Olivine Pools in Maui – What you need to know before going

The Unreal Olivine Pools of Maui

The Olivine Pools in Maui are way cool! These tide pools look truly stunning; trust me, pictures hardly do the site justice.

These mini swimming pools along the rocky Maui coast offer a perfect escape from the scorching Maui sun. You can take a dip in cool water while watching the waves continually crash into the surrounding lava rock cliffs.

Don’t get too comfortable as the location is actually quite dangerous.

You will see warning signs all around about the inherent dangers at the Olivine Pools. 

What actually is a tide pool in Maui?

Okay, if you are like me then you probably are not 100% sure what exactly a tide pool is. A tide pool is a pool of water left (typically in a rock basin) caused by the tides rising and falling.

At this Maui hotspot, the rising and falling waves crash into the lava rock cliffs periodically filling various pools along the coast line. The remaining rock basin fills up with the ocean water resulting in a perfect swimming spot that is constantly getting drained/filled, which helps the water stay especially clear. 

Olivine Pools in West Maui, Hawaii
Olivine Pools in West Maui, Hawaii
Olivine pools Maui Hawaii

Why are they so dangerous?

It’s not just hype, this area really can be dangerous! The danger comes because you can easily be lulled into a false sense of security. Let me explain…

At any moment the incoming waves can increase in height and crash over the rock cliff. If they crash over the cliff and you are in one of the tide pools, you can get tossed into the razor sharp lava rock and then out into the ocean.

Obviously you can see why this experience could potentially be deadly. In fact, there are grave markings for poor visitors that have suffered this fate.

Olivine pools trailhead
Olivine pools trailhead
So can you actually swim in them?

While at the Maui Olivine Pools I didn’t swim; I was too nervous due to the warning signs and gravestones. That being said, there were many others that swam in the pools while I was there.

The waves crashed against the nearby cliffs but never came over the edge. If you do decide to swim, remember that a rogue wave could come over the cliff at any time.

Even though I didn’t swim, I did take the opportunity to run down and dip my feet into one of the pools. I didn’t go all the way to the cliff’s edge, but given how gorgeous they looked I can 100% see the temptation.

Remember, if the rocks are wet there is a reason. It means that a wave has recently crashed over.

Olivine Pools Location

I think the location of the Olivine Pools contribute to them being underrated as far as Maui attractions go. They are located on the top northwest tip of the island. 

The location is a little bit difficult to access. It is a 1 hour drive from the Maui Airport, but in a direction that doesn’t take you that much closer to any of the resort areas. If you stay in the Kaanapali resort area you are still about a 45 minute drive away.

The drive takes so long because at times it takes you along a windy highway. At times the highway even goes down to one lane, where you have to stop and waiting for oncoming traffic to pass. The winding highway along the Maui cliffs is not for the faint of heart – expect to be driving at less than 10 mph at times.

Olivine Pools Trailhead

First off, the site isn’t really marked well along the highway so you will have to follow your GPS closely. Once you get there you will see smaller signs designating the area though.

The “hike” down to the pools isn’t really a hike. The Olivine Pools trailhead may seem confusing at first since there are a number of paths that appear to be going in different directions. Don’t worry since they all converge and take you down the cliffs to the Olivine Pools.

The entire “hike” is less than ¼ of a mile. As long as you are heading down the hill you are moving the right direction. The lava rocks can be sharp. I did the hike in flip flops but ideally would have preferred to have shoes or hiking sandals on.

Trail to the Olivine Pools in Maui
Trail to the Olivine Pools in Maui

Parking

There is a dirt lot immediately off the side of the road. Even if this lot is full you can park along the side of the highway. I think the “remote” location of these pools keeps the area from getting too crowded.

Olivine pools parking
Olivine pools parking

Olivine Pools Conclusion

I love the Olivine Pools and recommend a visit even if you aren’t comfortable swimming. I was too afraid of a random wave slamming me into the rocks, but even without a swim I loved the quick hike and dipping my feet into the water.

What do you think? Would you be one of the daredevils that braves a swim?

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