Nāhuku - Thurston Lava Tube

Crater Rim Drive Tour - Stop #6


September 18, 2017 - The lights are back on in the lava tube!

Family visiting lava tube equipped with headlights
Equipped With Headlights Ready to Explore the Lava Tube - the lights are back on now

NPS Photo / Janice Wei

Lava Tube Interior With Lights
Lava Tube Interior With Lights On

NPS Photo

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 known as Nāhuku.

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. Watch your head in the tube - there are some spots with a low ceiling!

Last updated: January 17, 2018

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