Meet us out on the famous Hana Highway in the Puohokamoa Valley. We’ll hike a quarter mile through the rain forest to the top of a ridge above a 300-foot-deep valley. Our first rappel is down a 60-foot cliff for practice, and you may do this more than once, depending on your group and tour. Then we’ll rappel down 30- and 50-foot waterfalls. There will be opportunities to swim beneath the waterfalls. During most of the year there’s wild fruit to eat along the trail. One guide at the top of the cliff makes sure you begin the rappel safely. At the bottom of the rappel we have a second guide who belays you. That means that (s)he can control your descent if necessary and stop you at any time or guide you gently to the bottom if necessary. Your guides’ first priority is your safety. The exit is a 300-foot ascent up a steep, but well-built trail. You should be in good condition to participate in this trip. Wrapped snacks and bottled water are provided, as well as changing rooms and bathrooms near an overlook down the canyon to a panoramic view of the ocean.
For more information or reservationsplease call 808-270-1500 or chat with us online.
Because its reputation is infamous, the Rappel Maui staff is often asked about the long and winding Road to Hana.
How twist-y and turn-y is the Road to Hana? And will I get carsick during the ride?
For the most part, the Hana Highway is just a normal highway as it wends its way from the busier town of Kahului (where the OGG airport is), to the crunchy hamlet of Paia, where the sign says, “Do not feed the hippies.” The views become more wide open as the highway traverses the North Shore, past the surfing, windsurfing and turtle rest stop attraction of Ho’okipa. (Ho’okipa means“hospitality” in Hawaiian.) Onward are some sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean from higher elevations, but the Hana Highway does not truly become that infamous Road to Hana until after the mile marker reset to zero at the corner of Hana Highway and Kaupakalua Road in Haiku.
Why Does the Road to Hana Get So Much Publicity?
At the Twin Falls fruit stand, or approximately mile marker 2, the Road to Hana scenery becomes more jungle-y and lush, but the twists, turns, switchbacks and one-lane bridges don’t come along until about mile marker 5. This is also where you’ll want to take in the roadside beauty. There are miles of bamboo, the ocean, waterfalls and rainbow eucalyptus trees. (No one painted them, we swear.) You’ll also notice that the road makes it impossible for the driver to focus on anything but the road, so be aware that the driver will miss some of the views. You’ll arrive at the site at about mile marker 10. That means the drive is particularly motion-worthy for about 5 miles of your journey, as you can see on the map.
It’s a slow-motion trek once the curves begin, both because of the narrow lanes and the habits of visitors trying to get a glimpse of a roadside waterfall while driving. If you’re prone to carsickness, stock some chewy ginger candies, to help with nausea. They are also just plain delicious.
Why Maui is Number One (and a Lot of Other Numbers)
If you read travel-related media, you’ll find that Maui consistently ranks high for “best of” categories. In fact, it spent 20 years at the top of Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Island in the World list. Here are some numbers of all kinds about why Maui is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world.
It’s very common for us to receive a phone call or a chat request from someone who says, “My tour is next week, and the forecast calls for rain.” A shrugging-type response is common. While it may be true that the forecast calls for rain, it doesn’t mean much to locals. That’s because, for the most part, your run of the mill online weather forecast for more than a few days in advance will not be accurate. Most reporting that isn’t island-specific is reporting weather that’s happening in some vague, central location, like an airport that is nowhere near your destination. The truth is, there is no way to make an accurate prediction of island-wide weather on Maui more than a day or two in advance. And even then, there have been lots of times when a “100% chance of rain” brought nothing but sunny skies and vice-versa. Why is the Hawaii weather forecast so tricky to predict? For starters, it’s a tiny spit of land surrounded by surrounded by deep water–big water, ocean water. There are somewhat reliable weather patterns around the island, but large or severe weather systems moving along the Central Pacific are, literally, hit or miss on the huge Pacific canvas.
