Olivine Pools

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

Rating: ★★★★★

In a nutshell: Dramatic, swimmable tidepools located on barren lava along the ocean’s edge on the back-side of West Maui.
Minuses: People die here. 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, definitely do not enter the pools (no matter what everyone else is doing.) Even if most waves appear as if they would not sweep you out, be aware that bigger waves come in sets that can be spaced very far apart. If you are washed into the open ocean in this location, chances of survival are slim for even the strongest of swimmers.

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 after reading this article and the comments.


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 20 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. Kris Howland says:

    We visited here in 2011. I was bound and determined to find it after reading about this “must see” in the Maui Revealed book. My husband had a total knee replacement a few months previous. When we finally found the Olivine Pools, I was so excited. It was poorly marked. The walk down was incredibly treacherous for my husband but he was a very good sport. Our time there was rather short but lovely and we encountered none of the waves as described. Looking back now all these years later, and after reading these horrific stories, we’d never go back.

  2. My husband and I went here back in July 2004 – though I didnt even know it had a name at the time, let alone that it may be some kind of popular attraction. We had been out on a scenic drive (looking for a bit adventure, as we were 18 and 21 at the time) and just happened to see a small parking spot and a dirt path leading toward the ocean. When we went nobody was there, however, we did go during the “off season” and it was a lot more difficult to to find interesting places without the convenience of today’s version of google maps.

    I honestly dont remember the “pools” being quite so large… but what I do remember is trekking down the cliff-side, hopscotching my way across various puddles, and climbing up a large rock at the far end of the pool to get a better look… and being met with a sea-swell that was nearly at eye level. It’s definitely a bit horrifying to realize you’re standing in a giant bowl and have no idea when or if it’s about to fill up. Dont get me wrong – it was gorgeous and something I will always remember – but I did hightail it out of said bowl… only to later encounter the super-long, narrow, one-lane, cliff-side road with two-dirrection traffic and no guard rail. Seriously, I looked down out the passenger window as we passed a car and only saw straight down; no road, no grass, no dirt, just DOWN (I really hope they have upgraded that road by now!). Needless to say, we found the adventure we were looking for.

    We did drive past the pools a few years later when we came back to maui again and I will definitely confirm that there was shattered glass all over the parking pull off. As there were (again) no other cars or people around, we opted to drive on by and avoid the destruction of our rental. We would definitely go back to the pools in the future, however, only people with a death-wish or delusions of invincibility would stand anywhere near those rocks close to the water’s edge. I could definitely see how any kind of large wave could result in death or serious injury… even if you get knocked over mid-pool, those lava rocks would make for a really traumatic landing and / or surface to slide across… and then there are the countless bacteria in the ocean that are ready and willing to make sure you remember for a long, long time. I’m an adventurous person, but I’m also a nurse; trust me, I’ve seen enough to be very good at weighing risk vs reward. The place is definitely worth seeing, albeit, with sufficient distance between you and calm sea. Even then, put down the phone, camera, drone – whatever the distraction – and pay attention to your surroundings. It also goes without saying that visiting this site after drinking alcohol and using other substances would definitely put your odds in the favor of tragedy.

  3. John Zoau says:

    We saw a man and a woman and two teenagers get swept across the rocks last week here. They were not even close to the edges of the pools but a giant wave crashed in and they disappear in the whitewater. It happened so fast my wife call 911 but the area is no accessible by foot or car so helicopter rescue is only resort. I am not sure what became of them all but I no for sure at least one of the teenagers was taken out into the open ocean. Not sure if he was able to cling to the rocks for rescue or not. Very sad. No go here too dangerous. Pleass need the warning.

  4. People enter the pools when the waves are extremely High. It’s common sense not to go in at that time, but people still do. Don’t go to the edge, Don’t go in if the tide is high or even a little aggressive. Still pay attention to your surroundings even when the tide is low.

    • Lisa says:

      I am lisa who witnessed the opihi picker try and save his friend in 2017 and ultimately lost his life. I can not believe another father has lost his life there in 2018 . It saddens me. I’m researching all those who have lost their lives at olivine pools, and the blowhole. I will be posting on every site I can to save lives. My family and I will be leaving a lei for the man this summer. As we still think about him. And all those who have met such tragedy. And who will continue to meet tragedy until proper warnings are in place. I believe a list of names and years maybe at the over look might help. ?
      So far I have
      The father 2018
      The opihi picker
      The man who’s memorial is there
      The honeymoon couple
      The other father who passed. Please feel free to add

      • I recently while vacationing in Maui almost died as well. I did not researched before I visited the olivine pools. I almost drowned as wave came in on top of me while I was in the pools. I ended up at the ER received 7 stitches on the chin of my tibia and with small hole right below my elbow and received 3 stitches to close it up. Is no joke.

      • Rebekah says:

        Thanks, I’ll stay away because of you and other warnings like yours.

  5. As a local who has been to the pools many times, I can only say, they are DANGEROUS. Sometimes we have a hard time convincing tourists or young people that the ocean is treacherous – yes its beautiful, but people have died here and will continue to. Mr. Go Pro, I see it all the time, tourists who can’t turn off their Go Pro or put down their phone, so they can get that great shot…and die in the attempt. DON’T BE STUPID.

    • Thank you for the warning. I will not go and take chances unnecessarily. Please know your post made a difference. When tourists come here and get in trouble they endanger not only themselves but those who are first responders as well who try to save them.

