HANAMAULU, Kauai A new company called Kauai Backcountry
Adventures has launched the island’s first tubing excursions.
Introduced on Jan. 1, 2003, the tour takes clients through
historic irrigation ditches which once served vast Lihue Plantation
sugar crops. The water system has been unused since sugar
production stopped in 2000.
Kauai Backcountry Adventures’ general manager, Kelley Carswell,
first thought about navigating the waters in multiperson kayaks,
comparable to Flumin’ Da Ditch on the Big Island. “Then we tried
going down in big inner tubes, and it was way more fun because the
tubes are easy to steer and simply bump off the sides of the
ditch,” she said.
“This adventure is tied to some incredible history,” Carswell
continued. “The ditches were all dug by hand in the 1870s, and the
workers were paid 49 cents per day to do this hard, manual labor.
You can still see a pick in one of the ceilings of the
Clients check in at Kauai Backcountry Adventures’ office in
Hanamaulu, near Lihue. After a 45-minute shuttle ride, they don
headlamps, choose their tubes and jump in the water, floating along
open, winding canals, down rushing flumes and through tunnels. The
group picnics near a swimming hole before heading back to
Two CPR-certified guides lead each excursion, sharing
information about the history of the sugar plantation and its
surrounding flora and fauna. Carswell said that the new tour
appeals to all ages. “A couple of weeks ago, we had a family
including an eight-year-old boy, mom, dad, dad’s brother and
81-year-old grandma,” she said. “It was a perfect adventure for
their family and they loved it.”
Carswell plans to expand Kauai Backcountry Tours’ offerings this
spring, beginning with ATV tours in March and four-wheel-drive
adventures in April.
She’s already licensed to run mountain biking, kayaking, hiking
and horseback riding tours. “We’ll probably wait until fall to add
the next tour,” she said. “We want to build carefully, with minimal
impact on the environment, and we want to make sure each tour is of
high quality before adding on.
“Eventually we’ll be a one-stop-shop for activities,” said
Carswell. “If dad wants to ATV, but mom and the kids want to tube,
we can line it all up for them.”
Kauai Backcountry Tours has exclusive license to operate tours
on Lihue Plantation’s 17,000 acres.” The land runs all the way to
the base of Mt. Waialeale, so it’s pretty spectacular,” Carswell
Clients on the tubing trip should wear water-friendly shoes and
swimsuits or quick-drying shorts and shirts, and they’ll want a
change of clothes, sunscreen, hat and bug repellent.
Offered at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily, the three-hour tubing
adventure costs $85 per person, including a picnic lunch. Adults
must accompany children under age 14. Clients should be at least
five years old and weigh no more than 300 pounds.
Carswell’s family, which has lived on Kauai for generations.
also operates Princeville Ranch Stables and Princeville Hike &
www.kauaibackcountry.com or (888) 270-0555.