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. That also means that we make every effort to minimize the transmission of viruses. Here’s what you can expect:
Cleaning and Safety Practices
High-touch surfaces cleaned and disinfected/washed
Vehicles and venues cleaned with disinfectants
Vehicles and venues kept vacant between travelers
Touch-free ticket redemption and paperless waiver signing
Social distancing in vehicles and at check-in
Health and Safety Practices
Masks and gloves worn by staff during check-in and food service
Temperature checks given to staff
Temperature checks and questionnaire given to clients
Guests wear masks (not provided) when using our transportation, at check in and when gearing up
Hand sanitizer provided. Hand-washing available at base camp
Individually wrapped food options available
Please limit the items you bring with you, either in the van or 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 you kokua.
You’re The Rappel Maui Hero. They’re the Rappel Maui Guides. Together You Can Do This Thing!
If you aren’t familiar with rappelling, that’s no problem. Most visitors to Maui or Rappel Maui guests are not acquainted with rappelling, climbing or canyoneering. No worries; beginners welcome! Rappelling is an adventure for active couples, families, solo travelers and colleagues who relish the opportunity to explore places that are off the beaten path. It’s also a safe activity, thanks to your guides and other safety measures that go into the activity.
Who Are Your Guides?
They are outdoor lovers with a heart for sharing their home and showing hospitality to visitors. They are also highly trained in the mechanics and best practices of rappelling, along with first aid, outdoor rescue and swift water disciplines.
What Do Rappelling Guides Do?
First, they will spend some time during and/or after the drive explaining some basic rappelling and safety concepts to you. They’ll show you some of the gear that’s used, and how it works. They’ll explain and demonstrate the visual and audio signals used during descents, and why those signals are important. Ask questions, not just about the activity, but also about the island and Hawaii. You’ll learn some cool things about Hawaiian history and nature and you’ll see some beautiful sights along the Hana Highway. Once you’re at the activity site, your guides will help fit you in appropriate safety gear such as helmets, harness, flotation jacket and footwear. Finally, one guide will demonstrate the rappelling technique before heading to the bottom of the descent to belay you. You will take that first step yourself with the help of the guide that stays at the top. You got this!
The most important thing that guides do is maintain a full set of safety standards. Safety is the top priority, so listening to their instructions and then following them is the best way to make sure that you have a great day in the rain forest.
What Makes This Activity Safer Than a Day at the Beach?
The things that make any outdoor activity unsafe are a combination of environment and behavior. We’ve outlined what makes rappelling a safe, enjoyable activity at this blog post. Spoiler: it has to do with equipment, location and respecting nature.
“Great day with Elena and Anna! Made my wife who is terrified of heights comfortable with the process and she completed all 3 lines! Thank you both! Great adventure on Maui!!!” Tim
“Yes! Do it. Our guides Emily and Janoah were fantastic. Cheering us on all the way down and giggling at us ALL the way back UP to the tool shed. Our experience with Rappel Maui couldn’t have been better, Mahalo” The Colliers 2019
“Taylor and Jamie, I wanted to let you know you two made this experience so amazing for me. I cannot thank you enough. I will not forget our time together even the trip back was memorable Thanks for the Great Times and Memories” Victoria
“Travis and Chris were hilarious, knowledgeable and so professional. We never felt unsafe and had a blast. It was an experience I will never forget.”
“Mike and Naomi were great guides and we could not have had more fun. They prepared us for everything and boosted our confidence. Grandparents, kids and grandkids all had a great experience.” June
“The leaders were the best ever. Safety, fun and overall made my trip the most adventurous and enjoyable.”
“This was our favorite excursion of the whole trip! We had a great time, despite the rain. We were not able to rappel directly down the waterfall, because they were concerned with flash flooding. The guides were very knowledgeable and seemed to enjoy their jobs. This is a tour I highly recommend and would definitely do it again if we are in Maui!”
“The guides were knowledgeable and professional, and they did everything they could to make sure we had the best experience ever, rain or shine! Definitely a must, but be ready for a real challenge!”
“Rappel Maui did not disappoint. Their employees were terrific. Our guides were thorough and made us feel very safe throughout the experience.”
With some of the severe offshore weather the Hawaiian Islands experienced while Hurricane Lane was in the vicinity, many beach-goers are reporting frequent encounters with the Portuguese man-o-war (Physalia physalis). Like many exotic sea creatures, the man-o-war isn’t just beautiful, it’s harmful. Its long tentacles dangle down into the water, while its head bobs along the top of the water. The translucent wing on its head acts like a sail. Because it can’t actively swim or direct itself, the sail is the man-o-war’s only means of locomotion.
When the tentacles make contact with whatever is unlucky enough to be near them, they deliver a very painful, venomous sting. How painful and harmful the sting is depends on the size of the man-o-war, how many tentacles made contact, and how sensitive the victim is.
