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What is Rappelling, Anyway?

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q&a

Aloha!  In this Question and Answer post, you’ll find out what rappelling is.  We’re happy to discuss it, especially since most of our guests are unfamiliar, and we like to welcome first-timers to the sport whenever possible.

What is Rappelling?

Rappelling is the practice of using ropes, a harness, belay device and other equipment to descend a steep terrain. It’s an important part of climbing, caving and canyoneering–the exploration of canyons.  There are a few kinds of rappelling styles. The kind that you’ll perform during a Rappel Maui tour is either:

A standard rappel, during which a person lowers herself down vertical terrain with her back toward the ground and her feet in contact with the rock, and walks down while letting the rope slide through the  device. (The angle of the rope through the device determines the speed of the descent.) Here’s where you can learn more about the standard rappels you’ll do during the Classic Rappel Tour.

OR,

A free rappel–we also refer to this as a “zip” rappel, during which the climber slides down the rope through free space between the rope’s two anchors. In the case of a Rappel Maui zip rappel, the high end of the rope is attached to the top of a jungle wall near the top of the waterfall, while the other end is attached to an underwater surface in the pool below. Thus the rappeller makes a rapid descent down the rope from the top of the cliff and zips down into the water, which slows her to a stop.  You can learn more about the standard and free rappels you’ll do during the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour.

Do You Still Have Questions About What a Tour is Like, and Whether it’s for You?

We’re here!  You can call us at 808-445-6407. You can email us at dropoff@rappelmaui.com. Or you can chat with us from your computer or mobile device.

Everything You Wanted to Know About a Rappel Maui Tour, But Were Afraid to Ask

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, RAPPEL MAUI, ANSWERED

If you’re the curious type, but aren’t ready to call us with your specific questions, we’ve put together this unabridged list of facts to help you understand the nature of a Rappel Maui tour. This list serves as an addendum or the extended dance remix of the original, much shorter FAQ that we’ve put together. Thanks for being thorough!

WHAT IS YOUR TOUR LIKE?
The Rappel Maui tour is a fun and active experience for anyone over 10 who wants to experience the excitement and beauty of Maui’s rainforest and waterfalls through the sport of canyoneering. It’s a recreational tour that requires no previous climbing or rappelling experience.  Follow these links for more about what it’s like, who can join us, when tours run, and how to book. Of course, you can always call us for information at 808-445-6407 between 7 AM and 7 PM, every day of the year.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKING MY RESERVATION ONLINE OR OVER THE PHONE?
The only difference in making your reservation online vs. over the phone is that you can make an online reservation any time of the day or night. Check availability or make a reservation now. Our reservation phone hours are 7 AM to 7 PM Hawaii time, 7 days. Call 808-445-6407 to make a phone reservation.

HOW MUCH DOES A RAPPEL MAUI TOUR COST?
The classic tour costs $228.12 per person. That includes tax, transportation from Central Maui, all gear (with special footwear), and lunch. The cost to accompany the tour without participating in the rappelling is $156.25.  The extended tour, the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour, is $290.63 per person.

WHAT IS CANYONEERING? WHAT IS RAPPELLING?
Simply put, canyoneering is the exploration of canyons. Some necessary activities associated with exploring and traveling through canyons are hiking, scrambling, jumping, sliding, rappelling, and swimming. Rappelling is the practice of using ropes, anchors and other equipment to descend (and sometimes ascend) a vertical or nearly vertical surface. When we conduct our rappelling tours, we use harnesses, ropes, and a redundant system of anchors to descend natural wet and dry jungle walls.

SHOULD I REMOVE ALL MY JEWELRY BEFORE RAPPELLING?
Out on the pitches and trails, it’s best to keep things simple and un-blingy. Remove any pieces of exposed jewelry that might catch on equipment or rocks. You will also be using your hands quite a bit, and they will likely contact hard, rough and muddy surfaces, so if you’re worried about damaging rings with or without stones, we do recommend removing them.  We don’t, however, recommend leaving any valuables in your car.  Either leave jewelry in your hotel safe, or bring it with you so that you can keep it in the dry keg in your backpack.

