After hearing of Mr Husband’s and my misadventures at sea, Finn McSpool announced that all further Maui activities would be land-based (even though he doesn’t put a dime into the travel budget, Finn feels it’s entirely within his rights to dictate the itinerary). So, in this final installment of our Maui Adventure, we’ll stay out of the water and on dry land.

First Stop: The Iao Needle

Before we start this part of the journey, a little pronunciation tip: It’s EE-OW, sort like the same sound you’d make if you stabbed yourself with a needle.

Located in the appropriately named Iao Valley (that extends a whopping ten miles), this 1200-foot tall hunk of rock is the remnant of a volcanic ridge. It’s probably no surprise that a big thing sticking up from a valley floor became a phallic symbol for the native Hawaiians. What is surprising is that this phallic symbol wasn’t associated with a god or goddess of life and bounty, but with Kanaloa, the god of the underworld.

maui, hawaii, iao needle

Perhaps because of this Hades-esque association, the Valley became an official burial ground for Hawaiian nobility. The valley was also the sight of the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790. Any guesses on what Kapaniwai means? It’s Hawaiian for “the damming of the waters” because there were so many people killed that the stream running through the valley was blocked with dead bodies. I imagine old Kanaloa was scrambling for rooms in the underworld that day.

maui, hawaii, iao needle
Finn looks innocent here, but he regaled us with a number of dirty, needle-related jokes once we got back to the car.

Nowadays the only battle you’ll have is for a parking spot in the tiny lot. Once you’ve proven your warrior status and parked your rental car, you can take a short hike to view the Needle and also explore the park’s still-under-construction ethnobotanical garden (which looked about as close to being complete as it did when we visited two years ago)

Second Stop: The Olawalu Petroglyphs

So sometimes you read about something in a guide book and you think, “Wow, that sounds pretty cool, a bit off the normal tourist trail, and easy to get to.” And then sometimes you learn that guidebooks aren’t so good at the whole “guiding” part.

We knew where Olawalu was since it sits about half way between the airport and the house we were renting (and it has a fruit stand that makes every other grocery item on Maui seem like a HUGE bargain. Seriously, it’s beyond overpriced.). The guide book said there were some petroglyphs “just behind” the general store. Just follow the road straight back for half a mile and you’re there.

Um. No.

Our first attempt to find these petroglyphs, we followed the guide book’s instructions. Or tried to since there really wasn’t a road behind the general store that went “straight back” for half a mile. The only road that did go straight back, was actually someone’s driveway.


After zooming in on Google Maps for a few hours, Mr Husband was certain he’d figured out where these pesky rock drawings were, so we embarked on Attempt #2. And failed. Finally we asked our landlady if she knew how to get to them. Apparently Attempt #2 wasn’t so much a failure, just a we-didn’t-know-where-to-look. We followed her directions (which were completely different from the guide book) and discovered Attempt #2 had brought us within 100 meters of the petroglyphs.

By this point, I was sick of trying to find these stupid things (this was also after our non-stranded-at-sea Molokini trip so I was full of beer and just wanting a nap), but it had gotten to the point that we were finding the damn petroglyphs even if it killed us. Unfortunately, after all the effort, the carvings were a little lackluster. They’re pretty small and you REALLY have to know what you’re looking for (which we did thanks to Ms Helpful Landlady).

maui, hawaii, olawalu petroglyphs
By the time we found it, all my enthusiasm for these little carvings had vanished.

Third Stop: The Kapalua Coastal Trail

As you’ll recall back when Finn showed off his snorkeling skills, our favorite place to spend a Maui day was at Kapalua Beach. But snorkeling isn’t the only thing a monster can do at Kapalua…if he’s willing to let his human carry him around in her backpack while she does all the leg work (which Finn is completely fine with). Just above Kapalua Beach is the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

This Isn’t very strenuous hiking, but it is a pleasant walk with great views.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

One portion of the trail takes you into a shore bird nesting site where there are also some really cool rock formations.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

Since he quickly learned dentistry was too dangerous a profession, Finn thought he’d try his hand at being a geologist.

maui, hawaii, kapalua coastal trail

-What do you make of it, Finn? 

