Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

Phone (808) 464-0840
4 stars from 5 reviews
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

Full Description
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.

Lori H
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 234
Likes Received: 4
The Thurston Lava Tube is such a neat thing to see and the best place to take a picture of it is right at the entrance. Wear shoes when walking through the lava tube because of the uneven areas and pools of water that collect at the bottom of the tube when it rains. There are some dim lights in the tube so it's good if you have light on your phone or a small flashlight. Be careful when looking around this amazing tube because there are some low areas in there.
Nicole L
Joined: Aug 2017
Reviews: 30
Likes Received: 0
1.5 rating due to there was nothing to see until you gotten out of the tube. It was 100% dark inside the cave as there was no lighting when we went in June, 2017. If you want to stretch your legs or get a very quick work out, this is the place to go to.
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 237
Likes Received: 33
We were on our first trip to the Big Island. Very easy to get around for all ages and walking capabilities. Very beautiful and too cool to think that we are walking were lava actually was. There were signs throughout the park that were very interesting too. I Would highly suggest doing this.
Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
An essential stop while visiting Volcanoes National Park. There is a lush tropical path that leads to the tube entrance, which is well let with orangish lighting. On a hot day, this is the one activity that you can do to cool off. Good spot to take kids, even though they won't appreciate what a geologic wonder it is. In fact. I had to remind myself that this isn't a man-made tunnel.

On my last 2 trips to Volcanoes, the parking area was packed. Had to wait in a queue to get a spot.
Consensus Guy
Joined: Jul 2013
Reviews: 11148
Likes Received: 27
The Thurston Lava Tube has an overall 4.5 star average rating from hundreds of reviews.
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