Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spelunking on Maui at Hana Lava Tube

Hana Lava Tube
We have driven the road to Hana on many occasions in the past, oblivious to the fact that one of Maui's Greatest Natural Wonders is just on the outskirts of Hana near the 31 mile marker.
Hana Lava Tube (aka: Ka'eleku Caverns) was created hundreds of years ago from flowing hot molten lava after an eruption of the Haleakala volcano. According to the Wikipedia, "a lava tube is a type of cave that is formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow, develps a continuous and hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still flowing lava stream." read more.
owner Chuck Thorne
On arrival at the Lava Tube we were greeted by Chuck, the owner of Maui Cave Adventures. This seems appropriate since the lava tube is situated underneath his property and he did all the tedious work to make it presentable for visitors.

Chuck was eager to share his knowledge of the lava tube with us and showed us a map of the underground cave system. He told us that it would take 27 hours to walk the whole tube, and the portion open to the public was 1/3 of a mile which translated into a 35 minute walk. He let us know that the cave was free of mosquitoes and bats, and there were hand rails along the cinder path, making it safe and easy to navigate.

Dave and Deb all set to go Spelunkingentrance to the cave
Finally, armed with highly powered LED flashlights and an even more powerful one to enable better photo taking, we were ready to start our self-guided tour adventure.
Deb armed with the flashlights

inside The Hana Lava Tube Cave
As we entered the cave we were surprised at how large and roomy it was and thought that maybe even those prone to being claustrophobic might be just fine here. We were also impressed that along the way were interpretive signs which explained everything we were seeing. For example when we passed a couple of cow bones, the sign told how in years past the cave was used by cattle ranchers to dispose of the remains of slaughtered cattle. I guess that Chuck probably had to work hard hauling out all the bones, before he made it into a visitor friendly place.

surface opening in cave ceiling
Part way along the trail, light poured in through a surface opening in the ceiling, the only opening to the cave besides the entrance. A fascinating section of the cave had the most unusual formations of hardened lava and is deliciously named "The Chocolate Corridor" Here, the ceilings were covered with stalactites, so much resembling chocolate kisses that it made you want to reach up, snatch one when noone was looking, and pop it in your mouth.

Stalagtites resembling chocolate kisses
We knew we were at the end of the tour when we came to a rope which prevented you from exploring any further into the tube. As we turned around there was also an interesting auxiliary cave to explore, which resembled a long room.

As we made our way back we passed a few other visitors with their flashlights and overheard a young boy saying what an awesome place the chocolate cave was. This is a very family friendly adventure and a must do if you like the idea of spelunking, more commonly known as caving. Those who are not able to explore the cave can wander through a Red Ti Botanical Garden Maze, located above the cave.

Picnic Area and Red Ti Maze
There is also a picnic area so take your lunch and enjoy an unforgettable Maui experience at the Hana Ka'eleku Caverns.

The Hana Lava Tube is open 7 days a week, 365 days per year from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The cost is a very affordable $11.95 each and free for children under five.

When we go to Hana we like to stay in a privately owned Hana Vacation Rental, so that we have more time to really get to know this special place.


  1. looks cool! I don't normally like going into caves but this one is doable I think.P

  2. I just came back from visiting this lava tube and boy was it spectacular! It was amazing to see something so incredible! We turned off our lights and couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces. I can't wait to go back.