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.

 

Where’s What on Maui

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You’ve probably noticed that, even though it’s a smallish island, getting directions around Maui can be somewhat confusing if you’re a first-timer who’s unfamiliar with the towns and unique directional cues you’ll get from locals. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to catch on to what’s where and how to get there.

Cardinal Directions

First off, north/south/east/west are infrequently used, unless someone is referring to the sides of the island.  You’re more likely to hear island directional cues like mauka, makai and upcountry. To go in the “mauka” direction means to go away from the ocean; going “makai” means to go toward the ocean. “Upcountry” is the area at higher elevations up Mount Haleakala.

There are also leeward and windward mentions, but this is usually in relation to weather patterns. When Maui’s tradewinds are blowing, Hana, Kahului, Makawao, Wailuku, Kapalua, and Napili are on the island’s windward side; Wailea, Kihei, Maalaea, Lahaina, and Ka’anapali are located on the island’s leeward side.

Where You’ll Find What

  • Kahului is in Central Maui, at the isthmus of the island between East and West Maui; it’s where the Kahului (OGG) airport is.
  • Maalaea is where one of Maui’s harbors and the aquarium are located. It’s also near the park & ride lot where we meet you before your tour.
  • Lahaina is on the west side, along with Kaanapali–a long stretch of resorts, beaches and shops.
  • Kihei, Wailea and Makena are on the south side.
  • Makawao, Pukalani, Kula and part of Haiku are all upcountry towns.
  • Paia, Sprecklesville and part of Haiku are on what’s referred to as the North Shore.
  • Because of its remote perch at the very end of the eastern coast, Hana is…Hana.

Where the Streets Have Long Names: A Pronunciation Guide to Maui’s Places

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One thing that first-time visitors to Hawaii mention are the seemingly complicated Hawaiian names found on street signs and maps.  Be assured: there’s a way to get through words that look like vowel soup.

Look for the okina or break up long words with lots of vowels.

An ‘okina is a character that resembles an apostrophe or a tiny, upside down, superscript 6. It marks a very brief pause between the syllables of a word, a sound you can hear in the word “uh-oh,” for example.  (This is also called, for you grammar nerds out there, a glottal stop.) Pronouncing the vowel and consonant sounds separated by the ‘okina allows you to break down the word into shorter, simpler parts, but you can also do this with longer words in which there is no ‘okina. This is also useful for when the ‘okina is absent from traffic and street signs.

Look for vowel pairs and syllable couples

Note that some vowel pairs are not pronounced separately, but together as one sound, unless they are separated by an okina.  “Au,” (pronounced like “ow”)  “ei” (pronounced “ay”) and “ae” (usually pronounced “eye”) are such pairs (called a diphthong).

Practice with common names

Try this method with some of these street names and cities:

Mokulele–broken up into 4 parts is easy to pronounce phonetically:  Moe-koo-LAY-lay
Honoapiilani–broken up into 7 parts is pronounced: Ho-no-ah-pee-ee-LA-knee
Kaahumanu–is another 5 part word:  Ka-ah-hu-MAH-noo
Hookele–broken into 4 parts, with the stop happening between the two Os:  Ho-oh-KAY-lay
Haleakala–broken into 5 parts: Ha-lay-ah-kah-LA

Kihei–very simply, in 2 parts: KEY-hay
Kaanapali–properly pronounced in five parts, with the stop between the As, but commonly pronounced in four parts, without the stop between the two As: KA-nah-PAW-lee (or ka-AH-nah-PAW-lee if you honor the okina)

Note that the emphasis on some words will vary from person to person, just as with words in other languages. Often the authentic pronunciation differs from the casual dialect that has evolved over time. You’ll also hear some widely accepted pronunciations of Hawaiian words that are incorrect, but most locals use them. One such example is Hali’imaile.  The way that you’ll most likely hear it pronounced is “HIGH-lee-MY-lee.”

