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What is Rappelling, Anyway?

Question and Answer for What is Rappelling?

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 canyoning–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.

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Take a Holiday Rappel or Any Day During #Aloha365

Rappel Maui Santa for a Holiday Rappel

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 break the routine of spending the day making turkey dinner and doing something totally unique and wild instead? Fear not and take a holiday rappel!

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 rappelling 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 Rappelling Tour Time is Best for Me?

Rappel Maui guide assisting a participant during a rappelling tour time
We operate every day of the year, and with as many as three possible rappelling tour time slots per day, that means there are ample opportunities for you to find a way to work a Rappel Maui tour time into your itinerary the next time you #letHawaiihappen.

When Are the Rappelling Tours?

The number of available tours and their timing varies with the seasons. The daily rappelling tour times for the Classic Rappelling Group Tour are 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, and 1:00 PM.

Is There a Difference?

We’re often asked if there’s a difference in the experience from one rappelling tour time to another. While the weather may change between the early and late times, 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 8:00 or 10:30 times get 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 rappelling tour, the total tour duration, from the time we meet you at the activity site from the time you are back at base camp is approximately 3 hours for the Classic Rappelling Tour. 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

Heart shaped carabiners for romantic activities in Maui

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 romantic activity 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 are 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 water cooler, 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

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, and want to save money on your Maui vacation, you’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 on Maui and make more of your vacation to Hawaii’s unique destinations.

Save Money on Maui Vacation with a Waterfall Rappel with Rappel Maui

Take the Road Less Traveled

Vendors off the beaten path are often able to offer better retail prices on items like groceries, clothing, souvenirs, 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. Some hotels and resorts will offer you discounts 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, you drive down half of the famous Road to Hana with 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 will save you money. Not only do you stand a chance of scoring a discount, but tour groups are usually less crowded during low season.

The best times of the year to save money on Maui 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 caves and lava tubes to explore. 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?

Maui Honeymooners Welcome

Maui honeymoon adventure: Heart knot made from red rappelling rope

With more visitors coming to Maui during the summer months, we’re meeting lots of couples who are on their honeymoon, or who are celebrating a destination wedding or anniversary.

We like to say that, after a walk down the aisle, there’s nothing like a walk down a waterfall.  Or, after tying the knot, you can come…tie another.

Whatever your situation, we love helping all kinds of visitors, Maui honeymoon or (k)not, take on the wild splendor of the tropics and explore some of Maui’s most beautiful natural scenery.  The private waterfalls and rainforest that we discover by way of hiking, rappelling and swimming are some of the most romantic places in the world.

You can find out more about what a rappelling tour is like by browsing our rappelling tour page, reading one of the various magazine articles that have been published about the experience, or watching a clip from The Travel Channel or NBC’s First Look.  If you’re not sure how getting wet and dirty outside is romantic, rent an old classic like Romancing the Stone or any of the Indiana Jones movies.

Looking for a non-biased take on what it’s like to take on the jungle? Take in one of these reads from journos and writers who found out firsthand. Or read some of our client reviews.



What Happens If… A Guide on Waterfall Rappels for the Unsure

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 rappelling adventure. Sometimes the fun is in the fear. Go figure.

Rappel Maui guide preparing for waterfall rappels

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” waterfall rappels questions, call us at 808-270-1500.

What happens if I change my mind?

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 waterfall 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, consider sending him or her to a rappelling class during your next visit.

Safety is our top priority. Check out some of the ways a rappelling tour is safe, or contact us for specifics. We’re ready to field your questions!

Five Reasons Why Rainforest Rappelling is the Perfect Rainy Day Activity on Maui

If you’re visiting Hawaii in January, February or even March, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some of the island’s cooler, wetter weather.  During some of these winter months, there’s even some snowfall at the top of the Big Island’s and Maui’s volcanic peaks.

If you just spent a hefty sum to flee your frozen hometown for a week, no one can blame you for craving the sunny tropical beaches of Hawaii. But if you’ve got a few soggy, gloomy days in front of you, take heart: rainforest rappelling is the perfect rainy day outdoor activity for you while you’re on Maui.

What Makes Rainforest Rappelling Such a Great All-Weather Go-To Tour?

1. Your destination is a rainforest canyon.

With so many outdoor activities on the island being weather dependent, we’re one of the few tours that can safely operate in virtually any kind of weather. That’s why one of the first things we say is: Rain or shine, we go. 

How is this possible? Your rappelling tour is designed to take place in a rainforest canyon; that means that when it’s raining, you’re witnessing the jungle at its best and most normal state. It’s beautiful, it’s fragrant, it’s cool and it’s natural. When you see it you’ll know where the saying “right as rain” comes from. You’ll have time to listen to the pitter-patter of the drops falling on the plants and trees while the birds sing along. 

When other tours must close up shop when high wind and high surf advisories threaten the island, we take you to a secluded area tucked into a snug valley protected by natural cliffs and rainforest canopy.  The weather on the windward side of the island is volatile and unpredictable, yes, but during the winter months, it can be some of the best weather on the island. Will you get wet? Yes, but…

2. You’re going to get wet anyway.

Anyone signing up to go waterfall rappelling is signing up to get wet. Whether that water is falling from the sky or the 50-cliff in front of you, it’s pretty much all the same stuff. This is outdoor adventure. Unless you’ve shown up in a business suit, the rain makes a pleasant sight and sensation that takes a lot of people back to a time when they thought it was fun to play in the rain. And it is!

3. It’s easy to get comfortable.

When it’s rainy, breezy or foggy, you’ll likely get fewer mosquito bites.

When it’s sunny and hot, the waterfalls and pools make the perfect place for some chill time.

When it’s chilly, a long-sleeved rash guard or wetsuit top under your flotation jacket is just the ticket for staying toasty, and there’s plenty of time for you to remove or add layers as conditions change. 

After your rainforest rappelling tour, you can towel off and change into some fresh togs in one of the private on-site changing rooms. Ask your guide for some warm air in the van on the way back if you’re still feeling chilly.

4. Rainforest rappelling is the most unique rainy day activity ever.

Anyone can go to the movies or stay inside when it’s rainy. It takes courage and savvy to take advantage of what most people would call “bad weather.” Going rappelling when everyone else is wandering around the lobby isn’t just making lemonade out of lemons, it’s making lifetime memories out of a rainy day. Embrace it!

5. Your bragging rights are irrevocable.

Hawaii is one of the most remote places on the Earth, with 10 of the 13 climate zones, and more endemic plant and animal species than you can shake a stick at. Not only were you here, a place where one island is getting bigger every second and a whole new island is brewing under the ocean’s surface, but you perched yourself at the top of a 6-story cliff and safely stepped off the edge.  You faced fears, danced with gravity and made new friends. You rocked it.

When most people return from vacation, they say, “I need to go on a diet.” What will you say?