In a nutshell: The Olivine Pools are several tidepools located on barren lava along the ocean’s edge on the back-side of West Maui.
Minuses: Terrain on the short hike is unforgiving to those who are not sure-footed.
Olivine pools is located on a stretch of remote area that has no sandy beaches or easy water access. Take a steady stream of rental cars passing through, along with ample parking, and this site became much more of an attraction of wide-appeal than it probably should be in its own right.
“Olivine Pools” was first popularized for the masses (and the name coined) about a decade ago by the mass-market guidebook “Maui Revealed.” Eco adventure hiking companies used to bring folks here as part of a special “off-the-beaten-path” hiking experience, but after MR found something that was actually not yet revealed (don’t get me started), they took significant poetic license in their description, gave it an exotic name, and quite literally “put it on the map.” Since the vast majority of tourists fresh off the plane use MR to tell them where to go sightseeing, that means this place would (and did) change overnight.
So, back to reality, what is actually special here is that it is a pretty side-trip to stop and frolic in tidepools in the serenity of the rugged natural West-Maui coastline. Unfortunately, once more than a couple of people show up (which is most of the time) Olivine Pools becomes more reminiscent of a “resort playground” and what can be genuinely so special about this site is quickly lost. If you show up early or late in the day, you might get lucky and have the place with just another couple or two – that said, it likely isn’t a destination worth planning the rest of your day around – that is unless you just flip for tidepools – in which case there are many tidepools (most on the North Shore) that also have the added luxury of sandy beaches, and ocean you can swim in.
The hike to get here is of moderate difficulty largely due to jagged and in some places fairly steep lava rock. There are several worn trails leading to the pools, making rough “steps” down much of the lava, so it isn’t exceedingly difficult. Those who are active should not have a problem hiking down the lava (unless they trip – this type of lava is like a combo of pumice stone and tiny serrated knives!) Children and older folks might have difficulty depending on how active and adventurous they are used to being.
It should also be noted that unsafe conditions can exist here when surf is up – if waves are crashing into the pools with any force at all, do not enter (no matter what everyone else is doing.) Also important to note is that the lava walls close to where the waves break are unsafe no matter how it looks – since this attraction was made popular, people have been severely injured and even died standing too close to the ocean here – don’t judge safe actions by what others are doing – virtually no one you will see visiting here knows more than you now do.
It is also important to note the parking area is a hot-spot for smash-and-grab thieves – bring valuables with you to the pools, and leave the car unlocked to avoid broken glass.
Location: 16 mile marker of Kahekili Hwy (Hwy 340)
GPS Coordinates: 21.007464,-156.55745
View Olivine Pools in a larger map