Most Important: It’s OK to slow down

Remember, while you’re driving around Maui, that slowing down to read those long street names is OK. Speed limits are low, and if you’re on vacation, a change of pace is probably why you’re here. Take your time, both driving, and “talking story.” Discover the island with aloha and be safe.  Welcome!

How Does Weather Affect a Rappel Maui Tour?

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WHEN IS THE WEATHER WET IN HAWAII?

Some recent weather history on the Hawaiian Islands: the summer of 2015 was a very active one. It marked one of the strongest El Niño patterns in recorded history, which meant that warmer water temperatures along the equator brought higher numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes across the Pacific Ocean. El Niño was blamed for other strange weather patterns on the mainland that winter. There was flooding in some parts of the world, and severe drought conditions in others well into the spring of 2016. Here in Hawaii, the storm activity that crept across the Central Pacific made for noticeably wet weather. In 2016, that spring and summer never dried up; the moderate to heavy rains continued for the rest of the year, with some areas of the island receiving twice as much rain as usual. In early 2017, the weather began to settle into a more normal pattern; however, the weather in the rainforest is very unpredictable. If you are wondering what the weather is going to be like during your scheduled tour date, you may have to wait until 48 hours before your tour, unless a larger front, system or tropical storm is forecast. Also keep in mind, weather can vary wildly from shore to shore. It’s common for the weather in Kaanapali to be dramatically different from the weather in Haiku.  We can tell you how much rain has fallen or is expected at the activity site within the next few days.

WHAT DO WE DO WHEN IT RAINS?

A near-falls descent.

When heavy rain falls over the northern part of the island, it impacts Rappel Maui tours in a few ways.  We operate rain or shine, and we tell all of our guests to expect at least a little rain, even if it’s a few minutes of mist. There is frequently rain in the rainforest, and it’s evident from how lush and green the surroundings are at the activity location that is just a few miles from one of the wettest parts of the island: Hana. If heavy rains or prolonged periods of steady rains cause the streams to swell to levels that are unsafe for swimming, we operate the classic tour on a normal schedule and use alternative rappel stations that are a safe distance from the water course. Sometimes those stations are right next to the waterfall flow, ending in the ponds, and other times, when the falls are roaring and raging, we use jungle walls and cliffs that are farther away from the stream flow. The times when we do not operate due to weather is when extreme conditions cause road closures, landslides or widespread outages.

SAFETY FIRST

The main role of your guides is to make sure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable day. Safety is their first priority, and a generous portion of their attention is spent on looking out for one of the least forgiving dangers of rappelling: flash flooding. There are times when the water in the streams is not high or swift, and there’s blue sky above. Danger is not obvious to the average guest, but the guides opt to use rappel stations not directly in the water course. What gives? The local papers are full of accounts of visitors and locals alike getting stranded–or much worse–after seemingly safe conditions turned ugly within the period of a few seconds. When guests ask guides what made them veer from the preference of using the waterfalls, there’s usually a good reason based on ground saturation, the weather upstream, and river gauge readings taken before the tour began. Guides don’t take chances with your safety or theirs; if invisible dangers change your tour, and you’re unsatisfied or concerned, please call the reservations line to talk about your personal experience.  And if you’re ever interested in seeing for yourself what can happen when untrained explorers are caught off guard, this video and accompanying story is an excellent cautionary tale.

 

Choosing a Rappel Maui Tour

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Now there are two tours to choose from: The Classic Rappel Tour and the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour. Not sure which tour is right for you? Compare tours below, or call us at 808-445-6407 or chat with us online to tell us exactly what you’re looking for, including the availability of private custom tours.

 Classic Rappel TourExtreme Zip Rappel Tour
DurationApprox. 6.5 hoursApprox. 8 hours
Number of Rappels34 or more
Waterfall Rappels?
(Water level permitting)
YesYes
Lunch Included?YesYes
Climbing Included?NoYes
Weight RestrictionMinimum 70 lbs, maximum 250 lbs. Waist must measure between 22 and 54 inches.Minimum 80 lbs, maximum 230 lbs. Waist must measure between 22 and 54 inches.
Intended for Ages10 and up14 to 65
Price Per Person$219 plus tax$279 plus tax
Days OfferedDailyThree tours per week

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.

