Back in the turn-of-the-century, the majority of the irrigation ditches used to distribute water to the sugar cane fields were built by Japanese immigrants. These elaborate waterways were built by hand in very difficult conditions using bare hands, picks, shovels, and hammers. The laborers often had to work 12 hour days for a pittance and a place to live. In the day, building these irrigation ditches was engineering genius. Over time sugar was no longer produced in the islands and sugar cane fields became obsolete.
Fast-forward to today and you’ll discover that these plantations are now home to quite unique adventures. I first found out about the ditches several years ago when I heard that they were doing water adventures on the Big Island and Kauai. Flumin’ Da Ditch is a tour operating on the north side of the Big Island near Hawi. On our next trip to the Big Island we decided to try this activity. We had such a great time that we recommended that visitors take this tour. Unfortunately, the earthquake of October 2006 damaged the ditches and the tours are no longer offered.
Luckily, the tours are still continuing on Kauai which is operated by Kauai Backcountry adventures. Last year we tried one of those Kauai tours. Unlike Flumin’ Da Ditch on the Big island that was done in kayaks, on Kauai you traverse these elaborate tunnels and ditch system on inner tubes. Tours start with a great history about this plantation and the views are magnificent.
The tour itself was pretty easy with little surprises except that the water is freezing cold! Once I got into the inner tube I quickly got used to the temperature so it wasn’t a real problem. My wife Yaling is not much of a swimmer, but did fine because the water only about 3 feet deep. The water doesn’t flow too fast so it’s unlikely you’ll be tossed out of the tube. You’ll be given a hard hat equipped with a flashlight so you can see you way though a few tunnels along the way. Bring with you a change of clothes, some shoes you won’t mind getting wet and some mosquito repellent.
While the sugar cane fields are gone, you can still get the sweet taste of what it was like on the plantations with one of these great adventures. For more information on how to make your Hawaii trip a vacation of a lifetime, please call me at 1-800-843-8771 extension 22.
Just say Aloha Bruce and I will hook you up with everything you need.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher