Maui's state park system is comprised of eight parks. Highlights of the parks include historical ruins, exotic and native plant species, scenic views, sandy beaches, volcanic formations and endangered species habitat. Facilities vary from site to site. Recreation opportunities at these state facilities vary from viewing cultural ruins to board surfing. Camping and lodging are permitted at two sights on the island. Other activities at state parks include viewing scenery, photography, hiking, swimming, picnicking and fishing.
Haleakala Park includes 28,655 acres, 19,270 of which are designated wilderness. The park preserves the outstanding features of Haleakala Crater on the island, which include the unique and fragile ecosystems of Kipahulu Valley, the scenic pools along Ohe'o Gulch and many rare and endangered animal species.
Haleki'i-Pihana Heiau Monument encompasses ten acres in north central Maui. The site protects two important heiau used as sacrificial temples by the last ruling chief, Kahekili. This park provides an excellent view of central Maui and the Wailuku Plain.
Iao Valley preserves unique cultural and natural resources. The park is relatively small, six acres, but lots of history and lore surround the area. The unique rock formation, Iao Needle, is the most obvious feature of the park. It stands 1,200 feet above the valley floor. A botanical garden created by plants brought to the island by Hawaiians who lived in the valley is accessible by a short path. Also on this site was the Battle of Kepaniwai, where Kamehameha I's forces conquered Maui's army in an effort to unite the islands in 1790. This state park is designated a National Natural Landmark. The state maintains lavatories, a walking path for hikers>/a> and scenic overlooks at the site.
Wailua Valley Wayside provides a break for motorists on the Hana Highway. The rest area provides perspectives of the Ke'anae Valley, Ko'olau Gap in Haleakala's crater and Wailua Village.
The western shoreline is heavily populated and highly developed, with the northern shore as the exception. The Honoapiilani Highway leads along the coast of western Maui from Kahului south to Kapalua. The beaches and waters from Maalaea west to Lahaina provide excellent opportunities for whale watching during the winter months. The largest community in this region is Lahaina, which was the capital of the islands until 1845. The community was also a whaling port during the mid nineteenth century. Historical sites and museums abound through out this area.
The northwestern shore of the island is mostly rural with several beach parks. Fleming Beach Park north of Kapalua provides excellent year-round swimming and snorkeling with public facilities. Famous Slaughterhouse Beach lies within this region and provides a long beach and two bays for swimming, body surfing and snorkeling. The interior is public land protected as the West Maui Forest Reserve. There is some excellent biking on the island as well as some backpacking.