My husband and I love to travel, and Hawaii is one of our favorite destinations. We have been to Maui, Lanai and Oahu; Oahu is by far our favorite island. Oahu has a vast variety of things to do, such as hiking Diamond Head, shopping and enjoying nightlife in Waikiki with restaurants serving food of all cultures, visiting the Polynesian Cultural center, going to Luaus, and watching the surfers on the north shore.
The local people are friendly and ready to answer any questions you may have about the history of the island, and most local Hawaiians are very knowledgeable about their culture. More than one trip to Oahu is necessary in order to really enjoy everything the island has to offer.
Recently our family has been dealing with loss of loved ones and we decided we needed to take a break to heal and relax, so we decided to take our two teenage daughters to Maui. We know that Maui is one of the quieter islands, and we felt that was just what we needed. When we arrived in Maui, we rented a car and drove twenty five minutes to the southwest shore of Maui to check into the Grand Wailea Resort in the town of Wailea. The resort is nestled on the shore, and our room had an amazing view of the pool and the beach and the ocean just beyond. The room was a spacious suite with a bedroom, living room, large bathroom, and two balconies. The cost was reasonable as we stayed there off season, in January. The weather was a perfect 85 degrees and we couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. We enjoyed a couple of days on the beach and a couple of days shopping and browsing the many art museums in the town of Lahaina. On the fourth day of our trip, the girls were getting bored and wanted to do something different. So we drove up to a vista point between Wailea and Lahaina and watched the migrating whales swimming a few hundred yards away from shore. As we were enjoying the scenery, we began talking with a local woman who told us that we would regret it if we did not take the Road to Hana and visit the Seven Sacred Pools (hike to and then swim). The Seven Sacred Pools are seven bodies of water and seven waterfalls spilling water into each of the pools. The real name is Ohe’O Gulch, but was nicknamed The Seven Sacred Pools by the owner of the Hotel Hana Maui.
My teenage girls are not fans long car rides, and the Road to Hana is said to be difficult and long. But we decided we would give it a try. We first wanted to drive to the top of Haleakala, which is the largest dormant volcano in the world. If we decided to drive to Haleakala and then take the Road to Hana in one day, we were told we would have to drive Highway 31 to connect to Hana Highway, which is essentially the back way to Hana, and the road less traveled. Once we had enjoyed our time at the Seven Sacred Pools, we could take Hana Highway back down to Wailea, which is a much easier drive. We were not sure how well our teenage daughters would fare in the long car ride, but we decided to give it a try.
Haleakala & the Road to Hanna
We got into the car right after breakfast the following day, and begun our trek on the Road to Hana. We were all very excited, but I was still a little bit leery of the amount of time we would be spending in the car with two teenage girls. To my surprise, my teenage girls were thoroughly enjoying themselves and the beautiful ride! We first drove up the mountain to the top of Haleakala. The drive was very interesting and changed from dense foliage at the bottom of the mountain to bare landscape full of volcanic rock as we neared the top. My daughters joked that they thought it looked like we were on Mars. When we parked at the top of the crater, we were at 10,023’ elevation. When we got out of our car, we were hit with a bone chilling wind. The temperatures normally top out in the high 40’s on a warm day, so you can imagine how cold we were in our shorts and t-shirts. We rushed to the lookout and took several pictures. We were impressed with the vast and barren crater. It was amazing, and like my daughters said, it looked just like we were on Mars. We left Haleakala in awe and were ready to begin the drive to the Seven Sacred Pools, on the back Road to Hana.
As we drove, we stopped at little charming local shops to get drinks and snacks, and stopped many times on the side of the road to take pictures of the gorgeous views of the ocean and mountains. The scenery constantly changes from dessert, to mountains, to ocean views, to farmlands, and you are never sure what will be around the next corner.
As beautiful as the Road to Hana is, at times it can be quite scary. The road is very narrow in places, and you have to pull as close to the side as possible to let cars pass. As the road is narrow, it is also along cliffs sloping down on one side or both at times. We stopped a couple of times and looked over the cliffs to find old cars that had gone off the side of the road at one time. We definitely had to be careful on this drive.
