Exploring Haleakala’s Lava Tube Near Holua Cabin

One of the most interesting aspects of Holua Cabin is the nearby lava tube. There are two routes to the lava tube, with each route bringing you to a different entrance. We ended up choosing the route that takes you pass the pit toilets and toward an open lava rock field. The alternate route is about 100 yards east of the cabin, and then from there you will turn right and follow a faint trail, according to some write-ups. In the past, there used to be a ladder that people could use to descend into the lava tube. Now, though, there is only a sign indicating that the area has been closed and the ladder has been removed. For this reason, we decided to start at the opposite end, in order to avoid any dangerous down climbing.

Heading to the Holua lava tube. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Heading to the Holua lava tube. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

I smell lava tube! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I smell lava tube! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Mike, you see the lava tube? Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Mike, you see the lava tube? Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Let's go inside. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Let’s go inside. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Janice, obviously ignoring this sign! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Janice, obviously ignoring this sign! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Entrance to Holua Cave. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Entrance to Holua Cave. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Another view of the entrance. Photo by Allison Baird.

Another view of the entrance. Photo by Allison Baird.

Lava tube wall. Photo by Allison Baird.

Lava tube wall. Photo by Allison Baird.

Mike would be the one leading us to the lava tube since he was the only one that had previously been there. Using only his memory, he navigated through the lava field and eventually found the entrance. Truthfully, it would probably be very difficult to locate this lava tube without a guide. There is hardly a trail to begin with, and a few yards in, the faint trail disappears completely.

As you enter the lava tube (from this end), you’ll encounter a neat little chamber with a small hole in the ceiling. There is a large pile of rocks directly under the hole. Of course, we unsafely climbed the pile of rocks and posed for Gollum like photos.

Legend suggest that this lava tube was of cultural significance for early Hawaiians. According to this article, the lava tube “was a spiritual place where mothers brought the piko (umbilical cords) of their newborns to gather mana (spiritual essence) for the child.”

John, walking right past Gollum's hole. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

John, walking right past Gollum’s hole. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The Exploration: Hawaii guys hanging out under Gollum's Hole Photo by Janice Duldulao.

The Exploration: Hawaii guys hanging out under Gollum’s Hole Photo by Janice Duldulao.

What's up there? Photo by Janice Duldulao.

What’s up there? Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Joel just couldn't resist! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Joel just couldn’t resist! Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Allison checking out the Gollum's Hole. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Allison checking out the Gollum’s Hole. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Balancing act. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Balancing act. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

LOL. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

LOL. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Beyond Gollum’s Hole, the lava tube becomes pitch black. This is when having a flashlight becomes immensely useful. As you walk through the lava tube, huge chambers will open up, some of them climable, bringing you to upper level chambers. There were a couple of narrow points along the way. At one of these pinch points, I happened to noticed what looked like a piece of black luggage stuffed away in an inconceivably unreachable area. I pointed it out to Janice, we thought about checking it out for maybe a second. Then, we came to our good senses and moved on. Unfortunately, this black luggage would later cause me an undue headache that made for a memorable treasure hunt in the evening.

Holua lava tube crevice. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Holua lava tube crevice. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Continuing on into Holua Lava Tube. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Continuing on into Holua Lava Tube. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Mike, Bin, I-Ting, and John pose for a photo. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Mike, Bin, I-Ting, and John pose for a photo. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Drip. Photo by Allison Baird.

Drip. Photo by Allison Baird.

What's Joel looking at? Photo by Coty Gonzales.

What’s Joel looking at? Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The lava tube is not very long. I didn’t record a GPS track inside the tube, but I would probably estimate that we spent a good 30 minutes, or so, at a slow pace from start to finish. At the end of the tube was yet another open chamber. Here, a couple of us spent some time fooling around and taking photos. The climb out of the cave was slightly sketchy, but very doable. I can definitely see why a ladder was previously installed here. Gloves would be most useful for this section, because of the jagged and sharp rocks.

John guarding the exit. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

John guarding the exit. Photo by Janice Duldulao.

And now we have two more people guarding the exit! Photo by Janice Duldulao.

And now we have two more people guarding the exit! Photo by Janice Duldulao.

Time to get out of here. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Time to get out of here. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Explorers: Allison Baird, Janice Duldulao, Coty Gonzales, I-Ting Ho, Ahnate Lim, John Mercado, Michael Mueller, Joel Sabugo, Ngoc Vu, and Bin Yang.

Holua Lava Tube Tips:

  • Bring someone that knows the trail and is familiar with the lava tube.
  • A headlamp is preferred, but you could get by with a flashlight. Light is a must.
  • Gloves can be useful, especially when climbing out of the lava tube.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

One comment

  1. First of all, I love your site. I’ve used quite frequently to take my buddies on our own goonie adventures. I particularly interested in this post (about the Haleakala crater lava tube). I will be going to Maui for Thanksgiving and would love to find this lava tube. However, I’m a little worried to hike all that way and then never find it. Would you happen to have GPS coordinates on it’s location? Also, how long would you think the hike would take to get to it, if we didn’t spend the night at the cabin (or is that not recommended)?

    Aloha, Charley.

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