When one thinks of Hawaii, visions of sun-kissed beaches, cascading waterfalls, and active volcanoes often come to mind. However, another lesser-known attraction that captures the essence of Hawaii’s geothermal wonders is the hot springs in Hawaii and tide pools. While many destinations globally boast traditional hot springs, Hawaii offers a distinctive twist, shaped by its volcanic activities.
These springs and pools are warmed as fresh water from the mountains flows over underground magma, getting heated in the process. By the time this water reaches the gathering points, it cools down to a warm, soothing temperature, rather than the intense heat often associated with typical hot springs.
One remarkable aspect of Hawaii’s geothermal attractions is its transience. The 2018 volcanic eruption of the Kilauea Volcano dramatically altered the landscape, leading to the loss of some of the archipelago’s most cherished warm water springs. Today, only a few remain along the Puna coast, making each visit even more precious. Some of these springs even offer the unique experience of snorkeling in tidal pools warmed by this geothermal activity.
So, as you plan your Hawaiian adventure, ensure you dive deeper than the conventional attractions. Delve into the warm embrace of Hawaii’s unique springs and tide pools, and uncover a side of the islands that many travelers might overlook. With the ever-changing geological activities, there’s no promise these warm springs and tide pools in Hawaii will remain forever. So seize the opportunity while you can!
Are There Hot Springs in Hawaii?
Hawaii, despite being a hotbed of volcanic activity, surprisingly lacks traditional hot springs. But that doesn’t mean it lacks the therapeutic allure that hot springs are known for. On Hawaiian islands, you’ll discover unique warm springs and mineral-rich tide pools, often nestled right at the ocean’s edge, promising a blend of relaxation and tropical beauty.
List of Hawaii Hot Springs
While Hawaii is more renowned for its beaches, waterfalls, and volcanoes, its warm springs offer a tranquil retreat for those in the know. Tragically, many of these geothermal wonders have been claimed by nature’s wrath. As of now, only three warm springs remain, each offering a unique, albeit primitive, soaking experience.
Before 2018, Hawaii was home to four prominent warm springs and tide pools. However, a significant natural disaster led to the loss of some of these cherished sites. For those planning a visit, or simply curious about these geothermal wonders, here’s a concise list of the remaining warm springs in Hawaii:
|Pohoiki Warm Springs||Isaac Hale Beach Park, Puna||Primitive|
|Pools of Oheo||Hana||Primitive|
1. Pohoiki Warm Spring – Isaac Hale Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Nestled within Isaac Hale Beach Park, the Pohoiki Warm Spring stands as a testament to the Big Island’s ever-changing geological wonders. This spring, which is essentially a collapsed lava tube, is warmed from below by volcanic energy. When rainwater seeps into the Earth rather than directly entering the ocean, it gets heated by the underlying magma. As it makes its way back to the surface, the water mingles with the incoming tide, reaching a perfect balmy temperature ideal for bathing.
Within the vicinity of Isaac Hale Beach Park, not only will you find this serene warm spring but also four Natural Ocean Thermal Ponds, each encircled by the shimmering black sands left behind by the 2018 eruption. The sands, while breathtaking, may be ephemeral, with tides possibly washing them away in a few years. This makes the current times even more enticing for both tourists and locals to soak in its distinct beauty.
Bathers should expect water temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 degrees. Though not exactly a ‘hot’ spring, this warm spring still offers a soothing and therapeutic embrace. For safety, it’s recommended to avoid the spring with open wounds, as the warm water can foster bacterial growth.
Nearby Attractions to Visit
- Isaac Hale Beach Park: Located on the Big Island, this newly formed black sand beach is a haven for shoreline fishermen, campers, and picnic-goers.
- MacKenzie State Recreation Area: An ideal spot on the Big Island for camping and picnicking, offering ocean cliff views.
- Lava Tree State Park: A park showcasing the effects of a lava flow that swept through the area, leaving behind lava molds of tree trunks.
- Ha’ena Beach / Shipman Beach via Puna Coastal Trail: A beautiful trail leading to scenic beaches, perfect for an adventurous day out.
- Lava Flow Hike via Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: A trail leading to the magnificent views of lava flows, giving hikers a closer look at Hawaii’s geothermal wonders.
Where to Stay Near Pohoiki Warm Springs?
- Arnott’s Lodge: A renowned lodge on the Big Island, offering comfort and proximity to major attractions.
- Kulanaokuaiki Campground: Located in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, this campground provides a rustic experience amidst nature.
- Nāmakanipaio Campground + Cabins: Also situated in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, offers both camping and cabin facilities for those looking for an immersive nature stay.
How to Get to Pohoiki Warm Springs?
To reach the Pohoiki Warm Springs, begin at the boat ramp within Isaac Hale Beach Park. From there, simply take a short walk down the coastline. Roughly 100 feet inland from the shore, you’ll discover a clearing, and there sits the warm spring, embraced by Hawaii’s lush jungle.
