Kauai Tubing Adventure Review | Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Kauai Tubing Adventure Review | Kauai Backcountry Adventures

When you live someplace, you often don’t think to take in some of the very things that bring people to visit. Such is the case with your editors. Trying to break that mold as we resume travel around the state, we started last week close to home here on Kauai.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures.

We’d heard of this for years, and people all told us they enjoyed it. So did we and can report that it was a very memorable experience that we’d recommend for kids of any age. Kauai Backcountry Adventures did not know we were coming, and we paid full-fare.

You may have seen some of the posts about Kauai tubing on YouTube and elsewhere. This mostly-relaxing Kauai adventure, takes you down the flumes of the south fork of the Wailua river. This is a part of Kauai you aren’t going to see by other means.

Guests, replete with sunscreen and bug repellent, float down 1800’s sugar cane canals in individual, industrial inner-tubes, navigating through rock tunnels located below Mt. Waialeale. The amazing tunnels are historic engineering feats.

We met at the reservations office located in Hanamaulu, where check-in occurs, and where we were provided gear including helmets, headlamps and gloves.

Kauai Tubing Adventure Review | Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Then we boarded open air buses to head into the Grove Farm Co. land, to the launch site where the activity takes place. Once we arrived at the literal jumping off point, we were met with beautiful mountain scenery including views of Mount Waialeale, considered one of the wettest spots on earth.

You’ll be wearing swimsuits for this adventure, since part of you will remain in the water as you will sit navigating the irrigation ditches throughout the duration of the tubing tours


After the totally enjoyable outing, we were taken to their picnic area where a simple, make it yourself delicious lunch was provided. The options were sandwich fixings, cookies, and chips.

Kauai Tubing Adventure Review | Kauai Backcountry Adventures

You’ll want to pack a dry change of clothing, and a towel, since it’s easy to get a bit cold after the cool dip in the flowing waters of the Wailua River.  Keep in mind that flip flops are not allowed, and if you don’t have Crocs or other water-friendly shoes, rental shoes are available for $5. There are other restrictions including a weight limit, and minimum age…. Also, cancelation is permitted up to 24 hours in advance.

The total tour time was three hours, although the actual time in the water is just about one hour. The ride each way to the open canals was about 30 minutes, and the picnic lunch time was about 30 minutes.

What if I tip over? – we both felt very secure in our inner tubes. But if that were to happen, the water is only 3 feet deep so you can stand up and get back on to the tube. There were also two guides in back and one in front to watch everyone.

What’s the ride like? – It was really fun! You’ll be moving faster in some parts and spinning around in the tubes and sometimes hitting someone next to you. In the tunnels you’ll be glad you have footwear and a helmet in case you bang into the walls. If it looks like your feet are going to hit the wall, you just moved them in closer to you so the tube hits the wall instead.

Is there a water slide? – Not exactly. It’s more of a gentle decline as you go with the water moving faster in some places. There’s only one significant drop on the course and it’s fun and easy to handle.

Can I stay with my group? – You’ll probably meet some new people. Once you start moving, it’s hard to stay in a group. After the last tunnel it slows down so you can wait for friends or family to catch up with you.

Your helmet has a light on it and you can usually see a light at the end of the tunnel. In the last tunnel, we were asked to turn our lights off which gave us the sensation of not moving.

Is the water cold? – Yes, but not uncomfortable. Expect your behind to feel chilled for several hours after because it will be mostly in contact with the water. Because the tunnels can be cool, I suggest wearing a top too (like a swim t-shirt) and having a change of clothing when you stop for lunch.

Online Reservations – You can check availability easily online and see how many spaces are left for each tour. We suggest you book early, especially during peak season.

Was three hours too long? Not at all. Everything was well timed. On the drive up, the guide answered questions and shared a local perspective of living on the island and the culture of Kauai. The one hour tube ride was exactly the right length.

Have you tried this Kauai activity? If so, please let us know about your experience.

34 thoughts on “Kauai Tubing Adventure Review | Kauai Backcountry Adventures”

  1. This tubing adventure thru the old irrigation canal’s is a tour you will not want to miss! We enjoyed it so much the first time we did it again 2 years later.

  2. It was OK. Obviously, most people enjoyed this. I did it because I’ve done just about everything else in Hawaii, especially Kauai. I guess it’s all relative. I’m a water sport junkie, so this was not a unique experience for me. Seems like a good family trip. I wasn’t surprised to read about the fellow who got sick from swallowing the water. A good word of caution.

  3. We really enjoyed our tubing experience. Ben, our guide was full of Information about the building of the canels and about Kauai. I would recommed this adventure to everyone of all ages Bob and I are in our early 70’s and had no problems at all.

  4. This is one of the most fun things to do on Kauai. We recommend it to people all the time. The folks running it are awesome. It’s such a unique adventure, not scary (I’m chicken),and just plain fun for all ages.

  5. My family has enjoyed this excursion multiple times over the years. Our last tubing trip was in 2018 with a group of family ranging in age from a 14 year old neice to my 80 year old mother and father-in-law and they all had a blast. My sons (now early 30’s) want to do it every time we are on island together and can almost do the guides speeches and stories by heart. Thenguides have always been great by the way. It is just as you reported a fun, family friendly (not overly expensive) adventure that you will remember… along with the “refreshing” water. This is one of those bucket list items that you will want to repeat! Mahalo

  6. We did the tubing one year. It was a blast. A little chilly first getting in, but was great feeling shortly. The staff was a riot

    1. I loved my trip with my family in the lava tubes. At first I was intimidated by what I was expecting but now count it as one of my favorite excursions in Kauai! The guides were so friendly & helpful as well.

  7. Have done this adventure three times & loved it every single time. The guides are all a blast….pure aloha. Ride up was fun with good mix of information on sites and personal interaction. Have also done the Kauai Backcountry Adventures zip line a few times as well. Equally wonderful time. Can’t wait to do this again.

  8. We’ve done this trip each of the last three years we were in Kauai, and plan to do it again when we revisit in 2023. It’s one of the highlight excursions on Kauai. Guides are super friendly. A great, relaxing , fun excursion. We went up to the headwaters of the canal system by the “Jurassic Park waterfall” (a very treacherous drive by the way) and saw where the concrete canals start. I’ve always wondered if it is possible to float tube all the way down from there. Probably not, but maybe BOH knows.

    1. Hi Rob.

      We aren’t aware of any way to float from the headwaters down. Maybe someone else has more information. But as far as we know, this is all that is possible.


  9. Took this adventure several years ago and had a blast. Highly recommend it. I wear eyeglasses and had no problems. Helmet and heavy duty gloves were provided. I had packed protective beach slip-ons that were sturdy so I wore them instead of tennis shoes. There was a shed at the picnic area at the end of the trip where I changed to dry clothes I had brought.


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