As soon as we chose Hawaii for our vacation, I looked forward to the hiking. There are so many incredible hiking trails, and I built three or four into our schedule, but due to the rain (and okay, sheer exhastion!) we ended up doing only one: the Olivine Pools in Maui.
This was also the one hike I didn’t know much about. Although I found tons of information on hiking Diamond Head or the Haleakala Sky Tour or the Road to Hana, I could only find a few photos of the Olivine Pools, but they looked so neat I thought we should try it. I figured we’d drive over to the northwest side of Maui, park, and walk over to the pools.
Yeah…. that is not what it is like at all. Especially once it started to rain.
Since we were staying at the Wailea Marriott, the shortest distance to the Olivine Pools location is to head northeast and then north. The road quicky turns into a steep climb up a mountain. Most of the road was the size of a single lane on a regular road, and a car coming the opposite way would have to slowly and carefully squeeze by. Some parts were so narrow that traffic in one direction would have to pull over.
With almost no shoulder on one side of the road, little fencing, and lots of mud, it was a teeny bit terrifying. One section had a small stream running across it, which we thankfully made it across without flooding our engine. The things is, once you’re on it, there is really no turning around!
The scenery on the drive though was amazing: lush landscaping, cliff side views of the ocean, a few rural homes, some livestock, and a tiny church. Near the top of the mountain there was a really neat gift shop and art gallery where we found many of our Christmas gifts for family.
In the valley just after the art gallery was a tiny little town. We saw a painted wooden sign advertising Lorraine’s Shave Ice, and we had to give that a try! When we turned at the next sign for Lorraine’s, it looked like we were pulling into someone’s driveway, because, well, we were! The “parking lot” is literally their driveway.
There sat Lorraine and her husband, in their garage. They made us a shave ice (soooo good!) and ushered us through the back of the garage to their backyard, which had bananas and other fruits growing all around, gorgeous views, and a little picnic table. Lorraine’s is the real deal.
Finally, we reached the spot for the Olivine Pools, which is just a small pull-off on the side of the road. There is no sign, but it’s just before a large dip in the road (can’t miss it), or just after the dip if you’re coming from the opposite direction. We also had it marked on Google Maps, but we had no cell service up there! I hopped out of the car in my white shorts and flip flops, wondering where the pools were.
That’s when two people emerged from a little dirt trail, wearing tennis shoes and hiking clothes, and covered in mud. “Um, did you not bring tennis shoes?” they asked. I didn’t. I didn’t think we were hiking! But, we had been driving up a mountain for 45 minutes, and I was going to see the Olivine Pools, dammit. I would not be stopped by a little thing like shoes. I took off my flip flops and set off barefoot.
At the end of the muddy trail, there were some large signs warning visitors not to proceed and that it could result in our deaths. We kept going, naturally.
Then I realized why shoes would have been helpful. The only way to get to the pools is to carefully climb down the side of a cliff. Slowly, we made our way down, testing rocks for loose ones and staying low to avoid slipping and falling. After about 20 minutes of climbing, we made it to the bottom. We discarded items along the way, like my jacket, to form a breadcrumb trail and mark the best route back up. I was amazed by all the neat rocks — volcanic rocks with jagged sides and smooth rocks tinged many colors by the dirt.
At the bottom, the pools were much more awesome — and frightening– than the photo I’d seen. They are right up against an angry, crashing ocean, spraying water easily 10 feet into the air with each wave. We picked our way to the edge, where there was a very loud blowhole (check out this video of the blowhole on my Instagram), formed by the water shooting up in the middle of the rock.
The largest pool was quite deep, and right at the edge. Some crazy boys were jumping off the cliff above into it, but I was not about to try that. Husband did take a dip, but I just put my (muddy) feet in.
When it started to rain again, we picked our way back up the cliff and along the muddy path. I was covered in mud and soaked from the rain — a bedraggled mess. Husband was barely dirty, and mostly from helping me. How does that happen?
I toweled off and sank into the car, exhausted. Even though it was not an easy climb, seeing the pools was absolutely worth it. And even the climb itself was pretty neat, I’ll admit. It was some hardcore hiking — especially barefoot!
We decided to drive the long way west and then south back to the hotel, but because the roads were wider and more paved, it ended up being a much easier and faster drive. Oops.
You definitely need to do this hike — but bring some shoes and be careful! Between the drive, the climb, and the giant crashing waves, it’s not for the faint of heart!