WHEN DO YOU OFFER TOURS?
We operate tours daily, with a maximum of four tour times per day. Look online or call to ask about availability for any particular time slots. Classic tour times are at 7:00, 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 AM. The Extreme Zip Rappel Tour time is 9:30 AM, and operates 3 days per week. Note that these are the departure times from the Central Maui park & ride lot. If we’re picking you up at your South Maui hotel, or if we’re meeting you on the way to the rappelling site, you’ll board the van at different times. Just call, chat or email us to ask about the details.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAPPEL MAUI CLASSES AND THE TOUR?
The classic tour is a 6-hour long experience that’s strictly recreational, and is operated daily. The extended tour is a 7.5 to 8 hour experience, and is open to first-timers and beginners. It operates 3 days per week. The classes are for those who want to learn the sport of canyoneering from an instructor and master guide. There are multiple courses focusing on a variety of skills and skill levels and are scheduled in advance. Call to learn more about the offerings and how to register.

HOW MANY RAPPELS WILL I DO DURING THE TOUR?
Usually 3 on the classic tour, 4 or more on the extended tour. The format may be different if you’re taking a custom private tour. Call to ask us about custom private tours for small or larger groups.

I’M CONSIDERING A RAPPELLING TOUR, BUT I’M SCUBA DIVING FIRST. WHAT’S THE MAXIMUM ELEVATION DURING THE TOUR?
The maximum elevation of the tour is encountered in Haiku, during the drive from Kahului to the rappelling site, and is about 750 feet above sea level. Once you enter the rappelling site, there’s no more elevation gain, as you’ll descend first, and walk back up to the beginning elevation at the end. If you’re continuing on your own to Hana after your rappel tour, please note that you may encounter elevations of 1,000 feet above sea or higher during the drive.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN A GROUP?
There are two guides assigned to a maximum of eight participants.  When making a tour reservation, your group may include other parties.  To make a reservation exclusively for your party of one or more people, call to ask about a private tour.

CAN I TAKE PHOTOS OR VIDEO DURING THE TOUR?
Yes. There are lots of opportunities to capture your memories on a still or video camera. You can mount your GoPro to your helmet, or, if you don’t have a waterproof camera, you can keep your digital camera or smart phone in the dry keg that we provide, along with a backpack for your use during the tour. You can also keep other small, non-waterproof or fragile items in the dry keg, such as car keys and watches. Pro tip: Place water-sensitive items in a sealed plastic bag before putting them into your dry keg for extra insurance.

WHERE DO I GO TO MEET YOU?
We pick you up at a park & ride lot in Central Maui, on Highway 310 at the corner of Highway 30. Get directions and a map to the meeting location. Please arrive 15 minutes before your tour departure time.  If you’re staying in South Maui, we can pick you up at your resort/hotel. (South side pickup is for the 8:30 AM tour time only, with pickup at 7:40 AM, or the 11:30 tour time, with pickup at 10:40. The fee is an additional cost of $25 per person for a round trip ride.)

HOW MUCH DOES THE TOUR COST?
The 6.5-hour tour costs $219 per person, plus tax. The extended tour costs $279 per person, plus tax. Price includes transportation from Central Maui, equipment (including footwear) and lunch, snacks and water. You can book online anytime or by calling 808.270.1500 7AM-7PM, 7 days. South Maui hotel transportation is available for $25 per person; $35 per person from the west side. Ask about pickup and return times, and booking your reservation with hotel transportation.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
There’s hand sanitizer and cold running water at the rainforest site, but no shower or soap. There are changing rooms for you to use after your tour. Bring clothing to change into after the tour, and a towel. We give you a dry box with your backpack to keep your non-waterproof items dry during the tour, but for extra insurance, bring your non-waterpoof items in a seal-able plastic bag.  If you like to keep it neat,  bring a separate or plastic bag for your wet swimsuit and clothing.

