ALOHA!

 

Around the Big Island, there are caves that were formed by lava flows.

The Kaumana Caves are a pretty accessible place that you can visit on the Big Island where you can see this type of lava cave.

These caves are among the top things to do near Hilo and it can be a good option if you’re visiting the Big Island from the Hilo cruise port too. 

And I thought the Kaumana Caves were SO cool.

There are parts where you can see quite clearly the path the lava flows took.

 

Kaumana Caves near Hilo and kind of near Hawaii volcanoes national park. lava tube cave hike on the Big Island. tunnel caving for beginners. Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tube tunnels. cave hike through lava flows. best caving for beginners. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tube tunnels. cave hike through lava flows. best caving for beginners. Big Island Hawaii travel blog 

 

And it really doesn’t take too much time either.

If you’ll be around Hilo and you have an hour or so to spare (or want to make time for!), you can see a bit of the caves that will make a trip to the Kaumana Caves worth it!

If you have more time, AND YOU ARE PREPARED FOR IT, you can go further into the caves for more exploration and fun!

Sorry for the caps, but if you’re not prepared, it can lead to very unsafe conditions – you are alone and you are the only one providing the light along the way! If you go far into the caves and you run out of light or get lost, it can turn disastrous pretty quickly!

 

But this can be a fun little activity even if you don’t go far into the caves.

I think it is better if you DO go a little bit into the caves though!

When I was there, it seemed like lots of people just stayed around the entrance, looked around, and then left.

I didn’t go very far into the caves, and still thought it was very great.

While it’s nice to see what a lava tube cave looks like from afar, the very great part did require going a little further than the immediate cave entrance.

Even if you don’t go far into the caves, there are some things to be prepared for, but you just don’t need to be AS prepared as going further in!

 

I actually learned about the Kaumana Caves after leaving the Hilo side for good. (Or so I thought I was leaving Hilo for good!)

But I decided to go back to visit the caves for one of my last days on the Big Island I was staying in Kona.

And I thought it was SO worth it!

Especially because that day I also got to see turtles at both of the Hilo beaches I went to, with one of those beaches being the black sand beach in Hilo!

So if you’re basing your stay in Kona, there are more things to do in Hilo that can make a trip to Kaumana Caves worth it too.

Hilo to Kaumana Caves is around 10 minutes. Kona to Kaumana Caves is around a 1.5 hour drive. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Kaumana Caves is around 45 minutes.

That said, I personally don’t think the caves would be as worth it if you just stay at the entrance – you want to go deeper in at least a little bit!

And again, this does require you to be prepared a little bit! As in, a few things to bring and wear that you may not normally. (More on this later.)

 

 

🌋

 

And for a lava tube that opens up by the ocean, see the black sand beach lava tube on Maui!

 

 

Now…

How to spend a perfect hour at the Kaumana Caves

 

First…

 

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. Are caves safe on the Big Island. Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. Are caves safe on the Big Island. Hawaii travel blog

 

What the County of Hawaii wants you to know:

There’s no walkway.

There are no lights.

There are sharp and loose rocks.

Cave exploration is inherently dangerous.

These caves are in a seismically active and flood prone area.

There are unseen dangers in this cave which may cause risk of death or serious injury.

 

So be sure you are prepared for a bit of caving if you walk further than a point that you can no longer see the cave entrance! More on this in a bit, but among the most important would be a flashlight or headlamp (along with back-up batteries) and proper footwear.

 

 

Now…

Parking at Kaumana Caves

There is parking right across the street from the cave entrance.

 

Kaumana Caves parking lot. driving from hilo. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves parking lot. driving from kona. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

There’s no entry fee or parking fee, so a visit to Kaumana Caves is a FREE Big Island activity!

 

Kaumana Caves entry. driving in hilo. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves entry. caves near hilo. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

 

The 2 cave entrances for a 10 minute visit to the caves

So first, how to make this a super quick visit that will give you a chance to see a lava cave near Hilo.

Once you cross the street from the parking lot, you’ll see stairs leading down.

And you’ll take these stairs!

 

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. Stairs to cave entrance. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. Stairs to cave entrance. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

As you’re going down the stairs, you’ll start to see 2 cave entrances – one to the left, and one to the right.

You might as well go and see what both look like!

 

What you’ll see by walking to the cave to the left by staying near the entrance

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on left side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

 

What you’ll see by walking to the cave to the right by staying near the entrance

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. cave entrance on right side. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

If all you want to do is look at the caves from the entrance, then you need maybe 10-15 minutes at Kaumana Caves.

 

 

And now…

Hiking further into the caves!

Again, even just a 10-15 minute walk into the caves I think could be a pretty cool experience!

You probably can’t tell much from these pictures, with it being a dark cave and all, so you’ll just have to do it yourself. 😉

 

What you’ll see by walking further into the cave to the left

aka the cave crawl!

