Olivine Pools

Dramatic, swimmable tidepools located on barren lava along the ocean's edge on the back-side of West Maui.

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Rating: ★★★★★

In a nutshell: Dramatic, swimmable tidepools located on barren lava along the ocean’s edge on the back-side of West Maui.
Minuses: Can be dangerous. Terrain on the short hike is unforgiving to those who are not sure-footed.
Sound-bite: “My car got broken into!”

Be Very Careful Here

People have died here. Many more have been injured. Understand why, and don’t be next.

If waves are crashing into the pools with any force at all, do not enter the pools (no matter what everyone else is doing.)

Also quite important to note is that the lava walls close to where the waves break are always unsafe no matter how it may appear – individual large waves come up even in otherwise calm seas unexpectedly here. Since this attraction was made popular, too many people have died or been severely injured here when swept out from the edges of this lava finger. Strong currents and the jagged rock assure the ocean will be very difficult to escape from.

Don’t judge safe actions by what others are doing – virtually no one you will see here now knows more than you do.


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 15 years 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, minimized safety issues, gave it an exotic name, and quite literally “put it on the map.”

Olivine Pools later in the day

Olivine Pools later in the day when it’s less crowded

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.

There are several well established trails down the jagged lava, but don't trip!

There are several well established trails down the jagged lava, but don’t trip!

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 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.

Key Info:
Location: 16 mile marker of Kahekili Hwy (Hwy 340)
GPS Coordinates: 21.007464,-156.55745
Facilities: None.
Get directions

View Olivine Pools in a larger map

  1. So I just wanted to say thank you for posting this article. I planned going to the pools with my family today. I saw your post just this morning and was very concerned about taking my 4 teens out there today. But, since we were going to the blow hole I decided to at least do the hike and see how the waves are. I told my family about your article and the comments of the people who witnessed people dying there. I went over cautions with them. The hike down and up is pretty decent. But as we were standing up high we sat to watch the people in pools swimming and how big some waves were. I did not want my kids down there. As we were talking I noticed 2 men out on the very end near the ocean. They were fishing. I pointed out how at any moment a wave could take them. And how dangerous it is. Then one wave went over them, when it cleared 1 man was gone. No one swimming noticed for a long time. I called 911 right away. Then his friend dove in. It took 15-20min before rescue arrived. I was in contact with coastguard. People started throwing out innertubes and boards. Then people came up cryi g and said 1 man died and had been face down for 2p min. Helicopter lifted out both. We saw them doing CPR on one when we were leaving. We were convinced the 1 guy died. But an hour later coast guard callec me back and said they were able to revive him.he was at a hospital. They profusely thanked me for calling right away. So because of this article I kept my kids alive and was cautious and you and I helped to save these 2 men.

  2. Kevin Swayne says:

    I just returned from this pool… I’ve been there several times, but this time a new plaque has been added in memory of Steven Espinoza 3/21/82 – 1/23/17 warning about the waves

    • Steve was a dear friend of mine since high school. He was tragically swept out to sea and his body never recovered. He was an experienced swimmer and traveler and one rogue wave took one of the best people I’ve ever known away from us.

  3. Our last night on Maui and I caught a news story about one man rescued, another missing after swimming at Olivine Pools. Doesn’t look like such a great idea, people!

    • As long as the waves are not pounding into the pools, its a must see!! You can see them from up top and if you see people in the pools it should be fine. Some are locals which many of times if they are there, then pretty safe bet. These pools are very relaxing lounging in the warm water they provide. There even is a rock ledge, about 18 feet high, you can go up to and jump into the larger deeper pool. That was a rush!! Take a GoPro!! There was probably about 20 people besides us even a few kids. Just don’t go down in flip flops like my wife did, however, she is adventurous and she made it. I would suggest hiking shoes and then switch to water shoes when you eventually get down there. We also headed west afterwards along highway down same road and caught the Nakalele blowhole which was just as bad of a hike down to ocean, however, amazing. Maui has so many hidden places to see, an amazing adventurous place on earth!! If you get a chance to head back, these two areas are a must do!!

      • Terry, I’m sorry to blunt but your comments are both wrong and straight up dangerous. If somebody follows your advice, they could die. This is not hypothetical, people die here even when there were already a bunch of people in the pool and it didn’t look like waves were crashing over when they went down there. You don’t always see the surf either until it’s too late, because it comes in sets. Sets could be 45 minutes apart, or you could be watching for a couple hours and then a bigger set will come in. The “rogue waves” that people refer to aren’t really rogue waves, they are put of a set and may be close together or some time apart. If there is any north swell whatsoever, do not go down to the pools, period. If you don’t know what “north swell” or “groundswell” is (hint: it’s not the wind waves that you’re probably looking at), then don’t go down to the pools, period.

        Also, just because you see other people in the pools by no means indicates that it’s safe. They could all very well be in danger. It does not mean they are akamai about the ocean. It’s that old childhood saying, “if somebody jumped off a bridge…”

  4. Initially looking up this location, I was excited to find a exotic looking place to take a dip, but the more I read, the more nervous I get. My wife and I are looking for different places to visit around the world. We enjoy beaches, which is what directed me to this site. Guess I will keep digging. Thanks for the info guys.

