Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens is a wonderful place for visitors in central Maui to take a rest spot and enjoy both the natural and cultural beauty of this part of Maui. This is a good-sized recreational area that spans nearly eight acres with plenty of park amenities.
Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens is not located near any urban or even dense residential area. Rather, it is located in a more remote part of Maui along the road that ends at the Iao Valley State Monument. In fact, we recommend that anyone going to either location also visit the other thanks to their proximity to each other and complementing nature.
This unique Maui park and gardens opened its doors in 1952, designed and built in order to celebrate both those immigrants who picked up their lives to restart in Maui and those more indigenous to the lands. So as you meander the grounds, you will find architecture and artifacts sourced from cultures around the world. For instance, you can walk through a Chinese moon gate, watch the birds flit by in a Japanese tea house or a traditional Hawaiian grass shack, and wonder at an authentic Portuguese outdoor even and New England saltbox. Truly, there is a diverse representation of cultures here to mimic the diverse nature of the beautiful island of Maui.
In the decades after its initial opening, Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens suffered some unfortunate vandalism and fell into general disarray due to a mixture of neglect and harsh weather. In 1994, an army of volunteers stepped in and restored the gardens to their original beauty and more. The Maui parks department now takes good care of this county park and all of the facilities and foliage are well maintained for the enjoyment of locals and island visitors.
Park facilities at Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens include eight beautiful picnic pavilions that are ideal for families and small parties. Each of these picnic pavilions includes its own barbecue pits and grills so that guests can cook and enjoy a full meal amidst the beauty of these cultural gardens. You will also find two uncovered picnic tables alongside the Iao Stream which cuts all the way down the gulch and makes for the southern border of this park.
Other amenities at Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens include walking paths throughout the park, two full parking areas, and two full comfort-oriented bathrooms.
The large array of amenities coupled with the park’s more remote nature (and free admission) has made this a big hang-out amidst locals in recent years. This means that you can expect large local grill-outs and groups during the weekends and on some evening nights. Weddings are also very popular here during the summer and the drier months. If you prefer a quieter time to visit and enjoy Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens, we recommend going sometime in the morning or early afternoon Monday through Thursday.
-Traveling with kids? Make sure to add the neighboring Hawaii Nature Center to your itinerary when traveling to this part of the island. The Hawaii Nature Center is a kid-centric environmental education center that, while not large, offers some cool interactive activities that young children are apt to enjoy.
-Once you are this far up Iao Valley Road, there really is not that much in the way of grocery stores. Your last good food option up this road will probably be the Kuhuwiliwili Fruit and Bread Farm Stand that operates just past the road’s intersection with Ua Place, near the bottom of the gulch. This farm stand sells locally grown foods and produced breads.