Goat House Lava Tube

It is not really called Goat House. It is just that I have never heard another name, Goat House is what I have named the cave considering the lack of any better designation. The tube is no great secret, its existence is well known to longtime residents.

Goat Skull
A goat skull in the rubble at the entrance of Goat House Lava Tube
The grasslands around Waikoloa seem rather barren, useful only to the foraging cattle. Like the rest of the island these are old lava flows, and some not so very old. There are interesting volcanic features, including a number of hidden lava tubes.

This tube is found several miles out the power line road just above the village. The road starts across from the stables and heads straight south. There are side roads that go left and right, just go straight to the cave.

Along the way you find the mauka fence of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative restoration effort. This fence keeps the goats out of a 275 acre area in an effort to preserve native trees like the Wiliwili. With some success it appears, the trees look pretty good. The wiliwili are strikingly beautiful trees, I am happy to see them thriving here.

Goat House Lava Tube
The roadside entrance to Goat House Lava Tube
Finding the actual tube is rather trivial, the road zigs to go around the pit. This first entrance is challenging, it would require climbing gear to use, sheer 15 to 20 ft walls drop the the rubble below. Glancing at the satellite photo quickly identifies two more entrances, one mauka and one makai. The makai entrance is also a pit. The mauka entrance is much better, the tube is shallower here and a rubble pile allows easy access.

Goat House Entrance
The mauka entrance to Goat House Lava Tube, no climbing gear needed here
The entrance is a barnyard. The floor of the tube is heavy with goat droppings and a litter of bones. The smell is heavy as well, the goats must use the tube to escape the heat or poor weather. No live goats are present during my visit, but judging by the signs, usage is recent. No recently dead goats seem present either, the smell is not that bad.

Knowing no other name for this cave I decide on Goat House, it seems entirely appropriate. It is either that or Goat Tomb, that just seems too dreary.

Goat Bones
A litter of goat bones on the floor of Goat House Lava Tube
With the idea that getting away from the light will allow me to leave the barnyard behind I head mauka. Going downhill will lead to the first entrance and another pile of goat bones. Heading uphill works, the goat manure fades as the light fades. There are signs of the goats further back, including occasional bone piles, but it is not too bad.

I have with me my usual pocket LED flashlight, actually a pretty good light with incredible brightness for its size. As a backup I grab the headlight off the bike. This would be enough to allow a quick poke inside and to allow a little photography in the dark.

Goat House Lava Tube
The interior of goat House Lava Tube near Waikoloa
This is an old tube, rubble clutters the floor, the rock weathered with age. Heavy white deposits of some mineral coat the walls in places. A number of classic features mark the tube. Lavacicles can be seen along the roof, flow lines along the walls. At a couple points small side passages reenter the main tube, too small for exploration.

In places it is necessary to scramble over rubble piles, hunching to avoid the low roof. I am glad I never bothered to remove the bike helmet. The tube ends after a few hundred yards, the roof dropping into the floor. No choice but to turn around and return to the light.

Getting to the tube was the more difficult part. I did not drive, rather I biked from the house. An “easy” eight mile ride… Eight miles up and down the steep Waikola hills, half the ride on a rocky powerline road. My posterior is going to feel those rocks for a couple days.

There are several lava tubes in the vicinity of Waikoloa, some found below the village are probably a continuation of Goat House tube. Perhaps destinations for additional bike rides.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

3 thoughts on “Goat House Lava Tube”

  1. Another interesting piece Andrew! I can see them being compiled into a book of short stories one day… For safety’s sake if you journeyed alone, I hope you left a ” flight plan ” on the kitchen table. I would make a habit of doing so when I hiked solo on the various trails at the back of Manoa Valley while still living on Oahu. The greenery offered a convenient escape from the dust and noise of construction sites which were my surroundings then…
    Am enjoying your writings, thanks for taking the time to share, sleep deprived though you be!

  2. Your blog is amazing!!! Do you think that this lava tube could be hiked to, or would that just take too long. Is this area not private property? I was looking at the path that drives by the cave’s entrances and it appease to join with Waikoloa road. However, that path looks gated at Waikoloa road.

    1. The cave is an easy hike, the power line service road goes right to it. Hard to miss the entrance as the road takes a hard turn to go around it. You can also spot the entries easily in Google maps, dark circles right beside the road.

      The entry right by the road is not easily useable, sheer twenty foot walls. Look for a second entry about 50 yards up the hill, on the other side of the road, it has a tumbled boulder slope you can scramble down easily.

      I believe the land belongs to the Waikoloa development company, private. On the other hand, the area is well used by hikers, joggers, or folks simply walking their dogs. I have never seen enforcement.

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