Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zipline

Z is for Zipline, a tremendously popular activity on Maui. This zipline is North Shore Zipline in Haiku, in my neck of the woods. It's a canopy style zipline, meaning that people climb up to a platform in the trees and zipline among the treetops to the next platform or area. 

Ziplines? What? A classic or stereotypical Hawaiian cultural symbol? [Shrug] I only had two choices for Z and this one has more tourist appeal!

The first zipline on Maui started at Skyline Eco-Adventures a few years ago. It was wildly popular and since then, a bunch of zipline companies have jumped in the fray. Amazingly, Maui gets enough visitors to support the existence of several different zipline companies:

·        Skyline Eco-Adventures – operates two Maui ziplines, the original on Haleakala Crater, up in Kula, on one side of the island and another, more extreme zipline on the West side of Maui. Plus they operate ziplines on the Big Island and Tennessee. They are on twitter and Facebook
·        North Shore Zipline – a tree canopy style zipline, which goes from tree platform to the ground, along the forest canopy, the tops of the trees.  Features active braking and some rider control. They are new on twitter and less active on Facebook 
·        Pi'iholo Ranch Zipline -  To my knowledge, another tree canopy style zipline. Features side by side ziplines, so there’s less wait time and you can zip next to friends. Active on twitter and Facebook.  
·        Maui Zipline Company – at the Maui Tropical Plantation. I’ve heard this one is more kid-friendly, and the lines go up to 900 feet long.  Active on twitter and Facebook.   
·        Flying Hawaiian Zipline – also starts at the Maui Tropical Plantation but one line is 3600 feet. Claims to have one of the fastest, most extreme ziplines.  I could not find them on twitter, but they are quite active on Facebook

FYI: the video below has an ad and is a little over 3 minutes long. 

What is the best zipline?
Don’t ask me… I think they all feature different things. Some are faster and scarier. Others are pricier, have longer zips, or more lines. Others are better for all age groups because they are not as extreme or physically demanding. Some ziplines let the rider have some control, others are just fun rides. Some ziplines have lots of walking and hiking and are a real work out!  They are located on different parts of the island with different scenic views.  

Is a zipline a “must do” activity?
Some people say yes, others no. You can spend hours looking at online reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, or talking with people.  (Just a note, yesterday Yelp showed all the zipline companies on Maui and today is only showing four, with the same search criteria: zipline, Maui.) Some friends loved their zipline rides, and another friend found it a bit tame compared to kitesurfing, but she was also on one of the gentler ziplines. DH and I had a great time on ours.

Are they safe?
I have not heard of any accidents on Maui, though have heard of two accidents on the Big Island in 2011, not by any of the companies listed above. There's an element of risk, but the tendency is for the companies to be excessively safe. I've even heard visitors complain that they felt there was too much safety!  Since ziplines are wildly popular, it would be foolish for the zipline companies to get careless on maintenance or safety.
The path up to the platform.

Do any of these ziplines have discounts or special pricing? Doesn’t everyone want to know? Ziplines usually start at $100 per person. Sometimes they have specials on twitter or Facebook, but almost never on their websites. Skyline Eco-Adventures has a special rate for Zip for the Trees, a nonprofit fundraiser in the fall.  I’ve noticed that Pi’iholo Zipline has specials once in a while, around holidays.

Oh, there is one other way to get a special zipline rate, and it’s tricky. In Hawaii, a common sight is the activity booth or kiosk, usually located in a high-traffic area. There will be a sign with activities like snorkeling, sunset cruise, lu’au, horse riding, hiking, ziplining, etc. with low or ridiculous prices next to each item. The catch is, to get that ridiculous rate, one has to attend a three-hour time share presentation. If you’re a couple, then both of you must attend. 
This is a "discount activities booth" in Kihei. They are usually located in high-traffic tourist areas and often have super low prices. There's a reason why. 

In effect, by trading three hours of precious vacation time, driving time, and possibly becoming the proud new owner of a one-week timeshare once a year ($10,000+), you could get a $29 zipline ride. For some, it’s worth it. For others, caveat emptor.  Enough said.

So far I've only been on one zipline tour with Northshore Zipline. It was extremely scary on the test zip, because it requires jumping off the platform. The first leap is the hardest. Then it got easier and less scary. I never got the hang of the active braking, using my arms and gloved hands to control the speed of the ride. Our guides were funny and entertaining, especially when two people dropped gloves and they had to jump down and get them. I took five million video clips and posted a few on youtube but never got around to editing them in any manageable way. Moreover, my zipline footage could make a sailor seasick. DH and I had a great time and my arms were sore later on. 

There ya go!  End of the A to Z posts for 2013. Ok, well I might do a follow up post on lessons from the A-Z Challenge.

Just remembered! There's a Facebook contest on best eco-tour guide. Please consider voting for Joe of Skyline Eco-Adventures.

Aloha and mahalo (thank you) for reading!

If you are commenting from the A to Z challenge, please include a link. 

I'm doing my best to keep up with commenting, but do sometimes get behind. Mahalo for understanding!


  1. I've always wanted to go on a zipline, but I've never been to a place that has one. I imagine it must be both terrifying and exhilarating.

    Congrats on finishing the challenge! It's been fun to get an insider's view of Hawaii.

  2. I'm so culturally ignorant that I didn't know ziplines were big in Hawaii, let alone a cultural symbol or stereotype to the islands. They do look wicked cool, though. There are some I would happily ride.

  3. Great post, way to finish strong. I've never been on a zipline before but after reading this article I may give it a try. We have one set up near here. Also, thanks for your encouragement and support during this challenge, it definitely helped keep me going. I need you to be my headline writer your retweets always made me chuckle. Keep up the good work, I'll be checking in.


Comments are important to me, so mahalo for adding a comment! I will try to follow up when I receive one.