Located in the Hilo area of the Big Island, the Kaumana Caves are reached by walking down into a collapsed pit on a steep concrete staircase through the rainforest lush with growth such as philodendrons and ferns.
When you reach the cave floor you will see two large cave entrances. Even on a very hot day you will be greeted by the cool air in these subterranean caves.
The caves were created by an 1881 lava flow from Mauna Loa volcano. This was the lava flow that threatened the town of Hilo causing Princess Ruth Keelikolani to approach the lava and offer chants to Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Her efforts were thought to have worked as the lava flows stopped just before overtaking Hilo.
The left entrance of Kaumana Caves leads to a variety of cave formations with low areas and narrows spots requiring some crawling and squeezing through the gaps. The more popular right cave entrance leads you into large caverns, and this entrance area is actually a skylight that was created by a collapsed part of the ceiling of a 25-mile-long lava tube.
As you enter Kaumana Caves it gets progressively darker, and after about 300 feet it is pitch black. The cave walls are wet and mossy creating a unique environment worth experiencing. If you are interested in a more adventurous exploration then bring a hard hat and two or three flashlights to ensure your safety.
Since the Kaumana Caves open onto private land, those who want to explore deeply into the caves are asked to sign an assumption of risk waiver before beginning their trek. The stairs can be slippery and the cave terrain rough and uneven so make sure to wear proper hiking shoes.
From downtown Hilo, Kaumana Caves Country Park is reached by following Waianuenue Ave. to just beyond Mile Marker 1 and then bearing left onto Kaumana Drive (Saddle Road). Follow Kaumana Drive to just beyond Mile Marker 4 and you will see Kaumana Caves on the right.
Facilities at the park include restrooms, picnic tables and drinking water. Admission is free.