I recently found out that there was something I never knew I always wanted to do — drive an ATV. While we were in Kauai, Hawaii, family and I had the opportunity to take an ATV tour with Kauai ATV. The idea of being covered in mud and getting it stuck in places that mud should never be didn’t appeal to Frans, Munchkin, or me. But, after our ride, we actually wished that there were more puddles to drive through so we could get even dirtier!
Gearing Up for Our Kauai ATV Waterfall Tour
We booked the morning Waterfall tour. So, we needed to check in at the Kauai ATV office bright and early at 7:30 am. We picked up our complimentary bandanas (which are like long tubes that you pull on), signed the mandatory waivers, and got back into our rental car to drive to the main site. It was only a couple of minutes away.
After everyone arrived, we walked over to the lockers to store our things and put on the gear. This included loaner clothes, goggles, and helmets. I’m so glad they provided (clean) clothes at no charge to go over our swimsuits. We heard that the red Kauai mud that will get on us is next to impossible to wash out. Since we were on vacation, we didn’t bring extra or “disposable” outfits. So, this saved us the cost of trying to get some junky shirts and pants to only use for this occasion.
Our two tour guides told us how the Ohana Bugs worked (used for the waterfall tour). They also went over safety guidelines, warnings, and hand signals. Then, we all chose our rides and my family let me drive first. I did have to put something behind my back to prop me forward. I could barely reach the pedals and the seat is not adjustable (I’m 5’3” and have average-length legs). After we buckled our bag in (because that’s what you’re supposed to do), it was time to head out.
Exploring Off-Road Trails via ATV
Despite the bumpiness and the noise, we got used to the ATVs pretty quickly. The off-road trails ranged from wide-open areas to jungle-like forests and from tall fields to crossing streams.
Movie Pop Culture & Teen Drivers
The guides stopped at a few key spots on the way to tell us about the property, local history, and movies filmed in the area (there were a lot). That gave us a break between sections to rest, switch drivers (we ended up driving about two times each), and snap a few photos. Any photos that the guides take can be later downloaded for free via email.
Even Munchkin had her turn since teens that are 16 and up only need a valid ID to drive one of the ATVs. It’s all private property so there’s no danger of unlicensed teenagers wreaking havoc on public roads.
Scary Sugar Cane Transport Tunnel
The scariest part of the entire tour was driving through the pitch-black tunnel. We saw a huge bulldozer pass through fine so we knew it was possible. It’s only kind of nerve-wracking if your lights work well but, if not, make sure you drive slow and keep all limbs inside the metal cage. Don’t ask me how I know this… So, especially on the way back, MAKE SURE YOUR LIGHTS ARE ON AND ARE CLEAN (MUD-FREE)!
A few days before, the south point of Kauai did get a bit of rain. That meant mud puddles! We discovered early on how much fun it was to splash through them even if most were kind of shallow. And, since we were fully covered, we didn’t worry about any getting on our faces, ears, or hair. We would have liked to try bigger puddles but our guide had us avoid some of them so as not to damage the vehicles or ourselves.
It was so funny, though. I tend to hit every traffic cone I see no matter how hard I try to avoid them. That came in handy for getting those puddles. But, Frans, who usually has better control, would head straight for a puddle but somehow avoid it. Munchkin, well, she would go full throttle and get every single puddle the guide would allow.
(See video at the top of the post so see what I mean.)
At another stop, we went into an old WWII bunker. Definitely ask for a flashlight from the guides when they mention it. We used our cell phone lights and it was so weak that we could barely see right in front of us. So you know, if dark, narrow spaces aren’t your thing, you might want to wait outside.
Private Waterfall Play & Snack Time
The next stretch brought us to the waterfall. It’s not a huge one but big enough to play in. After stripping down to our swimsuits (sounds a lot worse than it is), we went took turns jumping into the lower section where it is 8-10’ deep. We could also head to the upper section, closer to the waterfall. It felt pretty nice to cool down in the water after the initial part of our drive.
I was slipping like crazy due to my footwear. My shoes came off after I jumped in the water and I struggled to climb on the rocks for a photo near the falls. It was anything but graceful. The Kauai ATV website only says to wear “water-friendly closed-toe shoes.” But, based on my experience, I would suggest that you wear actual water shoes that stay on and have a good grip. Then you won’t flail about while trying to retrieve your shoes or accidentally scrape a rock as you wade through the water like I did.
The guides put snacks and drinks out on the table for us to enjoy whenever we were ready for them. It was also the perfect time to reapply sunscreen and bug spray. Little did we know, though, that bugs had already bitten us during the short time we went from the water to the picnic tables. Grr!
Taking in the Sights While Driving an ATV in Kauai
We didn’t stop very much on the way back so we had longer driving sessions. This allowed us to let loose a little and take in the gorgeous views as we enjoyed the wind rushing past us.
Before we went back to our cars, we visited the reservoir on-site. This is where the guides told us about kayaking tours that the company offers. They mentioned the zip-lining adventures too. This part did feel kind of like a sales pitch for other tours as well as tips and online reviews. At least, we had a nice background to look at while they spoke.
Back at the main area, we returned our dirty loaner clothes and equipment. Since the storage was locked while we were away, all our stuff was right where we left it. There were changing stalls but we decided to rinse off in the showers, wrap up in a towel, and change back at our hotel since it was so close by. Oh, and Munchkin wanted me to take some photos as proof that they do in fact wash the gear after use. I’ll share them here in case you were wondering about that too… 😛
Kauai ATV — A Must-Do Family Activity in Kauai Hawaii
We had a blast driving ATVs with Kauai ATV! The vehicles felt safe and in good condition, the guides were attentive and helpful (despite the dry humor of one of them), the panoramic landscapes were breathtaking, and splashing through the mud was way more fun than it should be. We can’t wait to do this again and, hopefully then, it will be after some heavy rain 😉
My family and I were hosted on the tour at no cost for review purposes. All opinions are my own.