Thurston Lava Tube
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is currently recovering from the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano. Much of the park has re-opened, but several areas are still closed. Read more.
Nāhuku is closed.
Round Trip Mileage: 1/3 mile
Elevation Gain: 0’
Nāhuku is a great short diversion while driving along Crater Rim Drive. This isn't much of a hike but more of a short stroll. The lave tube Nāhuku formed 500 years ago. This lava tube is paved and lighted providing a safe and easy way to visit. A lava tube forms when low viscosity lava forms a hard crust that thickens and forms a roof over the still-flowing lava. Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher, discovered Nāhuku in 1913. Nāhuku means “protuberances” in the Hawaiian language.
As of early 2018, the National Parks Service installed a new lighting system in Nāhuku. To allow visitors a more authentic experience, the lights are kept off from 8pm - 10am each day. Visitors must carry their own light sources before 10am and after 8pm when visiting Nāhuku. Headlamps are recommended - cell phone lights will not be sufficient to stay safe.
Trailhead: Find the entrance to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park a few miles to the west of the town of Volcano Village. Pass through the entrance and drive straight ahead for less than 100 feet and turn left onto Crater Rim Drive. Follow Crater Rim drive for a few miles until you reach the large parking area for Kīlauea Iki and Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube). This is a popular area and sometimes fills up quickly. If parking is full, turn around and drive 1/4 mile back toward the Visitor Center and find another overflow parking lot. Nāhuku is busiest from 10am-2pm.
Gear: Standard hiking gear
Hike: From the parking area, walk across the road on the designated pedestrian crosswalk. Find the entrance to the lava tube and walk the 600 foot long cave. Ascend a few stairs and loop back to the parking area through beautiful rainforest.