Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

Flumin' the Kohala Ditch is back by popular demand!!!

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

Cross a 150 foot bridge over one of the flumes

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

One of the pretty waterfalls you will see on the tour

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

A great way to experience the natural beauty of the Big Island

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

Plan to get wet on this fun family adventure

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

One of the hand built flumes that you will cross

Princeville Ranch Zipline guide

Coming out of one of the 10 hand-carved tunnels on the tour

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“Flumin’ Kohala Ditch” … the Big Island’s most popular family adventure tour is back once again! Guests paddle and coast on 4-person inflatable kayaks for approximately an hour, covering almost three miles of this historic irrigation ditch. Your guides will share the history and folklore of the area, and lead you on this floating adventure.

The tour experience starts in the town of Hawi where you will check in and receive an orientation for the tour. You’ll board a 4WD van and head out on a 40 minute ground tour of the area and visit scenic overlooks and sites on the way to the ditch. Your 4WD journey will then turn onto private lands in the Kohala Mountains … an area that is not open to the general public. You’ll enjoy an easy 10-minute nature walk to the spot where your floating adventure will begin. On the way there you will cross a walking bridge that passes directly over a 150′ flume that carries the water to the start of the tour. You’ll also pass a pretty little waterfall called “Banana Falls” along the way.

When you arrive at the spot where the flumin’ tour begins, guides will assist you in launching these inflatable kayaks. You will wear headlamps supplied for you so that you can see inside the many tunnels that you navigate. You will float through 10 tunnels, cross over 7 water flumes, and past vibrant native flora and fauna. At the conclusion of the kayaking you are again transported by 4WD vehicle through a macadamia nut orchard and back to the base area in Hawi. Total tour time including gearing up, transportation to the ditch, the floating, and transportation back to the baseyard is about three hours.

What exactly is a “flume”? On the Kohala Ditch, a flume is a trestle-like structure that spans over a gulch. It is much like a wooden bridge … only instead of a roadway or railway surface the structure supports an aqueduct that is carrying water. By combining a series of flumes that cross gulches and tunnels that burrow through mountain ridges, the Kohala Ditch is able to transport millions of gallons of water daily along the 14.5 miles of remaining ditch.
General Information
Schedule: Daily at 8am, 9am, 12:15pm, and 1:15pm

Check In: Flumin’ Kohala location in Hawi town on the northern tip of the Big Island

GPS: 55-517 Hawi Rd, Hawi, HI 96719 Click to view map

Duration: 3 hours

Reservations: This tour has very limited availability and is extremely popular. Don’t wait until you arrive on the Big Island or this tour may be completely sold out … reserve your date NOW using the form on the right to guarantee your space!

Gear Provided: Personal flotation device, rain poncho (if it’s raining), headlamps, inflatable 4 person kayaks

Restrictions: Minimum age is 5. Maximum weight is 300 pounds. No one who is pregnant, has chronic neck or back problems, recent surgery, or who is claustrophobic or afraid of the dark may participate in this tour. Participants must be able to walk over uneven ground and sit for at least one hour in an upright position without back support. You may not participate if you are under the influence of alcohol, or impaired in any way by drugs (legal or illegal).

What to Bring & Wear: Clothing that can get wet. Water shoes, tennis shoes or sandals with a strap are required (absolutely no slippers or flip-flops allowed). Bring change of clothes, towel, hat , and waterproof camera.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours before the start of the event. Larger private groups are subject to a 72 hour cancellation notice policy.

CKohala Ditchruise Ship Passengers

Due to the distance from ports in Hilo and Kona, the Kohala Ditch tour does not work for cruise ship passengers. If your cruise is visiting the island of Kauai, you might consider the Kauai Mountain Tubing Adventure instead.

Activity Tips

Kevin Ditamore – Adventureinhawaii.com Owner

The Ditch … the Ditch … the Ditch is back! Sounds almost like an Elton John tune doesn’t it? Yes, that’s right! One of the Big Island’s most popular vacation activities is available once again.