  5. My wife and I visited January 2003 after discovering this in “Maui Revealed: the Ultimate Guidebook.” Although we had read the dire warnings of rogue waves and truly thought we were being careful, obviously we weren’t prepared or aware enough – a massive wave seemed to come out of nowhere, knocked my wife down and dragged her 20+ feet along the jagged lava rock and nearly out to sea (I managed to hang onto a nearby boulder). A second wave nearly finished the job but “luckily” she was stuck in a crevice which likely saved her. The end result was many, many cuts up and down her body including a badly torn quadriceps tendon and a week in Maui wrapped in bandages feeling pretty foolish but thankful.

    Hate to be an alarmist but it’s no joke. It’s like driving without a seatbelt – sure you’ll be fine most of the time but if and when something happens you’ll realize you made a foolish decision (or worse). Yet it’s worth the visit – it looks so extraordinary and it feels like one of the only places in the world one could walk along the lava rocks. Although the rogue waves aren’t frequent they happen often enough – be incredibly careful (just being aware doesn’t cut it if you’re not close to something you can grab onto).

  6. We just got back from taking my adult granddaughter to see the pools and thought I would insert another warning here. When we visited the pools 10 years ago a couple on their honeymoon died as we watched from the top. It would have taken us too long to get down to help. They were on the side of the pools & a wave washed him off. She went to the same place he had been standing and was hysterical when another wave grabbed her & swept her into the ocean. We called 911 No one could have done anything to help her and he was gone by then…floating face down. By the time the helicopter and jet skies got there they were both gone although they worked on her for almost an hour to try to save her, to no avail. It was one of the saddest days of our lives. While there a policeman told us a man & his 12yr old daughter had been swept in not long before that, where he died but she able to tread water long enough for the rescue jet ski to get to her – ALIVE. We have not gone back down to the pools since then but we had swam & snorkeled in them twice prior. There is an old warning sign there that should be updated. It warns that going down COULD cause injury or death. It should say, IT HAS CAUSED DEATH, many times!!!! My warning = go down at your own risk. It’s certainly a possible sad way to ruin your vacation.

  7. We were there in early February 2016 and had a wonderful time. As with most water activities on Maui, early in the day is better than later in the day! We arrived at 9:30am and were the only people there for several hours. I agree with others who have commented about ALWAYS keeping your eye on the ocean (I had a previous bad experience with this at the Queen’s Bath on Kauai, so I spent our first 20 minutes at the Olivine Pools monitoring the waves, near and far. Of the 3 of us, there was always at least one of us outside of the pools watching the ocean.) In the time we were there the waves never even came close to coming into the larger pool at the end, and we had a tremendous time swimming and diving (it’s quite deep and wide actually). Bring your snorkel mask because the fish in there are amazing as well. It’s a beautiful spot, and worth going to see from above and hiking down to even if you don’t go swimming in the pools (lots of tropical fish and crabs to view in and around the pools).

  8. danny says:

    We were there last week and witnessed an entire family get swept all over the place by a huge wave from the main pool closest to the ocean. As the wave hit the dad instructed everyone to cling to the nearest rock, but the wave was enormous and easily swooped them up. One of the kids was carried all the way from the front pool to a rock at the back — about 40 feet or so — right by where we were standing. If the wave had swept him about five feet to the left (from the vantage point of the photo above) he would have most definitely gone off the side of the rock and into the ocean. He had cuts all over his body from being tossed around on the coral and was in serious need of a hospital. I grabbed him off the rock and began to carry him as couple other smaller but still large waves hit again. As I handed him to his dad, who had just regained his footing after being tossed around like a rag doll himself (he was not a small guy), I asked if everyone was accounted for and fortunately they were. The boy was seriously cut all over, and as I was carrying him i tripped and gashed my shin on a rock. I’m still dealing with the cut to stave off infection, so I can only imagine how his recovery has been.

    But it was good news everybody was safe, and it was just a few feet away from going much worse.

    And before it all happened we were on our way to the main pool. So if the wave had hit just a few minutes later, we ourselves would have been right in the middle of it.

    I realize most people who go don’t have horror stories, and the pools are amazingly beautiful, but I hope that everyone reads this and other accounts before making the trek down there. Maui is amazing and this shouldn’t deter anyone from exploring it, but if you asked me next time I would certainly choose another spot to visit.

  9. Great place to go for adults, I was there last October and will be back in a few weeks. We are going with a few families and we will definately be leaving the kids back at the resort. We had a safe trip to the Olivine (keep your eyes on the ocean) But witnessed a mother and daughter get trapped and nearly washed out by a large wave. People were diving off the large Lava formation into the larger pool, but I wouldn’t recomend this. It looks like a fun jump but is it worth ruining a great vacation for a quick rush? NO WAY!! Take it slow on the way down, be aware and enjoy.

  10. This immediate area is historically called Mokolea according to an 1885 Hawaiian Government Survey map. Though these days that name is almost exclusively associated with a dive site just offshore of this location. Kahakuloa is the name of the larger ahupuaa.

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  12. Broken Leg says:

    I actually got knocked into one of the pools by a large wave and broke my leg. The wave came out of nowhere. Respect the ocean and never turn your back on it.

  13. Please, be very very careful here. I was here in the centre of the pools and a three HUGE waves came out of nowhere and swept me right into the ocean. I spent nearly an hour clinging to the cliffs and struggling to stay afloat. The rescue team that airlifted me out told me that a couple had died here a month before I almost did. This place is beautiful but incredibly dangerous. Please remember this warning if you choose to explore here.

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