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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?

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?

What to Wear on a Rappel Maui Tour in Wet or Cooler Weather

During the winter months, the weather can get rainy and cool on Maui. Since we operate rappelling tours rain or shine, that means you may (or may not) want to adjust your rappel tour attire. 

Woman on Maui rappel tour in a long-sleeved rash guard This long-sleeved rash guard plus life jacket is great for staying toasty in rainy, cool winter weather.

You’ll still wear the special rappelling footwear that we provide you. It’s a rubber booty with a felt sole that’s designed for traversing wet rocks and muddy surfaces, and keeps your feet and ankles protected while you’re rappelling and swimming. But your best bet for preparing yourself for a day in the Maui elements is to know yourself.

If you know that you’re sensitive to cold water, consider bringing some special items with you, such as a wetsuit top or a diving fleece top or pants.  If, once you get a visual on the conditions at the rappelling site, and you decide you don’t need them, you can leave them in the van or the supply shed. You can usually rent these at your nearby dive shop, or you can occasionally buy them at Maui’s own COSTCO.

If you’re not sure about making a special trip to the dive shop or mall, wear a sleeved rash guard or quick-dry tee shirt (pictured, right). Paired with your personal flotation jacket, this is a great combo for staying warm in rainy, cool winter weather.

If you want to really maximize your thermal comfort on your rappel tour, bring with you a small towel and/or tee shirt, and stow them in a plastic waterproof bag, such as a Ziplock. (Double-bag them for insurance.) You can keep these with you in the dry keg that’s provided with a backpack, which you can then use to dry off and warm up after the rappel.

Since you’ll have some time in between rappels, this is when you’re most likely to—literally—chill out. Remember that you’ll have an opportunity to warm up by way of exercise during the brief workout at the end of your rappels. It’s the climb back up to the top that we refer to as The Stairmaster.

Make sure to bring a dry, warm change of clothing with you. If you know that it takes you a while to warm up after a day in the elements, think layers: Shorts, sweatpants, tee shirt, hoodie, maybe some socks. After lunch and a ride back to the dryer, sunnier side of the island, you’ll be right as rain.

Have more questions about other nuances of a Rappel Maui tour? Contact us today!

Getting to and From the Rappelling Tour Location

Rappel Maui Transportation Options

If You’re Using the Central Maui Meeting Location

The Rappel Maui van and two rappelling guides

Your guides will meet you in a large, white passenger van clearly marked “Rappel Maui,” usually in Central Maui, near the Ma’alaea Harbor at a small park & ride lot near the intersection of highways 310 (also called North Kihei Road) and highway 30.

Of course it’s possible to take a taxi or shuttle service to the meeting location. Ask your concierge or activity agent for more information about availability and rates.

Most guests will drive a rental car to the meeting location, and park it for the day. It bears repeating that you should not leave valuables in your parked car; either leave them at your accommodations, or take them with you on the tour. Your guides will equip you with a backpack and a dry keg for keeping the smaller items your bring with you safe and dry.

If you are driving your rental car to the meeting spot, or are requesting taxi or shuttle service, you can find the directions and map here. You’ll also find them in your email inbox upon your reservation.

Note that, unless we otherwise notify you, the time of your trip is the Rappel Maui van departure time from the meeting area. Arrive 10 minutes early to leisurely gather your things and board the van.

Classic Rappelling Group Tour times are at 7, 8:30, 10, and 11:30 AM daily, based on availability. You can book rappelling tours online and then call or email us to add round trip hotel transportation from your hotel in our van.

Please call us at (808) 270-1500 to ask about alternative transportation, including:

  • South Maui or West Maui Hotel / Resort Pickup and Return
  • Alternative Meeting Locations (for those with accommodations in Paia, Haiku, Makawao or Hana)

What Shoes Should I Wear on the Rappelling Tour?

Questions and Answers for Rappelling Tour

From the Frequently Asked Questions files, a very commonly voiced concern: “What kind of shoes should I wear on the rappelling 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 rappelling 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.

That’s because we equip you with special footwear at the rappelling site.

Louboutins very high heel shoes with red sols

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 Maui Nature Adventure

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 Maui nature adventure experiences ever.

Rappelling tool - a locking carabiner for your Maui nature adventure

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 Maui nature adventure 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.

Woman rappelling next to a waterfall for a Maui Nature Adventure

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 your Maui nature adventure.

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 for your nature adventure, 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 from your Maui nature adventure, 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

Graphic of five yellow stars for Writing a Helpful ReviewAfter 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 writing a review 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 writing a helpful review 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 helpful 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 neat nicks, 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 helpful 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.