(BIVN) – Visitors Nāhuku, the popular Thurston Lava Tube in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, will soon be able to participate in an “enlightening new experience.”
Starting Monday, February 5, explorers can choose to the explore the cave in the dark with their own light source, or time their trip to coincide with a new lighting schedule, park officials say.
From Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park:
Park staff installed a new electrical system with 12 energy-efficient amber LED lights to illuminate the 400-foot-long lava tube – plus an additional amber spotlight to shine light on a low part of the cave ceiling. The lights will automatically turn on every day at 10 a.m., and will go out at 8 p.m. The cave will remain open overnight, but it will be pitch black inside from 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. the next day.
Visitors must carry their own light source if planning to explore the lava tube in its dark, natural state before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Park rangers recommend head lamps and flashlights; cell phones are not recommended as the only light source.
“When we turned the lights off to install the new electrical system, visitors told us they were in favor of leaving an option for a ‘lights out’ natural cave experience in Nāhuku,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando in a media release. “We’re excited that the new lighting schedule satisfies visitors, is better for the environment, and supports our goal for a sustainable future,” she said.
The new lighting system increases visitor safety by illuminating the interior, park officials say, and protects the cultural integrity of the ‘ana, or cave created by an eruption from Kīlauea 550 years ago – by inhibiting the growth of non-native plant and algae species.
Visitation to Nāhuku and its lush rainforest trail is heaviest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and parking is limited to 30 minutes.