Hana Lava Tube: The Best Underground Adventure in Maui

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If you’re looking for an underground adventure in Hawaii, the Hana Lava Tube is the best place to go. This natural attraction is located in Maui and offers visitors a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else on the island. With its dark and mysterious caves, the Maui Lava Tube is perfect for those who are looking for an exciting and adventurous outing.

Lava Tubes in Hana Overview

What does the importance of Maui Lava Tubes to Hawaiians mean?

The cultural significance of Maui lava tubes to Hawaiians is that they are considered sacred sites. They are believed to be the home of the Hawaiian deity Lono, and Offerings are often left at the entrances to the tubes. They are also said to be a place where the spirits of the dead can be encountered.

Besides, a lava tube may have served for the indigenous Hawaiians, who used it to protect themselves against both natural elements and human foes.

Maui Lava Tubes are important because they offer a unique and spectacular window into the world of volcanoes. They are also an important part of the history of volcanism on Earth, and they offer scientists a rare opportunity to study the inner workings of a volcano. Additionally, lava tubes can be vital transportation routes for people and goods during volcanic eruptions.

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How are lava tubes formed in Hana?

The Hana Lava Tubes are open to the public and are a popular tourist destination. The tubes are large enough to walk through and are lit with fluorescent lights. There are two main lava tubes, the Hana Lava Tube (Kaʻeleku Cave) and an unnamed Lava Tube Maui on Black Sand Beach located at Waiʻānapanapa State Park.

Formed approximately 960 years ago, Hana Lava Tubes are formed when the roof of a lava cave collapses. The molten rock and gas escape from the cave, leaving a tunnel or tube-like structure behind. The tubes were formed by lava flowing from the Haleakala volcano, and flowing toward the ocean. They are one of the most fascinating stops along the Road to Hana. 

When lava erupts, it begins to flow and the top of the flow cools and forms a crust. Lava continues to run beneath this crust. Once the lava has drained, a subterranean tunnel is left behind. After 2 years, lava continued to flow in Ka’eleku Cave!

Some lava tubes are as small as 3 feet, while others can be up to 50 feet wide. Meanwhile, some lava tubes are miles in length. For example, Ka’eleku Cave is the largest lava tube on Maui and the 18th largest globally. In contrast, you’ll find that the lava tube located at Wai’ānapanapa State Park is much more modest in size both width-wise and distance-wise.

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About the Hana Lava Tube (a.k.a ​​Ka’eleku Cave)

The Hana Lava Tube is a geological feature located in Maui, Hawaii. The tube is formed when the lava from a volcanic eruption cools and hardens on the outside, but remains molten (or liquid) on the inside. This creates a natural tunnel or cav,  and there is an entrance fee to enter. Once inside, visitors can explore the tubes on foot or by bike. 

The tubes are dark and cool, and they offer a unique perspective on the power of nature. You will spend approximately 35 minutes visiting through some amazing formations in the Hana Lava Tube and see Stalactites, stalagmites, Lava flow lines, and gold ceilings!

  • Years: Approximately 960 years ago
  • Length: 5 miles
  • Location: At Mile Marker 31 on the Road to Hana
  • Hours: 35 – 45 minutes to get through
  • Opening: 10:30am – 4pm everyday
  • Prices: $12 – $15 / per and free for under 5 years old
a k a ​​kaeleku cave 1024x768
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

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How to get to this lava tube?

Just past mile marker 31 on the Hana Highway, turn left on Ulaino Road and you’ll find the Maui Hana Lava Tube inside Ka’eleku Cave. It is about a quarter-mile long and accessible to the public. 

You’ll need to descend a set of fairly steep stairs to access the cave without any lights inside the lava tube. The best time to visit the lava tube is early morning or late afternoon. The temperature inside the lava tube is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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What can you expect?

The Hana Lava Tube offers free parking and restrooms (portables). Upon paying the fee, the staff provides all relevant information about the cave as well as answering any questions you may have.

