Maui’s Top 5 Most Thrilling Tide Pools

Olivine Pools during a calm day surrounded by grey lava rock partially coverd in Algae

When we visited Maui, we couldn’t help but check out the 5 tide pools mentioned in this article. The Olivine Pools were our favorite because of the waves crashing over them. But both the hike and the pools themselves can be treacherous. If you are traveling as a family with younger kids, we suggest you check out numbers 2 and 4 on this list. 

How to enjoy Maui’s tide pools safely.

Please beware of the risks that hiking to a tide pool or swimming in one brings. You can slip, or a rogue wave can pull you out into open waters. Not all tide pools on Hawaii are family-friendly. 

Irrespective of the location, always take the following precautions when exploring tide pools:

  • Never hike to a tide pool without a mobile phone
  • Never swim in a tide pool alone without anyone watching over you
  • Don’t blindly stumble around barefoot in a tide pool (You could hurt yourself or other creatures)
  • Watch the waves, currents, and tides
  • Don’t take selfies too close to the water
  • If you get in trouble or spot a swimmer in distress, call the Fire Department at 911

The tide around Maui

While the surf and winds can be unpredictable, it is easy to time your trip to arrive at the tide pools during low tide. 

Please always check the updated tide data before embarking on your adventure.

1. Ho’okipa Beach Park

Located on Maui’s north shore, Ho’okipa Beach Park boasts some of the best waves on Maui’s coastline. This stunning white-sandy beach is the mecca for windsurfing and surfing! In addition, it is home to Hawaiian sea turtles! Expect to see sea turtles roaming around and lying on the sand before sunset.

Swimming is limited only to experienced swimmers. Beware of the high surf during high tide. There are some tide pools on the pavilion side of the beach. These tide pools are protected from the waves, which is excellent for snorkeling and swimming. Casual swimmers and kids usually spend most of their time there.

The best time to visit Ho’okipa Beach Park is during low tide if you want to explore the tide pools. The beach has easy access. Drive along Hana Highway and stop at mile marker 9 or Hwy 36. You can park across the road and walk around 100 m to the beach.

Activities at Ho’okipa Beach Park

  • Swimming (beware of the surf!)
  • Surfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Tidepooling
  • Snorkeling
  • Watching turtles

2. Keawakapu Beach

Keawakapu Beach is located on Maui’s south shore between Kihei and Wailea. Instead of a rental car, we opted to get there using e-bikes!

This long sandy beach is backed by luxury houses, hotels, and condos. It has a sandy bottom, which makes for excellent swimming conditions. However, avoid swimming during high tide as the surfs are higher and the swells are bigger.

This beach is the perfect destination for a family getaway! The north end of the beach has expansive tide pools teeming with marine life. You can also try exploring the tide pools at night – they are exceptionally vibrant, especially during a full moon! In addition, the southern end of the beach offers is cherished by snorkelers for its great visibility. There are artificial reefs made up of 150 junk cars, 2.250 tire modules, and 35 concrete slabs dumped under the water in 1962! Divers frequently explore this reef. Beware of the possible windy conditions in the afternoon. Some hotels nearby also rent kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel gear, and bikes.  

Keawakapu Beach can be tricky to spot as a large residential community surrounds it. There are three parking spots available. There is one parking spot near Kihei Surfside Resorts, one on the left side of Kilohana Drive, and the dead-end of S Kihei Road.

Activities at Keawakapu Beach:

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Tidepooling
  • Beachcombing
  • Bodyboarding
  • Paddleboarding
  • Diving

If you want to see even more flamboyant sea critters, this snorkeling trip from Kihei turned out to be jaw-droppingly beautiful (lesson learned: don’t drop your jaw while snorkeling!). The crew explained to us, that the biodiversity here is unique, because of all the volcanic minerals fertilizing the coral reefs.

3. Olivine Pools

The Olivine Pools are thrilling, natural tide pools formed by lava along the ocean’s edge on west Maui. These tide pools are home to a great variety of marine life and is a favorite spot for adrenaline junkies. It is located right next to the ocean, and the waves can be dangerous. The pool water may seem calm, but surges can come crashing over them anytime! One rogue wave can sweep you out into the ocean. Some people have died here, and many more were injured. Understand the risk before you decide to swim in Olivine Pools.

