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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.