Civilization Slips Away at Northwest Maui’s Olivine Pools

By Kyle Ellison

Imagine lying flat on your back and floating in a natural pool, the rays of sunlight warm on your face, and the sound of the ocean crashing on rocks just a couple of salty feet away. No, this isn’t an edgeless pool at a luxurious, oceanfront resort, but rather the scene at Olivine Pools on Maui’s northwestern coast.

Waves Thunder on Volcanic Rock and Gather in Natural Tide Pools

Photo:  Mike.

Photo: Mike.

Set 12 miles north of Kapalua—and 4 past Nakalele Blowhole—Olivine Pools is a rugged spot where waves thunder on volcanic rock and gather in natural tide pools. When the wind and surf are elevated and rough, waves wash over the low-lying point and cover the rocks with water, where much of it gathers, pools, and stays entrapped in the slippery black rocks. When the surf subsides and the wind calms down, the result is tide pools deep enough for swimming or simply floating on your back, where the rhythmic soundtrack of waves striking rocks is the only barrier to silence.

Civilization Slips Away on Maui’s Northwestern Tip

Photo:  Mike.

Photo: Mike.

Here on the island’s northwestern tip, gone are the oceanfront beach resorts and rows of high-end condos. Shops and restaurants are miles away, and the closest form of civilization is the handful of locals who occasionally sell water or cans of soda from their truck. The valley walls are laden with mists, the coastline covered in salt, and time ticks by as it has for millennia, where humans aren’t part of the deal.

Take the Trek Down to Visit the Olivine Pools

Recently, however, intrepid visitors have started to make the trek down to visit the pools, and float or swim in the crystalline waters just inches away from the shore. There’s no sign naming Olivine Pools, just a small patch of dirt where you park, and a thin trail snaking its way through the pastures that comes to an end at a bluff.

Along the way are warning signs of venturing any further, as visitors here have been swept to their deaths while scouring the rocks in high surf. Should you choose to visit Olivine Pools, do so on a day when the seas are calm and waves aren’t washing on the rocks, and it’s prudent to stop and watch for 10 minutes to gauge the state of the ocean.

Enjoy One of Maui’s Best Views

Photo:  babafred.

Photo: babafred.

If it appears calm enough to access the pools, carefully climb down the rocky slope that leads to the pools on the point, passing by boulders that time and wind have sculpted into smooth stones. After scrambling for 10-15 minutes, casually slink completely in to the warm, oceanfront pools, and take in the view of the cobalt ocean that surrounds you on nearly every side. Dunk your head beneath the water and enjoy the momentary silence, before slowly resurfacing and opening your eyes to one of Maui’s best views.

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