It’s a tropical vacationer’s dream to bask in the sunlight and soak in the warm mineral waters of Hawaii. The archipelago’s natural pools and ponds are spring-fed and tide-created, gleaning warmth from superheated underground magma rock, steam, and abundant sunlight. Most of these hot springs also boast views of tropical jungles or oceanic horizons. When you stay at one of many incredible Hawaii vacation rentals, you’re just a boardwalk away from renowned international cuisine, retail therapy, vibrant nightlife, and relaxing spas. Here are the five best destinations to consider when planning your getaway in Hawaii.
1. Ahalanui Warm Springs, Puna Coast, Hawaii
Ahalanui is a pond located inside a park of the same name, sometimes called the “Millionaires Pond.” The pond runs warm to hot, averaging about 92 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. It’s a popular spot for locals, tourists, and families. Weekends are typically very busy, and locals suggest weekday mornings to beat crowds. Luckily, The pond has wonderful tropical ambiance, sitting in the middle of an expansive cluster of tropical flora and fauna, with landscaped paths flanking its perimeter. There are showers and toilets, and a picnic area for chilling and noshing.
2. Pohoiki Warm Spring, Puna Coast, Hawaii
Located inside the Isaac Hale Beach Park, Pohoiki refers to a swim spot, surf area, and boat ramp. The warm spring is roughly 100 feet from the bay shore, seducing potential bathers with its jungled environs and palm tree-shaded background. Locals also call this spring the Pohoiki Hot Pond, perhaps because the pond itself is a collapsed lava tube. Depending on the time of year and day, the water may very well be lukewarm-to-warm, safe, pleasant, and soothing. Like most of Hawaii’s coastal ponds and pools, the incoming tide mixes with the heated water, cooling it. Pohoiki water temperatures are at their highest in late summer or early fall, peaking at 82 degrees Fahrenheit around mid-September.
3. Kapoho Tide Pools Marine Life Conservation District
About 1.5 miles north of Ahalanui are the Kapoho Tide Pools. The pools are right on the ocean, on the Puna coast. The views are staggering, and locals flock to these pools for soaking, swimming, snorkeling, and wildlife watching. A large basalt ridge protects them from crashing waves, and the pools fill twice daily with fresh water, thanks to the tides. Warm water from lava rocks seeps into the pools, keeping them in the Goldilocks zone of 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer and 76 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of winter.
The Kapoho Tide Pools are a breeding ground for coral, which attracts sea turtles and exotic marine life. These wildlife neighbors are part of Kapoho’s charm. However, owing to Kapoho’s biodiversity, it’s advisable not to take the waters if you have open sores or cuts.
Points of Interest: Ahalanui, Pohoiki, and Kapoho are only the well known warm-to-hot spring-fed ponds and tide pools on the Puna Coast. There are many more worth discovering, known only to the locals. Ask around, and see what residents say. The entire Puna Coast is riddled with geothermal baths heated by Kilauea’s steam. A 12-mile stream of beaches stretches up the Puna Coast, with tide pools that are naturally warm during the hot seasons.
4. Pools of Oheo, Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
The Pools of Oheo are Hawaii’s greatest “faux springs.” They’re in what is called the Oheo Gulch, on the lower slopes of Haleakala, a dormant volcano. There are seven pools in a naturally cascading arrangement evocative of tiered tubs. They fill constantly, replenished with fresh river water. The pools’ underlying rock formations are igneous, which retain the sun’s warmth even through the night. The surrounding area is worth a gander even if you don’t want to soak, situated at the end of Pipiwai Trail, in the vicinity of a 400-foot waterfall, Waimoku, and dense tropical forest.
Haleakala National Park has admissions fees per car, so bring some currency with you. Trivia: Legend holds that a local hotelier christened the pools “The Seven Sacred Pools” for marketing purposes. The ploy was effective, and the pools appear in guidebooks under this name to this day.
5. Queen’s Bath, Princeville, Kauai
Unlike the other items on this list, Queen’s Bath is the jewel of Kauai, which is a short ride from Hawaii (Big Island) by inter-island plane. The bath is essentially a tide pool. It is the result of a collapsed lava tube and is roughly the size of a large swimming pool. Its remote location on the north side of Kauai means it draws small crowds of die-hard fans. Winter time at Queen’s Bath is a bit tricky; the surf is usually very hard and high. Late spring and summer are the best times, according to locals.
Incoming tides keep the water in Queen’s Bath crisp and fresh, and tides also deposit tropical fish into the bath that swim in and around frolicking guests. Like the Seven Sacred Pools, the shell of Queen’s Bath is igneous rock that traps heat from sunlight. As a result, the waters are usually about 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. Queen’s Bath and the beach flanking it enjoy a clear view of the Pacific and neighboring Hawaiian islands, and the rocky perimeter offers places to sit, take selfies, and enjoy the panorama.
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