Thurston Cave Ghosts

A long exposure shot in Thurston Lava Tube on the big island of Hawaii, capturing ghostly images of people walking through. I originally posted a color version along with other photos from the visit back in 2005, and converted it to black and white for my entry in this week’s “eerie” photo challenge on If I’d known it would look so much better in black and white, I would have converted it years ago.

Let’s see, when we left off, we had nearly completed a circuit around the Kilauea caldera. Before driving down Chain of Craters road to the coast, we stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube. Update (2021): The park is now emphasizing the Hawaiian name for the cave, Nāhuku, but at the time we visited in 2005, all the labels we saw still called it Thurston Lava Tube.

Inside Thurston Lava Tube

Lava tubes are formed when smooth a’a lava flows through a channel, then crusts over. The still-molten lava underneath keeps flowing until the source stops, and it drains out, leaving a long tubelike cave.

We were lucky in that there were very few other tourists there at the time. (It was the first week of April, which isn’t exactly the height of Hawaii’s tourist season.) The Thurston tube is famous partly because of its size, and partly because it’s very easy to get to. It’s less than a quarter-mile walk from the road.

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