The Seven Sacred Pools
As we entered our third hour of driving to Hana, we started to tire of being on the road. Just when we thought we would never reach our destination; there was a sign for the Haleakala National Park, which has the hiking trails to the Seven Sacred Pools.
We excitedly pulled into the parking lot, paid our $7.00 fee for parking, and pulled into a spot. We already had our swimsuits on underneath our clothing, and were excited to begin our hike. We pulled on our backpacks and started our walk. We were initially planning on hiking two miles to the top pool, but the trail was closed due to muddy conditions. Although we were disappointed, we followed the other tourists to the bottom three pools. To our surprise, the three bottom pools were more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. It is one thing to see them in a postcard, but it is another thing to be able to stand in front of them and really see them, and breathe in the cool fresh air that you can only get in such a place. These beautiful pools are formed by volcanic rock, and each pool has a waterfall flowing into them from the pool above. The pools are surrounded by dense foliage and reminded me of a Disney movie. And if you turned around toward the ocean, you could see the very bottom pool dumping water into the ocean via the last waterfall. I couldn’t wait to jump in. I looked at my two daughters and could see the same expression of awe, wonder and excitement in their faces. When I looked at my husband, I saw pure relaxation and happiness, which I had not seen in some time. Standing in this amazing and beautiful place with my husband and children was exactly what I needed. I knew I would never forget this day in my whole life.
We hurriedly hiked up to pool number two, stripped down to our bathing suits and as quickly as we could, made our way into the pool. The pools are surrounded by many river rocks as well as volcanic rocks, so it takes a little time to make your way to the edge of the water. The rocks are very slippery and you have to really be careful to stay balanced and keep your footing. Once we made it to the edge of the water, we jumped in. The water was cold and refreshing. It was a beautiful 80 degrees and the water was perfect. We swam around the pool, as we watched others climb up the volcanic rocks to pool number 3 to jump into the pool from above. Then my girls were asking to do it too. My husband was the first to be brave enough to begin the climb, and as he was halfway up, he decided it would be unsafe for our girls to go too high. So to be an example of how high they were allowed to climb up the volcanic wall of rocks, he turned around halfway up and jumped into the pool. My daughters both excitedly followed suit, and did the same as my husband. I followed the girls and was the last to jump in. Over and over again, we climbed the volcanic wall halfway to the third pool and jumped into the water of the second pool. We must have spent at least three hours just climbing, jumping, swimming and laughing. There were a lot of other people there doing the same thing we were doing, but we hardly noticed them, but everyone seemed to be having a great time.
After a few hours, the sun began to set and at we began to get cold. So we climbed out of the pool, took lots of pictures with our cameras and then got dressed and began the walk back to our car. I let my family walk ahead of me on the way out of the pool area, just so I could watch them walking away while they were talking and laughing about their experience in the pools. What a magical day we had had.
The Ending of a Wonderful Day
We made our way to the car and got into the car to leave. We were tired and happy, but we had a long drive ahead of us to get back down to our hotel. We took the Hana Highway back to the hotel, and thankfully the whole road was a two lane road in which we did not have to pull over for anyone to pass. As we made our way down the hill, we passed at least 30 waterfalls along the side of the road. We sat back and enjoyed the drive and it took much less time than the drive up there on the back road. We got back to our hotel, ate some dinner and passed out for the night. We were exhausted and extremely content.
We spent the next two days relaxing on the beach, but we couldn’t seem to stop talking about the drive to Hana and the amazing time we had swimming in the sacred pools. These pools definitely seem sacred and I believe they have healing powers for the soul. We came back to California from Maui three days after visiting the seven sacred pools, and we have been transformed. We knew that our family would benefit from a trip to beautiful Hawaii, but we never imagined how much. Sometimes teenagers drift away from their parents because that’s just what teenagers do, but since we have come back from our trip to Hawaii, we have been closer than ever. We all remember the magic of that day, and how being in such an amazing place helped us to emotionally heal from losses and tragedies.
If you ever have the chance, I recommend a trip to Maui, a drive on the Road to Hana, and a visit to the Seven Sacred Pools. You won’t regret it!