Ziplining Haleakala with Skyline Eco-Adventures
I’ve always been curious about people’s desire to fly. Why do people get excited to jump out of an airplane or off the side of cliffs and bridges?
I don’t know when I developed my anxiety towards heights. It must have happened in my late teens or early twenties. It’s weird, because I love being high in the mountains. I have no problem snowboarding beside steep drops or hiking to the top of cliffs, but the thought of skydiving, paragliding and bungee-jumping makes my stomach turn upside down.
It’s that feeling of falling that I dislike. But ziplining is a completely different experience – it’s less about falling and more about speed.
Beth and Randy joined me on this Hawaiian zipline adventure. Originally we were going to tackle the Ka’anapali course in West Maui, but the weather on that side of the island was not co-operating.
Fortunately for us, Skyline Eco-Adventures has multiple locations on Maui. So we changed directions and headed to Haleakala, the shorter course that’s known for being the first zipline in the United States, and also one of the fastest.
My first zipline experience was in Costa Rica, back in 2006. At the time, the sport (is it considered a sport?) was just taking off. I remember feeling quite nervous before the first zipline. Mostly because it was a new adventure, but also because Central America is not known for its high safety standards.
Pre-tour emotions were quite different this time around. Because I knew what to expect, my jitters turned to excitement. I couldn’t wait to run off the platform and zip through the forest at top speed.
It didn’t hurt that Skyline’s commitment to safety has set the industry standard in the United States. I had complete faith in the course, equipment and guides.
Beth and Randy before our first zip
One of the notable and unique features of this course is that each zipline crossing is named after an endangered bird species that is native to Maui.
Skyline’s commitment to eco-tourism and environmental preservation is evident throughout the tour. Tour guides take a moment before each zipline to highlight each bird and create awareness about Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem.
The Haleakala course is made up of 5 zipline crossings and one suspension bridge, with each zipline gradually getting longer and faster. After each zipline, we only hike a short distance before arriving at the next zipline.
The course is not very long, it takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
Butterflies flutter in my stomach as our group takes turns crossing the wobbly suspension bridge. The bridge looks like something you’d find in an Indiana Jones movie, with open spaces between each piece of wood. It bounces and shakes and sways. Even though we’re clipped into a safety harness, it’s still a nerve-racking walk that gets the juices flowing.
Surprisingly, crossing the wooden bridge gets the biggest adrenaline spike on the tour… at least it did until we saw the final zipline!
Can you spot the zipliner? Hint – he’s wearing yellow!
The final zipline crossing is a beauty! You have to literally run off a platform that drops into a steep gorge before shooting down the valley for what seems like a mile.
If you look at the above photo, you’ll notice that the zipline actually stretches much farther than the platform at the bottom. Zipliners whiz past the bottom platform and start to climb back up the other side, before turning around and descending once again.
Depending on how much speed you have, you can cross the platform multiple times before the guide finally stops you. It’s kind of like that swinging boat ride you see at an amusement park – you get a few more adrenaline spikes before the ride ends.
Randy and I at the bottom of the final zipline
Team #seeMaui at the end of the Haleakala Zipline course
Quick facts about Skyline Eco-Adventures
- Skyline Eco-Adventures is the first Zipline tour in the United States
- They offer 3 Zipline courses – 2 on Maui and 1 on the Big Island (see locations here)
- In 2009, Skyline celebrated 1 million customer zipline crossings
- Skyline guides complete a minimum 80 hours of training, including a first aid, CPR and AED certification
- Skyline is the first Zipline operator in the World to join “1% For The Planet” a group of businesses committed to giving at least 1% of all sales back to environmental preservation
To learn more, visit Skyline’s website: http://www.zipline.com
Have you taken a zipline tour before? Where was it and what did you think?
Share your story in the comments section below, we’d love to read about it!
A big thank you to Kent and David from Skyline Eco Adventures for a fun (and knowledgeable) zipline tour through the forest! Our zipline adventure was complimentary, thanks to the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely our own.