So on the left side, it’s basically a 5 minute walk to get to the point where you need to start to “crawl.” If you have on long pants and long sleeves, it could be fun to get down and have a look around.

You can see quite clearly a small opening here, and you can see pretty clearly the path the lava must have taken.

I also think I read somewhere that you can actually crawl through this hole and on the other side is a wider opening where you can continue to walk around. I’m not sure though as I didn’t go.

After looking around a bit “crawling” I headed back.

This part actually isn’t too far deep into the cave, and you can actually still see the cave opening from here.

 

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave crawl. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

 

What you’ll see by walking further into the cave to the right

aka the cave hike!

This is the side that you can walk a bit further without crawling at all.

It’s on this side that I walked for 15-20 minutes into the cave.

Then there was a part of the cave that started to get a little bit of a low ceiling so I decided to just turn around.

 

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. lava cave hike. best caving for beginners. lava tunnels. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

This low ceiling part was just a short part, as I think it opened back up once you passed it.

But I actually started getting a little nervous as I was walking when I realized that I didn’t have back-up batteries for my headlamp. It gave me a little comfort knowing that I had my phone light as a back-up along with power bank for my phone with me, but still, being alone it scared me a bit to be going far in a dark cave like this with the potential to not see anything!

 

 

So then…

What to pack for the Kaumana Caves

So not having ever done any “proper” caving before, I would say that this is like a caving for beginners trip.

If you will only be staying directly at the cave entrance, then this sort of preparation likely isn’t necessary.

It can still be a good idea to be prepared though in case you change your mind once you’re there!

 

The most important things to bring to the caves, even if you’re not going far:

  • Headlamp or bright flashlight (not your phone)
  • Extra batteries for flashlight

 

If you plan on going into the caves, bring a proper (and powerful) flashlight.

Your phone flashlight is not that bright, and it’s not good to be relying on that as your only source of light.

 

And then for what to wear, the most important part:

 

I think it would also be helpful to wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants to avoid cutting yourself on the lava rock if you’re crawling. If you won’t be crawling, you’ll probably be able to manage without the long clothing.

But you still might want to pack along a long sleeve shirt as you might feel a bit chilly inside the caves.

And long pants also still might be nice in case you do slip and fall.

You will be walking on uneven ground, and lava rock can be sharp!

 

I wore my rain jacket and snow pants.

No, you don’t need either to do these caves!

It was raining on the day I went to the caves so I already had my rain jacket ready, and I figured the rain jacket can make for a good long sleeve layer.

I packed my snow pants hoping that I’d be able to do the hike up at least part way to the Mauna Kea summit. (It’s cold at high altitude.) But that didn’t happen because the Mauna Kea access road was closed when I was there.

The snow pants were the only full-length pants I had packed for Hawaii, so I just decided to wear them after reading about a tripadvisor review suggesting knee pads since I wasn’t sure what the conditions would be like in the cave. It turns out that I was happy I did since I was crawling in one of the caves!

 

And what to pack in your Hawaii daypack going anywhere on the Big Island…

  • Water!
  • Snacks!

 

And also see more of what to pack for Hawaii for your other Big Island activities, along with what to pack for (most) hiking trails in Hawaii.

 

 

Guided cave tour

Kaumana Caves lava tubes. group guided tours. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

I’m not sure about guided cave hikes at Kaumana Caves. (Although it seems there are tours that make a stop here allowing you to walk a little into the caves.)

But if you want to go for a cave hike and would prefer to go with someone who has experience, then there are guided tours available at the Kula Kai Caves located on the southern coast of the Big Island.

There are a few different types of tours, and I wanted to do the “crawl” tour but I couldn’t as I was alone and there was a minimum requirement. I did feel like walking through the Kaumana Caves did make up for my disappointment though!

Instead of the crawl tour at Kula Kai, I did the “lighted trail tour” that goes a little bit into the caves, and I thought that was worth it because of the vast knowledge that was provided about the background of volcanoes on the Big Island.

A visit to the Kula Kai Caves is on private property and does require a tour to visit.

 

 

More things to do near Kaumana Caves

After a visit to Kaumana Caves, if you want to stay somewhat near Hilo, give a look to these things to do near Hilo:

  • Akaka Falls (among the best waterfalls on the Big Island)
  • Rainbow Falls (another waterfall in Hilo)
  • Carlsmith Beach Park (for a nice beach park with a chance to see turtles)
  • Richardson Ocean Beach Park (for a black sand beach with a chance to see turtles)

 

And for more volcano exploration on the Big Island, see the list of things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

And for even more volcano exploration, see more places to see old lava flows on the Big Island!

 

HAPPY CAVE HIKE IN THE KAUMANA CAVES!

 

Kaumana Caves near Hilo Hawaii. lava tube cave hike on the Big Island. tunnel caving for beginners. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

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ALOHA!