Flumin’ Kohala has exclusive access to the Kohala Ditch Company’s century-old irrigation system: the Kohala Ditch. Once used to irrigate vast fields of sugar cane, The Ditch provides a unique means of experiencing two great wonders of Hawai‘i. First-amid the gentle sound of dripping and cascading water-its natural, wild and largely undisturbed up-mountain beauty. Secondly, the great engineering feat that is The Ditch itself; a 22-1/2 mile long system of irrigation tunnels, elevated flumes, and open concrete channels hand-drilled and blasted out of solid rock. Floating in a kayak along the Kohala Ditch is a fascinating trip through some of the most beautiful and remote land in Hawai‘i. Truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Our headquarters is at the northern tip of Hawai‘i Island in the plantation village of Hāwī. We are located at 55-517 Hāwī Road, in the historic Kohala Ditch Company Building. When you arrive at headquarters for check-in, you will be warmly greeted by our friendly guides who will assist you in “gearing up” for your adventure.
After a short informational and safety briefing, you will then board one of our air conditioned 4wd vans for a 30 minute excursion across beautiful Kohala to our launch site high in the Kohala Mountains. As you journey across Kohala, your guides will point out and share the folklore of the many historic points of interest associated with Kohala’s conquering son, King Kamehameha, Hawaiian civilization, the missionary era, and the rise and fall of sugar. Also…if you’re lucky…they’ll also share stories from their lives here in Kohala; what it’s really like “livin’ in paradise”.
Once you leave the paved highway, through locked gates and past No Trespassing signs, you enter lands that are forbidden to all except those with permission from the Kohala Ditch Company. Here you will find world-class vistas, plentiful water falls, wide open pastures, and finally… the much storied Kohala Ditch. A short hike across a 150′ flume, over a beautiful waterfall, and besides the flowing waters of The Ditch brings you to your waiting kayak.
Once underway in your floating time machine, you’ll glide back to the early 1900’s when the sugar plantations of Kohala, desperate to stave off the devastating effects of unreliable rainfall, sought a solution. That solution was an engineering masterpiece of hand-built tunnels, flumes, ditches and intakes to bring the abundant water of the rugged windward canyons to the thirsty fields of Kohala. Supervised by famed engineer Michael M. O’Shaugnessy the system’s initial 13-1/2 miles was completed in a mere 18 months. Sadly, it also cost the lives of 17 Japanese laborers…lives lost to falls, explosions, and other accidents. A life a month, a life a mile.
As you cruise along 3 miles of The Ditch, your guide will share with you his knowledge and the folklore of this much storied masterpiece. The long, dark tunnels whose quiet is disturbed only by dripping water from the ceiling; the flumes that soar over murmuring streams and cascading water falls; and the open ditches that carry you through emerald green light filtering through the forest canopy.
At the end of your float you will step back into your waiting van to complete your journey back to civilization. A 15 minute drive through a macadamia nut plantation and a working-class village built by the sugar plantation for their employees (each lot originally sold for $1), you will arrive at headquarters. There you will be able to change into your dry clothing and take some souvenir photos with your guides before bidding everyone a fond Aloha and Mahalo for this amazing and unforgettable experience.