Nāhuku - Thurston Lava Tube
Crater Rim Drive Tour - Stop #6
As you drive the 1/2 mile from the Kīlauea Iki Overlook, the forest becomes increasingly lush. Soon you arrive at the Thurston Lava Tube.
A 20 minute 1/3 mile walk through a tree fern forest and lighted prehistoric cavelike lava tube awaits you. This is an excellent place to stop and listen to the birds. Watch carefully and you may see the red apapane feeding among the equally red ohi'a blossoms.
This lava tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher. At that time the roof of the tube was covered with lava stalactites, but those soon disappeared to souvenir collectors.
As you walk through the tube consider that several hundred years ago a river of red lava rushed through. And that lava currently travels from Pu'u O'o to the ocean in a labyrinth of lava tubes much like the tube you are walking through. Watch your head in the tube - there are some spots with a low ceiling!
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.