Maui is called the “Valley Isle” because of the big central valley between the mountains Haleakalā and the west Maui mountain chain. Originally this valley was beneath the sea, but eventually the entire land mass rose until the connecting valley was above water. Haleakalā is the name of the volcanic mountain that forms the larger part of Maui at the opposite end of the island. The ‘āhinahina, silversword plant, that grows in the crater is found in no other part of the world. This plant has swordlike, silver leaves. It sends up a tall stalk with buds that burst into purplish flowers and then fade as they grow older. Many years pass before the ‘āhinahina flowers; when it does, it takes a month for it to bloom and a week for it to die.
Across the central valley from Haleakalā is Wailuku. From Wailuku a narrow road winds three miles up into the cool shady ‘Īao Valley. This lush place is famous for Kūkaemoku, commonly called the ‘Īao Needle that stands near the center of the valley. It is said that when Kamehameha’s warriors invaded Maui they massacred many of the Maui warriors who fell into the ‘Īao Stream causing it to run red for many days.
Many Hawaiians will tell you, “Maui nō ka ‘oi!”—Maui is number one! The flower for its lei is the lokelani, a small pink rose.