Palm trees provide shade, and the sights and sounds of untouched nature create a rejuvenating backdrop for visitors. Another smaller pool can be found right next to the boat ramp, although its shallower depth and more exposed location offer a different, more open experience.
2. The Seven Sacred Pools (Pool of Oheo) – Kipahulu Maui, Hawaii
Nestled within the boundaries of Haleakala National Park, the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo are truly a unique marvel in East Maui. However, don’t be misled by the name; there are far more than seven pools. These cascading pools, renowned for their beauty, offer visitors a chance to witness nature’s craftsmanship, shaped by millennia of flowing waters. Sadly, as of now, they’re not open for swimming.
While the pools are currently closed for swimming, the surrounding scenery remains undeniably captivating. The park itself encompasses the Kipahulu Valley, stretching from Haleakala’s summit to the breathtaking Oheo Gulch. The gulch, dubbed “Oheo,” translates to “Something Special,” and the title couldn’t be more fitting. Flowing water has crafted these pools, adding to the region’s mystique. Even if you’re unable to take a dip, the sheer beauty of the area makes it well worth a visit.
For current information, please refer to the Haleakalā National Park.
Nearby Attractions to Visit
- Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls: Directly across from the pools, this enchanting trail stretches for four miles, offering hikers a passage through dense bamboo groves, along the Pipiwai Stream, and leading to the grand 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Along the way, hikers can glimpse the Makahiku Falls, a gigantic banyan tree, and even forests abundant with fresh ginger.
- Wailua Falls: A picturesque waterfall that’s easily accessible and perfect for photo opportunities.
- Kipahulu Campground: While many of Maui’s attractions are geared towards day-trippers, this campground offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region overnight.
Where to Stay Near Pools of Oheo?
The primary accommodation option for visitors keen on staying close to the Pools of Oheo is the Kipahulu Campground. Nestled within Haleakala National Park, the campground offers both the serenity of nature and proximity to the pools. It’s worth noting that while the campground is open, reservations are mandatory. For those seeking a more structured accommodation option, nearby Hana town offers a range of hotels and lodges.
How to Get to Pools of Oheo?
The Pools of Oheo are located approximately 30 minutes south of Hana in Haleakala National Park. To reach the destination:
- From Kahului, take Highway 360 (Hana Hwy) and continue 12 miles past the town of Hana.
- Alternatively, take the scenic route from Kahului via Highway 36 to 37 to 31 around the island’s south side. Some portions of this route are unpaved, but the vistas it offers are unparalleled.
For a more precise location, use the Global Positioning System address: Mile Marker 41 Hana Hwy, Hana, HI 96713.
3. Queen’s Bath – Kauai, Hawaii
Tucked away in the beautiful setting of Princeville, Queen’s Bath offers more than just a warm soak; it promises an adventure. This natural tide pool, roughly the size of a spacious swimming pool, is filled with the freshness of the Pacific Ocean and dotted with some small fish. It’s a unique oasis carved out of the lava rocks, refreshed continuously as water spills over the rocks.
However, the serene beauty of Queen’s Bath is not without its risks. While it beckons many with its pristine surroundings, it demands respect and caution. The trail leading to this treasure can be challenging. Uneven rocks, and slippery paths, especially after rain, can pose potential dangers. Its oceanic setting also means that one must be aware of the surf conditions. The biggest threat is the unpredictability of the waves, which can sweep unsuspecting visitors into the vast ocean.
Nearby Attractions to Visit
- Hideaways / Pali Ke Kua Beach: A hidden gem perfect for sunbathing and snorkeling.
- Old Club Med Trail: Dive into the rich history while hiking through the scenic beauty.
- Hanalei Bay Sea Kayak: Paddle your way through the picturesque bay, experiencing Kauai from the water.
- Wyllie’s Beach Trail: A serene trail leading to an equally peaceful beach.
- Hanalei Bay Beach: A pristine shoreline, ideal for a day of relaxation or water sports.
Where to Stay Near Queen’s Bath?
- Anini Beach Park Campground: A natural retreat for campers, offering a serene setting.
- Koke’e State Park Campground: Immerse yourself in nature, away from the hustle.
- Anahola Beach Park Campground: Enjoy the sound of waves as you camp under the stars.
How to Get to Queen’s Bath?
For those venturing from outside Princeville, primarily use the Kuhio Highway. Then, transition onto Ka Haku Road and proceed to Punahele Road. Those visiting should be aware that parking for Queen’s Bath, situated near prominent resorts like the St. Regis Princeville Resort, is limited. Considering the high influx of visitors, it’s often best for those staying in Princeville to walk or bike to the location.
The trail to Queen’s Bath starts at the parking lot, a convenient spot marked clearly. A brief, yet picturesque 10-minute hike, enriched with waterfalls, leads to the lava rock coastline. From there, it’s another short trek to the bath itself. The trail can get particularly slippery post-rains, so visitors are urged to tread with caution. Ensure you reach the authentic Queen’s Bath, often confused with the “Pool of Death,” by recognizing its distinct round shape.
