Island Rapid is made up of two significant drops around the right of the island, namely Island 1 and Island 2. Only about 5% of the field will attempt to shoot Island 1&2, including those who simply have no idea where they are. The rest of the field will take the the sneak left of the island, which meets up with the main channel just before a drop, sometimes referred to as Island 3.
The channel to the sneak veers off the left at 90 degrees to the main flow and is clearly visible. There are also some distinct landmarks to help you get orientated. To get your bearings look out for the second large flat section after Molweni Causeway. The first large pool you come across has a massive cliff face on your right. This is a good landmark for the first pool where the sneak is not. Do not confuse this pool with the next one, as some paddlers have done, only to find themselves horribly lost, trying to find a non-existent sneak. At the end of the first pool there is a narrow channel on the extreme right, leading into a small chute and then opening into another large flat section. At the end of the second flat section, you need to start looking out for Island.
Option 1: Portage
The portage is only about 50m long and essentially avoids a tricky little drop. Enter the sneak channel and exit the river on your right. Put in again and then bump down the left channel looking for the deepest water. At the end of the channel there is a shallow rock slide with some hard protruding lumps down the centre that can damage your boat. To avoid these keep extreme left, sliding over the rocky shelf if need be.
Option 2: Paddle the entire sneak
Paddling this entire section adds an element of risk, to state the obvious, otherwise paddlers wouldn't portage it. The first drop being man-made has some unnatural features to deal with and it can bite you. The water flows fast over a shallow rocky shelf, limiting your maneuverability once committed. In medium/high water there are some decent sized lateral waves coming off the right bank. The exit flows over a large boulder that you can ramp over if you can't avoid it, but its best to try make the gap left of it.
In low water levels (less than 15cumecs) this drop becomes quite manageable if you enter with some momentum and keep pointing straight down stream.
The images below show the exit of the Island sneak in low water. When the river is up it becomes a lot easier.
At the end of the sneak is Island 3, which is a pleasant chute with a stopper at the end. In high water this stopper is wide and powerful, so make sure you punch through on the softer left side. In very high water preferably aim for the lateral wave coming off the left bank. In low water look for the deepest exit point.
Option 3: Paddle the Main Channel
Below are some images of Island 2. We recommend that you only attempt Island 2 once you have a very thorough idea of where you are going and have scouted in on foot. There is a lot of broken concrete and old metal re-bar under the water below the broken causeway, so your line is critical. On the correct line, there is still a steep drop, a hole or two and some big stoppers to negotiate. A swim here usually ends in tears.
Island Rapid Sneak Videos
Sneak Aerial View
From the Portage put-in to Island 3