While Hawaii certainly does not have a shortage of pristine, white sand beaches or man-made, oceanfront pools for us to choose from, occasionally we crave something a little more adventurous – like swimming holes, waterfalls, and tide pools. Last summer, we created a list of
our favorite Hawaii swimming holes, and now we’re at it again. You will see some overlap in these two lists, but that’s because some spots are just too magnificent to not share twice.
Because many of these destinations are fed by ocean waves or waterfalls, it is important for us to issue a friendly warning about the risks associated with strong ocean currents, flash flooding, and leptospirosis bacteria found in many of Hawaii’s natural pools. It is advised that you check weather reports and ocean conditions before heading out for the day, and to always watch your step.
1. Ahalanui Hot Pond
Geothermally warmed by flowing lava deep beneath the surface, Ahalanui Hot Pond is surrounded by green grass, palm trees, and the Pacific Ocean. Though the water is a combination of river water and seawater, you will still find plenty of sea life in this balmy hot pond, and snorkeling is allowed.
2. Ching’s Pond
Combine vibrant sapphire pools with some stellar spots for cliff jumping, and you’ve got one of Maui’s local hangouts. This picturesque spot can be found past mile marker 16 on the Hana Highway, below the bridge that crosses Palauhulu Stream.
3. Kapoho Tide Pools
Located on Hawaii Island are the Kapoho tide pools, perhaps the most popular in the state. A series of interconnecting tide pools extend some 200 yards off shore, with many of the pools large enough for snorkeling. Also fun: some of the pools are heated volcanically, and can reach temperatures of up to 90 degrees.
4. Twin Falls
As you are driving on Hana Highway from the north, the first notable attraction you will discover is these twin waterfalls, also known as Hololawa Falls. The waterfalls themselves might be short, but the picturesque pools are well worth the short hike.
5. Queen’s Bath
Fed by waves from the Pacific, this saltwater swimming hole is exactly what it sounds like: a popular bathing spot for Hawaiian royalty. Due to the pool’s location on Kauai’s north shore, it is best enjoyed during the summer months, when the water is nice and calm.
6. Pe’epe’e Falls
Located just a mile upstream of Rainbow Falls on the Wailua River, Pe’epe’e Falls feeds a series of several pools known as the boiling pots. Cooling lava flows created columns, which connect a series of cascading waterfalls and pools that appear to be bubbling. Flash flooding in this area is common, so please proceed with caution.
7. Oheo Gulch
Located within Haleakala National Park near the Pipiwai Trailhead, these beautiful stream-fed pools are also known as the seven sacred pools. There are more than seven pools, and they aren’t sacred – rumor has it that a local hotel owner coined the name in order to attract more visitors to his establishment.
8. Uluwehi Falls
Often referred to as Secret Falls, this beautiful waterfall will require substantial work to reach – but we think it’s totally worth it. Located up the Wailua River, you will need to either rent kayaks or book a guided tour to reach the trailhead. Then, you have to complete the 45-minute hike through the muddy jungle to reach the falls.
9. Pua’a Ka’a Falls
A short hike within the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside will reward you with a relatively secluded and quite picturesque waterfall, cascading into the delightful pool below. Another stop on Maui’s Road to Hana, Pua’a Ka’a translates to “rolling pig” in Hawaiian.
10. Makapu’u Tide Pools
Located off the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail are these charming tide pools perfect for days where you want a little more adventure than nearby beaches typically allow. There is little better way to cool off on a warm summer day than taking a dip in these crystalline, saltwater pools.
11. Likeke Falls
Is there truly anything better than a nice hike, followed by hanging out under a beautiful, cascading waterfall? This magnificent, tiered waterfall is located off Oahu’s Old Pali Road – in the heart of the Ko’olau Mountains. The five-mile hike to the falls begins at the Pali Lookout and should take you approximately two hours.
12. Olivine Pools
These dramatic tide pools located along Maui’s western coast were first recognized in a popular Maui guidebook, though we would like to urge visitors that the short hike to reach the pools can be dangerous – and that you should only enter the water during calm ocean conditions.