  6. Regina Moxley says:

    Wow thank you so much guys! I’m so sorry that happened to you all. We will definitely not be going now. Plenty of gorgeous stuff to do besides that. ❤️

  7. Geoffrey Boehm says:

    It is rare to have any kind of large surf on Maui during the summer – June-early September. Note that almost all of the tragic posts are dated during other times of the year – especially November-April. There are numerous surf reports you can call or find on the internet, and they are pretty reliable. If you want to visit these pools, or just go into the ocean in general, checking the surf report is mandatory (even in Summer, on rare occasions there is large surf). Huge waves don’t come when the surf is nearly flat, but if there is any kind of moderate surf, much larger “rogue” waves occasionally arrive. Keep in mind that in Hawaii, unlike the mainland, the real height of the surf is used, which is half of the size of the wave face, and even then it is often underestimated. So when they say 2 ft waves, it means the distance from the top of the wave to the bottom is 4 feet, which should be pretty safe. When they say 4 ft waves, it’s 8 feet, which is pretty big, and the rogue waves could be 12 feet or more. The forecasts are divided into several areas – this location faces northwest, where the largest swells typically come from. Don’t be fooled if the forecast for Kihei is 1 foot – it could easily be 10 foot for the north shore beaches on the same day. Check the forecast for the specific area you are going to.

  8. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/37825085/father-dies-trying-to-save-daughter-at-popular-tourist-spot-on-maui

    This happened on March 27, 2018. This is the second time that a father has drowned while trying to save his daughter at this exact location. Can you imagine the loss that this family will feel for the rest of their lives and the guilt that the daughter may experience? Maui has had 16 ocean related deaths (snorkeling, accidents, etc..), most of them tourists that were unfamiliar with the area or their abilities. Two weeks before this incident a local man was swept off of the rocks and drowned at “Windmills” and at the same time, three miles away, a father drowned after his 26 year old son got in trouble in the water while they were jumping off a cliff in Kapalua. The father jumped in and drowned.
    This past week I saw a young man on the rocks in Kapalua, going out to the edge and getting douse by the spray from large waves crashing in. When I tried to warn him and tell him about recent deaths nearby he could only respond, “I’ll be fine”. That is until he isn’t and his friends have to witness him drown.

    Visitors – please make the right choices and stay out of harm’s way. Your family, friends, and Maui’s brave First Responders will thank you.

    • Martin Shifflett says:

      Paul, thank you for this review. Brian is being laid to rest today in Montana. You words are correct, they were a normal family who went on many adventures exploring natures amazing areas. Brian was a great swimmer who died so quickly. A kind, strong, humble gentlemen is now gone for an innocent lapse of judgment. I hope your words have an impact on others.

  9. Another death at the Olivine Pools at Kahakuloa on Tuesday March 27, 2018. A 46 year old man rescued his 15 year old daughter who was swept away into the ocean by a wave. He got his daughter to the edge of the rocky shore to be pulled up by bystanders but he didn’t make it and drowned. Paramedics arrived at the scene and we’re not able to revive him. Please Pray for this teenager and all of her family. PLEASE HEED THESE WARNINGS AND DO NOT GO THERE! Many drownings have occurred on Maui as well as all the Hawaiian Islands. The waves and rip currents have taken even the Best watermen. Go to a beach that has a lifeguard right in front of where you are planning to enter the water and go talk to him first for advice.

  10. Don’t go faster or farther than your angels can/will fly or swim, and on any day you might need an army of them. And don’t be like me, or you’d surely would be dead already – many times over!

  11. 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.

    • Bravo to you for your quick action in calling 911. And EXCELLENT in taking the time to teach you children all about mother mature and the dangers of this spectacular site! It is a shame that the general masses THINK nothing will happen to them and or don’t take mother nature seriously. There are many ways to get hurt, die anywhere one travels. Closing off areas is not the answer. Those of us that actually heed warnings, read up on our destinations of what to expect and / or just have a clue to use common sense and NOT push the envelope when it comes to the sea, sharpe rocks, cliffs, unknown plants, insects……. etc. should have the freedoms to explore with respect and gratitude. It is a shame that ego and stupidity gets people hurt and killed.
      Good for your children, they learned a HUGE lesson with you by their side. Sad, but so important.

  12. 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.

    • Lori Smith says:

      I am so glad they have a memorial for Stephen. He was one of my students and a wonderful man.

  13. 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…”

      • Yep. You are a tourist who has no knowledge of ocean safety obviously. Hopefully your ignorant comments dont cause more deaths

  14. A Piller says:

    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.

    • Don’t be afraid. Rather, Be aware and cautious, and be prepared with shoes, water, first aid kit, charged phone…. etc.
      Go with some rules
      How about;
      Never go close to a crashing wave area.
      Never enter sea without understanding current and sets of waves.
      Don’t jump in from a high rock without knowing 100% what is beneath the surface. (A stupid common mistake)
      Don’t test your swimming abilities in this sea, you’ll lose.
      Be happy in simply being an observer keeping a reasonable distance. Fear will only keep you from experiencing all the raw beauty of Maui.

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

    • Parag's friend says:

      The couple you saw swept away were our friends, Parag and Mamta. They were recently married. I cannot thank you enough for calling 911 immediately. Although it has been many years, I keep searching for new articles and read about the incident and wonder anything could have been done to save them and what exactly happened. Today, I found and read your description of the incident. We all wish the outcome would have been different for our friends and many other lives taken away from their dear ones. I have never been to this place and never wish to Hawaii after the incident. It takes me days to come out every time I remember our friend. Please, folks reading this, it is not worth risking your life going there. After reading many such incidences, it is apparent that it is a deceptively dangerous place. Please don’t be another casualty and leave your loved ones grieving behind.

  17. 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).

    • You cant see a rouge wave coming. Tourists with no knowledge of the ocean should not be there. I hope your comment doesn’t cause more injury or death.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. tabata says:

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  22. 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.

  23. 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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