Olivine Pools Trailhead

Olivine Pools Trail: Short But Moderately Strenuous Hike to Beautiful (but Potentially Dangerous) Tidepools
The Bottom Line:

The Olivine Pools have become one of the most popular attractions on West Maui’s “top end.” These perched tidepools look like natural soaking tubs, and indeed many visitors treat them as such. Kicking back in the pools can be magical, but use extreme caution and stay aware at all times—heavy surf and rogue waves have claimed lives here.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

The spot is reached along the often-twisty and narrow Kahekili Highway (Route 340) around mile marker 16, where a dirt road provides access to ample parking. A short walk brings you to a view of the Olivine Pools area below, and a couple of trails are visible down to them through rough lava rock. Take notice of the warning signs and memorial plaques, a reminder that hiking down to the pools is inherently risky. 

The descent is rather steep and requires careful footing. Wear sturdy shoes to make this hike. The whole walk is only about a quarter of a mile, but moderately strenuous given the steepness.

As you descend to the pools, pay careful attention to the ocean. You should watch the waves for at least 10 minutes—a general rule of thumb in coastal environments—before even thinking about actually entering the pools or scrambling around near them. 

From the overlook and the descent trails, enjoy views southeastward to the bold, steep 636-foot lava dome of Kahakuloa Head, also known as Puu Koae. This is one of the defining coastal landmarks of West Maui’s top end.

Closer at hand, though, are the Olivine Pools. Multiple tidepools are scattered in depressions in a little perched finger-like peninsula jutting northeastward into the ocean. Varying in-depth and thus temperature, the Olivine Pools (informally named in a popular guidebook for the abundant namesake mineral in the vicinity) invite soaks when conditions allow. The sensation of wading and sitting in calm saltwater while the ocean pounds below is pretty marvelous, enhanced by the overall scenery of a rugged, undeveloped seacoast.

At high tides or during heavy surf, waves can sweep over the rock platform here and scour the Olivine Pools. You don’t want to be in them—or near them—when this whitewater is raking over the rocks. Rogue waves—sudden giant breakers—are notorious here.

The risks are very, very real. You can be swept out over the platform and down into the ocean, with little chance of climbing back up and a very good chance of being slammed against the headland. Even a relatively mild overwash of the pools could dash you against their sides or bottoms, leading to serious, possibly life-threatening injury. 

There are numerous tragic stories from the Olivine Pools at this point. They’ve become very popular, yet many visitors don’t take the inherent danger seriously. You can often visit quite safely when the seas are calmer. It’s all about checking surf and weather reports, studying the ocean before heading down, and never letting down your guard.

If you exercise caution and common sense, a visit to the Olivine Pools—even just a safe survey of them from above—can be a fabulous West Maui experience. This rather far-flung corner of the island has become justly celebrated.

Insider Tips:
-Be aware that car thieves regularly target the Olivine Pools parking area—an inevitable reflection of this trail’s boosted profile and fairly isolated location.
-If you time your visit to earlier in on a weekday morning, you’ll have the best chance of enjoying more elbow room in the Olivine Pools.