Martha and I went to Hawaii for two weeks for our honeymoon back in early 2008. We spent a week on Kauai, then five days on the Big Island, followed by three or four days on Oahu. Kauai was absolutely beautiful and one thing we absolutely had to try was an ATV tour. For that, we went to Kipu Ranch.
They offer two types of tours – a ranch tour and a waterfall tour. We opted for the Ranch Tour because it was shorter (3 hours vs. 4 hours) and slightly cheaper ($125 vs. $150). Looking back, I think going on either would’ve been fun though four hours is a pretty significant time commitment!
For our tour, we rode on a Rhino, which is a two seater side-by-side ATV made by Yamaha. We figured that since we were novices, it would be safer for us to use the Rhina rather than an the bomber. Also, since we wanted to take photos, we figured the Rhino offered better opportunities for the passenger to snap shots on the go. In a Bomber, where the passenger sits behind the driver, it can be a lot trickier to take photos.
Despite being almost two years ago, I still remember much of the tour. You start off with a little instruction and then practice. You driving the ATVs around a dirt covered area beside their office/trailer. The ATVs were pretty easy to drive, especially the wider Rhinos, and it only took a few minutes to become comfortable with the controls. After a brief introduction, we headed out to the ranch.
The tour consisted of driving from place to place as the tour guides gave some extensive island history, explanation of what movies were filmed nearby, etc. About halfway, you stop by the Hule’ia river where you enjoy some refreshments and then finish with a view of famous Kipu Kai. Kipu Kai is especially beautiful because it’s a private cove with private access, but you get to see it from above in all its splendor. The guides were really friendly, knowledgeable, and enjoyed having a good time. While I can’t confirm this, I’m pretty sure the tour ran longer than three hours but I never saw anyone check a watch.
If you do take the tour, here are a few bits of advice:
- Wear dark clothes – the dirt can stain lighter clothes. 🙂
- They advise you wear long pants and close-toe shoes – this is a must for safety reasons. You’ll be driving through woods and small branches might whip against your feet and legs, so keeping them covered is a must. We forgot to do that and it wasn’t an issue because of how the Rhino is designed, but if you are riding one of the others than I would wear long pants.
- Listen to their advice – ATVs are pretty safe but you never know, so learn how to drive them. The terrain isn’t challenging but again, you never know.
- Wear sunscreen – You’ll be exposed to the sun a lot and the uncovered ATVs will keep you cool with the wind, so you won’t even feel yourself burning if you forget sunscreen.
- Bring a point and click camera – ATVs kick up a lot of dirt, rocks, and all sorts of other crap. When we were done, uncovered parts of our face were covered in a red clay film. I advise against bringing an expensive SLR camera because you may regret it.
There are several ATV tour companies on Kauai and they are all comparable in price. We chose Kipu Ranch over others because it was so well regarded. It’s listed as #9 on Tripadvisor’s list of “things to do” on Kauai with a rating of 4.5 with 36 reviews. Kauai ATV Tours is another company, they have a rating of 4.5 with 12 reviews.
I think you’ll be happy with either, I mean it is Hawaii after all, but we went on Kipu and really enjoyed it.