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Travel Blog #123 - Kayaking the Kohala Aqueduct

In 1904 a man named John Hind began construction on an aqueduct in the rain forest on the North end of the Big Island in a region known as Kohala. When it was completed in 1906 it provided enough water to farm over 13,000 acres of sugar cane. Things were good until 1975 when the final harvest was made and the sugar company shut its doors for good. The ditch remained intact and is now used by Kohala Ditch Adventures for their Kohala Kayak Tour.

We got an early start from Kona so we would have plenty of time to make the drive north along the coast to the town of Hawi. There was barely any traffic and it didn't take long before we were there. The headquarters was located just a few minutes past Hawi towards the end of the road. We parked our car on the grassy field in front of the check in area. Our guide introduced herself and as soon as the other members of our group arrived she began to brief us on what our plan was for the day.

We were going to load into a Swiss made military vehicle called a Pinzgauer that would be shuttling us up to the drop in point for our kayak ride. From here we were taking the kayaks through the aqueduct until we reached the ending point a few miles downstream. The route was going to take us over huge trestles and through tunnels that were hundreds of feet long. Before we got in the Pinzgauer to make our way to the drop in point our guide passed out headlamps that we could use to see when we were in the tunnels.

Kohala Mountain Kayaks Fluming Da Ditch Tour

Once we made our way to the top of the long dirt road that lead up to the aqueduct we got out of the Pinzgauer and then made a short hike to our launching point on the aqueduct. During our hike we were pointed out all kinds of native plants and fruits by our guide. We even made our way over a 150 foot long wooden trestle that spanned a gigantic ravine.

Our kayaks were a waiting for us in the aqueduct when we got to our drop in point. We were issued paddles. The guide explained that the current in the aqueduct would be more then adequate to propel our boats forward and the paddles were really only to help us steer. She explained that the best way to steer the boat was to simply push off of the wall on the side of the aqueduct with the end of the paddle. It didn't take long for our group to get loaded into the boats and start our journey down the aqueduct.

It wasn't long before we made our way over our first bridge and into the darkness of the first tunnel. One by one we all flicked on our headlamps so we could see in the darkness of the tunnel. The ceiling and walls of the tunnel were dimpled with what appeared to be individual shovel marks from where the workers had carved the tunnel from the mountain over a hundred years ago. It wasn't long before we could begin to make out a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that slowly grew in size until we eventually popped out of the darkness and into the warm light of the sun.

As we continued down the aqueduct we encountered many more bridges and tunnels before we eventually reached the end of our route. Two five passenger side by side UTV's were waiting to transport us back to the ranch. During the drive I conversed with some of the other people that were in our group. I wanted to know if they enjoyed the trip and from all the responses I got I think it is safe to say that they did.

We went through gigantic tunnels!

Travel Blog - Articles #120 to #129

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