WHAT IS THE RIDE LIKE TO THE SITE?
We pick you up in a white 15-passenger van clearly marked with the Rappel Maui logo, and make a 1.5 hour drive to the rappel site on the scenic Hana Highway. Along the way your guides are happy to answer questions about the island, Hawaii culture and history and the tour. You’ll be able to make a bathroom stop either in Kahului (10 minutes from the meeting location) or in Haiku (40 minutes from the meeting location.)  There are also facilities at the rappelling site, along with private changing rooms.  On the ride to Hana, you’ll travel past charming North Shore towns like Paia and surfer-approved beaches like Ho’okipa. As you go, the road becomes a little less straight, and the roadside vegetation a little more green and lush. You’ll see waterfalls on one side of the road, and the infinite sea on the other–relax and enjoy the views.

WHAT IF I’M STAYING SOMEWHERE CLOSER TO THE RAPPELLING SITE THAN TO THE MEETING LOCATION?
If your accommodations are on the way to the rappelling site, or if you’re coming from Hana or continuing on to Hana after your tour, it makes sense to meet us along the way, or at the site on the Hana Highway. Just ask us about your specific meeting time when making your reservation.  If you’re coming from Paia, Makawao-Pukalani,  or Haiku, we can pick you up in an alternative location that will save you time on the road.

WHERE DOES THE RAPPELLING TAKE PLACE?
The canyon where we rappel is located in the Puohokamoa Valley, located on the Hana Highway, approximately halfway to Hana. It’s about 1 hour from Kahului, and 1 hour 15 minutes from Hana. If you’re meeting us at the site, we’ll send you specific directions about where to meet us at the site once you make your reservation.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM PRONE TO CARSICKNESS?
Your guides are experienced drivers of the Hana Highway, and are great at keeping the ride as smooth as possible, but if you know that you or a member of your party is likely to experience some carsickness along the way, let us know when making your reservations. We can either make the usual accommodations, like putting you in the front seat of the van and making sure that your guides carry plenty of ginger candy, or we can meet you at the rappel site.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M TOO SCARED TO MAKE THAT FIRST STEP?
It’s normal and natural to feel nervous about making  your first descent–we welcome beginners and experts alike. Your guides have accompanied all kinds of guests, from children to seniors and beginners to seasoned canyoneers; they’re great at helping adventurers face the challenge of doing something as unusual as walking down a waterfall–and doing it safely. Listen to your guide’s instructions and tips–they know some great techniques for minimizing nervousness and maximizing enjoyment. And if you decide that making one or more rappels isn’t for you, there are hiking trails to the bottom of each descent. You can stay with your party and enjoy the waterfall pools and scenery without making that step over the edge. If you know that you want to accompany the tour, but don’t want to rappel, you can make a reservation as an observer, for a reduced rate of $150 per person plus tax.

IS RAPPELLING SAFE?
Although a rappel tour is full of excitement and thrills, your guides’ first priority is safety. That’s why your tour group size is small (maximum size of 8), with two guides assigned to each group. Your guides are highly-trained in canyoneering techniques, first aid, swift water rescue and wilderness rescue. They receive ongoing training during the year, and maintain certification in Red Cross CPR.  Our courses and equipment are monitored daily and equipment is carefully evaluated and retired when appropriate. When heavy rains and severe weather cause the streams to flood, we use the rappel stations that are a safe distance from the water. And everyone wears a helmet from the tour’s start to finish.  These are a few of the precautions that make a Rappel Maui tour safer than a day at the beach. Read these related posts about why the tour is safe, how we keep it safe, and what kind of excitement you can expect from a day in the rainforest.

DO I NEED TO BE SUPER ATHLETIC TO DO THE RAPPELLING TOUR?
The most important skills in having a great day of rappelling are listening and attentiveness, with the most physical exertion happening at the end of the tour. After the three descents, you’ll hike a well maintained trail under the cool forest canopy back up the 300 vertical feet to the top–it’s like walking up 3 or 4 flights of stairs.  At the supply shed, you’ll be able to change clothing in one of the private changing rooms.

