One moment you’re floating lazily down a refreshingly chilly
freshwater stream surrounded by lush vegetation. The next second
it’s pitch dark and you’re spinning slowly, your inner tube
bouncing off rock walls as you speed through a dank tunnel. Ahead
of you, seemingly just out of reach, a circle of daylight grows
slightly bigger with each passing second.
To some this scenario may sound like a bad dream, but for the
vast majority of your Kauai-bound clients, tubing the irrigation
ditches of the island’s backcountry will be a highlight of their
The Mountain Tubing Adventure is the only one of its kind on
Kauai and is offered by Kauai Backcountry Adventures. The land they
use is owned by America Online founder Steve Case, a native of
Hawaii. Case leased the land to the guiding company, granting them
sole rights to run their eco-adventure programs on it. And business
is booming: The Mountain Tubing Adventure has a waiting list, so
Since floating in a tube requires little effort, the activity
appeals to all ages and every fitness level. Only those clients
with claustrophobia or severe fear of the dark or those who are
extremely sensitive to motion sickness will balk at this unique
Hand-carved through solid rock by Chinese laborers a century
ago, the irrigation tunnels and ditches wend through the lush
backcountry of the old Lihue Plantation. The ditches run through
some of the most beautiful scenery on the island, with its waters
starting near the top of Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on
Earth. The ditches are a stunning feat of engineering, and visitors
run through five tunnels on the 2½-mile journey.
The trip starts at the company’s home base in Lihue, where
clients gear up with water shoes, gloves, a hard hat with headlamp
and an inner tube. From there, a bumpy ride takes guests through
the plantation, stopping at a scenic overlook. Along the way, the
guides provide entertaining and informative narration.
Once clients arrive at the entry to the irrigation ditches, they
are given some brief instructions and then they are on their
Tubing is so easy that almost anyone can go for the ride, making
it a great family activity. Riders must be at least 5 years old,
and the guides said they have had visitors in their 90s.
The tubing consists of gently floating through the tunnels and
cruising down a couple of very small rapids. The longest tunnel is
a little over half a mile, and tubers are accompanied by guides the
At the end of the ride, tubers are helped out of the water, and
after a short hike to a quiet park, guides prepare lunch. Once
there, clients can change into dry clothes or take a dip in the
swimming hole nearby, making for a totally tubular day for all.
|WHAT TO BRING|
Water-friendly shoes (rental shoes are also available)
Swimsuit or clothing that can get wet
Towels and change of clothes
Kauai Backcountry Adventures provides gloves, lunch, headlamp
The trip lasts approximately three hours and reservations should
be made in advance to ensure availability. Tours go out rain or
For photos, advise clients to take a waterproof camera. Cameras
can also be purchased from Kauai Backcountry Adventures.
Price: $92 per person. Call for commission.
Kauai Backcountry Adventures