*** Update: Thurston Lava Tube closed in 2018 due to the many earthquakes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If and when the crater may reopen is very uncertain. ***
When you’re exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, don’t miss seeing Thurston Lava Tube. (A lava tube is a cave-like tube that lava flows through underground. It’s kind of like a pipe that the lava produces in order to move underground.) The photo above shows the entrance into Thurston Lava Tube. The park has placed lights inside the tube for you to explore the size and shape of the lava tube.
The trail to and through the lava tube is a loop trail. You won’t need a flash light through the first section as the path is well lit. There is a second optional section of the lava tube that is not lit, but if you are so inclined, you can explore it if you have a flash light.
Thurston Lava Tube is surrounded by an amazing lush green forest which is a very distinct contrast from the barren fields of black lava that you see so predominately inside the park. While you’re here, take a few moments to admire the giant Hapuu ferns and notice the Ohia trees with the lehua blossom. This area is also a wonderful place to watch for birds in this rainforest setting.
You’ll find Thurston Lava Tube just off Crater Rim Drive inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. See my tips for visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From those tips, please take note that if you can visit Thurston Lava Tube early in the morning you’ll beat the bus load of crowds that constantly filter and and out from mid-morning until late in the afternoon. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.