Despite being an archipelago created from volcanic activity, which is still present in the region today, Hawaii does not feature the variety of hot springs you would expect from the paradisical destination in the Pacific Ocean. With that said, Hawaii’s volcanic field is still active and continues to change the island chain’s landscapes.
As of today, there are only three known hot springs in Hawaii. Although, that number was more than doubled by springs that volcanic eruptions have since covered less than a decade ago.
On average, the Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes tend to erupt every two or three years. In these processes, the volcanoes alter the landscapes of their respective islands and can create or destroy hot springs and tidal pools.
One such instance is the 2018 eruption of Kilauea, which covered at least three of the hot springs along the Big Island’s shores.
The three thermal pools that remain in existence each offer a unique experience for visitors. And while they may not experience temperatures as warm as traditional hot springs in other states, with the warmest Hawaiian spring only reaching a high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermal pools of The Aloha State are some of the most idyllic and best preserved in the world.
From majestic tiered hot spring waterfalls to tidal baths on the islands’ picturesque coasts, this is everything you need to know about Hot Springs in Hawaii before visiting paradise.
Hawaii Hot Spring Regions
Of Hawaii’s eight major islands, only three are known to have a natural hot spring. The Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai offers three unique thermal pool experiences and a great diversity of other natural attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Hot Springs on the Big Island
Once home to four hot springs as recently as five years ago, the Big Island of Hawaii’s thermal pool selection was devasted in 2018 with the eruption of Kilauea.
Covering much of the island’s southern shores, the Ahalanui Warm Ponds, Kapoho Tide Pools, and the Sacred Source Hot Springs Resort were all destroyed by lava, leaving only one hot spring on the island.
- Pohoiki Bay Hot Spring (Primitive Warm Springs)
Hot Springs on Maui
Known for its intrepid landscape and picturesque corners of nature, Maui is a favorite Hawaiian island among adventure seekers and features one of the most impressive displays of a natural hot spring in the world.
Located in Haleakala National Park on the island’s southeastern shores, the Pools of Ohe’o are a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
- Pools of Ohe’o (Primitive Warm Springs)
Hot Springs in Kauai
Like many Hawaiian islands, Kauai is known for its dramatic and beautiful landscapes, which include Waimea Canyon, the Coconut Coast, and Hanalei Bay. However, equally as beautiful as these celebrated sites is the lesser-known warm tidal pool that occupies its northern shores.
- Queen’s Bath (Tidal Pool)
The Most Popular Hot Springs in Hawaii
Pohoiki Hot Springs
The last remaining hot spring on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Pohoiki Hot Spring, is protected as part of the Isaac Hale Park and is located along the region’s southern shores. However, these beautiful springs also experienced significant change during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea.
Following the disaster, the beach leading to the springs was covered in volcanic rock, making it Hawaii’s newest black sand beach and enhancing the natural views provided by the thermal pools.
Luckily, the springs survived the eruption that destroyed its nearby neighbors, and visitors can still enjoy the warm waters initially formed by a sinkhole that occurred when a lava tube beneath the earth collapsed.
The pool itself is fed from natural rainwaters that have percolated through the island’s volcanic rock, deep into the earth’s crust. As the water approaches the planet’s molten core, it heats up and rapidly reascends to the surface, which is then distributed into the hot springs.
The result is a majestic mineral-rich spring with water temperatures ranging from 80 degrees to 107 degrees depending on ocean temperatures and the time of day throughout the year.
Pools of Ohe’o
Also called the Seven Sacred Pools, the Pools of Ohe’o are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring tiered waterfall springs in the world and cap off the myriad of natural wonders found on Maui.
Only 15 minutes from the community of Hana, the Pools of Ohe’o are a popular stop along the romanticized Road to Hana. They are a fantastic cooling-off point for longer adventures in the picturesque landscapes of Haleakala National Park.
Formed over millennia by an enchanting rainforest stream, the Seven Sacred Pools are idyllically accentuated by the surrounding forest. They feature a series of plunging waterfalls that enrich the air with the spring’s mineral-rich waters.
Numerous hiking trails lead throughout the national park and feature several smaller springs. However, the Pools of Ohe’o themselves lay at the very edge of the park on Maui’s southern shores. The springs offer panoramic views of the island’s tranquil waterfalls, rainforest, and the ocean’s crashing waves.
In an archipelago known for its natural beauty, Kauai stands above the rest and is officially known as the ‘Garden Isle.’
Along with numerous waterfalls, wildlife refuges, and Waimea Canyon, the Queen’s Bath near Princeville is one of the most idyllic natural attractions peaking the list of beautifully preserved sites on the island.
Tucked away in a difficult-to-reach location along the island’s northern shore, the Queen’s Bath is a crystal-clear tidal pool formed from a sinkhole and covered in igneous rock formations. Situated directly next to the crashing ocean, the tidal pool is filled with transparent waters teeming with sea life, including urchins, angelfish, and ghost fish.
Due to its out-of-the-way location near the crashing waves of the island’s coast, visitors to Queen’s Bath are warned to take precautions to maintain safety. Still, the sheer beauty of the destination is well worth the daring trek required to reach it.
Types of Hot Springs in Hawaii
While the hot springs in Hawaii are few, the last remaining examples of these natural pools are unique and offer severely diverse experiences. The islands’ current selection of hot springs can be classified as one of two varieties of thermal pools.
Primitive Warm Springs
Hawaii’s primitive warm springs are the state’s most traditional form of hot spring and are located in some of the state’s most beautifully preserved regions, featuring plenty of natural foliage and wildlife.
These springs have been formed over millions of years through different geological processes and are often some of the islands’ most popular attractions. Tucked away in isolated locations, these rustic springs feature plenty of outdoor adventures, including intrepid hikes through the region’s mountainous landscapes.
Luckily these awe-inspiring springs are filled with mineral-rich waters renowned for their soothing properties, rewarding calm relaxing dips after a rigorous exploration of the region’s surrounding wonders.
Beyond the islands’ extensive natural pools, the only other hot springs in Hawaii are located along its beautiful shores. While not a traditional hot spring, Hawaii’s tidal pools are filled with some of the state’s most tranquil waters while offering breathtaking views of the archipelago.
Despite boasting warm waters reflective of a thermal spring, tidal pools aren’t considered a real hot spring since their water source does not come from the geothermal processes beneath the earth.
Instead, thermal pools are formed from geological processes that create natural pool crevices near the islands’ shores. As the tide goes in and out, the ocean fills these crevices with water, which becomes warm as the sun heats the volcanic rock around it.
The result of these processes is natural warm pools of ocean water that reflect hot spring temperatures but lack the natural springs’ mineral concentration and geothermal water source.
Since tidal pools depend on their physical shape and location for the warming and housing of their waters, they are also the most susceptible thermal baths to be either created or destroyed by Hawaii’s volcanic eruptions.