WHAT IF I’VE NEVER BEEN RAPPELLING BEFORE?
You’re in good company. Most of our guests are first-timers or are new to the sport and skill of canyoneering. If you’re interested in learning the how-tos of canyoneering, or further skills you’ve already developed, there are a number of classes offered from beginning to advanced/specialty.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESTRICTIONS AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS?
You must weight between 70 and 250 lbs to participate in the Classic Tour, and you must weight between 80 and 230 lbs to participate in the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour. All participants must measure between 22 and 48 inches around the waist. The minimum age is 10 for the Classic Tour, and 14 for the Zip Rappel Tour. You must be in good general health, and have no neck or back issues. The activity (including the observer/hiking option) is not appropriate for pregnant women. You must also be able to speak and understand English well.

IS IT COMMON PRACTICE TO TIP THE GUIDES?
If you feel that the service your guides provided was exemplary, tipping them is one way to express your appreciation. You can bring cash with you to the tour, or you can call the reservations line to authorize a charge to your credit card for any amount. You can also email us about your experience with your guides, or use a social site like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor, Yelp and others.

Thanks for checking out some frequently asked questions, Rappel Maui style. Please call, email or chat with us for further assistance.

What Happens If…: A Guide for the Unsure

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Many of our guests tell us that their waterfall rappels changed their lives. We hear things like, “I feel so accomplished. Invincible!” And then they often also tell us that, while they were doing this crazy thing, they were also feeling pretty scared.  Such is the curious paradox that is a Rappel Maui waterfalls adventure. Sometimes the fun is in the fear. Go figure.

Our guides, the ones keeping everyone safe while they voluntarily step off the edge of a 50-foot wall of water, also feel like they get something from the experience. Longtime Rappel Maui rock star Rich says that the time he invests in working with someone who’s “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is even more rewarding than guiding those who are naturally good at taking charge of the rope.  So here are the answers to some of those “what if” questions we’re asked by those who are not sure that they have the right stuff.  To ask your own “what if” questions, call us at 808-445-6407 or chat live online with us by visiting the home page of our web site.

What happens if I change my mind?Rappel Maui Safety

If you find yourself at the top of a cliff and decide that you’d rather not rappel down one or all descents, you can still remain with your group. You can take hiking trails instead of rappelling, and enjoy the streams, pools and surroundings while the others in your party make their drops.

What happens if I let go of the rope?

If you happen to accidentally throw a starfish pose with “jazz hands” during one of your rappels, you will remain in place until you’re able to get your hands back on the rope, and your exaggerated facial expressions under control. Listen to your guides, and follow their instructions for continuing onward and downward. Pro tip: Wait until you’re on level ground to use your jazz hands. What you do with your facial expressions is totally up to you, but we recommend keeping it natural, happy and relaxed.

What happens if my 10-year-old is better at rappelling than I am?

This frequently happens to families with budding adventurists who are eager to make friends with gravity. If one of your children is a natural canyoneer, consider sending him or her to a canyoneering class during your next visit.

Safety is our top priority. Check out some of the ways a rappelling tour is safe, or call, email or chat for specifics. We’re ready to field your questions every day of the year from 7 AM to 7 PM Hawaii time.

What to Wear on a Rappel Maui Tour in Wet or Cooler Weather

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This long-sleeved rash guard plus life jacket is great for staying toasty in rainy, cool winter weather.

This long-sleeved rash guard plus life jacket is great for staying toasty in rainy, cool winter weather.

During the winter months, the weather can get rainy and cool on Maui.  Since we operate tours rain or shine, that means you may (or may not) want to adjust your rappel tour attire.  You’ll still wear the special footwear that we provide you. It’s a rubber booty with a felt sole that’s designed for traversing wet rocks and muddy surfaces, and keeps your feet and ankles protected while you’re rappelling and swimming.   But your best bet for preparing yourself for a day in the elements is to know yourself.

