Some Facts About Hana, Lava Tubes

When most people plan a trip to Maui, they think about beach time and sightseeing. But off the Road To Hana is one of the lesser-known attractions called Lava Tubes, also called Ka’eleku Caverns. 

What Is A Lava Tube?

Found around volcanoes, a lava tube is simply a pathway used for hot lava runoff, moving lava away from a volcano. Once the volcano becomes extinct, the surrounding rock cools and hardens, leaving a long cave.

Lava exits the volcano from the eruption point in channels, which stay hot as the surrounding area cools. The tubes form either by crusting over the lava channels or with pahoehoe lava that flows beneath the surface.

The resulting cave has a ceiling that’s anywhere from 30 to 60 feet thick with incredibly strong surroundings. Unlike caves that took millions of years to form, lava tubes can form in just a few weeks with regular lava flow.

How The Lava Tube Formed

Hana’s tube formed nearly 1,000 years ago, when molten lava erupted and flowed down into the sea. The hot lava cooled on the surface, forming a crust while additional lava continued flowing underneath, deepening the interior of the cave and forming a floor. Once the lava drain was complete, the space was left empty.

Because it’s subterranean, it’s free of bats and mosquitoes. Because you’re inside, it won’t matter if it’s raining. The temperature is comfortable year round. However, because there are smaller “threads” of tunnels that branch off, you must stay in the main areas to avoid getting lost.

This subterranean lava tube became the 18th largest in the world. Some of the world’s lava tubes are 30 miles long, and Hana’s is the largest on Maui.

Note: you must be physically fit to be able to walk in the Lava Tube, and have good vision. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, since you will be doing plenty of walking on somewhat rough terrain. Although the tube is much larger, public access is limited to a one-third mile core of the tunnel. (It’s considered trespassing if you go beyond the warning signs.)

What You’ll See Inside

Some Facts About Hana, Maui Lava Tubes near Hana Kai Maui Condos.

On your way in for the self-guided tour, you’re handed a couple of flashlights to be able to see where you’re going inside the tube.  

The caves have fitted handrails for safety, and hardhats are available if you’re interested. You’ll see lots of information posted on the different areas of the cave.

You’ll enter through a “skylight,” a hole in the crust that formed when a thinner spot of the cave collapsed.

Once inside, you’ll see different types of lavasicles, including a few stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. You’ll also see an area known as the Chocolate Corridor that looks like semi-melted chocolate painted onto the walls. It includes a wall of stalactites that resembles a wall of upside-down chocolate kisses.

Nitrogen-loving bacteria hang out on the walls as well, and lava balls that form where the lava freezes mid-fall. Lava level lines, contraction cracks, blind cave insects (crickets, flatworms, and millipedes), volcano vents, and a “bowling alley” formation are also visible on the inside of the lava tube.

Note: At one time, island cattlemen used the caves as a dumping ground for slaughtered cattle. Although the owner painstakingly removed much of the remains, it’s highly possible you could find a tooth, bone fragment or other remnant.

Additionally, parts of the cave were designed to be a fallout shelter by the US Government. It’s still stocked with enough supplies for 15 people for six weeks.

Visit Us On Your Road To Hana Adventure

Hana’s Lava Tube is just one of the many lesser-known sights to see in our small corner of Maui.

Call to book your next reservations at 1-800-346-2772, or book directly online. We’re open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Hawaii time to answer all of your questions. Get in touch today to begin reserving your visit to Hana Kai Maui.