Exploring Lava Tubes on the Big Island

There are many lava tubes scattered throughout the Big Island of Hawaii. Make sure you explore one the next time you visit.

The Kilauea volcano has been oozing red lava for more than 20 years. Under the surface of this volcano run huge caverns of the hot red liquid.

Take a drive to the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Volcano National Park. When you get to the ocean, you will see the huge cloud of gasses hitting the water. It's a mind-blowing sight!

As lava begins to flow to the ocean, it is on the top of the earth. This crusts over very quickly, creating a hard layer. The lava under the surface has created itself a tube. When the flow stops in the tube from above, the lava continues to seep out, leaving a cave-like tube. These tubes can be found all over the Big Island.

You can walk through the Thurston Lava Tube in the park. They have it well lighted and paved. This is an easy hike starting with a paved trail with a steep walk into the rain forest. The path is a 600 foot winding passage that only takes about 10 minutes. Informational signs are posted along the trail describing the plants and animals that you will see on this short hike.

There is another tube in the park called the Pua Poo Lava Tube. Only 12 visitors a week are allowed in. It's delicate and beautiful formations are still untouched. Guided tours are available by a park ranger. At one point, while on your tour, the ranger will ask you to turn off all lights. It is pitch-black in the tube. He will tell you the Hawaiian's used bury their dead, hide from enemies, used it for shelter, and gathered water from these caves. There are organisms that live without color or sight, due to the darkness of the caves.

This tour of the Pua Poo Lava Tube is every Wednesday and also offers a 4 mile hike through a rain forest. Call the office at least a week in advance for this once in a lifetime tour (808-985-6017).

This tour is called the Wild Lava Tube Tour. They provide helmet lights. Be prepared to hike on or around large boulders that have fallen on the floor from the roof, over the years. If you are claustrophobic, do not attempt this tour!

When the tour is finished, they ask you not to disclose its location. They don't want scavengers to ruin the pristine beauty of the tube.

Make sure you visit a lava tube the next time you are on the Big Island of Hawaii!

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