The cave is dark, humid, and at times claustrophobic. You start the journey by going down the stairs into the main lava tube area if you make sure to not be afraid of feeling trapped. Because there are areas in the cave with smaller overhead space, you’ll need to hold on the banister.

On the walls, you’ll encounter a variety of textures and designs from the stalagmites, stalactites, a huge chockstone, and “Lava Corridor” which resemble melted chocolate are all on display.

After emerging from the Lava Tube, you may see the Red Ti Botanical Maze or dine at the picnic tables before returning up Highway 88 to Hana.

lava corridor
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

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What you will find nearby the Hana Lava Tube?

If you’re looking for an interesting day trip while in Maui, you should definitely check out the Lava Tube Maui. This natural attraction is located just a few miles outside of the town of Hana, and it has many places that are well worth the visit by walking.

  • Downunder Hawaii (0.05 miles): over half a mile long, visitors can explore it on foot or by bike. The cave is well-lit and maintained, making it a great place for a family outing or a fun day trip with friends.
  • Ching’s Pond (0.9 miles ): the pond is surrounded by lush vegetation and features a small Maui waterfall that makes for a beautiful backdrop. 
chings pond
Photo by Steve OWEN
  • Garden Gourmet (1 miles): the Hawaii restaurant has a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as gluten-free and dairy-free options; and also has a wide selection of smoothies, juices, and teas.
  • Kahanu Garden (1 miles): the garden was once the home of Queen Ka’ahumanu, the favorite wife of King Kamehameha I. The garden is now a National Historic Landmark and is operated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

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  • Honokalani Black Sand Beach (1.5 miles): see some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and also is a great place to go sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling.
honokalani black sand beach 1024x768
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor
  • Waiʻānapanapa State Park (1.9 miles): The park contains seabird colonies, lava tubes, blowholes, freshwater caves, and a natural stone arch.
  • Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach (3.8 miles): the cove has black-red sand, which is a product of the cinder cone hill on the northern end.
  • Upper Waikani Falls (0.41 miles) : One of the most well-known waterfalls on Maui, located along the Road to Hana. The Upper Waikani Falls is a chain of three huge side-by-side waterfalls. The Three Bears are another name for this group of falls.
  • ONO Organic Farms (13 miles): is a local farm in Hana that grows and sells organic produce. They have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as some local honey and jams.
ono organic farms
Photo courtesy of Yelp
  • Hiking Trails: there are many beautiful and challenging Lahaina pali trails in the area, so you can find the perfect hike for your skill level.

A small unnamed Lava Tube Maui located at Waiʻānapanapa State Park, the black sand beaches in Hawaii, dramatic coastline and specific lava tube road at Waiʻānapanapa State Park are well worth a visit. 

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Black Sand Beach Lava Tube at Waiʻānapanapa State Park

Location: Mile marker 32 on Road to Hana

Opening: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm daily

Reservation: make reservations as early as possible on website

  • Morning I: 7 am – 10 am
  • Morning II: 10 am -12:30pm
  • Afternoon I: 12:30pm – 3:00pm
  • Afternoon II: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Price: cost $5 for walk-ins and $10 for cars + $5 parking

Hours: 2 hour

black sand beach lava tube
Photo by Falco Ermert

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How to get to this lava tube?

Wai’anapanapa State Park, my favorite stop along the Road to Hana, is just up the road from Hana Lava Tube! In addition to checking out a super cool lava tube, you can also enjoy Maui’s most beautiful black sand beach here!

The Black Sand Beach can be accessed by hiking down the hill to visit the Lava Tube Maui, but beware that the ground is rocky. Also, use caution when entering the water as it can get rough.

The lava tube will be on your right when you’re standing on the beach. Go inside and duck because the opening is small. You’ll see that it’s a lot smaller than the Hana Lava Tube I just introduced. You can watch the waves come in, but don’t take your eyes off of the water for too long!

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What can you expect when you visit the tube? 

