In a nutshell: The Pools of ‘Ohe’o (pupularly called the “Seven Sacred Pools”) are the most popular attraction in East Maui. Beautiful waterfalls, pools, in an absolutely stunning setting. Easy access and full facilities.
Minuses: It gets very crowded as the day goes on. Access to pools is closed off frequently in wet weather.
Sound-bite: “Is that guy really going to jump from there?”
Tip: Call 808-572-4400 Option 2 on the day of your trip to find out if the pools are open.
‘Ohe’o Gulch is a string of pools and waterfalls, starting many miles up the mountain, that flow one after another, cascading over dramatic waterfalls, leading to the rugged Kipahulu coastline and the deep-blue Hawaiian ocean.
The most accessible pools are also the most particularly suited for swimming, cliff-jumping (or just gawking at daring
lunatics brave folks who will jump from the bridge 60 feet above.) For the sane, there are also several less suicidal places to jump from – just be sure to get good information on where it is safe to jump, or better yet, survey the landing area yourself. There are many reminders of the risk involved, including a notice-board by the ranger station that contains clippings of newspaper articles describing accidents. (Note: If you do choose to jump, do so without any jewelry. If you need to ask why, just ask one of the local guys with snorkel gear scouring the bottom below the jump spots!)
So, by this time you may be asking: “Which is it? ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Haleakala National Park Kipahulu, or Seven Sacred Pools?” The proper name of this attraction is ‘Ohe’o (Oh-Hey-Oh). “Seven Sacred Pools” is a name coined years ago by the owner of what is now the Hotel Hana Maui for the purpose of marketing this remote location to tourists. Since this is part of the Haleakala National Park, the NPS has also added their own name to the mix “Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu.”
Whatever you call it, this collection of (way more than) seven pools and waterfalls is absolutely spectacular!
Since ‘Ohe’o is Part of the Haleakala National Park, the fee you pay here will also get you in to the Haleakala Summit (and vice versa – so save your receipt!) Admission to the entire park is $10 for a three-day pass or $25 bucks gets you an annual pass to Haleakala, Volcanoes (Big Island) and Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (Big Island) National Parks.
The pools are very popular, so you should expect the place to become more and more crowded as the day progresses – and there is such a difference between a crowded ‘Ohe’o madhouse and the less crowded majesty offered to the few that get here earlier in the day. There are a number of ways to avoid the crowds at ‘Ohe’o – all involve getting there before noon. Staying in, or along the Road to Hana (or even in the campgrounds at the park) can get you there well before the afternoon rush. Another option is to get started very, very early (isn’t this your vacation?!?) and go through the back side of Haleakala. This will put you one step ahead of the critical mass of visitors all day. That said, if you have only one day devoted to your Road to Hana adventure, don’t rush through it to get here early.
There are full National Park facilities at ‘Ohe’o, including a Ranger Station (with displays and great information), newly constructed bathrooms, expanded camping facilities and large parking lots.
Another spectacular activity in the park (that doesn’t ever get madhouse crowded) is mauka the road – hiking the Pipiwai Trail which passes stunning vistas, pools, waterfalls (including the 200′ Makahiku Falls), jungle, a bamboo forest, culminating at the base of the 400′ high Waimoku Falls. (See the Pipiwai Trail and Waimoku Falls post for more detail.)
Mile Marker: #42 (Hana Hwy aka Hwy 31)
GPS Coordinates: 20.661458,-156.045299
Facilities: National Park Rangers, Information Facility, Camping (no permit req’d), grills, picnic tables and bathrooms. (No potable water is available in the park.)
Fee: $10 – NPS Info: http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm
View Seven Sacred Pools aka ‘Ohe’o Gulch in a larger map