Hawaii Volcano Park – Part 1 – Nāhuku Thurston Lava Tube

Having been in Hawaii for almost two weeks, it’s inevitable to hear about volcanoes everywhere you go. From Diamond Head in Oahu to Mauna Kea on the Big Island just the previous day. We’ve learned quite a bit about volcanoes and seen several dormant volcanoes but Volcano Park is a little different; this is where you can see an active volcano.

Big Island – Day 5 – Part 2 (Volcano Park part 1 of 3)

Located in the south eastern coast of the Big Island and about an hour (or more) drive away Hilo and Kona, Volcano Park can be a day trip. And there is plenty to do at the Volcano Park for a whole day, it just depends on how much time you really have and of course your interests. After visiting the Visitors Center, we decided on our itinerary for the afternoon: Thurston Lava Tube, Chain of Craters Road, and then the Jagger Museum.

Nāhuku – Thurston Lava Tube


A lava tube is pretty much a tube (that varies in sizes) that were formed from large amounts of lava flow. This is the second lava tube I’ve been to, and this was honestly was not much compared to the Manjang-gul Lava Tube in Jeju South Korea. The small section of the Thurston Lava Tube we walked through would have been a little more interesting if I’d never been to the lava tube in South Korea.

From the Visitors Center, the Thurston Lava Tube is a five minute drive. There is some parking, but there are quite a few cars and tour buses in the little lot. And I guess it all comes down to timing, cause when we got there a tour group had just arrived and we ended up following a big group of people down a somewhat steep switch back trail to the entrance of the Lava Tube.

We stayed near the entrance waiting for everyone to take pictures and enter the Lava Tube, so that we can get a few shots too. The entrance kind of looks like something from a rain forest with trees framing the entrance of the Lava Tube (cave like) entrance.



Finally at the entrance all by ourselves

The entrance has a small boardwalk path with metal railings that leads you inside. And by the time we were finished taking pictures at the entrance, most of the people we were following had already finished walking through the lava tube. With just the four of in the lava tube, we just enjoyed our little stroll. It’s not paved inside though. Much like the lava tube in South Korea the path inside is a not very smooth, so be careful. I remember seeing a few puddles inside as well.



You don’t really need to worry about bringing a flash light or anything, the lava tube is relatively well lit (but still not easy to get good pictures). As we walked through you can literally see the tube/tunnel the lava created. It kind of reminds me of a gold mine just with out all of the wood supports etc.

It was a surprisingly short walk through the lava tube. It is not a straight tube/tunnel so you can’t really see the end at the end of the tunnel when you first enter making it feel somewhat adventurous.


140902d_ThurstonLavaTube2851I actually really liked the view of the Thurston Lava Tube from the exit more then the entrance. As we walked up the small flight of stairs at the end, I turned around to a cave lit up from the yellow lighting.

As as we walked out of the lava tube, we stepped back out into the forest. From there is was little walk looping us up to the parking lot. The lava tube really wasn’t much but sure was a refreshing place to be compared to the rest of the Volcano Park.




  1. The caves look very scary!

  2. It wasn’t very scary at all! We were not in the dark for a very long time, it’s actually a pretty short tunnel.

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