The ‘Ohe’o Gulch is a natural playground for locals and tourists alike in Hawai’i. It’s situated on land donated to the Haleakalā National Park so that the beautiful tiered pools fed by waterfalls that cascade through the gulch, which were dubbed the “Seven Sacred Pools,” could forever be enjoyed by the public.
Though “Seven Sacred Pools” is an excellent name, there was never anything considered sacred about these waters, and when the hard rains hit, there are more like 20 pools if you include the ones farther up the side of the mountain. (For truly sacred sites, see the heiaus—Hawaiian temples—scattered around the island.) Regardless, the scenery is undoubtedly idyllic, set in a lush valley that, aside from the pools, offers hiking trails, historical sites, and great people-watching.
The Pipiwai Trail, located above the Seven Sacred Pools, is one of the best hikes on Maui. It is four miles round trip, gaining around 800 feet in elevation. It takes two to three hours to hike, depending on how much time you spend taking in the stunning nature. There are several great waterfalls along the route leading up to the final destination at Waimoku Falls, which plunges 400 feet down a sheer lava rock wall.
Know Before You Go
Unfortunately, the pools themselves are closed for swimming indefinitely due to flooding and rockfall, but the trails remain open year-round. The area is always crowded on weekends, and even though the parking lot is large it is often full. Come early to get a spot; camp in the on-site campground or stay in Hana to assure an early arrival. Take Highway 31 south from Hana. The parking lot for all falls and trails is located just past Mile Marker #42 on the ocean side of the road.
A 3-day entry pass to the Haleakalā Kīpahulu district is needed and costs $30 per vehicle, which can also be used at the summit.