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COVID-19 Safety Measures

Check Maui County’s COVID-related announcements and the Hawaii State Department of Health to learn more about visitor and travel advisories, restrictions and protocols.

At Rappel Maui, your health and safety are our top priorities. That means that our guides are highly trained in canyoneering, CPR and wilderness rescue, and our equipment is meticulously maintained. We ask all visiting guests to present a negative pre-travel test or proof of a 14-day on-island quarantine period at the time of reservation. Here’s more on how we make every effort to minimize the transmission of viruses:

Cleaning and Safety Practices
  • High-touch surfaces and equipment cleaned and disinfected/washed
  • Venue cleaned with disinfectants
  • Venues kept vacant between travelers

Social Distancing
  • Touch-free ticket redemption and paperless waiver e-signing
  • Social distancing at check-in

Health  and Safety Practices
  • Temperature checks given to staff
  • Temperature checks and questionnaire given to clients
  • Guests may wear masks (not provided) at check in and when gearing up
  • Hand sanitizer provided.
  • Hand-washing available at staging area
  • All activities in proximity to others are conducted outdoors
  • Individually wrapped snacks available
  • Please limit the items you bring with you to the staging/gear area to one bag containing small personal items, a change of clothing and a towel

Please call, email or chat with us for further details about how special measures, policies and procedures may affect your tour experience. Mahalo for your kokua.

What’s the Water Temperature in the Waterfalls?

So, How Cold Is It?

One of the most frequently asked questions we encounter from guests is, “What’s the water temperature?” or “Maui water temperatureHow cold is the water?” Stream water temperature is a little chillier than the ocean water, especially during certain times of the year. Another question we’re often asked is if it’s necessary to wear a wet suit top while rappelling waterfalls. Since everyone has a different idea of what cold is, we’ll give you the following facts: The normal annual range of water temperature for the network of streams that travels through natural gulches and man made flumes is 20-27 degrees C or 68 to 80 F. The stream that contributes to most of the waterfall flow at the Rappel Maui activity site averages about 23 degrees C or 73 degrees F.

These are shallow streams with flow that fluctuates with rainfall and other factors. There may be a daily range of a few degrees, and can follow the trends in air temperature.  Stream water temperatures are warmer June through September. They’re cooler November through February.  The weather is usually a little wetter during the winter months as well. Heavy rainfalls make streams fuller or raise the possibility of flooding.

How to Prepare

If you know that you’re sensitive to chilly water temperatures, it doesn’t hurt to bring a thin wet suit top.  Most guests do not find it necessary, but nice to have.  If you bring a wet suit with you and decide not to wear it, you can remove it and stash it into the backpack we provide for you.  Alternatively, a long sleeved rash guard or quick-dry shirt works well, and the flotation device you’ll wear during the tour also serves as a warmth layer. If you’re looking for a wet suit top once you arrive on Maui, most of the dive and snorkel shops carry them for sale or rent.

While your mileage may vary for comfort level with water temperatures, it’s rare for the water temperatures to be intolerable. The amount of time guests are submerged in the pools and streams is limited.  Please call or chat with us to discuss your experience.

What is Rappelling, Anyway?

q&a

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 canyoneering–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.

OR,

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 dropoff@rappelmaui.com. Or you can chat with us from your computer or mobile device.

When You Have Questions About Rappel Maui, But Were Afraid to Ask

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RAPPEL MAUI, ANSWERED

If you’re the curious type, but aren’t ready to call us with your specific questions, we’ve put together this unabridged list of facts to help you understand the nature of a Rappel Maui tour. This list serves as an addendum or the extended dance remix of the original, much shorter FAQ that we’ve put together. Thanks for being thorough!

WHAT IS YOUR TOUR LIKE?
The Rappel Maui tour is a fun and active experience for anyone over 10 who wants to experience the excitement and beauty of Maui’s rainforest and waterfalls through the sport of canyoneering. Please see the other considerations and restrictions for tour participants. It’s a recreational tour that requires no previous climbing or rappelling experience.  Follow these links for more about what it’s like, who can join us, when tours run, and how to book. Of course, you can always call with your questions about Rappel Maui at 808-270-1500 between 7 AM and 7 PM, every day of the year.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKING MY RESERVATION ONLINE OR OVER THE PHONE?
The only difference in making your reservation online vs. over the phone is that you can make an online reservation any time of the day or night. Check availability or make a reservation now. Our reservation phone hours are 7 AM to 7 PM Hawaii time, 7 days. Call 808-270-1500 to make a phone reservation.

HOW MUCH DOES A RAPPEL MAUI TOUR COST?
The classic tour costs $196.88 per person. That includes tax, all gear (with special footwear), and snacks/bottled water.  The extended tour, the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour, is $259.37 per person.

