rappel maui blog

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.

Four Steps to Writing a Helpful Review About Your Travel Experiences

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Online-Reviews-5-starsAfter buying or consuming just about anything, the Internet hands us with a megaphone through which to share our experience with–potentially–the world.  In hospitality and travel, it’s TripAdvisor, Yelp, Gogobot and the like that receive the lion’s share of sharing. (And sometimes oversharing.)  One could argue that the whole point of the exercise of review writing is being helpful to others; to give those who have no previous experience the benefit of your discoveries, victories, and mistakes. It can also help the hotel, restaurant, service or activity operator improve upon its offering.

In that spirit, here are a few tips for doing your part before you drop the mic.

1. Your expectations and desires represent some percentage of others’ expectations and desires.
Your sister wanted a doll for her birthday. You wanted a pony.  Sometimes, our adult travel experiences are still like that.  If you had expectations that weren’t met during your vacation, spell out what happened.  “I was expecting Mr. Rourke and Tattoo to greet me at the entrance, but when I got there, it was Schneider opening the door.” (You’re welcome, ’70s TV fans.)

2. Grinding your axe may or may not help others.
We’ve all read reviews by people who were scorned, not by a place or an experience, but by someone rude.  Sure, it bears mentioning, but you may be doing yourself and others more of a favor by airing your grievance directly with the establishment. When you call or write an employer directly about an encounter you’ve had, the establishment has a better chance of preventing a repeat performance. That’s especially true if your experience happened at a place that employs, say, hundreds of people.  Getting on the horn with the person or people in charge may take a little more effort, but if you want to make a difference, it’s better than shouting into cyberspace.

3. Balance facts and opinions.
Part of the magic of being on vacation is that your satisfaction, and your opinion, matter.  You’re the customer, and the customer’s right. Right?  Sure, AND it’s also the smartest reviews that include both the subjective and hard evidence.  Did you feel like housekeeping could have done more to tidy up your accommodations?  Make mention that your unit with 2 adults and 2 kids received a full service cleaning only twice during your 10-day stay.  Did you feel like the management didn’t care about your complaint? If so, what exactly did you ask for, and what was provided, when?

4. Include reviews by proxy–a little. 
What did you hear other people on your tour say?  You may have considered a walk with a lot of sun exposure on a hot day a negative, but the couple on the tour who had just endured four months of a Midwest polar vortex felt quite a bit differently. If you like to rough it, but you were traveling with a couple of neatnicks, include a few blurbs about what would have made them happy. Include some snippets of what you heard from your tour mates or others nearby.

Writing a review that does its job is an art and a science; what matters most is your sincerity and honesty.  Mahalo for doing your part to make the Internet a place where there’s a healthy mix of cat pictures and useful information.

The Basics of Taking a Rappel Maui Tour

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Guided Landing Rappel Maui toursRappel Maui Tours, for The Young and the Restless?

The minimum age for joining Rappel Maui tours is 10, and many families tell us that a rappelling tour was the perfect activity for their active tweens and teens.  We keep the rules simple: Minors must be accompanied on the tour by a responsible adult, and have their parent or legal guardian sign the necessary forms beforehand.  Ask us for more information by calling Rappel Maui tours office at 808.270.1500 or by sending in the contact form at our web site.

Weighty Matters

For the Classic Tour, the maximum limit on weight is 250 pounds, or about 115 kilograms.  For the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour, the maximum weight limit is 230 pounds, or about 104 kilograms. Since you’re wearing a harness, we’ll ask you if your waist measures between 22 and 48 inches. To ask questions about weight or size restrictions, just call us between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM Hawaii Standard Time. Rappel Maui tours operate daily.

pedicure Rappel Maui toursThe Bold and the Beautiful

It’s going to rain in the rainforest, and, if you’ve signed up for waterfall Rappel Maui tours, you know you’re going to get wet anyway.  Out there in nature, we can encounter all kinds of weather, terrain and conditions.  That means it’s a smart idea to prepare yourself to mingle with the mud a little, or at least get a little messy. You will also encounter natural, wild terrain.  Some of the rocks and walls are sharp, and some drops are home to branches, shrubs and sharp sticks.  That means that you might snag or tear your clothing, should you take an unexpected swing or sway into the walls.  Wear clothing that can take a beating, and save your mani-pedi spa appointment for the next day–you’re going home with dirt under your nails and a chip or two in your polish.  Because safety is the top priority, you’ll wear your helmet during the entire tour, minus the ride to and from the trails.scarlett at the falls Rappel Maui tours

Gravity Happens

Rappel Maui tours will provide you with special rappelling footwear–a rubber bootie with a felt sole–that’s designed to grip the wet rocks.  And you’ll have a guide on belay who will keep you from making a dangerous descent should you lose control of your rope.  However, the laws of gravity are still at work, which is why we remind you to take these and other precautions:

