Wai'anapanapa State Park

Maui Lava Tubes: Great Stops on the Road to Hana in 2022

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Maui is one of the most romantic destinations on earth. Honeymooners and lovers flock to its sunkissed beaches and swaying palm trees.

But there is so much more to Maui than beaches and Mai Tais! Maui is a volcanic island, which means Lava once flowed through this tropical paradise.

Are there lava tubes on Maui?

Yes! There are 2 lava tubes that have formed caves you can explore on Maui, and both are located along the Road to Hana! These lava tubes are the Hana Lava Tube (Kaʻeleku Caverns) and an unnamed lava tube located at Waiʻānapanapa State Park.

Both of these lava tube caves are easy and fun to explore and both are just short detours as you drive the famous Road to Hana!

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

Pro Tip: Before your Maui adventures download the GyPSy Guide! This incredible narration will lead you all around Maui even when you dont have service! You’ll learn historic facts, points of interest and turn by turn directions. Along the Road to Hana the guide tells you about all of the must see stops!

Lava Tubes on the Road to Hana

Road to Hana

There are two lava tube caves along the Road to Hana.

  • Ka’eleku Caverns
  • Wai’ānapanapa State Park

Ka’eleku Caverns

This Lava Tube along the Road to Hana is a fun and educational stop! You’ll want to plan to spend about 45 minutes to an hour exploring the Hana Lava Tube and the surrounding garden.

Hana Lava Tube is on Mile Marker 31

As you drive the road to Hana, watch for Mile Marker 31. You’ll take a left turn onto Ulaino Road. Follow the road and in less than.5 miles you will see the sign for the entrance to the Hana Lava Tube.

Hana Lava Tube Hours

The Hana Lava Tube is open 7 days a week from 10:30 am – 4:00 pm

Lava Tube Reservations

You do not need advanced reservations to explore the Ka’eleku Caverns. The tour is self-guided and you can come anytime.

How much does it cost to visit the Hana Lava Tubes?

The price as of this post (5/22) is $15 per person, anyone 5 and under is free. This includes a high-powered flashlight for everyone in your party, entrance to the lava tube, as well as the opportunity to explore the Red Ti Botanical Garden Maze outside of the tube.

How long of a hike is the Hana Lava Tube?

Hana Lava Tube

The Hana Lava Tube is just under .25 mile to the end. It is an out and back walk, and you’ll need to descend a set of fairly steep stairs to access the cave. There are handrails throughout.

What to expect when visiting the Hana Lava Tube?

Road to Hana Lava Tube

When you arrive at the Hana Lava Tube there will be a large gravel parking lot with free parking. There are restrooms that you can use too (portables). Once you pay your fee they will tell you everything you need to know and answer any questions that you have about the cave.

To enter the Lava Tube Cave, you’ll want to wear shoes that have a good grip on them as the floor can be slippery. The temperature inside the cave ranges from 66˚F to 72˚F year-round. If that sounds chilly to you, then bring a lightweight jacket. We thought it felt amazing after being in the hot Maui sun!

The cave is dark, damp, and sometimes a bit small. If you are claustrophobic you may think twice about exploring the cave. You can still go into the big room down the stairs, and not feel confined, it doesn’t start getting smaller until the middle-end of the cave. There are parts of the cave that have lower overhead space, so you’ll need to be able to duck.

You will see all sorts of interesting textures, and patterns throughout the cave. My favorite part is an area called the Chocolate Corridor. It is full of stalactites hanging from the ceiling that look just like melting chocolate.

After exiting the Lava Tube (back the way you came) you can explore the Red Ti Botanical Maze, or eat at the picnic tables provided before heading back up the Road to Hana.

Chocolate Coridor Hana Lava Tube

Is Lava the Tube Safe?

Yes, these lava tubes are entirely safe to explore. There are handrails throughout, and there are no bats or anything scary in there!

Wai’ānapanapa State Park-Mile Marker 32

Just up the road from Hana Lava Tubes in my favorite stop along the Road to Hana, Wai’anapanapa State Park! Along with getting to check out a super cool lava tube, here you can also enjoy the most beautiful Black Sand Beach on Maui!

When I tell you that the black sand, turquoise water, and green cliffs are the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, I’m not exaggerating. You’ll want to spend some time here. There are trails you can walk on and plenty of picnic tables.

Hike down the hill to the Black Sand Beach to access the lava tube. Note, that this beach is not soft. It is rocky and it kind of hurts to walk on so wear water shoes here! Also, be very cautious and only get in the water here when it is not too rough.

