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.

Safety

DETAILS:
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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. tabata says:

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  5. 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.

  6. 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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