Explore the Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes National Park

Of all the fascinating places to visit in Volcanoes National Park, Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube is a spectacular place to visit and easy hike around this attraction. A short trail that covers a lush canopy of tree fern trees, ohia and other native plants brings you to the opening of this iconic lava tube that was created over 500 years ago. Nahuku (meaning Proturbances) Thurston Lava Tube is again open for this wonderful hike through the forested canopy and short trail into the lava tube walk.

Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube

An authentic lava tube experience

There is lighting inside the lava tube for safety measures but if you really want to have an authentic experience going through the lava tube the lights are off from 8pm to 10am daily. You can bring your own lights and not just your cell phone to get some illumination and safely go through the lava tube. Or you can easily walk through after 10am with the lights lighting up the tube.

How to get to the Nahuku

Forest setting to Nahuku lava tube

How to get to the Nahuku

From the main entrance of the park, turn left to the Chain of Craters and the Crater Rim Road and drive down a few miles to the parking entrance which is small and fills up quickly after 10am. You can also park at the Kilauea Iki trail parking and walk the short-forested trail to the entrance of Nahuku. From the parking area, walk across the road to the trailhead and view of the forest canopy area and walk to the right down the trail to the bottom of the canopy which is a steep descent to the valley floor area and short walk to the lava tube entrance.

Total hike coverage 1/3 mile from the Nahuku parking lot

From Kilauea Iki Parking – 1.5 Mile or 2.4 Km walk round trip

From Kilauea Iki Parking
Views to Kialuea Iki

Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail

History of Nahuku

Formed with 2000 Fahrenheit lava that eventually created the lava tube which is only 500 years old. Nahuku means proturbances that refers to the drippings that originally hung from the ceilings but were taken out as souvenirs with visitors since the lava tube was discovered in 1913. Lava tubes in Hawaii are formed with rising lava eventually forming the walls and ceilings to the fast-flowing lava that eventually empties out and leaves a hollow lava tube structure. The lava tube is only 600 feet long on the first leg which is lit, there is another lava tube extension but this is not lit and typically the opening is locked from any access.

There are ecosystems that actually live in this environment so please do not try to touch the ceilings and walls, roots and other living organisms in the lava tube.

History of Nahuku

Thurston lava tube

Details to the Nahuku trail and Thurston lava tube

There are low ceilings in the lava tube be careful and watch for ceiling and curved surfaces to the lava tube

There can be standing water from moisture collecting in the tube, be careful off pooling and some slick surfaces on the walkways

Low light conditions in the lava tube from 8am to 8pm timeframe or bring additional lighting with you

If you want to extend your hike, park at the Kilauea Iki parking lot and hike through the forested rim trail to the trailhead for the Nahuku entrance.

There are restrooms available close to the entrances to the forest trail area to use.

It is a descent to the valley floor and stairs leaving the lava tube so it is not accessible for those with mobility issues.

Thurston Lava tube 3

Exit to Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube

Other places to explore and posts around Ka’u and Volcanoes National Park

Visit Volcanoes National Park now

Lava eruptions at Volcanoes National park

Visiting Volcano Village in Puna

Visit a green sand beach at Papakolea

Visit to South Point at Ka Lae

A visit to Na’alehu in the Kau district

Black sandy beach at Punalu’u

Volcanoes National Park

Where to stay around Volcanoes National Park

There is camping and limited cabin stays in the park, but there are more inns and Air Bnb locations close by in Volcano Village. Most of the stays at the village are at small mom and pop inns and Air Bnbs or private home rentals. Check out the best reviewed sites here.

Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast – well located in the village in an old plantation home with nice comfortable rooms, great service and breakfast

Hale Ohia Cottages – a classic home and bed and breakfast with gorgeous grounds, cottages and service in the village

Aloha Crater Lodge – located close to the park within a lush rainforest, cozy, peaceful, comfortable and priced well for the area.

Check out these top reviewed hotels on Trip Advisor here for more details, availability and prices.

Have you been to Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube?

Have you been to Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube?

Please share your thoughts and other recommendations in the comments below with your recommendations.

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Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.