The public parking area for shoreline access at Mauna Lani is some distance from the ocean. From the parking lot, the trail meanders across some old lava, but off to one side is this interesting little spot.
It’s part of an old lava tube that was used as a shelter by early Hawaiians. Lava tubes are created when lava flows crust over on top, creating an insulated tube that lava continues to flow through. When an eruption ends and the supply of lava disappears, the lava drains out of the tunnel it’s been flowing through and a hollow tube is left.
As the sign at the entrance says, the tube would have been cool during the heat of the day, but would also protect from wind and rain. These days, the floor is strewn with rocks, but when used for habitation, any rocks would have been removed leaving a reasonably smooth floor. In the photos, the ceiling looks low, but I’m over six feet tall and didn’t have to duck. It’s a big area.
The top photo shows the entrance taken from the back of the tube. The bottom photo is taken from the entrance, looking toward the back.