WHAT IS CANYONEERING? WHAT IS RAPPELLING?
Simply put, canyoneering is the exploration of canyons. Some necessary activities associated with exploring and traveling through canyons are hiking, scrambling, jumping, sliding, rappelling, and swimming. Rappelling is the practice of using ropes, anchors and other equipment to descend (and sometimes ascend) vertical or nearly vertical terrain. When we conduct our rappelling tours, we use harnesses, ropes, and a redundant system of anchors to descend natural wet and dry jungle walls.

SHOULD I REMOVE ALL MY JEWELRY BEFORE RAPPELLING?
Out on the pitches and trails, it’s best to keep things simple and un-blingy. Remove any pieces of exposed jewelry that might catch on equipment or rocks. You will also be using your hands quite a bit, and they will likely contact hard, rough and muddy surfaces, so if you’re worried about damaging rings with or without stones, we do recommend removing them.  We don’t, however, recommend leaving any valuables in your car.  Either leave jewelry in your hotel safe, or bring it with you so that you can keep it in the dry keg in your backpack.

WHEN DO YOU OFFER TOURS?
We operate tours daily, with a maximum of four tour times per day, depending on seasonal demand. Look online or call to ask about availability for any particular days or time slots. Classic tour times are at 8:00, 9:15, 11:45 and 1:00 PM. Note that these times are the meeting times at the activity site on the Road to Hana. Just call, chat or email us to ask questions about Rappel Maui or the tour details.

HOW MANY RAPPELS WILL I DO DURING THE TOUR?
Usually 3 on the classic tour, 4 or more on the extended tour. The format may be different if you’re taking a custom private tour. Call to ask us about custom private tours for small or larger groups.

I’M CONSIDERING A RAPPELLING TOUR, BUT I’M SCUBA DIVING FIRST. WHAT’S THE MAXIMUM ELEVATION DURING THE TOUR?
The maximum elevation between Kahului and the activity is encountered in Haiku, during the drive from Kahului to the rappelling site, and is about 750 feet above sea level. There are higher elevations between the activity site and Hana Town. Once you enter the rappelling site, there’s no more elevation gain, as you’ll descend first, and walk back up to the beginning elevation at the end. If you’re continuing on your own to Hana after your rappel tour, please note that you may encounter elevations of 1,000 feet above sea or higher during the drive.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN A GROUP?
There are two guides assigned to a maximum of eight participants.  When making a tour reservation, your group may include other parties.  To make a reservation exclusively for your party of one or more people, call to ask about a private tour. Please call us to ask about parties larger than 8.

CAN I TAKE PHOTOS OR VIDEO DURING THE TOUR?
Yes. There are lots of opportunities to capture your memories on a still or video camera, but you won’t be able to hold a camera or selfie stick while rappelling. Likewise, your guides will not be able to take photos during a rappel. You can keep your small camera or other small, non-waterproof or fragile items in the dry keg, such as car keys and watches. Pro tip: Place water-sensitive items in a sealed plastic bag before putting them into your dry keg, as it’s possible for them to break or leak.

WHERE DO I GO TO MEET YOU?
Your guides will meet you at the activity site, located at The Garden of Eden, 10600 Hana Highway in Haiku. Google Map to the location.  Please arrive 10 minutes before your tour  time. The activity site is about 1 hour from Kahului, 1.5 hours from Kihei, 1.75 hours from Lahaina, and 2 hours from Kapalua. Please check your map before leaving your accommodations, and call our offices if you’re running late. Cell phone reception past Paia (approximately 45 minutes from the site) can be unreliable. Once you arrive at the Garden of Eden gate, you’ll proceed about 100 yards to Rappel Maui’s designated parking area. Your guides will meet you there. Please note that guides begin tours promptly, and Garden of Eden employees are unable to help you join the tour if you arrive late.

HOW MUCH DOES THE TOUR COST?
The 3-hour tour costs $196.88 per person, including tax. Price includes tax, equipment (including footwear), snacks and water. You can book online anytime or by calling 808.270.1500 7AM-7PM, 7 days. No hotel transportation is available at this time.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
There’s hand sanitizer and cold running water at the rainforest site, but no shower. There are changing rooms & bathrooms for you to use after your tour. Bring a cloth mask (as opposed to a paper one) if you want to use one when not rappelling, clothing to change into after the tour, and a towel. We give you a dry box with your backpack to keep your non-waterproof items dry during the tour, but bring your non-waterpoof items in a seal-able plastic bag.  If you like to keep it neat, bring a separate or plastic bag to stash your wet swimsuit and clothing after you’ve changed.

