Skip to Content

Currently Viewing Posts Tagged what is canyoning

What is Canyoneering and Rappelling?

Another Frequently Asked Question we get from a lot of first-timers who are interested in taking a tour, but are new to rappelling and canyoning in general is, of course:

What exactly IS canyoning, anyway?

We’re glad you asked!

What is Canyoneering? Woman rappelling down a clif into a lake

The simplest description of canyoning is: The exploration of canyons.

To go a little more in-depth, let’s take a page (literally) from Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons, second edition, by David Black. (pp. xi, 1-2.)

First off, a canyon is a deep, narrow valley or chasm with steep sides or cliff walls that have been carved and shaped by moving water. (For you trivia fans, a gorge is usually steeper and narrower than a canyon.) The exploration of a canyon (and descending/ascending it) may require any number of activities, such as hiking, scrambling, jumping, sliding, rappelling, and swimming.

In North America, there is a vague distinction between “canyoning” and “canyoneering,” but more often than not, the terms are used interchangeably, with “canyoning” being the favored term in English-speaking countries outside the United States. Other names for canyoning include “kloofing” (S. Africa) and the Welsh phrase “cerdded ceunant.”

One thing that separates canyoning from hiking is equipment, such as ropes and harnesses. It can be summarized as a hybrid of rock climbing, hiking, river running, and wilderness skills.

For those of you who are wondering, we keep our canyoning day tours on the recreational side. There is some hiking and swimming during the tour, but no technical rock climbing, navigating or camping.

Canyoneering in America is at least several hundred years old, but during the late 20th century, canyoning became popular with aging climbers who had the skills and penchant for exploring some of the world’s loneliest places. Word spread via guidebooks and the media, and by 2000, canyoning was one of the fastest growing adventure sports.

You can sample a tasty morsel of canyoning during a Rappel Maui day tour.

These are recreational experiences for the uninitiated and experienced alike, and last about 3 hours. The tour is great for those looking for a unique outdoor activity that weds incredible tropical scenery with excitement and fun. It’s great for families, couples, groups, conferences and solo travelers. Call us at 808-270-1500 to ask your questions.

For a deeper dive into the principles and practices of canyoning, take a one-day or multi-day class in canyoning. Classes cover the full range of canyoning subject matter, with lots of hands-on practice, from introductory to advanced, plus the availability of specialty classes.

Have something special in mind? Call us at 808-270-1500 to talk.

What is Rappelling, Anyway?


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.


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.  You can learn more about the standard and free rappels you’ll do during the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour.

Do You Still Have Questions About What a Tour is Like, and Whether it’s for You?

We’re here!  You can call us at 808-270-1500. You can email us at Or you can chat with us from your computer or mobile device.