the eight years since Kauai ATV set up shop, the activities
operator has grown dramatically, expanding both the range of island
tours and the types of off-road vehicles it offers. When I first
took one of the company's tours, shortly after it began operations
in 1999, it was an all-ATV operation with one tour.
Today, there are
three daily itineraries plus private tours. The company operates
out of a well-stocked shop in Koloa, which sells outdoor gear. One
recommended purchase is a bathing suit, particularly if visitors
are setting out on the Waterfall Tour, which I highly recommend, or
the Combo Tour, a newly introduced outing that combines kayak and
Mud Bug rides.
So what's a Mud
Bug? I wondered as much when making my reservation. I had
originally requested a tour on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), but
when I arrived at Kauai ATV and saw the Mud Bug, I changed my
Jeep-like vehicles seat two riders and weather all the abuse that
muddy, rutted, jolting roads mete out. Kauai ATV also employs
larger Ohana Bugs, similar vehicles that seat four
alongside guides who are playful and well informed, creating a
let's-have-a-good-time atmosphere without compromising safety.
While the route may prove bumpy, it's not too risky for the average
person to navigate and enjoy.
"We've seen the
biggest growth with our custom-made Mud Bugs," said Marleny Cotrim,
marketing manager for ATV Kauai. "They're easier to handle than
the ATVs, and they allow couples or families to ride together and
share the fun."
For clients who
find ATVs too challenging, Mud Bugs are far easier to handle and
more stable on backcountry roads. Drivers must be age 16 or older
to drive a Mud Bug, and passengers must be age 5 or
While going over
safety procedures before my tour departed, I saw the return of a
mud-caked group from that morning's Waterfall Tour. I instantly
understood why we had been given rubber boots and overalls as well
as goggles and helmets.
Kauai ATV provides
necessary outerwear and gear to don for off-road rides, during
which clients often get splattered with red mud.
The only gear I had
to bring along was a bathing suit for a swim in a waterfall-fed
pond and a towel for the final wash-down after our return. Kauai
ATV also recommends that riders bring bandanas to cover their
mouths, bug spray, sunscreen and water-friendly footwear such as
strapped sandals or aqua shoes.
Kauai ATV has
access to tens of thousands of scenic, off-road acres on a route
that includes hand-hewn tunnels that cut through mountains and
World War II-era bunkers built just after Japanese planes bombed
include a maximum of 12 vehicles and up to 20 participants, run
three to four hours. Most include a picnic lunch, except the daily
Koloa tour, which includes just a snack and drink. Photos taken by
Kauai ATV during the tour can be purchased as souvenirs.
Worth the money
interview with the dozen other participants on my Waterfall Tour
revealed that all were pleased with the experience and considered
the tour worth the money. For the Waterfall Tour, drivers pay $155;
passengers pay $135.
The tour included
several interesting stops en route to lunch and the swim. Guides
were warm, enthusiastic, alert and professional
There are four
daily Waterfall Tour departures, at 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., noon and 1
p.m. Other tour options include the Koloa Tour, at $125 for drivers
and $105 for passengers, with one 1:30 p.m. departure. The
three-hour tour takes in Kauai's south shore, accessing film
locations, the Waita Reservoir and a half-mile cane tunnel. Guides
provide information about Kauai's plant and animal life.
The new Combo Tour
includes a four-hour Mud Bug tour and a kayak adventure on the
Waita Reservoir. Prices are $175 per driver, $155 per passenger.
The tour departs daily at 7 a.m.
Cotrim said a large
percentage of business is booked before clients fly to Hawaii,
which is recommended because Kauai ATV tours often sell out. Travel
agent commissions are paid upon completion of tours.
information or to book, call (877) 707-7088, e-mail [email protected] or
contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].