If you know that you’re sensitive to cold water, consider bringing some special items with you, such as a wetsuit top or a diving fleece top or pants.  (If, once you get a visual on the conditions at the rappelling site, you decide you don’t need them, you can leave them in the van or the supply shed.) You can usually rent these at your nearby dive shop, or you can occasionally buy them at Maui’s own COSTCO.  If you’re not sure about making a special trip to the dive shop or mall, wear a sleeved rash guard or quick-dry tee shirt (pictured, right). Paired with your personal flotation jacket, this is a great combo for staying warm in rainy, cool winter weather.

If you want to really maximize your thermal comfort, bring with you a small towel and/or tee shirt, and stow them in a plastic waterproof bag, such as a Ziplock. (Double-bag them for insurance.) You can keep these with you in the dry keg that’s provided with a backpack, which you can then use to dry off and warm up after a waterfall rappel. Since you’ll have some time in between rappels, this is when you’re most likely to–literally–chill out.  Remember that you’ll have an opportunity to warm up by way of exercise during the brief workout at the end of your rappels. It’s the climb back up to the top that we refer to as The Stairmaster.

Make sure to bring a dry, warm change of clothing with you. If you know that it takes you a while to warm up after a day in the elements, think layers: Shorts, sweatpants, tee shirt, hoodie, maybe some socks. After lunch and a ride back to the dryer, sunnier side of the island, you’ll be right as rain. Have more questions about other nuances of a Rappel Maui tour? Phones are all the way live from 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week.  Call us to talk story anytime.

Getting to and From the Tour Location: Transportation Options

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 If You’re Using the Central Maui Meeting Location

Your guides will meet you in a large, white passenger van clearly marked “Rappel Maui,” usually in Central Maui, near the Ma’alaea Harbor at a small park & ride lot near the intersection of highways 310 (also called North Kihei Road) and highway 30.  Of course it’s possible to take a taxi or shuttle service to the meeting location.  Ask your concierge or activity agent for more information about availability and rates. Most guests will drive a rental car to the meeting locatiguides and van2on, and park it for the day. It bears repeating that you should not leave valuables in your parked car; either leave them at your accommodations, or take them with you on the tour.  Your guides will equip you with a backpack and a dry keg for keeping the smaller items your bring with you safe and dry.

If you are driving your rental car to the meeting spot, or are requesting taxi or shuttle service, you can find the directions and map here. You’ll also find them in your email inbox upon your reservation.  Note that, unless we otherwise notify you, the time of your trip is the van departure time from the meeting area. Arrive 10 minutes early to leisurely gather your things and board the van.  Classic Tour times are at 7, 8:30, 10, and 11:30 AM daily, based on availability. The Extreme Zip Rappel Tour time is at 9:30, and operates 3 days per week. You can book tours online and then call or email us to add round trip hotel transportation from your hotel.

Please call us at 808.270.1500 to ask about alternative transportation, including:

  • South Maui or West Maui Hotel/Resort Pickup and Return
  • Using Public Transportation
  • Alternative Meeting Locations (for those with accommodations in Paia, Haiku, Makawao or Hana.)

Hungry After a Day of Walking Maui Waterfalls? Lunch is Served.

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You’ll get hungry during your 6.5-hour tour cruising around nature and its variable climate, so we provide snacks, fresh fruit, plenty of bottled water and a picnic lunch.  When you make your reservation, we’ll take your order.  You’ll enjoy your meal in out own private garden picnic area near the trail head.   If it’s raining, not to worry, there’s shelter for you and your colleagues in adventure. Questions about the food on the trip?  Concerns about food allergy or dietary restrictions?  Just call 808.270.1500.

Your lunch choices are:

Turkeywrap

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Wrap: Tortilla wrapped around hummus, tapenade, chopped tomato, fresh lettuce and carrots.
  • Turkey: Tortilla wrapped around freshly-sliced Legend Carolina turkey breast, pesto cream cheese, fresh greens, carrots and chopped tomato.
  • Gluten-free: Freshly-sliced Legend Carolina turkey breast wrapped around pesto cream cheese, fresh lettuce, chopped tomato, and carrots.