When standing on the beach looking at the ocean, the lava tube will be on your right. Head inside, you’ll have to duck to get in. You will notice this is a lot smaller than the Hana Lava Tube we just explored. You can watch the waves come in from here, but be careful to keep an eye on the ocean!

Hana Lava Tube Mile Marker 32

Wai’ānapanapa State Park Hours

Open daily from 7 am – 6 pm. With a permit, you can also camp here and extend your stay.

Wai’ānapanapa State Park Reservations

Unlike the Hana Lava tubes, you will need a reservation to visit the lava tube at Wai’ānapanapa State Park. The rules are different for Hawaii Residents, but if you are reading this, I assume you aren’t local, so here are the tourist rules. Reservations are available 30 days before the date you want to enter. You must make reservations at least one day in advance. I suggest you make them as early as possible.

You can make your Wai’ānapananpa State Park Reservations on the Division of State Park Website here.

The Wai’ānapanapa reservations are time slotted like this:

  • Morning I: 7 am – 10 am
  • Morning II: 10 am -12:30pm
  • Afternoon I: 12:30pm – 3:00pm
  • Afternoon II: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

You can arrive anytime during your reserved time, but you cannot arrive early or leave late. They check and monitor this strictly. You are, however, allowed to reserve two slots if you want. This requires some planning to make sure you can get to the park at your time.

We planned our entire drive on the Road to Hana around these reservations, watching the time closely on our other stops so our arrival at Wai’ānapanapa would be perfect. We left Kihei around 7 am, made a few stops, and enjoyed the 1230 reservation time.

This gave us enough time to enjoy the drive and also visit Haleakala National Park Kīpahulu District near Hana.

How much does it cost to visit the Wai’ānapanapa State Park Lava Tube?

Currently, the price to visit Wai’ānapanapa State Park for non-residents is $10 per vehicle to park PLUS $5 per person. You will add all of that information to your reservation.

Are there other Lava Tubes on Maui?

Maui Lava Tube

There sure are! Lava Tubes can come in other forms than caves too! Some lava tubes run to the ocean and when the surf hits this tube right water rushes out the top creating what is known as a “blowhole”.

Blowholes are incredible to watch, but you cannot explore them the same way you can explore lava tube caves. You must be VERY cautious and careful around blowholes. You can be knocked over, fall in, or be swept to sea. Do not go near a blowhole, watch from afar. Observing Blowholes is one of our favorite Maui Experiences.

There are numerous blowholes throughout the Hawaiian Islands but there are 2 that you can see on Maui, and one is right at Wai’ānapanapa State Park! Before you head down the stairs to the beach walk out towards the water on the lava rocks and you will be able to look down at the blowhole.

I can’t stress this enough, don’t get near the blowhole. Watching it from above is plenty of fun!

Nakele Blow Hole in Maui

The other blowhole you can see on Maui isn’t in this area but is on the other side of the Island. Nakakele Blowhole on West Maui is a must-see attraction! The drive to get there is beautiful!

You can hike down near the blowhole, but again, be careful and respectful of its power. The hike down is steep and you’ll want good shoes to do it. We enjoyed it just from the cliffs above without walking down.

How is a Lava Tube Formed?

After a volcanic eruption, lava begins to flow, and the top of the flow cools and creates a crust that hardens. Lava continues to flow underneath this crust. Once the lava is done draining, it leaves behind a subterranean tunnel. In the case of Ka’eleku Caverns, this lava flowed for an additional 2 years after the crust was formed!

Lava Tubes vary in size from as little as 3 feet up to 50 feet wide. Some lava tubes are miles long. Ka’eleku Caverns is the largest lava tube in Maui and the 18th largest in the world. You will see that the lava tube found at Wai’ānapanapa State Park is much smaller in width, and distance.

The largest lava tube in the world is Hawaii’s Kazumura Cave is the world’s longest lava tube with 65.5 km (40 miles) of passages mapped. It was created around 700 years ago by an enormous and long-lasting eruption of the Kilauea volcano. You can see this Lava Tube by exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Be a responsible tourist

Be respectful when traveling. Small islands like Maui especially can be overrun by tourists. Follow the rules. Be safe. Respect local traditions and cultural beliefs. Take care of the environment by taking only photographs.

Enjoy your trip to Maui!

P.S. Get ready for your Road to Hana drive with these funny road trip quotes!

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