rappel maui blog

Bringing Generations Closer

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We’re often asked what the minimum age is for the classic rappel tour, as families with active children enjoy the prospect of creating memories on Maui with their children. Rappelling and outdoor activities are great for bringing multi-generational families together.  Some children and teens even decide, after taking their rappel tour, that canyoneering is their new sport of choice. The outdoors rock!

The minimum age for the Rappel Maui classic tour is 10, with a minimum weight of 70 lbs, and a minimum waist measurement of 22″.   “What’s the maximum age?” one guest asked over the phone.  For the classic tour, we don’t necessarily have one, and  during the summer of 2017, an 81-year-old man completed a Rappel Maui tour with his family of two generations. He was not the slowest or the least graceful person on the course, and he went out for a nice dinner afterward. Renaissance man, indeed.

Whatever your activity level and appetite for adventure,  there’s probably an outdoor activity on Maui for you to discover. Thank goodness it’s a jungle out there.  Call us to discuss your multi-generational outing or ask about a senior discount.

 

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.

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.

How to Prepare for a Safe Day of Rappelling on Maui

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While a Rappel Maui tour is a thrilling but safe activity, there are some natural hazards that exist out in the rainforest. The good news is, with just a little thought and planning, these common risks can be easily minimized and mitigated.

prepared-not-scaredInsects:  While there are mosquitoes in the rainforest, there is no malaria or dengue fever.  If you are particularly sensitive to bites, we recommend wearing pants and a long-sleeved rash guard.  We don’t recommend bug spray, since DEET can damage rappelling gear, and put chemicals into the rainforest streams.

What’s in the Water:  Sometimes longer expeditions take a turn for the worse when canyoneers fail to properly filter or purify their water from natural sources.  Avoiding waterborne illness is easy–don’t drink the water from the streams or falls.  Since there’s plenty of bottled water on your Rappel Maui tour, there’s no reason to do so.

Temperature: Getting too cold or too hot is a common show-stopper for canyoneers from Maine to Hawaii. If you know that you are prone to hypothermia or hyperthermia, plan and act accordingly. Don’t stay in the water if you find it very cold, and bring a rashguard or even a wetsuit top or wetsuit if you know you get too cold too quickly in chilly water.  Drink plenty of water and cool off in the pools if you’re feeling too warm.  Eat a good breakfast and hydrate yourself before your tour. Bring towels and a dry change of clothing with you so that you can return in comfort after a day in the water and/or rain.

Rockfall: Rocks can and do move about in the water, especially when water levels rise rapidly.  They can also be loosened on dry land by a number of factors, including climate.  In this case, we don’t recommend “using your head.”  Helmets save lives, and that’s why everyone wears a helmet, every day we go out, for the duration of the tour. No exceptions.  Listen to your guides always, who will be watching for loose debris.  Lean into the slope and look down (not up) if you hear someone yell, “Rock!”

Swiftwater and Flash Floods: When water levels are high, or there is a threat of flash flooding, we stay out of the streams and waterfalls.  We do dry rappels next to or overlooking the roaring falls on these days, the sights and sounds of which are unforgettable.

The Road to Hana: While we don’t drive you all the way to Hana from the pickup location, we do take the infamous Road to Hana about halfway there. It’s about an hour from the pickup location in Central Maui to the rappelling site, and so if you are prone to car sickness, please do let us know in advance.  There are a few measures we can take to make sure that you’re comfortable at the beginning and end of your epic tour.

There are other hazards associated with canyoneering in general, but there are some that simply won’t apply to you on a Rappel Maui tour.

Hunters and Land Owners:  Since we rappel with permission in a privately-owned valley, we don’t have to worry about angry farmers, ranchers, or Dick Cheney.

Wildlife:  The birds mind their own business, and the freshwater fish are so tiny, you need a little net to catch them. There are chickens and ducks nearby that belong to the arboretum, but they’re more like pets.  There are no snakes, bears, wolves or coyotes. Further, Hawaii is a rabies-free state.

Do you want to talk about your own personal preparation plan? We have our listening ears on from 7 AM-7 PM every day. Call 808.270.1500 or let your fingers do the typing at our Contact page

How Scary is Rappelling?

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“So, I just have a question,” the person on the other end of the phone says, “how scary is rappelling?” That’s a tricky question, given that there are different kinds of scary, and the fear factor in any adventure is personal. If you want to know for yourself, read on, or call us at 808.270.1500 to talk about your day.  You can also see firsthand what Audrina Patridge thought of her first rappelling trip when she and the show 1st Look came to visit.

Rappel Maui-Glori takes on waterfall rappel like proWhat Kind of Scary Can You Expect–and Not Expect?
It’s NOT haunted house-scary. There are no “gotchas” in a Rappel Maui tour–and we keep it that way on purpose, no surprises.
It’s NOT unsafe-scary. We don’t take risks with equipment, best practices or behavior. Period.
It’s NOT prison camp-scary. There are no snakes, no rabies, no malaria, no dengue fever. There’s plenty of bottled water to drink, snacks to eat, and hand sanitizer/running water at the picnic area.
It’s NOT amusement park-scary. Unlike a roller coaster ride or even a zip line, rappelling is not a ride that happens to you. Once you begin your descent, you’re in control of the action and the pace. You’re the boss, with your guide team there if you don’t know what to do, or need a hand.
DO expect to feel the kind of scared that comes with doing something exciting, thrilling, that you don’t do everyday. Like walking down a tropical rainforest waterfall on one of the most remote islands on Earth, for example.
If you are feeling afraid at first, DO expect to feel a sense of accomplishment and invincibility afterward. Like you faced your fears and conquered them.

Rappelling Realness
You may not look graceful during all of your rappels. You may want to take a “do over” before you feel like you’ve got your ninja moves down.
Rappelling down natural, wild terrain may cause a broken nail, a scraped shin or some bruised skin. We’ve seen our friends show these off later, while telling and retelling stories about their epic day. We heard one young photographer say, “Mom, turn so that your scratch shows.”
The outdoors are messy; you may find the water chilly–or exhilarating. You will wear unusual equipment, get wet and gritty, and stay that way for a few hours. You might not look good in a helmet. You might follow a 10-year old who looks like a circus-performing monkey on her first rappel ever. Those are the realities of taking on one of the best adventures on the island. Let’s say that the “scary” stuff dissipates for most people long before everyone is finishing their dessert cookie at lunch.

What to Expect When You’re Rappelling

You will feel excitement from your surroundings and the experience. There’s the roar of the falls, the birds and breezes in the trees, the sensation of intense sun or soft shade of the tree canopy. Your senses will be stimulated. If the cliff exposure or the heights are turning your adrenaline up to 11, tell your guides; they are experts in focusing energy in the right direction. And you’ll find the built-in support of others on your tour, even if they are complete strangers, surprisingly inspiring.

Best Bets For Good Times
DO try to relax. Take photos and videos for sharing later.
DON’T worry about being inexperienced. We cater to people who don’t do this every day; that’s why the very best in the business are on the team.
DO listen up, look around, laugh out loud.
You can do this!