All lunches are served with fresh chocolate chip cookies for dessert and fresh Maui pineapple.  During the tour, you’re provided with granola bars for snacking.  Plenty of bottled water is offered before, during and after lunch.

If you’re taking an earlier tour (7:00 or 8:30), you’ll eat lunch after you rappel. If you’re taking a later tour (10:00 or 11:30), you eat first.  If you have food allergies, please notify us during your reservation, and tell your guides during the ride to the rappelling location.

What Shoes Should I Wear?

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q&aFrom the Frequently Asked Questions files, a very commonly voiced concern:  “What kind of shoes should I wear to the tour?” Because most of our guests have come to the island with a suitcase, they doubt they have come fully equipped with “the right stuff” to rappel.  The truth is:  Some forgiving clothing and a sense of fun and adventure are pretty much all you need to participate in this curious journey into nature.   The answer to “What kind of shoes should I wear on the day of the tour” is:   Whichever shoes you feel comfortable walking in for a few hundred yards, keeping in mind that those few hundred yards may be muddy.  1363439141_louboutins3

That’s because we equip you with special footwear at the rappelling site.  Wear your sandals, your mandals, your flipflops, wear sneakers.  Wear your  platform Louboutins (or not.) It’s all good, because, once you suit up, you’ll be taking off whatever you’re wearing on your feet, and replacing them with a neoprene booty with special felt soles designed for helping your feet grip the forest’s slippery surfaces.

Once you’re out on the ridges and trails, you will still need to step carefully and pay attention to your guides.  They know every part of the valley, and can point out places where the passage is tricky.  When you’re hiking along high passes on exposed cliffs, you’ll clip your harness to anchored ropes.  When walking up the trail “stairs”, conditions can be muddy and slippery when wet.  Use the anchored ropes and trees as handrails, to prevent slips, falls and otherwise ungraceful moves.

Once you’re back at the picnic area, you’ll have a chance to change out of your gear and shoes, clean yourself up a bit, and relax.  Unless you really did wear your Louboutins.

Keeping it Clean: The Neatnik’s Guide to a Nature Adventure

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It wouldn’t be a vacation if you didn’t do things you don’t normally do, so when visiting Maui, do as the Mauians do: Enjoy nature by getting your hands dirty.  If you’re not sure how getting wet and muddy in a rainforest all day is fun, let us remind you that there are few extraordinary experiences and epic bragging rights that can be earned in a crisp white tee shirt or linen shorts.  If you’re willing to meet us a little more than half-way, here are a few tips for minimizing the mess while racking up one of the most unique travel experiencesbiner ever.

1. Leave your jewelry at home base.  The only bling you need during a rugged tour in the rainforest is your caribiner and rappel/belay device. If you do happen to find yourself decked out with fine or fragile accessories, don’t leave them in your rental car. Bring them with you, and stow them in the dry keg that’s provided with your rappelling backpack.   Looking for a place to buy some cheap sunglasses to wear during your tour so that you don’t lose your expensive Maui Jims? Try your local ABC or Whaler’s General Store. There’s also a Walmart and KMart on the island.  And now there’s even the revered Target.

2. Forget the fragrance–it just attracts the insects. And in the jungle, there are plenty.  If you’re worried about bites and stings, ask your guide for an insect repellant wipe.  If you decide to bring your own, don’t use a spray; insect sprays damage the gear.  If you are popular with the mosquitoes, ask your guide for some After Bite–it’s a liquid that takes the itch and sting away.

3. Wear clothing that you can move freely in, and that can get wet, muddy, snagged or ripped.  You’ll want to wear a quick-drying fabric that also protects your skin from the harness you’ll wear during the trip. Wear shorts, pants or leggings that cover you from waist to mid-thigh or lower.  A shirt made from quick drying fabric or a rash guard is a good call, too, since you never know what the weather will be like, and an extra layer of fabric around the waist is a good thing.  Although there are a lot of makers of fine, durable athletic and outdoor clothing, this probably isn’t the best time to bust out your $90 Lululemon ensemble.  You’ll be doing your moves around some rocky terrain that can easily tear or snag fabrics.

