Tubing on Kauai: Kauai Backcountry Adventures

One of the most unique excursions families can take on Kauai is a tubing adventure through a sugar cane plantation. This adventure is very hard to describe until you’ve tried it: essentially, families are guided through the flumes and tunnels of unused irrigation channels on a  now-defunct plantation for a fun, beautiful, and pretty thrilling ride through Kauai’s jungle-like east side.


Start at the headquarters for Kauai Backcountry Adventures, located in Wailea. This big warehouse is the place to check in, get fitted for helmets and headlamps, and wet suit tops if you need them. Next, you’ll be placed into groups of about 12 and paired with a guide and driver, who will take you via van to the put-in site. This site is on the sugar cane plantation, about 20 minutes from the warehouse. You drive along roads for about 10 minutes, then dirt roads for another ten, arriving into the plantation where your guide tells you about the history of the area.

After a short stop at an overlook, which is a great opportunity to see some of the inland valleys of Kauai, you become acquainted with your inner tubes and the irrigation canals. You’re met with another, ‘back’ guide, who pairs with your head guide to help everyone navigate the flumes and tunnels.


We weren’t prepared for the cold temperature of the water, but found it refreshing. (The guides make a joke of this, banning the word ‘cold’ from everyone’s vocabulary, but we actually did find it perfectly pleasant, once used to it.) The flumes are fast-moving at times, slow and restful at others, but always active and fun as you bump into others as you float down the narrow canals. Everyone, from the grandparents in our group to the five-year-old, had a good time, though the youngest kids were unsure at first. There are five tunnels to go through, which are beautiful and just scary enough if you turn off your lights to keep the older kids entertained. Throughout the float, the Kauai forests and unused plantation lands surround you, with bird song at all times.


The actual float takes about an hour and a half, and ends at a nice picnic spot for a deli lunch that’s set out. It’s nothing fancy, but perfectly good and satisfying. After the return drive, the whole experience takes about three hours.  We definitely recommend it, as it’s unique to Kauai and a fun way to see countryside you may otherwise not be introduced to.

Curious what the dark tunnels look and feel like? Here’s a short video clip!

What to bring:

You can take a day bag with you, which will be transported for you from the put-in spot to the picnic spot. We were glad to have dry shirts and light sweatshirts at that point. Also be sure to wear sturdy sandals, such as Keens or Chacos, because you’ll be pushing off from the concrete walls of the canals and walking on dirt roads a bit. Wear swim suits for the excursion. You’l also want towels.


$106 per person, no matter what age. Budget for a tip for your guides as well (they will split it amongst themselves). Tours depart on the hour from 8 am to 2 pm, rain or shine. Our day was rainy, but it didn’t matter much!


Find Kauai Backcountry Adventures at 3-4131 Kuhio Highway.

As we disclose whenever applicable, we tried out Kauai Backcountry Adventures at a media rate, for the purpose of review.