  • When hiking, pay attention to the trail for obstacles and stumbling blocks.
  • Keep everything in the backpack provided to keep your hands free at all times.
  • All participants wear a personal flotation device.
  • Walk slowly and carefully in shallow water when you aren’t able to see the bottom.
  • When you’re hiking a section of trail with an exposed edge, you’ll clip your harness into anchored ropes.
  • If you are not great at rock-hopping or stone-stepping, ask for a steadying hand from your guide, and make three or more points of contact with the ground when you’re likely to be not-so-sure-footed.  (That means putting one or both hands on low rocks or the ground to steady yourself as you move your feet.) Your guide will show you how

Members of The Cold Feet Club

It’s not just a cliche; that first step really is a doozy!  It takes courage, attention, and a healthy dose of desire (for first-timers especially) to take that first backward step from nice, level horizontal ground, over the edge of a vertical drop.  That’s why, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen for everybody every time.  Some tour-takers decide not to rappel every drop; others end up as observers, forgoing the rappelling altogether.  Just as you are in control of your descent when you do rappel, you are in control of whether you do the rappelling or not. There’s no forcing, no pressure–you’re on vacation!  If you decide to watch from the sidelines, one of your guides will walk you to the bottom of the drop, where you’ll wait for the rest of the party to make their rappels. You can enjoy the scenery of the trails while you wait, but one caveat: It’s often easier to rappel down than hike down, as the equipment and gravity in rappelling is doing most of the physical work for you.

Tardy for the Party?

When making your reservation, look for an email afterward that confirms your reservation and explains what to bring, what to wear, and where the transportation meeting location is.  Take a look at the directions and map to the meeting location. If you’re very unfamiliar with Maui, map the location the day before your tour.  If you get lost en route, call 808.270.1500 for directions as you go.   Please note that the tour time is the time that the van departs the park and ride location in central Maui. If you know you’re running late, call us right away so that we can communicate with the guides providing transportation.

Repelling Insects While Rappelling Waterfalls

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helmetOut in the jungle, we share office space with plenty of critters, including some non-furry, un-cute, downright annoying insects.  Most of them are harmless; some of them bite or sting.

Sure, we want to make sure they get the memo that we’re not for dinner, but here’s the straight dope on insect repellent: It damages gear.  From helmets to harnesses, and from ropes and webbing to your GoPro camera, the stuff in the spray repellants, including the natural, non-DEET ingredients, does a number on all of the important stuff that keeps everyone safe on the cliffs and trails.  Not only that, but it introduces chemicals into the natural watershed.

The most common type of bug bite where we do our wet rappels is from mosquitos.  If you’re not usually bothered by mosquito bites, we recommend skipping the repellent before and during your time on the trails and cliffs.  If you know that even a few bites will cause you some severe swelling and suffering, the alternative that your Rappel Maui guides offers are chemical repellent wipes that you can apply more precisely to the skin, without also dousing your gear.

For those of you who are hesitant to skip the repellant while rappelling take note:  There is no malaria or dengue fever on the Islands (which was not the case at Burning Man this year), so the risk of going au natural is at least limited to some itching.  Wearing a long-sleeved rash guard and/or leggings is definitely helpful, both for staying warm in chilly water, and keeping the bites to a minimum.  If you do find yourself with a welt or two, your guides will also carry a product called After Bite, which is brilliant at taking the itch and sting out when applied directly to the bite site.

Whichever method you decide to use during your time sharing the rainforest with all of its inhabitants, stay communicative with your guides about how you’re doing throughout your trip. They’re your ambassadors to the Maui outdoors, and are there to make sure you have a fantastic day.


What’s the Best Way to Book a Rappel Maui Tour?

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Elvis-on-the-Phone-31Today we’ll answer a question we’re usually asked after speaking to people who call to ask about rappelling tour availability. “How should I book my Rappel Maui tour?” Thanks for asking!

If you know exactly when you want to go, and when, booking your rappelling adventure tour online is convenient, quick and easy.  After booking by any means, you’ll receive a confirmation by email with instructions about what to wear and where to meet us, followed by a reminder in your email inbox a few days before your tour.

If you have questions or special considerations (“Can I get hotel pickup?” or “I’m very allergic to bee stings” or “Can I take the tour if I don’t know how to swim?”) call us at 808.270.1500 to talk about it.  You can also book online with your detailed notes in the comments section. By the way, the answer to “Can I rappel while wearing my Elvis costume?” is “We hope so.”)  We answer the bat phone from 7 AM-7 PM, 7 days a week.
Hey, what time is it in Hawaii, anyway?

If you want to book through your resort concierge, that’s OK too, although you might want to start scheduling farther in advance during the summer months, when tours fill up quickly.

Finally, if you want us to get in touch with you at your convenience, just send us a request that tells us when the time is right.