For years Big Island visitors have enjoyed the unique experience of floating down the Kohala Ditch in an inflatable kayak … through tunnels and over flumes and past a verdant tropical rain forest with many pretty little waterfalls. The Kohala Ditch was completed by Japanese laborers in 1905.  After 18 months of grueling hard work and the loss of 17 lives, the 22 mile ditch began delivering water from the rainy windward slopes of Mauna Kea to the thirsty sugar cane fields of northern Kohala.

The sugar plantation closed in 1971, but the Kohala Ditch continued to deliver water to more diverse agriculture in the community. The Ditch was opened to recreational use with the Flumin’ da Ditch tour in 1996. It operated successfully for 10 years until the powerful 6.8 earthquake that rocked the Big Island (and Maui and Oahu too) on Sunday October 15, 2006. The Kohala Ditch was damaged badly, seemingly beyond repair, and the water no longer flowed. If you read reports on Tripadvisor, you’ll see ominous posts asserting “The Flumin’ Da Ditch tour is gone for good.”

Ummmm … no it isn’t. The Kohala Ditch was repaired and reopened for tours in 2010 doing business as “Kohala Ditch Adventures.” This tour was incredibly popular with our clients until a storm damaged the ditch in November of 2014. One flume needed to be replaced, and several others shored up, before tours could once again resume.

Great news! As of June 2015 the work has been completed and the tours are now operating once again under the name of Flumin’ Kohala! Float on, everyone!

Guests check in at Flumin’ Kohala’s location in “downtown” Hawi, a quaint sugar-cane-plantation-era town that is now home to an eclectic mix of art galleries and little cafes. From there the adventure starts with a ground tour to the Pololu Valley overlook and then a 4WD ride to the Kohala Ditch. A short nature walk crosses a flume just like the ones you will be paddling over, and there is a very pretty waterfall there! When you reach the start of the floating tour, the guides assist you in boarding your inflatable kayak, which holds up to 4 people, depending on weight.

While the person in the front and the back of the kayak are given paddles, you don’t really have to do heavy duty paddling as the ditch has a pretty decent current that carries you right along. This is not a scarey whitewater ride, but it isn’t boring either. Around every bend there are new sights, with tunnels and flumes and great views of the rainforest. Guides tell the stories and history of the Kohala Ditch, and you’ll even see some 100+ year old Kanji characters left on the walls of the tunnels by the Japanese laborers who engineered and built this amazing structure.

The tour covers a distance of about 3 miles, and you are floating for about an hour … exact time will vary depending on tour size, the water speed and how hard your group paddles. At the conclusion of the tour you board the 4WD van for a ride back to the base area. A light snack and beverage are served as well.

This tour is similar to the Mountain Tubing Adventure offered on Kauai, but you sit on a kayak instead of sitting on a tube. While you do get a little wet on this tour, your butt isn’t in cold water like it is on the Kauai version. Also, the tunnels here are not quite as long so you don’t spend as much time in the dark. We think the amount of time spent in tunnels and the amount of time floating in the open have a really good balance on this tour. There are one or two places where you have to lean back on the kayak so you don’t hit your head. Exactly how wet you get on this tour will depend largely on how much the other people in your group are going to splash you on purpose. If you want to stay on the dry side, be nice to the people who are traveling with you on vacation!

One important consideration for this tour … bring the right kind of footwear. Flip flops are not the right kind of footwear as they have a tendency to float away during the tour and are strictly forbidden. In my opinion the best choice are Tevas or Keens or water shoes of some type … footwear that attaches firmly and won’t come off is a must! Sneakers can work, but wet sneakers trapped inside a suitcase on your flight home to the mainland may not smell the way you want them to by the time you get home.

We are so glad this tour is available once again! It’s a don’t-miss experience on the Big Island.