Hiking with kids: Olivine Tide Pools, Maui

The Olivine Tide Pools offer great (if remote) little hike with beautiful tide pools embedded in a craggy lava shelf. The pools were named after a semiprecious gem found lodged throughout the lava and sandstone cliffs. They range in size from serving bowls to swimming pools. The color of several of these has a brilliant green cast in the right light- a beautiful contrast to the turquoise and indigo blues of the nearby waves and surging whitecaps.

Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
A larger tide pool glows green against a bright blue sea.


These luminous green Tide Pools come complete with intertidal residents including fish, miniature hermit crabs, periwinkle snails and a crew of cantankerous crabs. A small, but enthusiastic blowhole may be active if you are lucky enough to come at the right time.

Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
Luminous green tide pool warming jn the midday sun…


Teaching your little ones (and yourself) to be awake to your environment can bring up all sorts of interesting questions… here are the answers to just a few.

1. Why do the larger pools have more life than the smaller? Because Hawaii has such a warm sunny climate, the smaller pools tend to get overheated and not have as extensive and varied life as the larger ones. Also, the larger pools can store a greater amount of resources to support life. The location and size of the tide pool in the intertidal zone will greatly affect who can and will choose to live there- such a frequently changing environment requires hardy species!

Here’s a link to a pdf of many of the local Hawaiian residents.

2. How does a blowhole work?

How does a Blowhole work?
How does a Blowhole work?

According to Wikipedia:  “In geology, a blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in blasts of water from the top of the blowhole[1] if the geometry of the cave and blowhole and state of the weather are appropriate.”

3. How does new (fresh) water get into the pools? What happens when a pool is not refreshed often?

These pools are submerged by the sea at high tides and during big storms, and can even receive spray from larger waves. If a pool is not refreshed as often (due to location further away from the water, it can stagnate, with higher bacteria, lower oxygen in the water and far less renewal of nutrients, any residents of this pool may die or be stunted in their growth.

See what other things you notice about the pools and their natural patterns- can your little ones come up with a hypothesis why or how something occurs?


1. Safety First. The ocean waves crashing into the lava cliffs housing the pools are unsafe. Don’t try to swim in the area (other than in the larger calm tide pools) and don’t stand too near the edge. Some of the rock cliffs nearby can be unstable. Keep younger and less sure- footed little ones nearby.

2. Solitude seekers should plan ahead. A generous roadside pullout for parking, a common desire to stretch legs midway along the coastal drive, and the relatively short hike down the steep jagged lava encrusted terrain encourages a larger number of visitors. If you are looking for solitude, either go early in the morning or arrive late.

3. Consider Tidal Timing. Come at the right time (NOT during the peak of high or low tide) to experience a cool (if smaller) blowhole that never fails to fascinate young ones.
4. Bring a swimsuit! On weekends you will likely meet other people there, quite a few choosing to take a cool dip in the largest pool.

Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
Waves crash and churn against a jagged volcanic shelf.


5. Snorkel Gear: Although the water can be a bit cloudy, this is a great location for snorkel gear or goggles will allow you to get a better view of the local pool residents.

6. Surefootedness is a plus due to the steep, uneven and sometimes jagged terrain. Good shoes are a plus, although Keen/Teva type shoes are passable with careful foot placement. Flip flops (slippers) not recommended.

7. Get to know the locals: Do your research on intertidal zones and the local Hawaiian residents.  If you have kids (and even if you don’t) taking the time before you head out to get to know the various tide pool species can turn “oh, look, another fish” into an exciting treasure hunt for familiar friends.

8. Guard your stuff! As always at trailheads, please don’t leave visible valuables in the car.

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