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The Basics of Taking a Rappel Maui Tour

Rappel Maui Tours, for The Young and the Restless?

Rappeller giving the thumbs up for the Rappel Maui Tours

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 fill out our contact form.

Weighty Matters

For the Classic Rappelling Group Tour, the maximum limit on weight is 250 pounds, or about 115 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 9 AM and 5 PM Hawaii Standard Time. Rappel Maui tours operate daily.

The 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 conditions. 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 in your polish.

Because safety is the top priority, you’ll wear your helmet and flotation vest during the entire tour, regardless of your skills or the weather.

Gravity Happens on Rappel Maui Tours

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 or grasp 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.
  • Pay attention to your guides and follow their instructions.
  • 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 after the rest of the party have made their rappels. You can enjoy the scenery of the trails while you wait, but one caveat: It’s often physically 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 to meet.

Take a look at the directions and map to the 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 you’ll meet your guides at the activity location on the Hana Highway. It’s approximately 1 hour from Kahului and 1.5 hours from Lahaina. If you know you’re running late, call us right away so that we can communicate with the guides at the site.

What Will the Weather on Maui be Like Next Week?

The Weather Forecast is: Who Knows?

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.

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

This long-sleeved rash guard plus life jacket is great for staying toasty in rainy, cool winter weather.
This long-sleeved rash guard plus life jacket is great for staying toasty in rainy, cool winter weather.

During the winter months, the weather can get rainy and cool on Maui.  Since we operate tours rain or shine, that means you may (or may not) want to adjust your rappel tour attire.  You’ll still wear the special 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 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, 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, 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 a waterfall 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? Phones are all the way live from 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week.  Call us to talk story anytime.