Similar to the rock formation on the Maui beach, this cave was likely created by lava flows. The water here turns reddish-pink at certain times of year due to the presence of tiny red shrimp. According to legend, though, the red water is a reminder of Popoʻalaea, a slain Hawaiian princess who hid in the caves after fleeing her cruel husband.

There are several blowholes on the Hawaiian Islands, but two of them may be seen on Maui, and one is close to Wai’anapanapa State Park! Before you go down the steps to the beach, walk towards the water along the lava boulders and you will be able to see down at the blowhole.

Some Maui Lava Tubes run to the ocean and when surf hits this tube, water rushes out of the top, creating a blowhole. Although blowholes are mesmerizing, you need to take extreme caution if you choose to explore one. You could be knocked over, fall in, or even swept out to sea if you’re not careful. So admire from afar rather than risking it up close.

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What to bring with you when you visit?

Hana Lava Tubes Maui are a series of underground tunnels that were created by the flowing lava. If you’re brave enough, you can even explore them on your own! Put Lava Tube Gear into your bag

  • Map and Compass: are useless if you don’t know how to read them.
  • Sunglasses / Sunscreen / Sun Protection: The Hawaiian sun is heated and intense.
  • Extra Food and Water: Carry more water than you expect to need. Although the environment is humid, we seem to require as much water as we do in a southwestern desert.
  • A standard rock climbing helmet: The G3 is the helmet to choose if you’re climbing with an odd number of people or doing it solo. The majority of your highest danger is banging your head or defending yourself against falling rock.
  • Gloves: The true reason for wearing gloves is to keep your skin oils out of the delicate lava tube environment.
  • Light Source: bring fresh batteries and extra batteries.
  • First Aid Kit: Backpackers should be prepared to help dress wounds, apply bandages, combat blisters, treat burns and cuts, manage trail ailments, treat shock, and keep a victim warm and dry throughout the night.
  • Fire Starter: Carry matches and a lighter with a chemical firestarter.
  • Jacket: The lava tubes can be cool, so bring a jacket to stay warm.

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Tips for exploring Hana Lava Tubes safely 

If you’re planning to explore the Hana Lava Tubes, it’s important to be aware of some safety tips. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Stay alert at all times and be aware of your surroundings: because the tubes can be dangerous. There are areas where the ceilings are low, and there are also areas where the floors are uneven and covered in sharp rocks. If you’re not paying attention, you could easily trip or fall and get injured.
  • Do not touch or climb on the walls or ceilings: The lava tubes are fragile, and touching or climbing on the walls can damage them.
  • Do not bring food or drinks into the tubes: Food and drinks can attract animals, which could damage the tubes.
  • Do not bring any pets into the tubes: Pets are not allowed in the lava tubes because they could damage the fragile environment.
  • Be careful with your flashlights: Do not point them directly at the walls or ceilings, as this can damage the fragile lava rock.
  • Do not leave any trash behind: Please keep the lava tubes clean by carrying out all of your trash.
  • Watch your head in low areas: Many of the lava tubes have low ceilings, so watch your head to avoid bumping it.
  • Be careful when crossing bridges or walking on uneven surfaces: The lava tubes have many bridges and uneven surfaces, so be careful not to trip or fall.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and long pants to protect your skin from the sharp lava rock.
  • Follow all posted signs and warnings: Please follow all posted signs and warnings while visiting the lava tubes.
  • Do not enter the tube if it is raining or there is a risk of flash flooding: Flooding can occur quickly in the lava tubes, so it is important to only enter when it is safe.

With these tips in mind, you can safely explore the Hana Lava Tubes and learn about this fascinating geological formation.

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Map of Hana lava tube and nearby attractions

Conclusion

The Hana Lava Tube is the best underground adventure in Maui. This natural attraction is a must-see for visitors to the island, and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to explore an amazing piece of Hawaii’s geology. With its twisting tunnels and hidden chambers, the lava tube offers a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. So if you’re looking for something fun and exciting to do in Maui, be sure to check out the Hana Lava Tubes!

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