Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Old Mamalahoa Lava Cave, sometimes called Cave 3, is an example of a series of lava tunnels out in the wild that are large enough and open for a short walkthrough.

Lying along Old Mamalahoa Highway, which is a scenic detour in many parts of the island along the former highway that is now more frequently just local access roads, Cave 3 was formed by a series of lava tubes created from activity on Mauna Kea. 

The entrance is unsigned, but can easily be seen where the highway begins curving once leaving the area of more country and rural homes. Upon entering the cave, the tunnels fork into different directions. The tunnels tend to be tall enough to walk around upright in, with a hardpacked floor well worn by past visitors.

Once inside, all lush growth that can overgrow the entrance from the outside disappears, and the interior is mostly barren stone. Paths curve and intersect, with all eventually coming to a dead end not too far from the entrance. It's easy to get turned around while navigating the inside, so try to remember where you've come from. But the caves don't extend too far, so you can usually wander until you find your way back to the opening.

Inside visitors will find stone shelves and work done by past cave users.

There are no improvements or amenities at these caves. They are simply an example of explorable lava tunnels in the northern portion of the Big Island.

Parking is along a shoulder on the highway, however cars can drive quickly around the curve so be careful when pulling over or walking around here.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Street Parking


Interesting and off the beaten path. Never crowded.


Relatively short.

Pets allowed



Geologically significant
Family friendly



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