Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools)

Beautiful waterfalls and pools in an absolutely stunning setting.

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The Pools of 'Ohe'o, (HNP Kipahulu)

The Pools of 'Ohe'o, (HNP Kipahulu)

Rating: ★★★★★

In a nutshell: The Pools of ‘Ohe’o are the most popular attraction in East Maui. Beautiful waterfalls and pools in an absolutely stunning setting. Easy access and full NPS 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.

Summary
Verdant and diverse, ‘Ohe’o Gulch is an idyllic valley cut deeply over countless millennia by an equally idyllic rainforest stream. The stream is punctuated regularly along its course by cascading waterfalls and plunge pools until it empties into the deep-blue Hawaiian ocean along the rugged Kipahulu coastline.

The most accessible pools are also very well suited for swimming and cliff-jumping – which is what makes this remote site among the most popular in all of Maui.

The Name
So, you’ve probably heard this place referred to by many names, and 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 decades ago by the owner of what is now Travaasa Hana (previously Hotel Hana Maui) for the purpose of marketing this deservingly spectacular (but then unknown) 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 (many more than seven) pools and waterfalls is absolutely spectacular!

National Park
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.

There are full National Park facilities at ‘Ohe’o, including a Ranger Station (with displays and great information), campground, large paved parking lots and bathroom.

Jumping
The park has unenforced and largely ignored signage prohibiting jumping. There is a notice-board by the ranger station that contains clippings of newspaper articles documenting the many tragedies that have occurred over the years. In fact I tragically lost an acquaintance here in April 2013.

That understood, I believe a life worth living is not without risks. I pay my respect by always remembering, and explaining to others that this place, like much of Maui, is a wild and untamed place that demands respect – not taming.

If you decide to jump, keep in mind that injuries often happen at times other than the jump itself. Expect to slip on wet rocks when you’re moving around, and always know what your backup is gonna be when you lose footing, grip, etc – whether that is to hold on to an alternate anchor, or safely launch away from the rock face before that split second expires when gravity decides where you’re headed. It also should go without saying to get good information on where it is safe, understand your own limitation, and always survey the landing area first.

Aside: If you choose to jump with your jewelry on, the local guys that regularly come prospecting with snorkel gear thank you very much!

Avoiding/Minimizing the Crowd
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 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.

All the above said, if you have only one day devoted to your Road to Hana adventure, rushing through it to get here early would be a mistake. Save enough time to do a Pipiwai Trail hike (see below) and that will get you away from the crowd at the pools :)

A Spectacular Hike
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.)

If The Drive Is Discouraging You
Some people skip this highlight of Maui because they simply can’t enjoy a day built around driving winding narrow jungle and cliffside roads. If that’s you, check out my article about Valley Isle Excursions who offers an incredible way to experience the Pools of ‘Ohe’o and the Road to Hana.

Key Info:
Mile Marker: #42* (Hana Hwy aka Hwy 31 – *After Hana markers go back down)
GPS Coordinates: 20.661458,-156.045299
Facilities: National Park Rangers, Information Facility, Camping (no add’l fee/no permit req’d), grills, picnic tables and bathrooms. No potable water is available in the park.
Fee: $15/car – NPS Info: http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm
Get directions


View Seven Sacred Pools aka ‘Ohe’o Gulch in a larger map

  1. Al Perez says:

    Are the Pools closed? Arriving Sat August 22 2015. Can someone tell me.
    Thanks

    • Aloha Al – Unfortunately the stream is closed until they replace the stream flow monitoring equipment that allows them to know when it is safe for visitors to. Alexa called and spoke with the person in charge just now, and they are still in the process of acquiring the equipment, so it is unlikely it will be open for your visit.

  2. Josh Bautista says:

    The pools are now closed until further notice. Someone stole the emergency siren equipment used to warn visitors of rising streams and flash flooding emergencies. New equipment will have to be flown in from the Mainland and there is no time frame for the pools to re-open anytime soon. Please check with the park before you go for further updates.

  3. valeria says:

    Hi, we’ll be visiting O’heo Gulch on the second half of November, what are the chances of it being closed? Thanks a lot!

    • The park is aggressively over cautious. If it’s raining up the mountain, which is quite frequent, there is a good chance they will close the pools these days. Best bet is to call them when you’re here.

  4. Scott, the water in the pools is not drink-able. Aside from that, in the 2nd tier from the top, the water made my hair feel as if it had conditioner on it – the softest, kindest water I’ve ever felt. I didn’t go to the top tier, but next time, I will. The water has a natural, mineral softness – it’s much like the folks who tout those “hot springs;” it is like a complete “healing” experience; something that absolutely must be experienced! Since the water is circulated, via the falls, it is never stagnant and always fresh and clean (just don’t drink it – it’s not treated for drinking). There are times of “low water” also; and the falls and pools are not as beautiful, but are still a must-visit, even in those drier times.

  5. hello
    does anyone know of water quality issues or warnings associated with these ponds?

