In a nutshell: Among East Maui’s most spectacular natural pools, situated in rugged and scenic coastline.
Minuses: Access and safety issues mean that the vast majority of visitors should skip this.
Sound-bite: “That last step is a doosey!”
NOTE: I did not rate Waioka Pond because most readers should not be attempting to access this site for the reasons listed below.
Waioka Pond is a spectacular jewel of the Hana coastline. That said, there are many issues with accessing it that you should be aware of.
“Venus Pool” is a made up name used in guidebooks heavy on superlatives and light on practical reality, and calling it by that name has become associated with the problems those sent by these careless descriptions have brought to this area. Taking the extra effort to call this place by its real name not only shows respect, but will also set you apart from those negative associations.
Waioka is believed to be a shortened form of Waioaoaka, which by one translation means “open mouth of fresh water” and is the name written on old maps of the area.
Waioka Pond is not for those unused to scrambling, climbing and off-trail hiking. A misstep in more than a couple critical places could cost you. Like all streams in Maui, this can also flash-flood and flow heavily enough to make entering the pond unsafe.
Flash flood at Waioka Pond 11/11/2013 – Video by Sky Pierce (YouTube)
Please be aware of unsafe high water or flash-flooding that can occur in North and East Maui streams. This note is found on many articles, if you have not read the flash flood page, taking a minute to do so could save your life.
Read it now
Access is another significant issue you will face. While the pond, shoreline and stream are on State land, the established access trail is on land belonging to Hana Ranch.
Hana Ranch appears to be having a tough time balancing access for local residents who have the understanding and ability to safely be here, and restrict those who ended up here because of short-attention-span descriptions. Currently, the ability to access via Hana Ranch land can be best described as “ambiguous.”
This ambiguity can be seen on the sign at the trailhead -the wording is much less clear than a simple KEEP OUT. The sign instead contains a liability disclaimer and statement that use is considered recreational. (Perhaps because the previous KEEP OUT signs had angered many local residents who grew up swimming here.) There is also ever-evolving fencing which always has some method of access immediately added to it by local residents.
A good bush/jungle-hiker could avoid the access question by hiking along the stream side of the fence. I took a look over the County plat maps for the area, and they show that this is State owned land. If the brush/jungle thing sounds like it isn’t your speed, save yourself the deliberation and skip this place – because even if you take the easy trail you will need some off-trail skills to get in and out of the pool in one piece.
Once you have reached the pool and shoreline prepare to be impressed. The blue ocean pounding just outside or into the pool, and the rugged scenery surrounding the area is absolutely stunning.
At the top of the cliffs surrounding the Waioka Pond, you’ll find several rough trails down – typically, the easiest to navigate is at the mauka end of the pool. A slip on the wrong spot on any of these trails could potentially result in serious injury, and conditions vary from day to day, so you need to be comfortable assessing the safest entry for your skills and current conditions.
There are plenty of opportunities for rock jumping and swimming. The cliff and stream bed at the mauka end is deep, with lower and high ledges where daring folks can fly (for a moment.) That said, always find someone knowledgeable or go for a scouting swim to check for hidden submerged rocks.
The rounded-rock beach moves with ocean and stream conditions, and can leave a lava-rock island (photo above) with the ocean crashing just outside of the pool. At other times ocean moves the entire rocky beach into the pool, surrounding what was the island, creating a stone bridge connecting it to a skylit cave (someone was living in this cave when I wrote this article!)
Mile Marker: #48.1 (bridge over stream) (Hana Hwy aka Hwy 31)
GPS Coordinates: 20.703936,-155.994959
View Waioka Pond aka Venus Pool in a larger map
19 comments about “Waioka Pond (aka Venus Pool)”
Please be careful here. I would highly suggest NOT going swimming in the pond, especially if there’s ANY rain anywhere on the island. There could be sudden flash floods with no warning that will come down the mountain and sweep you out to sea. We lost my sister last year to this exact scenario in this exact spot. No one warned us :(. Even if you’re an extremely strong swimmer it could no doubt still drown you when the flash flood of the water fall comes down the mountain powerfully (there was no water fall when we got there at 9am in the morning – then suddenly a wall of water came surging down the mountain with no warning). Please please be careful, multiple people have died here.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
I’m so sorry that happened to her, you and your family. Thank you so much for the warning.
Tried to access today but turned around when the Hana police showed up and started writing tickets. I thought that the no parking signs didn’t mean anything seeing that there were probably 20-30 cars parked on the side of the road. But the lady who called the cops (in the house across the street and a few houses down from the bridge) wasn’t very happy with everyone. Last thing I want to do is upset the locals! I’m a tourist and am happy to avoid the land if it’s not for me.
I agree Locals deserve some of the pristine places for themselves . But yes I’d love to see it.
