man
Jim and I visited my former boss, Allen Grooters, at Hospice prior to our departure for Hawaii in November. Allen had recently been diagnosed with ALS and the terminal disease progressed quickly. I was hesitant to drop by Hospice but I texted him and he responded that he’d enjoy a visit. I knew Allen and his wife stayed on Maui each year so we asked him his recommendations for the island. He told us that Iao State Park was one of his favorite sites in Maui so we went there on his advice. Sadly, Allen died soon after our return from Hawaii. I will always appreciate the great advice and wise counsel he provided me over the 20+ years we worked together. His final recommendation was as much a winner as his earlier guidance.
Based on events from November 2015.