ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kaumana Caves Park

Updated on October 14, 2015
Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.

Kaumana Caves Are A Great Place for Cave Explorers

The Kaumana Caves are actually lava tubes that are a fabulous place for the casual tourist and for the more advanced spelunkers to explore.

The lava tubes are located northwest of Hilo on Saddle Road (Kaumana Caves Drive).

The caves are a 25-mile long lava tube with several tunnels off of the main tube that was originally created by the Mauna Loa volcanic eruption of 1880 - 1881.

Part of the lava tube has caved in creating a natural skylight in the tube. For anyone interested in cave exploring, this is a great place to go while in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Remember to bring along a strong headlamp or a flashlight.

Useful Info About Park

FREE Admission

Ample parking

Picnic tables


Drinking water

Wear sturdy shoes

Bring a Head Light or Flashlight

Kaumana Caves Private Property Warning Sign Posted at Entrance
Kaumana Caves Private Property Warning Sign Posted at Entrance

Warning Sign at Kaumana Caves Entrance

The mouth of the Kaumana Caves is easy to find from the signs guiding the way.

The caves open onto private land and the County of Hawaii has set up an ordinance that now requires visitors to get prior permission and sign an assumption of risk waiver before exploring deeper into the caves.

Visitors that want to go deeper into the caves are given a brief discussion at the cave's entrance about exploring Kaumana Caves and the risks that can be found there.

You will also be furnished with a list of equipment and clothing they you will need to bring to go spelunking.

Steps Stairs to the Caves Amiss the Philodendroms
Steps Stairs to the Caves Amiss the Philodendroms | Source

Fenix TK35 High Performance 820 Lumen Flashlight

Fenix TK35 High Performance 860 Lumen Flashlight
Fenix TK35 High Performance 860 Lumen Flashlight
This is an excellent light to take in cave exploration. It is small and light weight enough to carry in the caves without being bulky like a mac light. It makes a great camp light, and a great emergency light. It also makes a great around the house light. It can be set to SOS mode or strobe. It lights up so brilliantly in turbo mode it will seem almost like day light in a cave. The color of the light is almost white not the annoying blue that some LED lights have. You will love this flashlight.

Steep Concrete Stairs to Kaumana Caves

At the street level of the cave entrance a steep, concrete staircase has been built, across the street from the parking area, to assist visitors in getting down to the cool darkness of these lava tube caves.

Watch your steps as the stairs can be very slippery when wet and wet occurs very often with the typical Hilo rainy weather.

The caves are not wheelchair accessible.

The caves have been left in their natural state, except for the concrete stairs. This means you must be careful and watch your step. The floor levels are uneven making it easy to trip as you walk through the lava tube.

It is a necessity to bring strong flashlights and head lamps with new batteries as there are no lights at all in the caves.

The deeper you go into the depths of the caves the darker it gets until you feel as if you and your light are being consumed and swallowed by the darkness.

The darkness seems to absorbs all of the light that comes from the caves entrance. A weak or small powered flashlight will be useless in the cave.

If you are spelunkers who are equipped with headlamps and flashlights, all the better. Your head lamps will be very useful here.

The average tourist is usually not prepared to go underground in the dark.


Walking Through Lush Vegetation with Wild Orchids

You will walk through the lush vegetation of the rain forest jungle that consists of a large variety of tropical plants.

These plants include a huge variety of different plant species such as ferns, elephant ear, philodendron, wild ginger and wild orchids.

The floor of the cave at the bottom of the stairs is a collapsed pit, which also forms two entrances to the cave.

Long thin roots from the dense vegetation can be seen growing through the ceiling of the tube and all the way down to the floor of the cave.

They resemble the long roots of the banyan trees that can be seen in Hilo on Banyan Drive.

The Mouth of the Kaumana Caves Entrance

Notice the Plant & Tree Roots Hanging Down
Notice the Plant & Tree Roots Hanging Down | Source

Tree and Plant Roots at Kaumana Caves

Plant and Tree Roots at Bottom of Stairs with Philodendron at
Plant and Tree Roots at Bottom of Stairs with Philodendron at | Source

Kaumana Caves Videos

Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani
Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani | Source

The Legend of Kaumana Caves

There is a legend about the 1881 lava flow that created the lava tube at Kaumana.

It has been said that Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani camped in front of the slow-moving lava flow pleading with Madame Pele, the fire goddess, to spare the town of Hilo.

History states that the lava flow came to a halt within 1 1/2 miles of Hilo.

The local people all believe that Madame Pele heard the desperate plea from Princess Ruth and answered her prayers by stopping the flow from destroying Hilo town.

Kaumana's Skylight Entrance

Looking Out of Kaumana Caves Skylight Entrance
Looking Out of Kaumana Caves Skylight Entrance | Source

The entrance and exit to the Kaumana lava tube is actually where the skylight was created by the lava tube caving in.

It was formed as the surface of the pahoehoe (smooth, waves of lava cooled and hardened) insulated the molten lava forming the tube.

A part of the thin pahoehoe crust of lava then caved in, creating a skylight where the stream of the lava flow could be seen pouring through subterranean passages.

As the flow from the eruption slowed down, the channel emptied of both steam and molten lava, leaving behind an extensive lava tube.

Looking Out the Skylight of the Kaumana Cave
Looking Out the Skylight of the Kaumana Cave | Source

Cavern's Mossy Walls

When entering the caves you will notice the cave is very wet with mossy walls. Ferns can be observed growing through the moss on the walls.

The lush tropical plant life within the entrance of the cave is because of the consistent afternoon rainfall in Hilo which brings humidity to the cave entrance.

As you make your way deeper into the cavern, about 300 feet, there are two more caves which are about 16 feet in diameter; one on the right and one on the left.

Kaumana Cave Graffiti from 1926

Even if you have never had any interest in spelunking, you will be fascinated exploring the lava formations at the openings of these caves. Most folks entering the cave on the right can see graffiti dating back to 1926 and earlier scratched into the rocks.

The entrance on the left is a smaller, uphill cave entrance that is less frequently visited. It is far more interesting to spelunkers than your typical tourist.

This entrance leads through tight squeezes and low spots in the rocks that you have to crawl through to get into several larger rooms with intriguing cave formations and geographical designs from the lava flow itself.

Sitting on Graffiti at Cave Entrance


The caves are a pleasantly cool place to escape to when the temperatures in Hilo get too warm. Unless you intend on going deeper into the caves, walking about the areas lit by the sun will only take about 20 minutes.

For the more adventurous spelunkers, there are miles of caves to explore. If you intend to go to the caves with spelunking in mind, be prepared with the right equipment.

It is best to bring a hard hat with a headlamp, extra drinking water and powerful flashlights.

Small, weaker flashlights don't give out enough light in the pitch black of the caves to see more than 20 feet ahead.

Photos Inside the Kaumana Caves

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Peeking out of Skylight
Peeking out of Skylight
Peeking out of Skylight | Source

Are You a Spelunker?

Do You Like Exploring Old Caves?

See results

Places You May Like to Visit on the Big Island of Hawaii

Do You Think You Would Like to Visit the Kaumana Caves?


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)