There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
Holei Lava Tube
Beyond the Holei Pali turn out and just past Mile Marker 15, in the southeast side of the road, a good-sized lava tube may be seen in the road cut; there is a parking turnout just past the tube entrance. With care and a bike helmet, the tube can be explored for nearly 30 meters, until breakdown pinches it out.
This tube has numerous skylights, so a flashlight is not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended. The cave is short, but interesting and easily navigable. Notice that most if not all of the stalactites have been taken by tourists as souvenirs—please don’t emulate this mindless vandalism.
Unless recent breakdown has now blocked it, with wriggling, skinny or determined people can make it to a small portal with a view into the fern grotto under the largest skylight; this is your turn-around spot. Please do not force your way into the grotto as it will kill the plants and destroy the miniature ecosystem that has grasped a wee toehold here. Besides which, the grotto is populated by numerous wasp nests.
A walk to the top of the hill which overlies the tube entrance brings one to the skylights along the cave, and wonderful glimpses down into the fern paradise that grows within. Remember that lava tube skylights are collapse features and do not approach the edges too closely; they are unstable and unsafe. The top of the hill makes a wonderful place from which to watch the setting sun light-up the Holei Pali.
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All media copyright 2010 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.