- Parking is limited to 8-10 cars, so arriving early is recommended.
- Ensure your visit aligns with low tide and low surf conditions.
- Engaging with locals can provide valuable insights, especially if you’re considering cliff jumps.
4. Kapoho Tide Pools – Hot Springs on The Big Island of Hawaii (Closed Now)
Tucked away approximately 1.5 miles from the Ahalanui Warm Pond, the Kapoho Tide Pools, also known as the Wai‘ōpae Tide Pools Marine Life Conservation District, once stood as a jewel of the Big Island’s geothermal attractions. Unlike any other, these hot springs on the island uniquely blended the wonders of volcanically heated waters with the vibrant marine ecosystem, offering both snorkeling enthusiasts and relaxation seekers an unparalleled experience.
The name “Kapoho,” translating to “the depression” in Hawaiian, aptly described the landscape adorned with numerous salt-water-filled depressions or tidal pools. These hot ponds on Hawaii island were rejuvenated with fresh water twice daily, thanks to the incoming tides. As a result of lava-heated water seeping into these depressions, the pools provided a warm embrace, allowing visitors to snorkel amidst diverse marine life in heated waters—a truly one-of-a-kind experience in the world of hot springs.
While their beauty and uniqueness made them a sought-after destination, reaching the Kapoho Tide Pools came with its challenges. The pools lay ensconced behind a basalt ridge, somewhat secluded from the main sea, making accessibility slightly arduous. Adding to the primitive charm, the only facilities nearby were portable toilets, and visitors had to traverse half a mile from the parking lot to reach the pools.
Once there, it was crucial to tread lightly, ensuring the fragile corals were left undisturbed. To enhance the experience and protect oneself, wearing reef shoes and staying within the clear, protected waters near the shore was highly recommended.
Alas, the dynamic nature of Hawaii’s landscape meant that some treasures would be ephemeral. In 2018, the Kilauea Volcanic Eruption dramatically reshaped this portion of the Big Island. Fissure 8’s active lava flow obliterated the Kapoho Tide Pools, enveloping its corals, marine life, and the unique ecosystem that had thrived there.
The eruption not only devoured the pools but transformed a two-mile stretch of the island, introducing black sand beaches, small offshore islands, and an evolving coastline. Today, the Kapoho Tide Pools remain a poignant memory, closed to the public, reminding us of nature’s power to create, transform, and reclaim.
Future generations might only hear tales of this mesmerizing spot, but its legacy as a blend of geothermal wonder and marine sanctuary will forever hold a special place in Hawaiian lore.
5. Ahalanui Warm Pond – Millionaires Pond – Ahalanui Park (Closed Now)
Once a beloved spot on the Puna Coast, Ahalanui Park, also known as Pualaa County Park, was a geothermal marvel that captured the hearts of both locals and visitors. Nestled northeast of Pahoa, its main attraction was the Ahalanui geothermal pool. This naturally heated oceanfront gem maintained temperatures around a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit, offering a unique blend of the ocean’s vastness and the earth’s geothermal warmth.
The setup of the Ahalanui pool was a synthesis of nature’s crafting and human modification. With its squared edges, accessible steps, and ladders, it offered a convenient, warm dip.
A distinctive feature was its small inlet, which not only connected it to the ocean, ensuring a regular flush of its waters but also allowed small fish to meander in, enhancing its natural charm. The combination of the pool’s warmth, the gentle crashing of nearby waves, and the serene ambiance created by surrounding coconut palms made it an idyllic relaxation spot.
But nature, in its ever-evolving dynamism, had other plans. In 2018, Kilauea Volcano unleashed one of the most destructive eruptions the U.S. had seen in decades. The tragic sequence began in the Leilani Estates, with fissures opening up along the Lower East Rift Zone. The eighth fissure, initially referred to as Fissure 8, became the eruption’s most formidable agent of change.
By 2021, it was aptly named Ahuailaau by the Hawaii Board of Geographic Names, honoring the “forest-eater” fire god Ailaau. Ahuailaau’s lava streams, while creating geologic wonders, took a grievous toll. They claimed over 700 homes, various landscapes, and, unfortunately, the treasured Ahalanui Park.
However, in the midst of destruction, there was creation. As the molten rock met the ocean, it solidified, forging new coastal landforms. It’s a poignant reminder of the ever-changing nature of our planet, especially evident on the dynamic Island of Hawaii.
While Ahalanui Park may be a memory, the island still harbors geothermal wonders. Just a short distance south, Isaac Hale Beach Park, partly covered by the 2018 lava flows, remains open to visitors. Here, you can experience similar thermal pools and even a newly formed black-sand beach, a direct result of Kilauea’s eruptions.