WHAT IS THE DRIVE LIKE TO THE SITE?
You’ll take the scenic Hana Highway to the activity location. There are bathrooms along the way, in Kahului and in Paia (about 40 minutes from the activity location.)  There are also facilities at the rappelling site, along with private changing rooms.  On the ride to Hana, you’ll travel past charming North Shore towns like Paia and surfer- and windsurfer-approved beaches like Ho’okipa. As you go, the road becomes a little less straight, and the roadside vegetation a little more green and lush. You’ll see waterfalls on one side of the road, and the infinite sea on the other. It’s some of the best sightseeing in the world.

WHERE DOES THE RAPPELLING TAKE PLACE?
The canyon where we rappel is located in the Puohokamoa Valley, located on the Hana Highway, approximately halfway to Hana. It’s about 1 hour from Kahului, and 1 hour 15 minutes from Hana Town. We’ll send you specific directions about where to meet us at the site once you make your reservation.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M TOO SCARED TO MAKE THAT FIRST STEP?
It’s normal and natural to feel nervous about making  your first descent–we welcome beginners and experts alike. Your guides have accompanied all kinds of guests, from children to seniors and beginners to seasoned canyoneers; they’re great at helping adventurers face the challenge of doing something as unusual as walking down a waterfall–and doing it safely. Listen to your guide’s instructions and tips–they know some great techniques for minimizing nervousness and maximizing enjoyment of the sport. And if you decide that making one or more rappels isn’t for you, there are hiking trails to the bottom of each descent. You can stay with your party and enjoy the waterfall pools and scenery without making that step over the edge. If you know that you want to accompany the tour, but don’t want to rappel, you can make a reservation as an observer.

IS RAPPELLING SAFE?
Although a rappel tour is full of excitement, your guides’ first priority is safety. That’s why your tour group size is small (maximum size of 8, or smaller, based on COVID-related mandates), with two guides assigned to each group. Your guides are highly-trained in canyoneering techniques, first aid, swift water rescue and wilderness rescue. They receive ongoing training during the year, and maintain certification in Red Cross CPR.  Our courses and equipment are monitored daily and equipment is carefully evaluated and retired when appropriate. When heavy rains and severe weather cause the streams to flood, we use the rappel stations that are a safe distance from the water. And everyone wears a helmet and flotation jacket from the tour’s start to finish, no matter what.  These are a few of the precautions that make a Rappel Maui tour safer than a day at the beach. Read these related posts on questions about Rappel Maui, why the tour is safe, how we keep it safe, and what kind of excitement you can expect from a day in the rainforest.

DO I NEED TO BE SUPER ATHLETIC TO DO THE RAPPELLING TOUR?
The most important skills in having a great day of rappelling are listening and attentiveness, with the most physical exertion happening at the end of the tour. After the three descents, you’ll hike a well maintained trail under the cool forest canopy back up the 300 vertical feet to the top–it’s like walking up multiple flights of stairs (an estimated 15 flights or so).  At the supply shed, you’ll be able to change clothing in one of the private changing rooms.

WHAT IF I’VE NEVER BEEN RAPPELLING BEFORE?
You’re in good company. Most of our guests are first-timers or are new to the sport and skill of canyoneering. If you’re interested in learning the how-tos of canyoneering, or further skills you’ve already developed, call us to ask about courses.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESTRICTIONS AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS?
You must weight between 70 and 250 lbs to participate in the Classic Tour, and you must weigh between 90 and 230 lbs to participate in the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour. All participants must measure between 22 and 48 inches around the waist. The minimum age is 10 for the Classic Tour, and 14 for the Extended Tour. You must be in good general health, and have no neck or back issues. You must be able to hike/walk for 1/2 to 1 mile on uneven, loose, or slippery terrain unassisted. The activity (including the observer/hiking option) is not appropriate for people with some medical or physical conditions or for pregnant women. You must also be able to speak and understand spoken English well, and without an interpreter or translator. This is not a safe activity for those using some medical devices or medications, for those with neck, back or hip injuries, or for those with a heart condition. Please call to ask if your condition precludes your participation.

IS IT COMMON PRACTICE TO TIP THE GUIDES?
If you feel that the service your guides provided was exemplary, tipping them is one way to express your appreciation. You can bring cash with you to the tour, or you can call the reservations line to authorize a charge to your credit card for any amount. You can also email us about your experience with your guides, or use a social site like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor, Yelp and others.

Thanks for checking out some frequently asked questions, Rappel Maui style. Please call, email or chat with us for further assistance.

What Happens If…: A Guide for the Unsure

Many of our guests tell us that their waterfall rappels changed their lives. We hear things like, “I feel so accomplished. Invincible!” And then they often also tell us that, while they were doing this crazy thing, they were also feeling pretty scared.  Such is the curious paradox that is a Rappel Maui waterfalls adventure. Sometimes the fun is in the fear. Go figure.

