I drove the narrow, curvaceous Kahekili Highway for the first time on one of my first few days as a Maui resident. Despite almost running out of gas (not something you want to have happen right at dusk in a remote part of the island where there’s no homes, lights, towns, or cell service,) it was added to my list of “Most Epic Drives in the World,” and I’ve found myself navigating its maze of twists and turns back several more times since then.
“Highway” most often brings to mind multi-laned, well-paved roads with lightning-fast traffic and a plethora of guard rails…but things are a little different on Maui. (Actually, we don’t have a single one of those kinds of “highways” on this island, and the maximum speed limit to be found is 55…and that’s exceedingly rare.) The road is rather startlingly narrow, and hugs sheer cliff-lines as it winds its way around the northwestern part of the island. It’s like a non-identical twin to the Road to Hana: similar in the thrilling (or treacherous) driving conditions, but in a totally different landscape.
Like the Road to Hana, the Kahekili Highway drive is stunningly beautiful with a huge number of attractions to pull off and see. Although they can be somewhat dangerous, The Olivine Pools are one of the most popular.
The area features large tidepools of clear water perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on a calm day. Named after a gem found embedded in the area’s lava and sandstone, the pools are created by a naturally-formed lava shelf and the clear water looks green because of the color of the rock below it. Brightly-colored tropical fish can often be seen in the pools.
Warnings: Use your best judgment before approaching the pools. Although typically a calm area, if the surf is high the waves can sweep over the surface and pull people over the edge (this has been the cause of several deaths at the Olivine Pools.) Wear reef shoes to avoid cutting your feet on the lava. Check the surf report before you go, and if it is calling for waves 4ft or above, stay out of the pools! Keep in mind that the they are located in a very remote part of the island, and there is no help close by (you’ll be lucky if you’re even able to get cell reception!)
If you’re driving the Kahekili Highway, plan ahead to ensure that you will have plenty of gas and plenty of time to explore, as there are many other pull-offs along the road that you will likely want to stop at.
Visit the Olivine Pools
Address: Kahekili Highway Mile Marker #16, West Maui, 96761
The Olivine Pools are located several miles beyond Nakalele Point and the Nakalele Blowhole. Visitors can park in the pull-off area along the road at Mile Marker #16, and then hike down to the pools. It is not a strenuous hike, but it is along cliffs and lava so use caution on your way down, particularly if it is wet.