4. Bring a towel or two, and dry layers of clothing. It may have been 85 degrees and sunny when you left your Kaanapali resort that morning, but by the time you reach the rainforest in East Maui, the weather may be cool and rainy.  The water may have been chilly that day.  Once you’re done rappelling, you’ll probably want to change out of your wet stuff and into something a little more cozy than you might have imagined–especially during the winter months.  Didn’t pack sweatpants?  One word: Sarong.  These inexpensive gems can be found at virtually every store on the island, and make a convenient, versatile extra layer or blanket in a pinch.  Concerned about privacy? Don’t be. There are two private changing rooms exclusively for Rappel Maui guests at the picnic location.  Pro tip:  Bring a Ziplock or extra plastic, reusable bag with you just for your wet items.

5. Use the real restrooms early.  You’ll have a chance to use a real bathroom on your way to and from the rappelling location, and after you arrive at the facility where you gear up.  If you are picky about your facilities, plan accordingly.

6.  Since you’ll be eating lunch during your tour, your guides will carry hand sanitizer with them.  If you’re more of a soap and water person, there is cold running water at the picnic area, but no soap.  If you’re itching to give yourself a real washing up before you board the van, bring a mini soap or body wash with you.  Remember to either leave them in the van during the rappelling, or keep them in the dry keg in your backpack. If you decide to bring cleansing wipes with you, make sure that you dispose of them properly. When improperly disposed of, wipes can have a devastating effect on the forest’s fragile ecosystem.

7. Make memories; capture the moment.  Take a “before rappelling,” “after rappelling,” and then an “apres rappelling” photo to document your transformation from uninitiated neatnik to rappelling ninja, back to undercover adventurer. Once you’ve cleaned up and perhaps taken a trip to the spa, no one will have guessed you spent a day cruising down waterfalls and trekking through raw nature–until you show them the photos.

How Physically Demanding Is Rappelling?

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Inquiring minds often call the Rappel Maui offices wanting to know if the day-long rappelling tour is physically hard or challenging.  They want to know if they need to pVal down 50 ftossess a certain physique, or if a lot of strength or physical conditioning is required.   Read on to get these and other answers, or call the Rappel Maui offices at 808.270.1500 for personalized information.

Come As You Are
Most active and healthy people are perfectly prepped for a Rappel Maui tour. You don’t have to bring “the gun show to town.” You don’t have to get “pumped up.”  You will not need an “xtreme” sports drink that “gives you wings.”  (You don’t need wings; you’ve got ropes.)  You will find that the most useful body parts during a rappel are you ears and brain. First you’ll need to listen to your guides’ instructions, then you’ll need to process and apply the information. And then you’ll need a keen willingness to have fun while taking a few steps away from your comfort zone.

Gravity Is Your Friend
Since you’ll be making 3 or more descents down a rock cliff (as opposed to rock climbing), your rappelling equipment will be working in cooperation with gravity to take the brunt of the work.  No significant amount of arm strength is necessary; just some moderate arm movements to slow or stop downward movement, and grasping/loosening a rope with your dominant hand.  You can use your non-dominant hand to steady or position yourself around rocks or trees, hold the front of your harness or rope, or throw a shaka out during a photo opp. Some overall coordination is required, and where looking graceful is concerned, your mileage may vary. (You can delete those pictures later.)