Weather Trends Based on Micro-Climates
With the exception of periodic unstable weather patterns and cooling or rainy fronts moving past the islands from offshore systems, there’s a different kind of local weather forecast based on the island’s micro-climates. The western shores of Lahaina and Kaanapali are usually sunny, with winds picking up late morning. The southern shores of Kihei and Wailea are usually hot, dry and sunny. The north shore gets the lion’s share of the wind, and Haiku is where most of the north shore rain falls. As you travel the windward (north-northeast) side of the island toward Hana, the weather becomes increasingly wetter. The summit at Mount Haleakala is usually very windy and at least 15-20 degrees cooler than the coasts. In fact, there’s ice or snowfall at the summit each winter. Kula, Makawao and Pukalani are at higher altitudes, and lie within the volcano’s rain shadow, which means they enjoy cooler temperatures and less rain than the north shore towns.
Will it Rain in the Rain Forest?
In a word, yes. The Rappel Maui activity site receives at least a little rain every day. It’s what keeps the waterfalls flowing and the landscape green. It’s the reason we operate rain or shine. When heavy rains or prolonged rains cause the waterways to flood, we stay out of the direct flow of the stream, and use rappel stations that are a safe distance from high or swift water. The more severe the flooding, the farther away we get from the stream. Unless we’re expecting a tropical depression or storm, we probably won’t be able to tell you exactly how much rain there will be in the rainforest more than 48 hours in advance of your tour. The El Nino and La Nina years can sometimes make weather patterns more predictable. Because of the nature of the Rappel Maui activity, along with the activity location, the activity is very rarely cancelled due to severe or dangerous weather.
Island Topography and Geography
Maui’s land features are the main determinates for most of our weather patterns. What most visitors don’t understand is that, while the island is relatively small, each one of the Hawaiian Islands has a collection of micro-climates. That’s why, if you call us very concerned about the amount of rain your’re watching from your Kaanapali hotel the day before or day of your tour, we will tell you that the weather for one part of an island is usually completely different from another, even if there’s only a few miles (as the crow flies) between them. Maui has more than a dozen micro-climates, for example, and so the weather in Lahaina and Kihei will likely be hot and dry most of the time, while the mountains within eyeshot of these locations are sometimes the wettest place on the earth.
Wind Direction Plays a Part in Weather Approaches
When offshore weather is approaching from the south and blows northward, it’s known as a kona wind. When weather is blown from the north toward the south, its know as a trade wind. Trade winds are the most common wind direction, and are responsible for keeping the island pleasantly temperate and vog-free.
We’re Here to Talk Story
Do you want to talk about the weather? We are ready to take your call and give whatever insights we can about the island and its ever-intimate relationship with nature. Our phone hours are 7 AM to 7 PM, Hawaii time, every day of the year. Or get your fingers tapping and chat with us online.
One of the most frequently asked questions we encounter from guests is, “What’s the water temperature?” or “How cold is the water?” Stream water temperature is a little chillier than the ocean water, especially during certain times of the year. Another question we’re often asked is if it’s necessary to wear a wet suit top while rappelling waterfalls. Since everyone has a different idea of what cold is, we’ll give you the following facts: The normal annual range of water temperature for the network of streams that travels through natural gulches and man made flumes is 20-27 degrees C or 68 to 80 F. The stream that contributes to most of the waterfall flow at the Rappel Maui activity site averages about 23 degrees C or 73 degrees F.
These are shallow streams with flow that fluctuates with rainfall and other factors. There may be a daily range of a few degrees, and can follow the trends in air temperature. Stream water temperatures are warmer June through September. They’re cooler November through February. The weather is usually a little wetter during the winter months as well. Heavy rainfalls make streams fuller or raise the possibility of flooding.
How to Prepare
If you know that you’re sensitive to chilly water temperatures, it doesn’t hurt to bring a thin wet suit top. Most guests do not find it necessary, but nice to have. If you bring a wet suit with you and decide not to wear it, you can remove it and stash it into the backpack we provide for you. Alternatively, a long sleeved rash guard or quick-dry shirt works well, and the flotation device you’ll wear during the tour also serves as a warmth layer. If you’re looking for a wet suit top once you arrive on Maui, most of the dive and snorkel shops carry them for sale or rent.
While your mileage may vary for comfort level with water temperatures, it’s rare for the water temperatures to be intolerable. The amount of time guests are submerged in the pools and streams is limited. Please call or chat with us to discuss your experience.
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.
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.
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.