Caves within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are predominately lava tubes, although there are other types of subterranean voids including sea caves, earth cracks, pit craters, volcanic vents, rift magma chambers, caves caused by inflation of lava sheets, and tree casts. Associated with many of these features are sensitive resources that include invertebrates, cultural remains, paleontological deposits, and unusual geologic formations. Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube) is open every day to the public.
Due to the sensitive and fragile nature of cave resources all other caves within the Park are closed to the general public as well as Park staff not involved in the direct management of the caves. Approved research permits are required for those interested in doing research in caves as well as for interpretive or educational purposes.
Did You Know?
Large volumes of lava move in lava tubes beneath the hardened surface of recent flows. Skylights form when the roof of a lava tube collapses, revealing the molten lava flowing like a river within the tube.