As ecotourism or green tourism becomes a more sought out way to spend vacations, ziplining has become one of the fastest growing eco-friendly activities throughout the world.
Ziplining gained popularity in Costa Rica in the early 1990's when several companies began to offer "canopy tours" through the Costa Rican rainforest.
On Maui there are three companies that offer zip line adventures. The first Maui zip line or Maui zipline company was Skyline Eco-Adventures. This was followed several years later by Kapalua Adventures. The most recent entry in the Maui zip line business is the Piiholo Ranch Zipline.
While some of the earliest zipline operators in Costa Rica experienced serious accidents, such has not been the case on Maui. All of the companies stress safety first and all participants are fully instructed on the use of the equipment. Each group of zippers is accompanied by several well experienced and expert guides. Each of the companies has similar but slightly different requirements and restrictions and you should visit their websites for details.
On an amusing note, one item that companies have never decided upon is the spelling of their business! Whether it's zipline, zip-line or zip line, however, you're sure to have a fun time.
Skyline Eco-Adventures - Haleakala Skyline Tour
Founded in 2002, Skyline Eco-Adventures was the first zip line company on Maui and for that matter, in the United States. Skyline's first zip lines were located on Haleakala Ranch in Upcountry Maui along Highway 378 or Crater Road. This was the first zip line tour that my wife and I ever took and we did it on Thanksgiving Day in 2005.
Called the Haleakala Skyline Tour, this course is perfect for first time zipliners. The Haleakala Skyline Tour blends a short hiking experience with five zipline crossings each slightly longer and slightly higher, an "Indiana Jones" style swinging bridge, and an introduction to Hawaii's unique and fragile landscape.
Skyline was voted Hawaii Eco-Tour Operator of the Year 2004 by the Hawaii Eco-Tourism Association and this tour showed us why. We had so much fun that we didn't even realize how much we were learning about the trees, plants and wildlife of Upcountry Maui. This tour operates nine times a day and last a couple of hours. As of June 2009, the cost is just $89, but you can book it online for only $80.10.
Skyline Eco-Adventures - Ka'anapali Skyline Adventure
More recently, Skyline has opened a second zipline tour in West Maui, called the Ka'anapali Skyline Adventure.
More adventurous than their original course, this second course is located deep into the mountains above Ka'anapali and can only be reached by off road vehicles such as a Pinzgauer. The Ka'anapali Skyline Adventure is a full half-day experience featuring eight ziplines and a meal served at the edge of a 1000-foot overlook which provides great views of the West Maui coast.
This tour operates eight times a day and is a half day tour. As of June 2009, the cost is a bit more at $149.95, but you can book it online for only $134.95.
Customers must be over 10 years of age, weigh between 80 & 260 lbs. and be physically able to hike 1/2 mile at elevation over uneven terrain for the Haleakala Tour and 2 miles for the Ka'anapali Tour. Customers with injuries, chronic heart problems should use discretion. No pregnant customers are allowed. There are additional recommendations and requirements listed on their website.
For reservations or information, call (808) 878-8400, or visit www.zipline.com.
Kapalua Adventures Mountain Outpost Zip Line
The second entry into Maui ziplining was the Kapalua Resort with their Kapalua Resort's zipline course. The zipline course is just part of the Kapalua Adventures Mountain Outpost which also includes a challenge course, climbing tower and giant swing.
It's the ultimate eco-friendly adventure opportunity on Maui and customers can choose among numerous packages to experience any numbers of the available activities in almost any combination.
Kapalua Resort's zipline course is one the country's largest with nearly two miles of parallel lines that soar amidst the West Maui mountains.
Guests are transported to the Mountain Outpost from the Kapalua Adventure Center in biodiesel-fueled Mercedez-Benz Unimogs via existing pineapple field access roads. The entire area is owned by their parent, the Maui Land & Pineapple Company.
