Kaumana Cave

Useful Information

Location: Kaumana Drive, Saddle Road, 8 km from Hilo, Central Hawai'i, Big Island.
Open: no restrictions [2007]
Fee: free [2007]
Classification: Speleologylava tube
Light: none, bring electric torches
Dimension: L=3,260 m, VR=109 m. [2019]
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: William R. Halliday (2003): Raw sewage and solid waste dumps in lave tube caves of Hawaii Island. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 65, n. 1, April 2003, pp. 68-75. pdf
Stephan Kempe, Christhild Ketz-Kempe (2016): Towards understanding the structure of Kaumana Cave, Hawaii 17th Symposium of Vulcanospeleology, Proceedings, Hawaii 2016, p 1-9. Newsletter of the Hawaii Speleological Survey of the National Speleological Society. 39. 16-24. researchgate
Address: Department of Parks and Recreation, County of Hawai'i, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 6, Hilo, HI 96720, Tel: +1-808-961-8311, Fax: +1-808-961-8411. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1881 cave created by a lava flow from Mauna Loa.


Kaumana Cave is a typical lava tube, as there are virtually hundreds on Hawai'i. The special thing with this cave is its rather easy accessibility. It is located on the so-called Saddle Road between Hilo and Waimea, crossing the island on the saddle between the two high violcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. This road is very popular among locals, as it is much shorter than the Hawai'i Belt Road along the coast. Unfortunately it is excluded in most car rental contracts, and the insurance will not cover it or even be canceled it you drive on this road. So be careful and read your contract before visiting the cave with a rented car.

Located on the eastern side of the saddle, only a few kilometers from Hilo, it is located in the wettest area of Big Island. The cave entrance is overgrown with plants, long, thin roots reach all the way down to the floor of the lava tube. The cave entrance is a collapsed part of the roof, so it resembles a pit with steep walls. Visitors enter the cave safely on a concrete staircase, which goes down to the floor overgrown with ferns.

Despite the stair and a short trail in the entrance area, the cave is not developed. The floor is uneven, there is often the need to climb a little. There is a low passage and it is necessary to crawl. We recommend various sources of light per person, appropriate clothes, especially sturdy shoes. If you have, a helmet with a headlamp would be a good idea too. The area around the cave entrance is well developed with ample parking, and restrooms, which makes it a popular picnic area close to the capital. But is seems most people climb down the stair, peek into the cave, and then go to their barbecue and beer. If you want to see more of the cave go prepared.

This lava flow, and also the cave, were formed in historic times, in 1881. The lava flow towards Hilo was a great threat for the city. Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani came to the end of the lava flow and prayed to Pele to spare the city right in front of the flowing lava. Her prayers were answered, the flow stopped only 2 km from the city.