Aloha love to all Hawaiian s
Had trouble with the same lady. The locals told me that “blonde lady isn’t even from here” she called the cops but they never ticketed me.
This place is most definitely accessible and they even have lemonade and cut the grass and redid the pathways.
That being said I saw a local nearly lose his and his child’s life slipping and thankfully a woman grabbed him by his bag straps.
Even when you are aware and alert things can happen.
I love cliff jumping and doing yoga here but make sure to look at the mountains and check the water flow for signs of flooding. And if the water isn’t clear don’t go in. ?
I appreciate your articles as a lifelong off road kinda guy.
Russell Snyder says:
Mahalo for teaching me the correct Hawaiian name for this beautiful place. People who do decide to go here should note the parking really sucks, involving cramming the car onto a fence with brush and thorns on the side of the road. If I had a nice car or a rental, I would definitely not even try it.
Sean Jabbod says:
Beautiful pool but dangerous spot. Major injuries from tourists who dared to jump only to land without clearing rocks below.
Braden Kemp says:
As of August 2018 the access trail is clear with the “climb over” gate in the fence. There is a danger warning sign, but no other keep out signs. The trail and pool area is in good condition and I didn’t run across any trash. What a fun cliff jump! Probably the highest we did on Maui!
Just made this short hike and jumped off the ledges there which was cool.
The water is dark so I definitely recommend swimming a “scouting mission” under your landing zone before taking the plunge.
Enter the path by the make-shift fruit stand and then the people-only gate is 15 yards down that path. Then, follow the trail to the little hut (clay oven) and head right down the slope to get to the jumping section. Go straight at the clay oven and you can work your way down to the far side of the pool as well where you can easily wade into the water.
This was a really great stop on road to Hana. The beach is really nice, if you hike or swim to it. Beautiful black sand. Jumping off the cliffs was fun, oh and if you find an iwatch let me know!! Ugh. Great time anyway.
Ryan Lundahl says:
It was the highlight of my long day to Hana and beyond! Definitely worth stopping for and taking a plunge if you are feeling risky… I did and it was amazing! 1/3/2017
Phil Didow says:
Visited Waioka Pond (Venus Pool ) in April, 2015. Amazing place. Totally worth it if you are into beautiful places and thrill seeking. Probably the highest jump I have ever done into water. I would estimate maybe 40-50 ft, with other ledges of less height.
As far as access goes, there has been a “people only” gate built right off the highway. Assuming that the Hana Ranch is therefore allowing people in now. Beware of the local crazy fruit stand guy. He started out really nice but then after too many questions (3 being too many) and not buying any of his rotting fruit, he quickly became unfriendly, not dangerous, but definitely unfriendly. We continued our way on in, ignoring him. The Beyond Hana book says it is at Mile Marker 48 (park before the bridge, when travelling from Hana toward 7 Sacred Pools) and venture down the well beaten path toward the ocean.
Yes there used to be no trespassing signs and the path to the pool was on private land, the pool itself is on public land.
I’m assuming the Hana Ranch has given in to pressure from local resorts and county at least for now, until people trash the land, to allow the public access the pool through their property. There is now a designated access slot through the fence designed to keep cattle in and allow people through. There is also a sign here that states that Hana ranch is not responsible for any personal injury on their property or the pool.
I’m not sure about parking, as the place where people would park is on private land.
Only the pool itself is not on private property, most of the ways of entering the pools is on hana ranch. And I’ve seen locals get really mad, even just at other locals for entering. And lately cops have been ticketing the cars pulled over in that area.I would skip this one unless you have a local tour Guide. Nobody wants to be yelled at by locals, or get tickets on their vacation! Go to oheo gulch( seven sacred pools) way more beautiful!!! And no breaking laws.
G wilson says:
Just there Jan 13, 2015. It was an excellent place to jump. Not sure how far the fall is, but you have plenty of time to think about it on the way down. Access is easy, but beware of flash flood potential and make sure your footing and health are good before taking this on. Not much parking. Maybe room for 5 small cars on ocean side of road. The area is quite stunning. If you choose to jump, be ready for a climb out on slimy rocks that can be a little tricky. This is salt water you’ll be jumping in to. Enjoy and be safe!
If you can hike a rough trail then you can at least view the pool. As soon as you can see the pool through the trees (200 yards from road) look for a fork in the trail to the left. The viewing spot is another 50 yards or so. Sit there for an hour and have a snack. Clean up after yourself. The scenery is impressive. If you have rock climbing experience, you can try climbing down to the pool for a swim. This climb is for the young and foolish, or for the older and experienced. The diving is strictly for the young and foolish.
We just got back from Waioka today. The keep out signs are gone. It seems they are allowing visitors again if people are respectful and keep the area clean.