The hike to the pools is phenomenal, with stunning views of the ocean. The trail is short but dangerous due to the jagged and fairly steep lava rock. Wear proper hiking shoes! It is not a spot where you can bring children or pets!  Ensure you bring valuable items, and leave the car unlocked to avoid broken glass. The parking spot is a hot spot for thieves!

Activities at Olivine Pools:

  • Swimming
  • Tidepooling
  • Hiking

4. Napili Bay

White sloping sand, crystal clear water, and calm water make up Napili Bay. Located on Maui’s west shore, it is one of the most family-friendly beaches on the island. The rock formation on the left side of the beach creates small tide pools that are protected from the breaks. As a result, this spot is popular among kids. 

The best snorkeling spot is on the right side of the beach. You may even encounter some sea turtles! There are many restaurants and rental shops nearby with a good selection of water-sport equipment.

The best time to visit Napili Beach is during low tide, when the water is the calmest. The beach has some parking spaces near the Napili Surf Beach Resort and on Hui Drive at the dead end by the beach. Make sure to get there early, as parking is limited.

Activities at Napili Bay:

  • Swimming
  • Tidepooling
  • Snorkeling
  • Bodyboarding
  • Paddleboarding
  • Watching sunset
  • Picnicking

5. Baldwin Beach Park

Baldwin Beach Park is a long, white-sandy beach on Maui’s north shore. It is a popular spot for bodyboarding. Swimming here can be dangerous, especially during the winter months. There are protected swimming areas on both east and west ends of the beach, offering calm tide pools for little ones. 

The best time to visit is during the summer, in the mornings, before the trade winds pick up. The beach has relatively easy access. From Paia, exit the town and head west on Hana Highway. Look out for signs on the right side of the road.

Baldwin Beach Park is adjacent to Baby Beach on the west and Pa’ia Secret Beach on the east. While Baby Beach is kid-friendly, Pa’ia Secret Beach is known as an unofficial clothing-optional beach. 

Activities at Napili Bay:

Tide Pools on the other Hawaiian islands

Tide pools are not unique to Maui. Many other islands of Hawaii have spectacular intertidal pools formed by black lava rock. Check out the following tide pool guides if you’re Island hopping. Kauai, Lanai, Big Island, Oahu, and Molokai!

Did you discover other tidal pools on Maui? 

Please let us know in the comments, and we’ll add them to our list.

Tried-and-tested Gadgets for Shoreline Shenanigans!

The following gear has shaped all our tide pool adventures.
We consider many of these gadgets “buy it for life” and all of them are a worthwhile investment to have a fun and safe tidepooling experience.

Stay Dry!

Vibrams provide the durability and grip required to conquer craggy, slippery rocks. Warning: Once you go Five Fingers, you’ll likely never go back!

Ever since a rogue wave caught me off guard and corroded my phone, we have used these cases whenever we go tidepooling. They work for most phones.

This dry bag is from the same brand. It’s a lot more durable than other dry bags and even has a 1-year warranty. You likely won’t need the 5-liter size.

Safe fun for kids!

It is easy to catch a bruise when tidepooling. This rash guard protects your kids if they want to sit down to take a rest. You will also need less sunscreen 😀

Vibrams are too expensive as they will grow out of them fairly quickly. Saguaros are much cheaper and come in tons of colors.

This life vest is much more stylish than those ugly orange ones your hotel lends out. The size recommendation is based on the child’s weight, which we found very precise.

To complete your Pokédex!

Cheap snorkeling masks are dangerous as they trap CO². So invested in these . Still look as good as new after ~80 snorkel trips, as they are easy to clean.

We like making memories, but aren’t avid videographers. So we didn’t splurge on a GoPro, but bought this one instead. The best: it works using voice commands!

This book offers detailed sketches and actionable advice that will elevate your tide pooling experience! It will make kids feel like biologists and biologists feel like kids again!

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