Take a Holiday Rappel or Any Day During #Aloha365

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Planning your trip to Maui during one of the major US holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July or Memorial Day? Wondering if you can Santa visits Rappel Mauibreak the routine of spending the day making turkey dinner and doing something totally unique and wild instead? Fear not!

A Rappel Maui tour is one of the activities on Maui that delivers just the thing every day of the year. You can call it a commitment or convenience. We call it #Aloha365.

And because the major US holidays are a little quieter than most other days, your chances are greater of joining a smaller tour group size. Make the holiday memory of a lifetime by asking Santa Claus for a waterfall adventure. In fact, Santa spends a few days with us every year, brushing up on his rappelling skills just in case he delivers gifts down an especially tricky chimney.

Which Tour Time is Best for Me?

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We operate every day of the year, and with as many as four possible tour times per day, that means there are ample opportunities for you to find a way to work a Rappel Maui tour into your itinerary the next time you #letHawaiihappen.beach silhouette2

The daily tour times are 7:00 AM, 8:30 AM, 10:00 AM, and 11:30 AM, and we’re often asked if there’s a difference in the experience from one time to another. While the weather may change between the 7:00 time and the 11:30, there’s no predictable change in the weather, especially in the rainforest, where the weather can change on a dime without warning.  Because the rappelling takes place in an area of the island that tends to be cooler than the rest, there’s no one time when the weather or the water is significantly cooler or warmer than the others.  The tour, with the exception of the guides and maybe the weather and traffic, remains the same from one tour time to the next.

The main reason we have the different tour times is so that you can arrange your itinerary however it’s best for you.  If you want to have a leisurely breakfast and maybe do something on the water before the wind kicks up, there’s a later time for you to do just that. If you have a luau the same day as your rappel tour, then the 7:00 gets you back with time to return to your hotel to shower and throw on your aloha wear.

No matter what time you want to take your tour, the total tour duration, from the time we meet you in Central Maui until the time you return from the site, is about 6 1/2 hours. Call, write or open a chat window to find out what time is available on the day you have carved out to experience Maui’s wild side.

Dear Valentine: Aloha Means Love

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heart-carabiners

When you visit any of the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll hear the Hawaiian word “aloha” almost at every turn. That’s because “aloha” means hello, goodbye, and perhaps most important, love.  Although you might not equate dangling yourself over a jungle cliff or waterfall with love or Valentine’s Day, many people tell us that their rappelling tour was one of the most romantic activities they’ve ever tried.  Why?

Challenges Bring People Together

Facing fears with the help and support of a partner in a safe environment is a powerful exercise that builds trust, opens communication and forges bonds in ways that don’t happen during dinner and a movie. Not to mention that unleashing your inner rock star is a way to see your partner and yourself in a new light. These couples from various age groups and walks of life all have lifelong memories to share.

The Rainforest is for Lovers

There’s no more romantic backdrop than the natural, raw beauty of the East Maui jungle. The dewy, green foliage, the gentle sounds of water and wildlife and the flowery fragrance in the air makes for the perfect setting for people with a fondness for nature and each other. Take it all in–together.

The Island is Quiet and Calm in February

With high season being summer time in Hawaii, February is not just quieter because there are fewer people visiting, but the weather is less volatile also. You can look forward to milder temperatures and less precipitation. Although there is some big surf and strong winds during the winter, these conditions don’t affect our tour.

You’ll Share Unique & Exciting Memories

“Remember the trip we took to Maui, when we dangled ourselves over waterfalls off the Road to Hana?” That’s a good story for the watercooler, the wedding or for the grandchildren. With stories like those, family and friends–no matter where you are–will want to hear the rest of it.  Bring your camera. Diamonds might be forever, but so are bragging rights. One newlywed told us that after he and his bride walked down the aisle on Maui, they wanted to walk down a waterfall.  “Can do,” we said.

