What are the “Flume” tours? How did they come to be and how do they work?

Jul 1, 2021 | General Information

For over a century the economy of Hawaiian islands depended heavily on sugar cane. Sugar required an enormous amount of water. To produce a pound of sugar up to 500 gallons of water was needed. One million gallons was required every day for just 1 relatively small 100-acre plantation. Even with East Hawaii’s abundant rainfall the sugar industry required much more water with a regular supply.

At the turn of the century The major landowners, Bishop Museum and Bishop Estates formed the Kohala Ditch Company and then the Hamakua Ditch Company to undertake construction of flumes, tunnels and ditches. The terrain on the Big Island provided a huge challenge with very high cliffs, steep drops and often wet conditions. Over 600 workers were needed to complete the project. Due to inaccessible terrain the systems were done almost entirely by hand. When the systems were complete water was sold to several individual plantations.

Today the water supplies sod farms, a dairy, cattle ranches, vegetable farmers, and floral growers. Tourists can enjoy a leisurely float through beautiful remote areas rich with local history. A kayaking tour will take visitors through 3 miles of lush private lands and take 2.5 to 3 hours. Kayaking Kohala Ditch will be a unique and unforgettable adventure.