Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Dirty with Kauai ATV

First of all, I can't believe someone let me be in charge of this machine.

But I'm sure glad they did!

Of all the activities Aaron and I planned for our visit to Kauai, we were most excited about doing a muddy ATV tour with Kauai ATV. It ended up being our most fun activity by far, and one of the most awesome things either of us had ever done!

We were up bright and early for our 7 a.m. waterfall tour. After checking in at the Kauai ATV office in Koloa, we drove three minutes down the road to the actual site with all the vehicles and gear.

Our guides, Cole and Josh, got us set up with shorts and tees that could get dirty. We had worn our bathing suits under our clothes, so after a quick change, we were ready to go.

Aaron and I were the only two people in our tour group who had signed up for single-rider ATVs. Other couples had chosen two-seater MudBugs, while families opted for Ohana Bugs, which accommodate three or four people.

We're both too adventurous and adrenaline-seeking to take turns driving a shared vehicle. If I could do it again, I would still choose my own ATV! They just seemed more badass... and we got to wear cooler helmets.

Cole explained all the safety rules and basic hand signals to our group, had us sign paperwork that swore we wouldn't drive dangerously (I gave Aaron some serious side-eye during this part — he likes to push limits) and got us acquainted with our vehicles. I started to get a little nervous.

We began the tour with a lap around a dirt track just to get a feel for our vehicles. My main fear was that I would get going too fast and lose control of the ATV, but I realized it was pretty easy to drive and had great brakes. I was ready to head out on the real trail.

Here's where taking the 7 a.m. tour worked to our advantage: The trail was plenty wet from overnight and early-morning rain, so we had plenty of mud puddles to zoom through. It also helped that it poured torrential rain twice throughout our tour — so much fun!

I drove slowly at first, especially when making turns, but I went faster as I became more confident. We rode in a single-file line, and I was second — right behind the lead guide, Cole — so I felt like I needed to keep up and not slow down the whole group. It was good motivation for me to drive more adventurously.

Aaron, who was right behind me, can attest to the fact that I rode a little too adventurously at times. I might have nearly veered into the bushes a few times, and at one point got momentarily stuck in a really muddy patch. It was nothing I couldn't handle, though. : )

Cole stopped us at a few interesting points during the tour and did a great job of giving us some background info about the land. He told us all about the Wilcox Tunnel, for example, and how it served as a shortcut for trucks to transport sugar cane back when Grove Farm was an operational sugar plantation.

And it was really cool to drive through the half-mile-long tunnel.

Halfway through the tour, we stopped to swim at a pretty waterfall and have lunch. We could even jump off the waterfall, but Cole advised us not to go head first.

Did I mention that Aaron likes to push limits? This was mid-flip; he didn't actually land head first! He nearly gave me a heart attack, though.

I meant to do a cannonball, but it somehow turned into this lame jump. Heh.

It was so nice to rinse off and relax. We enjoyed PB&J sandwiches, chips, cookies, juice and water before heading back out on the trail for more muddy fun.

I felt way more confident during the second portion of the tour and really shredded my ATV. It was just awesome and I never wanted it to be over!

We stopped to take in the most beautiful scene near the end of the tour. Recognize this view from Jurassic Park?

I put this picture on Facebook and people commented that the background looks fake. It looked surreal in person, too! So gorgeous.

I was reluctant to say goodbye to this view, but it was time to head through the Wilcox Tunnel again and back to Kauai ATV. I made sure to hit every puddle on the way for good measure.

The only downside to driving an ATV versus a MudBug or Ohana Bug, if you're looking to get really dirty, is that only your legs and shoes really get muddy; the ATV's fenders protect you from most of the splashing. Everyone else on our tour was soaked and mud-spattered from head to toe.

I was happy to stay a little more clean. : )

We had a fantastic time on our tour with Kauai ATV and highly recommend it if you're looking for an adventurous and scenic activity on Kauai.

Aaron and I now have ATV fever and might even try to ride ATVs wherever we travel. My friend Joel Runyon recently rode an ATV in a desert in Jordan — a very different experience, but equally awesome, I'm sure.

I can't wait to ride again.

Disclaimer: We enjoyed a discounted tour with Kauai ATV. This is an honest review and all opinions are my own.

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