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Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)
Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 1 Crater Rim Dr, Volcano, HI, 96178

The Basics

The Thurston Lava Tube, also known as Nahuku, is one of several points of interest located along the park’s Crater Rim Drive. From the parking area, a 15- to 20-minute walk leads down through a fern forest to the cave-like tube. The tube features on just about every guided tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as circle island and volcano-themed tours of the Big Island.

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Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
Great Tour
Kamal_R, Nov 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
Jill was our tour guide and did an excellent job. We had a fun, educational, interesting tour. Hilo is beautiful. Would definitely do this again.
star-5
Great tour
Jona_H, Oct 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
Josh was so funny and knowledgable about all the sites we visited. My favorite was the lava fields, but the whole tour was great.
star-5
Mauka Makai Adventures Tour
Reginald_L, Aug 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
Thanks to Josh with Mauka Makai Adventures for a fantastic tour. Josh is a born and raised local of Hilo, and his knowledge and great stories made this tour special. He makes you feel like family! Check him out on maukamakaiadventures.com Mahalo lui noa to Josh and Jill!
star-5
Mauka Makai Adventures Tour
reglang2019, Aug 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
We absolutely loved our Volcano, and Black Sand Beach tour. Josh with Mauka Makai Adventures made is really special. Josh was born and raised in Hilo, and his knowledge and great stories made this trip one to remember. Check them out on maukamakaiadventures.com Thanks again Josh & Jill! Mahalo! You guys rock!
star-5
Best Excursion Of Our Whole Trip!
Janis_K, May 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
This was hands down, our best day on our week long cruise. Josh is so great, personable and knowledgeable. He wasn't in a hurry at any stop. He gave everyone as much time as they wanted to explore each area while filling us in on important information about each spot. Lunch was great, much better than I expected. Not just a plain turkey sandwich but a nice deli made one. If you are thinking about this excursion, I would encourage you to just do it. You won't be disappointed!
star-5
Great excursion!
NeeNee21, Oct 2018
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
This covered a lot in Hilo. We went to the Volcano National Park which was breathtaking. Then on to the Lava tubes which was unbelievable. Josh our guide made sure we had head lamps on as it is pitch black inside of these tubes. He made sure everyone was comfortable based on their physical limitations. We stopped at the Big Island Chocolate store which was delicious. Then onto the Black Sand beach which the size of the beach was a little disappointing but we did get to see 4 sea turtles on the rocks.
star-5
Great Tour, absolutely recommended. Tour guide was awesome.
Larry_B, Mar 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Active Volcano, Lava Tube, Waterfall and Gardens
Our group was large and we had our own bus and guide (12 of us). We did get up to the crater (National Park) park which had many trails closed due to past volcanic activity but I still recommend the trip to see the trails that were open. Our guide was very informative and walked with us several miles to see key features of the crater (steam and sulfur vents, crater etc). Thereafter we actually agreed to modify our trip because we had all by that time seen black sand already. Tour guide accommodated and added a visit to some of the more recent but inactive lava flows and fissures, specifically flows from fissure #8. Unbelievable to see it in person and will change your perspective forever. Highly recommended!!

Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Thurston Lava Tube is a must-visit for first-time park visitors and anyone with an interest in volcanology.

  • Watch your head: There are some low spots within the 600-foot (183-meter) tube.

  • Bring a flashlight to take a closer look at some of the cave’s natural features.

  • Be sure to wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.

  • The Thurston Lava Tube is not wheelchair accessible, though there are accessible restrooms in the parking area.

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How to Get There

The easiest way to reach the lava tube is to drive. The parking area and trailhead leading down to the tube sits 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) past the park entrance on Crater Rim Drive. From there, a short trail (0.3 miles or 0.5 kilometers) leads to the tube entrance.

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Trip ideas


When to Get There

Since the Thurston Lava Tube is one of the most accessible, and therefore most popular, natural features within the park, it’s a good idea to head there first thing in the morning to explore the tube with fewer people.

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Other Attractions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If you’re visiting the national park independently, there are several notable points of interest you won’t want to miss. Smell the sulfurous gases of the volcano at Sulphur Banks, breathe in the warmth at the Steam Vents, take in the lunar-like landscapes of Devastation Trail, hike across the floor of Kilauea Iki crater, and watch the glow of the active volcano from the Jaggar Museum observatory.

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