volcanology – geology – ecology – botany – wildlife – Hawaiian culture – archeology – history – hiking –birding – photography- service learning projects – more



“Hawai‘i Volcanoes Institute shares the park’s educational mission as a partner providing quality programs that inspire and engage people in the understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of this remarkable national park.”

– Cindy Orlando, Superintendent, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Wild Caves Exploration Institute – Pua Po‘o Lava Tube

Notice: This program is currently suspended due to earthquake damage throughout Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park from the 2018 summit collapse.

Wild Cave Exploration Institute is an in-depth, moderate to challenging guided exploration through a tropical rain forest and fragile lava tube. Led my expert scientists and naturalists through our Hawai’i Volcanoes Institute, you will have the experience of a lifetime. Special care is required when entering the lava tube to insure the preservation of this unique Hawaiian lava tube and its features. Access is restricted to National Park Service & the Hawai’i Volcanoes Institute through Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The Wild Cave Program will be offered every week and is limited to 12 persons/group. Due to the fragile nature of the lava tube and the moderate/challenging nature of the tour, youth under the age of 12 are prohibited. Your registration is confirmed upon payment.



Pua Po‘o Lava Tube is almost as large and open as Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku). Hikers will need to climb down a 15 foot (4.6 m) ladder into the tube, scramble over large, loose and slippery rocks and walk over uneven terrain with minimal light while in the lava tube. Hikers will also need to walk in a crouched position for about 25 feet (8 m) under a low, 4-foot (1.2 m) ceiling. The tube exit requires a fairly difficult climb/scramble up a pile of boulders.

Before exploring the wild caves – Pua Po’o we will learn about the rainforest, discover native species and have many opportunities to take photos, listen to the birds sing and so much more.

Hiking Times and Distances:

  • The hike is approximately 5 miles roundtrip (8 km) with a 500 foot (152 m) elevation change.
  • Allow 4 hours for this wild cave program. Time spent in lava tube will be 1-2 hours.

WHEN: Every week, alternating Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10am – 2pm

COST: $60.00/person

The Hawai’i Volcanoes Institute is a subsidiary of the Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.  Institute proceeds support Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park educational programs, restoration projects, endangered species and more. Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is the official philanthropic non-profit partner of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

puapoo_jay_688 npsWHERE TO MEET:

Meet and park at Kīlauea Iki Overlook for check-in, safety orientation and distribution of gear. Note: Only visitors with confirmed paid reservations will be allowed to go on the hike. Entry into this cave is by reservation only, please print your confirmation ticket.



  1. Long pants – No shorts or Capris will be allowed
  2. Hiking boots or completely enclosed shoes – No sandals or open-toe shoes will be allowed
  3. Water – 1 to 2 quarts/person

NOTE:  You will be turned away if you are missing any of the above items. There is nowhere within 30 miles of the park to acquire longs pants and hiking boots. Refunds will not be given due to missing items listed above.

Optional, but highly recommended items:

  1. Lightweight rain jacket – we will be hiking through the rainforest.
  2. Long sleeved shirt – Pua Po‘o may be wet and cold
  3. Camera – no tripods or selfie sticks will be allowed
  4. Snacks (no food will be allowed in the cave)


  1. Helmets
  2. Gloves
  3. Headlamps
  4. Flashlights
  5. Hours of fun


  • Register and make payment here on our website ONLY.
  • Payment can only be made by credit card. Your reservation is confirmed upon payment in full. We accept all major credit cards.
  • If you have additional questions, please contact the Friends by email or call (808) 985-7373.

IMPORTANT: Entry into this cave is by paid reservation only.


All cancellations will be charged a 5% processing fee.  The Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will gladly refund your full amount up to 7 days prior to the day of the tour. Between 2 to 6 days, 50% of the cost of the event will be refunded.  If cancellation is within 48 hours of the start of the institute, 0% will be refunded. All proceeds help support Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Although we rarely cancel any hikes, there may be a need to do so if volcanic air pollution becomes a problem. Earthquakes, new volcanic activity, extreme weather or fires may also cancel hikes. In the event of a cancellation by Friends, you will be refunded 100% of your tour cost.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Select a date to book online

Current Month

No Events