In central Maui, Iao Valley State Monument is where you'll find that iconic postcard shot of the Iao Needle, a jungley spire covered in thick vegetation that shoots up skyward. The paved walking trails that lead around the park, past an ethnobotanical garden and a freshwater stream, are so tame that I wondered if I could even classify them as hikes in my book Top Trails Maui.
Over on Maui Now, Vanessa Wolf has written a hilarious guide about what not to do while hiking on Maui, including how trying to hike from Olowalu to Iao Valley can kill you. Her tongue-in-cheek advice ("Water is for cowards" and "By all means, wear inappropriate footwear") is a fantastic anti-checklist that you can use to prepare yourself for your first hike in Hawaii's wetland forests and lush stream-fed valleys.
Dear Would-Be Olowalu to Iao Hiker
Men Attempting Olowalu to Iao Hike Rescued
Our National Parks: So Wild That You Should Sue?
Photo credit: Iao Valley State Monument (Sara J. Benson)