Sugarcane Ditch Tubing Adventure on Kauai – A Travel Post

I have been wanting to do more travel posts. Today, thought I would post about a tubing adventure we took on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in July of 2013.  Prior to leaving for vacation, my husband found the Back Country Tubing Adventure website. In our travels to Hawaii, we have always found it helpful to plan and book one of our larger outings before we go. Our first trip in 2009-2010 entailed a New Year’s Day snorkeling cruise to the volcanic crater of Molokini hosted by the Pacific Whale Foundation. But, I digress. Our snorkeling experience there will have to be saved for another post.

Kauai BackCountry Adventures offered a chance to mix the history of the Hawaiian islands with a present day adventure.  The five of us arrived on a sultry July day, ready for the unknown. We were instructed to meet at the home base for the company in Lihue which ended up being a large warehouse type structure. There, we checked in, and received our helmets complete with headlamps.  After being ushered into several large conversion vans, we were taken on a very bumpy ride up into the island’s interior to the former location of the Lihue Plantation.  The ride itself was an adventure! Just let’s say you are far from civilization when you travel to the head of the ditch where the start of the tubing adventure is located. Once there, you are provided a tube and don your helmet and then jump into a large stream with steeply sloped sides. You suddenly find yourself in an old Sugarcane ditch floating along, being gently pushed by the current and other tubers!  Our youngest son, who was 11 at the time and not at all sure about the trip.  The heat had caused him to become faint and shaky, so jumping into a make-shift river on a tube was not appealing at the time. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and he joined us on the trip.


It really is amazing to think that these ditches and tunnels (you go through several – thus, the need for headlamps) were dug out by hand by native Hawaiians who lived on Kauai in the late 1800’s. The end of the tubing adventure is completed with a lunch provided to you by the adventure company. Let’s just say, do not go on this adventure for the lunch! It was adequate but nothing more. Back on the bumpy bus to the home base warehouse in Lihue.

Sugarcane Plantations long sustained Hawaii economically. Sadly, the last plantation closed on Maui in 2016. The plantation on which the ditches exist that you traverse was the Lihue Plantation, established in 1849. The ditches were made in 1870 to help divert and direct water to the sugarcane fields.  This sugarcane plantation eventually closed in November of 2000, leaving the hand-carved ditches for tourists to tube and marvel at this feat of human engineering! More history can be found on the tubing company’s website.

Backcountry sugarcane ditch tubing on Kauai is an experience worth having while visiting the lush Garden Isle. It was fun, different, and made one appreciate some of the history of this amazing place!

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