by Nancy Bestor
If you’re looking for a great spot to relax on a beautiful beach with fantastic weather, it’s really hard to beat Maui. (Shocking, I know!) We’re just back from a week-long family spring vacation there, where we had a sunny and peaceful break from school and work. Most days we got up and after an early breakfast would slowly motivate ourselves to pack up for the beach, where we’d relax in the sun and shade and read books, with an occasional foray into the clear ocean waters for some snorkeling.
We did, however, manage a little exploring of the west side of the island while visiting. And I can’t speak highly enough of our two favorite spots (“discovered” thanks to the guidebook Maui Revealed, the best guidebook series for Hawaii hands down). The first spot, the Nakalele Blowhole, is along Highway 30 and about 10 miles north of our rented condo in Napili. When the tide is high, the Nakalele Blowhole shoots water as high as 70 feet into the air through a very large hole in the lava. Luckily we timed our visit just right, and were delighted to watch the blowhole spout every 30 seconds or so. The ocean is a powerful force, (apparently someone died here in 2011, after getting too close and falling in) and the blowhole is a great example. The hike down from the road only takes a few minutes. And while it is short, it is also steep and a bit of a scramble in some spots. But you can watch the whole show from higher up if you don’t want to make the trek all the way down. If you’re capable and willing however, seeing the Nakalele Blowhole at eye level is really worth it. This spot is not to be missed.
Just five miles or so further along Highway 30 is another breathtaking locale that we also learned about from Maui Revealed, the Olivine Pools. This beautiful location boasts several ocean-side lava bed tide pools that are excellent for swimming, wading and exploring. The pools are on a small lava point that juts into the water. And while the ocean roars and heaves all around, the lava formed perfectly to keep the surf from crashing in too dangerously—at least when we were there.
The main pool is furthest out on the point and is filled with fish. Measuring about 20’ x 10’ and a dozen feet deep, this pool is big enough launch a cannon ball into. Others are excellent for wading or just sitting and relaxing in. The crystal clear water affords great views of sea life, with lots of fish and other ocean creatures swimming and living happily (I’m pretty sure I saw some smiling). This is the second time we have visited the Olivine Pools, and both times there were less than 10 other people at this fabulous spot. Again, this is another beautiful natural wonder that you shouldn’t miss if you are in west Maui. A visit to the Olivine Pools requires another short steep hike down from the road, but trust me, you will not be sorry.
We managed one other hike while on the island, once again recommended by Maui Revealed. The Kapalua Coastal Trail hike, while only two miles, features extravagant condos and homes on one side, and the beautiful and rugged ocean on the other. This is a great easy hike, with lots of spots to stop for further exploring. Dragon’s Teeth formations (jagged points of lava) dot the landscape, and beautiful and clear tide-pools abound. Some pools are deep enough for a dip if you get hot. The hike ends at Namalu Bay, where young teens and twenty-somethings are often cliff jumping. Another tourist expressed my feelings perfectly, while watching the kids jump. “In my 20’s, I would have been right there cliff jumping. In my 40’s, I’m happy to watch from right here.” I couldn’t have said it better.