  6. The Seven sacred pools , or the seven sacred seas whatever you chose to call it is absolutely enchanting . I went with my son Justin and my friend Joe and we had a marvelous time , exploring and swimming in the pools . It is an experience I won’t forget . If you have the chance to go experience it , please do by all means .

  7. The National Park closes off access to the lower pools much of the time due to “high water”. As noted above there is no potable water in the park. The park office sells a few expensive treats like chocolate covered macadamia nuts, but they carry no bottled water. Bring plenty, especially if you plan to hike to the upper falls. Also wear a decent trail shoe or sandal. Flip-flops are not a good choice.

  8. Deborah There are some hotels and vacation homes on Hana If I’m not mistaking. Good luck. I went to Hana once and I would love to go again. Took all day driving because we stopped to see everything. It’s so worth it.

  9. Debra smith says:

    My daughter Is 47 years old. She has terminal cancer I am trying to get a trip planned to Maui because this is her dream. There will be 10 of us going. Her Wish is to see and be able to go down to a waterfall. Will she be able to make the trek. Also is there any home or facilities that can house 10 people in Maui if you have any ideas please text me back. Thank you so very much.

    • Aloha Debra –

      Of course it all depends on the condition of your daughter at the time of the hike. The good news is there are loads of waterfalls on the Road to Hana that you will pass, so you will get to see them. If you daughter is in good enough physical shape for a moderate 3-4 mile hike, the Pipiwai trail that goes uphill from this same location (Oheo) would be a must-do in my opinion if I were under the same circumstances. I wish you all the most wonderful memories from your Maui trip.

  10. Jeff says:

    I have a question about getting to the pools from Kahului. I heard that there is a dirt road that connects the highway at a certain point… I am concerned because I am renting a car and the rental cars are not allowed to go off of paved surfaces…can I still take the road to Hana or must I go around a different way? Thanks to anyone that could help

  11. Carlos says:

    Just went there yesterday. It was a little late in the afternoon. But still a few people. The pools were fairly cool. But the further up you go the better to block some of the wind. If you can climb fairly well I would go to the top 1) less people and 2) very serene. The second pool from the top you can go under the waterfall and have someone take your picture. This is definitely a must in Maui. Also leave your resort or hotel with plenty of time and take snacks. Road to Hana is VERY slow going and lots of little stops. Without stops could take 2.5 hrs from Kahului. Locals drive like maniacs on this road passing in no passing zones, honking when you stop before a one lane bridge because a car is coming from the other direction, riding on you bumper.

    • Mark says:

      What many visitors don’t realize is that on Maui (and especially on the Road to Hana) we let people pass when we’re going slow. People who live in Hana have to go to Kahului regularly and this is their only road. They are very experienced in driving the winding narrow road, and are also not sightseeing – so the 2.5 hours it takes you to drive is actually 1.5 hours for a local if unobstructed. Please try and remember that when driving the road, let anyone trying to go faster pass, and you will have a much more enjoyable visit!

  12. Susan says:

    We have three kids. The youngest is 7 years old. Is the hike and falls a good idea? What type of shoes do you wear? Do you have to swim through water or walk through deep water to get through the trail? Running shoes or water shoes best?

    • Aloha Susan. Wear shoes you can get wet and muddy, there are two stream crossings. We have four kids and they all do the hike regularly. I have also taken groups of young schoolchildren to the falls as well. Most seven-year-olds can outpace mom and dad – but only you know your kids well :)

  13. Kristina says:

    Is this area safe for kids? I have a 7 year old and a 12 year old going to be with me….

  14. Michelle says:

    My father rides a scooter but can walk short distances. We would like to visit this. Any idea if it is accessible to use an electric scooter to get there?

    Thanks

    • If the scooter is designed to go off-pavement on trails (there may be some small obstacles, I definitely would only do it if is equally mobile on terrain as a golf cart) he may be able to get to overlooks and if he is able to walk steps, he will be able to get a bit closer. You can also see a bit less dramatic view of the pools from the car – there is a small bridge over the stream just before the entrance to the park where you may be able to stop and admire for a few moments.

  15. Aloha, my grandmother Josephine Kauakea Roback Medeiros was a Hawaiian historian. She gave the seven sacred pools it’s name. We know that the seven sacred pools name is Ohe’o. The reason for the name seven sacred pools is beacause seven of those pools are sacred. my grandmother learned this from her kupunas. Some of the park rangers argue that this is not the correct name and it should only be called Ohe’o .
    Keep in mind that they were told this by someone who knows nothing about seven pools being sacred. Everyone born and raised in Hana before my grandmother got sick knows this for a fact. There are some misinformed story writers out there that say different from misinformed people out there and I just wanted to set the record straight! I still and will always call it The Seven Sacred Pools! Missmaui40@Aol.com

    • Susan says:

      Yes I agree Seven Sacred Pools will change your life! For the better xoxo

    • Thanks for this info. Upon entering Haleakala National Park I asked the fellow who took my money if this also allows access to the Seven Sacred Pools and was informed quite rudely that there is no such place. next time I will set him straight!

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