Our guides, the ones keeping everyone safe while they voluntarily step off the edge of a 50-foot wall of water, also feel like they get something from the experience. Longtime Rappel Maui rock star Rich says that the time he invests in working with someone who’s “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is even more rewarding than guiding those who are naturally good at taking charge of the rope.  So here are the answers to some of those “what if” questions we’re asked by those who are not sure that they have the right stuff.  To ask your own “what if” questions, call us at 808-270-1500 or chat live online with us by visiting the home page of our web site.

What happens if I change my mind?

If you find yourself at the top of a cliff and decide that you’d rather not rappel down one or all descents, you can still remain with your group. You can take hiking trails instead of rappelling, and enjoy the streams, pools and surroundings while the others in your party make their drops.

What happens if I let go of the rope?

If you happen to accidentally throw a starfish pose with “jazz hands” during one of your rappels, you will remain in place until you’re able to get your hands back on the rope, and your exaggerated facial expressions under control. Listen to your guides, and follow their instructions for continuing onward and downward. Pro tip: Wait until you’re on level ground to use your jazz hands. What you do with your facial expressions is totally up to you, but we recommend keeping it natural, happy and relaxed.

What happens if my 10-year-old is better at rappelling than I am?

This frequently happens to families with budding adventurists who are eager to make friends with gravity. If one of your children is a natural canyoneer, consider sending him or her to a canyoneering class during your next visit.

Safety is our top priority. Check out some of the ways a rappelling tour is safe, or call, email or chat for specifics. We’re ready to field your questions every day of the year from 7 AM to 7 PM Hawaii time.

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.

Getting to and From the Tour Location: Transportation Options

 If You’re Using the Central Maui Meeting Location

Your guides will meet you in a large, white passenger van clearly marked “Rappel Maui,” usually in Central Maui, near the Ma’alaea Harbor at a small park & ride lot near the intersection of highways 310 (also called North Kihei Road) and highway 30.  Of course it’s possible to take a taxi or shuttle service to the meeting location.  Ask your concierge or activity agent for more information about availability and rates. Most guests will drive a rental car to the meeting locatiguides and van2on, and park it for the day. It bears repeating that you should not leave valuables in your parked car; either leave them at your accommodations, or take them with you on the tour.  Your guides will equip you with a backpack and a dry keg for keeping the smaller items your bring with you safe and dry.

If you are driving your rental car to the meeting spot, or are requesting taxi or shuttle service, you can find the directions and map here. You’ll also find them in your email inbox upon your reservation.  Note that, unless we otherwise notify you, the time of your trip is the van departure time from the meeting area. Arrive 10 minutes early to leisurely gather your things and board the van.  Classic Tour times are at 7, 8:30, 10, and 11:30 AM daily, based on availability. The Extreme Zip Rappel Tour time is at 9:30, and operates 3 days per week. You can book tours online and then call or email us to add round trip hotel transportation from your hotel.

Please call us at 808.270.1500 to ask about alternative transportation, including:

  • South Maui or West Maui Hotel/Resort Pickup and Return
  • Alternative Meeting Locations (for those with accommodations in Paia, Haiku, Makawao or Hana.)

What Shoes Should I Wear?

q&aFrom the Frequently Asked Questions files, a very commonly voiced concern:  “What kind of shoes should I wear to the tour?” Because most of our guests have come to the island with a suitcase, they doubt they have come fully equipped with “the right stuff” to rappel.  The truth is:  Some forgiving clothing and a sense of fun and adventure are pretty much all you need to participate in this curious journey into nature.   The answer to “What kind of shoes should I wear on the day of the tour” is:   Whichever shoes you feel comfortable walking in for a few hundred yards, keeping in mind that those few hundred yards may be muddy.  1363439141_louboutins3

That’s because we equip you with special footwear at the rappelling site.  Wear your sandals, your mandals, your flipflops, wear sneakers.  Wear your  platform Louboutins (or not.) It’s all good, because, once you suit up, you’ll be taking off whatever you’re wearing on your feet, and replacing them with a neoprene booty with special felt soles designed for helping your feet grip the forest’s slippery surfaces.

Once you’re out on the ridges and trails, you will still need to step carefully and pay attention to your guides.  They know every part of the valley, and can point out places where the passage is tricky.  When you’re hiking along high passes on exposed cliffs, you’ll clip your harness to anchored ropes.  When walking up the trail “stairs”, conditions can be muddy and slippery when wet.  Use the anchored ropes and trees as handrails, to prevent slips, falls and otherwise ungraceful moves.

Once you’re back at the picnic area, you’ll have a chance to change out of your gear and shoes, clean yourself up a bit, and relax.  Unless you really did wear your Louboutins.