Activities

HVNP: Guided Puapo’o Lava Tube Hikes

February 20, 2016, 2:02 PM HST
* Updated February 19, 10:35 PM
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Beginning March 2, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park visitors can reserve guided hikes into a large lava tube formed by Kilauea volcano.

Weekly guided hikes will be offered by HVNP or its nonprofit partner, the Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, into Puapo’o lava tube by reservation.

The adventure, called “challenging” by park officials, is limited to 12 people per week and to individuals seven years old and older.

Ranger-guided hikes of Puapo’o take about three hours and cost $30 per adults and $25 per youth ages seven to 12. Proceeds will benefit HVNP.

Hikers will walk four miles into Puapo’o. The hike is not suggested for inexperienced or claustrophobic hikers. A 500-foot elevation change takes place on the hike and 15-foot ladder must be climbed down to get into the lava tube. Hikers will also have to walk in a crouched position for about 25 feet under a low ceiling.

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Guides will provide a helmet with a headlamp, flashlight, and gloves.

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All other caves and lava tubes in HVNP are closed to the public due to the sensitive and fragile nature of cave resources, except Nāhuku, also known as Thurston Lava Tube, and the new guided tours of Puapo‘o.

Puapo‘o is nearly as large as Nāhuku, and its lava formations include lavacicles, driblet spires, lava lines and flow ripples. These features make Puapo‘o one of the most ornate lava tubes in Hawai‘i, according to park officials. The lava tube is also largely intact because access is restricted.

The entrance to the cave is cloaked in native rainforest, and Hawaiian birds including ‘apapane, ‘ōma‘o, and ‘amakihi can be seen and heard.

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“We asked our public how they’d like to celebrate the park’s centennial anniversary, and the resounding answer was to bring back an opportunity to explore Puapo‘o lava tube,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “With our Friends’ group, we are able to offer visitors an unparalleled adventure into the depths of Kilauea volcano during our 100th anniversary.”

To learn more about the hike or to make reservations, visit the FHVNP website.

Ranger Jay Robinson leading Puapo'o tour. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Ranger Jay Robinson leading Puapo’o tour. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Lava stalactites in Puapo'o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Lava stalactites in Puapo’o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Entrance of Puapo'o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Entrance of Puapo’o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Ready to exit Puapo'o lave tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Ready to exit Puapo’o lave tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Crouching for the low ceiling in Puapo'o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

Crouching for the low ceiling in Puapo’o lava tube. NPS Photo/Stephen Geiger.

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