-Clearly, these are Ancient Beastie footprints from the Beast-azoic Era when Beasties were the dominant lifeforms on Earth.

-Um, Finn, I think Beasties only evolved recently…in Ireland, not Hawaii.

-That’s only a theory.

After a long discussion on evolution and the scientific method, Finn agreed that being a geologist would require too much study…and too much heavy lifting (we all know how he is with tools).

A Final Maui Goodbye…or Two

Of course, no journey to Hawaii would be complete without half a million sunset pictures….

maui, hawaii

…and Finn made sure he was in several.


Thanks for coming along on the final installment of our Maui Adventure, everyone! Finn and I will be back next week with another beach-related trip…this one a little closer to home. And, in case I haven’t reminded you enough, next Tuesday is Release Day for The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles, so expect to hear a tiny bit about that. See you then and be sure to share any comments!!!



14 thoughts on “A Monster Mash-Up in Maui

  1. Well I liked the petroglyphs. It was worth going to. There used to be a platform you could walk up to get a close up view. Not sure if it was vandalism or lack of funding, or both, to maintain the viewing platform. Why would anybody vandalize 300 year old artifacts?

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    1. The petroglyphs were fine, but for the effort we put into it those things should have been animated and singing Lion King songs or something! The platform was taken down due to vandals…probably people taking vengeance over how much vacation time they wasted trying to find the carvings. 🙄😉


    1. Hmmm…The Beasties must have some evolutionary advantage over humans since it took us tens of thousands of years to get a geologic time period named for us. Hopefully, the Beastazoic era is kinder to the planet than the Anthropocene has been.


  2. Aaah, guidebooks! Sometimes so helpful, sometimes just plain wrong… One “annually updated” Dublin/Ireland guide book still proudly boasts a picture of the giant water lily house at the botanical gardens, which has been closed for renovations for at least a decade! At least Finn’s brief foray into the world of geology and Beastie-volution seems to have distracted you nicely from the damp squib of the petroglyphs. Now I’m off to embark on the day’s sewing… And I’m pretty sure I’ll be namechecking Iao at least once! 😆


    1. What!? That’s the only reason I’m coming to Dublin!!! Grrrr. I do remember being in a similar situation in The Netherlands and trekking out to The Hague specially to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring painting…only to find the Mauritshuis closed for renovations. But then we noticed the tiniest of signs directing us to a temporary exhibition space…directions that pretty much led to nowhere and back again. Despite freezing weather, rain, and my painfully full bladder, we persisted and finally found that damn girl (and a toilet). Both were worth the effort. Best of luck with the sewing, hope you didn’t get too much Hawaiian pronunciation practice.


      1. Hahaha! A bout of late-night needle felting yesterday had me shouting all kinds of Hawaiian place names, interspersed with creative cuss words. Sorry to disappoint you on the giant water lily front, although at least I’ve spared you another dismal trek across town à la your Girl with the Pearl Earring adventure! Hey, that reminds me of the time I went to see The Scream in Oslo – I think it had only been quite recently recovered after being stolen, and I was so excited to see it! But it turns out that they had decided to loan it out to another gallery, and had replaced it with… A postcard from the gift shop. Didn’t quite have the same effect, I can tell you. 😆

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  3. Haha oh I’ve sooooo been there: when you finally reach a non-spectacular destination and you feel actual resentment for it. Gorgeous photos though! And how exciting that the launch is nigh upon us!! Congrats!


    1. Ah, thanks. I should add that I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so trying to see the little buggers carved into the rock was impossible. I suppose I shouldn’t lay ALL my disappointment at the feet of the ancient Hawaiians, but they really should have considered my astigmatism when they were creating their little masterpieces. Sheesh!

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