Getting The Hang Of It (All Puns Intended)
You’ll sit back into your harness, like a chair (that’s hovering over a waterfall pool), and position your feet on the surface in front of you so that you can take one backwards step at a time. You’ll use the equipment to lower yourself down the surface as much or as little at a time as you like.  If you’re taking one of the dry rappels, you’ll end your journey by simply putting your feet down on the ground, un-clipping your harness from the rope, and cheering on the next person.  If you’re rappelling one of the waterfalls, you’ll lower yourself into the water, unclip your harness from the rope, and swim or dog paddle on. You don’t need to be a great swimmer to make it across the pond. If you don’t swim, ask for a personal flotation device so that you can float over to the shallow end. If you need a little encouragement, or an assist, the guide in the water with you can provide you with the right amount of swimmer’s mojo.  If you’re a multi-tasker, you’ll also be taking in the spectacular surroundings of the jungle, streams, waterfall and wildlife, and realizing that you have the makings of a truly unique story and memories that will go unequaled once you return to your non-waterfall-hovering chairs at home and work.

Getting Physical
What happens after you’ve done all that descending?  In this case, what goes down, must go back up.  There are no elevators in the jungle (unless you’re on the Jurassic Park set), and thus comes the most physical part of the tour.  You’ll take what we refer to as “The Stairmaster,” a length of paths and series of steps cut into the earthen forest trails leading back to the top of the ridge. There’s no hurry; you can take your time, stop, rest, and hold on to the ropes, branches and roots that are there to help you steady and pull yourself along.  The trail is green, cool, shady and fragrant, and alive with the sounds of nature. Keep your heart pumping–or not. Get out your camera, or just take in the view. It’s totally up to you during this equivalent of about four flights of stairs.
Call us to ask your specific questions about what it’s like to walk down a tropical waterfall in a rainforest on Maui. Spoiler alert: It’s not horrible.

What is Canyoneering and Rappelling?

Canyoneering Courses, FAQ, Rappel Maui, Rappelling Tour No Comments »

q&aAnother Frequently Asked Question we get from a lot of first-timers who are interested in taking a tour, but are new to rappelling and canyoneering in general is, of course:  What exactly IS canyoneering, anyway?

We’re glad you asked!  The simplest description of canyoneering is: The exploration of canyons.  To go a little more in-depth, let’s take a page (literally) from Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons, second edition, by David Black. (pp. xi, 1-2.) First off, a canyon is a deep, narrow valley or chasm with steep sides or cliff walls that have been carved and shaped by moving water. (For you trivia fans, a gorge is usually steeper and narrower than a canyon.) The exploration of a canyon (and descending/ascending it) may require any number of activities, such as hiking, scrambling, jumping, sliding, rappelling, and swimming.  In North America, there is a vague distinction between “canyoning” and “canyoneering,” but more often than not, the terms are used interchangeably, with “canyoning” being the favored term in English-speaking countries outside the United States.  Other names for canyoneering include “kloofing” (S. Africa) and the Welsh phrase”cerdded ceunant.” One thing that separates canyoneering from hiking is equipment, such as ropes and harnesses.  It can be summarized as a hybrid of rock climbing, hiking, river running, and wilderness skills. For those of you who are wondering, we keep our canyoneering day tours on the recreational side. There is some hiking and swimming during the tour, but no technical rock climbing,  navigating or camping.   

 Canyoneering in America is at least several hundred years old, but during the late 20th century, canyoneering became popular with aging climbers who had the skills and penchant for exploring some of the world’s loneliest places.  Word spread via guidebooks and the media, and by 2000, canyoneering was one of the fastest growing adventure sports.

You can sample a tasty morsel of canyoneering during  a Rappel Maui day tour. These are recreational experiences for the uninitiated and experienced alike, and last about 6 hours. The tour is great for those looking for a unique outdoor activity that weds incredible tropical scenery with excitement and fun.  It’s great for families, couples, groups, conferences and solo travelers.  Learn more online or call us at 808.270.1500 7 AM-7 PM any day of the week to ask your own questions.

For a deeper dive into the principles and practices of canyoneering, take a one-day or multi-day class in canyoneering.  Classes cover the full range of canyoneering subject matter, with lots of hands-on practice, from introductory to advanced, plus the availability of specialty classes.  Have something special in mind?  Call 808.270.1500 to learn more.