Thurston Lava Tube

Useful Information

Image: the entrace of the lava tube is a collapsed part of the roof.
Location: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawai'i (Big Island), 160km from Kailua-Kona and 48km from Hilo.
Open: Park: 24 hours a day all year.
Kilauea Visitor Center: daily 7:45-17:00.
Jaggar Museum: daily 8:30-17:00.
Fee: Entrance to the park (a seven-day permit) is $10.00 per vehicle, $5.00 for pedestrians or bicyclists.
Classification: Lava tube.
Address: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052
Park Headquarters/Visitor Information Tel: +1-808-985-6000 (daily, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time), Fax: +1-808-967-8186 (24 hours)
Eruption Information Message (24 hours) +1-808-985-6000
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1913 discovered by Lorrin A. Thurston, a local newspaper publisher and conservationist.
1987 included into UNESCO world heritage list.


Image: the cave is the only lava tube with electric light on the Hawai'ian islands.

Thurston Lava Tube is located in Volcano National Park on Big Island, Hawai'i. It is the only show cave amongst the numerous lava tubes on the Hawai'ian islands. It is one of numerous sights of the Park, and like the other sights it can be visited all day without restrictions on a self guided tour.

The park also has several active volcanoes. An eruption which continued for decades reached a state, where the lava flow built its own tunnel, which is still filled with lava. The lava flows underground and reappears after several kilometers at the sea.

Bild: the dark basaltic rocks of the cave walls are covered by white ashes.

Thurston Lava Tube reached the next stage of its development. The eruption ended, the lava left the tube and it cooled down. Today its rather cool and moisty inside, as the area above the cave is covered by rain forest. The roots of trees and other plants go through the roof of the cave and hang down from the ceiling.

Thurston Lava Tube is entered through a collapsed part of the roof. The cave is obviously a single passage, nearly round and of nearly constant diameter. It winds uphill with about 2%. The exit is another, much smaller, collapsed part of the roof.

Thurston Lava Tube is pretty short, 150m is not much compared to other lava tubes with tens or hundreds of kilometers. On the other hand, lava tubes are very uniform, so you can see most typical features of this type of caves in Thurston Lava Tube very well.