Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Tubing the Ditches in Kauai
Ok, the above wasn't our actual tour (I didn't bring my cell phone to video because there was no way to keep it dry), but the tour itself was the exact same one as the one in the above video, so this gives a solid idea of what "tubing the ditches" on Kauai is like. It's very cool! Relaxing, only one or two short adrenaline rushes, and truly beautiful countryside that's off the beaten path. Kauai Backcountry Adventures, the tour company, has exclusive access to the historic irrigation system of the former Lihue Plantation. This ditch and tunnel system that once irrigated vast sugar crops had been unused since sugar was taken out of production in 2000. (The land apparently belongs to Steve Case of AOL fame. He bought it for the sweet price of $900 an acre with the stipulation that the land remain undeveloped for the next 20 years.) In January 2003, Kauai Backcountry opened a section for exclusive tubing tours. This water system runs through some of the most beautiful and remote land on the island. It includes spectacular views of the ocean, coastline, mountains and valleys. The waters which originate near the top of Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots in the world, are channeled through ditches and tunnels hand-dug by plantation workers over a century ago! Grab a tube, don a headlamp, water shoes, and gloves, and jump in the gently flowing waters. Witness Kauai's spectacular, historical engineering feats as you float down the open canals, through several amazing tunnels and flumes engineered and hand dug circa 1870.
For me, the most interesting part were the five tunnels we went through--it was amazing looking at those solid rock walls and knowing the amount of labor that was expended for the whopping daily sum of .49 cents a day per worker.
After tubing, we had a picnic lunch in the backcountry at a remote swimming hole, and on the way back we saw a family of nene (Hawaiian geese) crossing the dirt road, a real treat because they are an endangered species.
All in all, it was kind of a touristy thing to do and a little on the pricey side, but it was worth every penny and is something everybody from kids to ole grannies can do.