Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)
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Phone (808) 464-0840
Address Crater Rim Drive, Volcano, HI 96785
Underground tube carved out by an ancient lava flow.

• General: Educational • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Kid Friendly • Hiking: Length: 0-1 Miles
• Hiking: Level: Easy • Hiking: Nature Walk • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Hiking: Paved • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Sightseeing: Volcano / Lava Flow • Tours: Self Guided

Nahuku, or the Thurston Lava Tube as it's more commonly known, is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and is an actual tube carved out by lava. Although the island has many lava tubes, this is the easiest to access.

It's over 500 years old and was formed by a river of lava that cuts through pretty much anything in its path. As the last of the lava flows through a cave is formed. This tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston and was originally covered in lava stalactites, most of which were taken as souvenirs (because our Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs article didn't exist back then).

From the parking area, you'll walk about 1/3 of a mile through a lush forested area. Look around and you'll probably see several Lehua Blossoms which have some interesting mythology behind them (see Lehua Blossoms And Ohia Trees). Once at Nahuku cave you can enter and take a walk through. It's very much a tourist friendly attraction, complete with lights and a flat rock floor in part of it. Although there may be some spots where you'll need to watch your head, you can pretty much walk easily in here.

Bring a flashlight (or the one on your smartphone) to see all of the cool colors on the rocks in here. Should you choose to go beyond the lighted area you will want a flashlight for sure. The ground also changes and so this is best left for those who don't mind a little bit of a hike for the next 50 yards or so. At the end is an opening that leads to more lush forest.