Past the rows of longan and citrus trees, pineapple plants and spans of turmeric is a muddy, bumpy road that leads to a bungalow deep in the Kauai jungle.
Nestled in a Shangri-La-like valley of leafy vines and tropical flowers, the bungalow overlooks a little stream and is where Kilohana’s latest tour takes guests to taste Kauai-made rum.
Before you get to the island-inspired cocktails on the new Kauai Rum Safari tour at Kilohana, you take a drive in an open-air safari vehicle through the plantation.
The two-hour tour starts at a little shack opposite the Koloa Rum Company tasting room, where a tour guide and a driver welcome passengers to a truck with about 12 seats in the open air.
Guides point out plants as the tour bounces along through thick mud, passing under canopies of banana trees and through endless orchards of mango and other fruits.
The tour also provides a little history of the area, detailing the story of the collective that started Kilohana Plantation and how it’s evolved into the historic plantation estate it is today.
The tour zig-zags around the path of the Kauai Plantation Railway train tours, and brings guests by the same farm animals as does the train tour — a little herd of goats, a donkey and a big herd of wild pigs in all shapes and sizes.
Guests get a couple slices of bread, and the safari truck drives through the field, passengers flinging food from all sides. That triggers a minor stampede and farm animals who run alongside the truck, trying to snag a snack before their counterparts. It’s not the only time these animals are fed during the day, but they act like it.
When it comes to rum, the safari starts guests off straight out the gate with a taste test that stacks four or five different rums back to back. Guides explain the process to make each type while they dole out samples of their original and flavored rums.
Then, they combine those into a signature mai tai. The mood in the bungalow turns from demonstration to cocktail hour as soon as the drinks are served and guests are allowed to linger, enjoying the jungle atmosphere.
As soon as everyone’s ready, the tour continues until the safari truck reaches destination number two: the lo‘i bungalow. Surrounded by taro patches, this picturesque bungalow is situated near the train tracks and is a relaxing spot to enjoy a snack and the tour’s second round of cocktails.
Kauai Rum Safari is a great way to get to know a bit of the history of the island, and enjoy some of the unique tastes Kauai has to offer.