A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley – 3

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

When we booked our trip for Maui, I sorda knew what was ahead. I’ve been there a few times before, but after 15 years, and me running the show this round, I wasn’t sure how brave I’d be.

In other words, how adventurous would I be capable of? Would I take in the (somewhat expensive) helicopter tours? How about the 12 hour (unforgettable) road to Hana drive? Snorkelling in the middle of the sea (over my head) at Molokini? Or what about seeing the sunrise on top of Haleakala? (where you leave your hotel at 2am and drive high above the cloud level?)

There’s lots of touristy, popular things to do. And now to choose.

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
Frequenting the resorts was nice and relaxing. But a part of me wanted to venture out to parts unknown and see a little of the ‘real’ Maui.

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
I actually wanted to do the Hana tour in the worst way, but wasn’t wild about me driving 12 hours. And didn’t like our car… it rode the road too low. And my boy wasn’t into the 12 hour day with a guided tour.  Lots of excuses. We didn’t do it. 

(side note: on the last day I attempted to go on a tour by myself, but they were full. That was ok. I forgave myself for not going because I tried. :) Next time!)

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

So I struck a deal with my son. We’d search for a real rainforest experience at Iao Valley to get my jungle fix.

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

I can’t remember if I’ve actually been here before. I remember as a kid being towed all the way to Hana (thumping up and down in the back seat from all the back road potholes and crazy curves… hated it back then! Silly kid…)

All I knew was the Iao Valley would be beautiful, and a small sampling of what Hana had to offer.

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

So we ventured off! And of course got lost. There are no road signs to this place, and you HAVE to punch in the right name for it on your GPS, otherwise you’ll get a tour in another part of the valley.

That was nice too btw.. :)

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

But once we stopped for directions, finding out we were nearly there, we fuelled up with a McDonald’s chocolate milk shake, (oh my gosh, Hawaii serves them with whipping cream and a cherry on top!) and found the place. Yay!

I was so gung ho on finding this place, I flew past a Habitat for Humanity. Bad, bad me! But junk was secondary on this trip. You heard that right… never thought I’d see the day.

It costs $5 to park, and the hike takes only about 20 min tops, all on paved surfaces or steps. So it’s fast and perfect for the non athletic hiker types. (like us)

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

I wasn’t disappointed. It was this view that gave me a lump in my throat. The view was so incredible, you couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion.

Block off that sidewalk, and you have a scene from Lost or Survivor.

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

The Iao Needle is a vegetation covered lava remnant which has historical significance in Hawaii. You can read about it on Wikipedia HERE.

But I was in it for the simple rainforest experience. 

As for my son?

“It’s RAINING! Hard!”

“Yes, it sure is! But it’s warm rain! And isn’t it cool you get to say you were in one part of the world where it almost always rains?!”

A real rainforest experience at Iao Valley and Needle, in Maui. The place where it always rains! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

I proudly get to say, “We were in a rainforest!” 

Where it indeed rains. Lots. So remember your hat, and a big shirt to cover your expensive camera…

Visit all Maui 2014 posts HERE.

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  1. Absolutely beautiful. What a treasure. Everything so lush. I just want to sit in the middle of that river/stream. If I had that in my backyard, I would never get any work done. Thanks for sharing!

    • Brian, the entire time I was in Maui, I’d hold out my arms to get the full feel of the warm tropical trade winds and WISH fiercely I lived there. But then I wouldn’t be at the beach or in a lush rainforest. I’d be home, sweltering in my yard working. Would it have the same charm?! I’m not sure! I’d love a year to figure it out though… hahaha

  2. Beautiful, breathtaking, wonderful paradise! Love, love your photos. I absolutely loved Maui and would love to be able to go back but I have to tell you, I think the road to Hana was my favorite memory. You will have to make a point to go back and go once more down that road :)

  3. So glad you are back! I was having Funky Junk withdrawals while you were away.
    Glad you had a great trip. Maui is a great place to visit.

      • These photos, like the others, are amazing. I have to comment on you and your son. My son, who is now 32 is also a big fella and 6 ft 3. He has a huge heart, loves to help out when he is home and doesn’t think twice about holding my hand in public. PS I taught him how to be a picker and he brings me wonderful junk!

  4. We go hiking there every time we visit our friends in Maui. The further you hike up and back the views just continue to take your breathe away. After the hike we always go down to the creek that runs throughout that area and jump in. We aren’t as crazy as the locals and jump from the taller rocks into the water though.

    I just have to share the last time we went and parked alongside the road we got a little more then what we bargained for. After heading back to our friends house later that night her dad called us over to look at something in his room in the main house. He is legally blind and said he felt something on the bed with him. Sure enough from our time there a Cane Spider decided to jump onto the underside of the car (google their picture it will make your skin crawl). It was the only logical explanation as we didn’t stop anywhere else on the way back. Needless to say it had climbed over his body while he was in bed. Our husbands ended up getting WD-40, hairspray, and whatever other sprays they could find to try and slow that spider down and whack it with a broom… Best day/night ever!

  5. Stunning pictures. What fun experiences you and your handsome traveling partner had.
    The one time I braved the Road to Hana was the most exhilarating, white knuckled drive of my life. Of course, my crazy husband was driving our jeep like he was a sixteen year old again. I bought one of those ” I survived the Road to Hana” tee shirts and used a magic marker to write under those words ” WITH BOBBY”!!!
    Glad you are home with a bag full of beautiful memories.

  6. We drove the road to Hana on our own and it was no where near 12 hours! We saw Twin Falls and played in the water at mile marker 2. The Garden of Eden Arboretum was cool and the view of Honomanu Bay grand. Pua’a Ka’a Park & Falls is nice and a great picnic stop. More waterfalls in the area of Hanawai Falls. Hana Lava Tube has a great garden maze! The National Tropical Botanical Gardens has the only accessible view of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, which is the largest Temple in Hawaii. This ancient temple took hundreds of years to complete and sprawls over 3 acres. This is a MUST SEE!
    At mile marker 45 is Wailua Falls, considered the perfect falls. Literally on the road and along a bridge, these falls are tall, and beautiful.
    Haleakala National Park holds ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools), the Pipiwai Trail, and Waimoku Falls. There’s camping, a visitor center, bathrooms, waterfalls, and ancient Hawaiian ruins.
    Palapala Ho’omau Church has one of the prettiest, simplest churches you’ll go to. The Church is nestled among some beautiful foliage, and has a nice little park as well as Charles Lindbergh’s grave. It’s easy to miss this spot, so look for the Stables.

  7. Me and my hubby, along with my siblings and their spouses (8 of us)all went to Maui for 2 weeks last January, it was great. We got our own guided tour to Hana, and I have to say there were some beautiful sites but your experience looks better. We had to listen to our driver for 12 hours tell us why he and his tour was the best. Plus we had to eat at his families roadside food stands, not that they were bad, just sayin.

  8. Our McDonalds always have whip cream and a cherry here isn Ohio.

    Beautiful pictures. Your son is a big boy does he play sports? Thanks for sharing.

  9. Donna – What beautiful photos and that handsome young man! Wow! I love getting off the tourist path when I go places. So much fun and at your own pace. So glad your detoured adventure was nice. I’ve had a few of those.

    Thank you for sharing your vacation with us!