How to Save Money on Maui

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Maui’s beautiful sights are one well-known and often-discussed topic; another is the expense associated with traveling to Maui–one of the most remote places on Earth.  If you’re on a budget, budget-travel-hawaiiyou’ve noticed that everything, from food and accommodations to fuel and excursions, costs a little more than it does on the mainland. If you have some time to plan and shop wisely, you can save money and make more of your vacation to Hawaii’s unique destinations. You can check out the latest deals and discounts on Rappel Maui tours now.

Take the Road Less Traveled
Vendors off the beaten path are often able to offer better retail prices on items like groceries, clothing, souviners, swimwear, snorkel gear and more. Look for activity desks and sales agencies that are off the main drag. Google and TripAdvisor forums make this easier than ever.

Try Hotel-affiliated Activities–Even if You’re Not a Guest There
If you’re out of ideas, or if you’ve hit a streak of bad luck with the weather, resorts are a great place to get the ideas flowing. You likely won’t find deals at places like spas there, but you might find something fun to do at one of the activity desks. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to use the activity concierge or sales desk, and some desks can be more price-competitive than others. Larger resorts also offer indoor and outdoor classes, from flower arranging and hula, to fitness and surfing.  Some hotels also sell day passes to exclusive pool use.  Looking for a wacky, one-of-a-kind poolside experience? Try the Fishpipe at the Grand Wailea Resort in South Maui.  Some hotels and resorts will offer you discounts at a very steep discount if you attend a presentation.

Meet Two or More Goals with One Activity
Some activities are combinations by design, but there are many more that let you double up on the action by coincidence.  There are hike/kayak combo tours, cruise/snorkel tours, helicopter/hike tours, and more.  There are also tours that let you see sights as a bonus to taking the tour, as opposed to being the main attraction. For example, when you take a Rappel Maui tour, your transportation includes a drive down half of the famous Road to Hana and views of all of its scenic jewels before you even get to the main activity.

Exclusive, Online-Only Deals
Some of the more established or web-savvy tour operators will run specials on their activities that you wouldn’t know about unless you subscribed to their newsletter, or filled out a form at their web site. Take your time looking through an operator’s web site, and call or email to ask about accommodating your budget. You may also be able to buy coupon deals at third party sites, such as Yelp, Groupon and others. A reputable operator will let you easily and reliably unsubscribe from their sales communications.

Visiting During Certain Times of Year, and Booking Activities During Certain Times of Week or Day
Do you have flexibility when you travel? Look into visiting Hawaii during slower periods, when the demand for activities is less intense. Not only do you stand a chance of scoring a discount, but tour groups are usually less crowded during low season. On Maui, these times of year are usually in October, November, January and early February.  Certain days of the week can also be less busy than others. At Rappel Maui, lower volume days are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Find out which days cruise ships dock at an island’s harbor–these are usually higher volume days on an island in general.

Discounts for Volume
Are you able to round up a group of several participants? You might be able to get a volume discount if you book a group of greater than 5.

Look for Hidden (Muddy) Gems
It sounds strange, but consider activities that you didn’t know you wanted to try–like walking down a waterfall while suspended by a rope.  Because there are so many outdoor activities in Hawaii, there are probably some activities that you might not have known were activities.  Look for places and activities that are new or off the beaten path–literally. For example, you won’t find any big mainland-style water parks in Hawaii, but you will find natural freshwater water slides in the middle of a sugar cane field overlooking the Pacific Ocean that is only accessible by 4-wheel ATV.  If vacations are good for something, it should be for getting wet, muddy, and suntanned.

Last-minute Deals and Discounts
While you might be taking a chance with sold-out tours and limited availability, some operators will offer you a discount at the last minute, or for a less popular tour time.  If there is a tour time that’s discounted, ask if the time of day makes a difference in the quality of the experience.  Just keep in mind that most tours have a 48-hour cancellation policy.  Check policies carefully when booking any tour.

If All Else Fails, Try Asking
If you call a tour company and ask if there is a discounted rate on any tour, what’s the worst that can happen?