Their ziplines are slightly different from others I have been on. First, they offer parallel lines which are great when you're with a friend or family member. They also have, what I felt to be, a more comfortable nylon rip-stopping harness. It's easier to avoid uncontrolled 360 degree swings. Their hardwood brake block system is also quite different from other ziplines I've been on. It allows for somewhat easier, albeit noisier, breaking.
More About the Kapalua Adventures Mountain Outpost Zip Line
When I did the Kapalua Adventures ziplines in March 2008 only four lines were open. They now have eight lines including two lines over 2,000 feet long. They've also added an innovative "zipperlifter" - an innovative transport mechanism that lifts you 3000 linear feet to the starting point of the highest lines.
Because so many different combinations of adventures are available it's impossible to quote all of the prices. Depending on whether you choose to do four or eight ziplines, the cost will range from $150-$300. As is standard all participants must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 60-250 lbs.
Tours fill up quickly, so is imperative that you book ahead. Also, because the weather in this area of the mountains is unpredictable, tours do get cancelled, so I would advise booking towards the beginning of your trip to allow time to reschedule should your tour be cancelled.
On a positive note Kapalua Resort has pledged 10 percent of the profits generated by the Adventure Center to the Pu'u Kukui Watershed Preserve. It is home to several of the world's rarest plants and animal species that exist nowhere else in Hawaii, let alone the rest of the world. It's also one of the wettest spots on earth with a pristine tropical bog. Pu‘u Kukui is a natural watershed on which Kapalua Resort and most of the West Maui community rely for water.
Unfortunately, Kapalua Adventures ceased operation in early 2013. We'll keep you posted on the status of their zipline.
Piiholo Ranch Zipline
Piiholo Ranch Zipline began operation in late 2008 and is now operating on the 800-acre historic Piiholo Ranch above Makawao, Maui.
The Ranch tour operations include horseback trail rides and lessons, and Hawaii's newest and longest zipline eco-adventure. Situated on Piiholo Road near the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao, the ranch is at an elevation of 2000 feet on Mt. Haleakala with bi-coastal Pacific Ocean views.
Piiholo Ranch Zipline Owners/Operators and brothers Jeff, Duke and Chris Baldwin are descendants of the legendary seven-generation Baldwin ranching family on Maui that includes father Peter, a competitive team roper, polo champion, and member of the Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) Hall of Fame.
They have built one of the country's longest and most ecologically sensitive ziplines nearing three miles of scenic thrills, with the longest line at 2800 feet, heights from 42 feet to 600 feet, and speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
The course includes a zipline of four lines side-by-side (the only one in Hawaii) and five ziplines of two lines side-by-side; a suspension bridge; and seven-station, 42-foot tall climbing tower and ropes course (Tango Tower) covering approximately 100 acres.
Guests are outfitted with the latest ziplining equipment including the top state-of-the-art zipline harness available and offering maximum comfort, safety helmet, and tethered trolley.
Knowledgeable guides lead them through a fun and challenging bird's eye view of the rain forest.
More About the Piiholo Ranch Zipline
All tours start by crossing a 317-foot long suspension bridge which takes you from the parking lot to the course. Ziplines criss-cross over verdant, deep gulches and zipliners soar over a beautiful forest canopy, including koa, ohi`a, halapepe and kukui trees, while taking in bi-coastal views and the grandeur of Haleakala summit.
Four Adventure tours are available - a 5-Line Adventure, a 4-Line Adventure, Tango Tower and a Walk Along Adventure which provides great photo opportunities for non-zipping friends.
Participants must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 75 pounds and 275 pounds for ziplining and at least 60 pounds for Tango Tower. The tour is not for pregnant women, people with back problems or any serious medical condition. Closed toed shoes are required. Some moderate to advanced physical activity and stair climbing is expected.
Piiholo Ranch Zipline operates daily with tours embarking hourly from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 5-Line Adventure costs $190 per person, plus tax and lasts approximately 3 hours. The 4-Line Adventure costs $140 per person, plus tax and lasts approximately 2 hours.
For reservations or information, call (808) 572-1717, or visit piiholozipline.com.