You won’t just see these creatures in the water. The winds will also blow them into the beach break, and eventually they end up littering the sandy beaches, where unsuspecting feet and toes step on them. Even after a man-o-war has died, their tentacles remain venomous, so be wary of these blue devils, especially after off shore storms or strong winds that blow man-o-war toward the beaches.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s impossible to encounter a man-0-war or stinging jellyfish or any meddlesome, venomous sea creature on a Rappel Maui tour. There’s also no need to worry about shark bites, rip currents, wana (sea urchins) quills, or coral scrapes, either. You may see Tahitian prawns, those little crawdad-looking crustaceans in the fresh water ponds, but they move like lightning when threatened by curious hands. Here’s more about what makes a Rappel Maui tour safe. The rainforest also poses no threat from land wildlife such as bears, wildcats, or snakes. But if you’re worried about mosquitoes, please ask your guide for the DEET-free spray they carry. (Please do not apply products containing DEET before your tour, as it damages the gear that we use.) If you notice you’ve been bitten ask for the Afterbite, an anti-itch treatment that can be applied to the skin.
While the ocean waters may be rough, murky or unfriendly after storms, the rainforest streams remain, as always, man-o-war free. We operate rain or shine, and our offices are open 7 am to 7 pm every day of the year. Please call to ask about conditions due to weather any time.
We’re often asked what the minimum age is for the classic rappel tour, as families with active children enjoy the prospect of creating memories on Maui with their children. Rappelling and outdoor activities are great for bringing multi-generational families together. Some children and teens even decide, after taking their rappel tour, that canyoneering is their new sport of choice. The outdoors rock!
The minimum age for the Rappel Maui classic tour is 10, with a minimum weight of 70 lbs, and a minimum waist measurement of 22″. “What’s the maximum age?” one guest asked over the phone. For the classic tour, we don’t necessarily have one, and during the summer of 2017, an 81-year-old man completed a Rappel Maui tour with his family of two generations. He was not the slowest or the least graceful person on the course, and he went out for a nice dinner afterward. Renaissance man, indeed.
Whatever your activity level and appetite for adventure, there’s probably an outdoor activity on Maui for you to discover. Thank goodness it’s a jungle out there. Call us to discuss your multi-generational outing or ask about a senior discount.
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.
It wouldn’t be a vacation if you didn’t do things you don’t normally do, so when visiting Maui, do as the Mauians do: Enjoy nature by getting your hands dirty. If you’re not sure how getting wet and muddy in a rainforest all day is fun, let us remind you that there are few extraordinary experiences and epic bragging rights that can be earned in a crisp white tee shirt or linen shorts. If you’re willing to meet us a little more than half-way, here are a few tips for minimizing the mess while racking up one of the most unique travel experiences ever.
1. Leave your jewelry at home base. The only bling you need during a rugged tour in the rainforest is your caribiner and rappel/belay device. If you do happen to find yourself decked out with fine or fragile accessories, don’t leave them in your rental car. Bring them with you, and stow them in the dry keg that’s provided with your rappelling backpack. Looking for a place to buy some cheap sunglasses to wear during your tour so that you don’t lose your expensive Maui Jims? Try your local ABC or Whaler’s General Store. There’s also a Walmart and KMart on the island. And now there’s even the revered Target.
2. Forget the fragrance–it just attracts the insects. And in the jungle, there are plenty. If you’re worried about bites and stings, ask your guide for an insect repellant wipe. If you decide to bring your own, don’t use a spray; insect sprays damage the gear. If you are popular with the mosquitoes, ask your guide for some After Bite–it’s a liquid that takes the itch and sting away.
3. Wear clothing that you can move freely in, and that can get wet, muddy, snagged or ripped. You’ll want to wear a quick-drying fabric that also protects your skin from the harness you’ll wear during the trip. Wear shorts, pants or leggings that cover you from waist to mid-thigh or lower. A shirt made from quick drying fabric or a rash guard is a good call, too, since you never know what the weather will be like, and an extra layer of fabric around the waist is a good thing. Although there are a lot of makers of fine, durable athletic and outdoor clothing, this probably isn’t the best time to bust out your $90 Lululemon ensemble. You’ll be doing your moves around some rocky terrain that can easily tear or snag fabrics.
4. Bring a towel or two, and dry layers of clothing. It may have been 85 degrees and sunny when you left your Kaanapali resort that morning, but by the time you reach the rainforest in East Maui, the weather may be cool and rainy. The water may have been chilly that day. Once you’re done rappelling, you’ll probably want to change out of your wet stuff and into something a little more cozy than you might have imagined–especially during the winter months. Didn’t pack sweatpants? One word: Sarong. These inexpensive gems can be found at virtually every store on the island, and make a convenient, versatile extra layer or blanket in a pinch. Concerned about privacy? Don’t be. There are two private changing rooms exclusively for Rappel Maui guests at the picnic location. Pro tip: Bring a Ziplock or extra plastic, reusable bag with you just for your wet items.
5. Use the real restrooms early. You’ll have a chance to use a real bathroom on your way to and from the rappelling location, and after you arrive at the facility where you gear up. If you are picky about your facilities, plan accordingly.
6. Since you’ll be eating lunch during your tour, your guides will carry hand sanitizer with them. If you’re more of a soap and water person, there is cold running water at the picnic area, but no soap. If you’re itching to give yourself a real washing up before you board the van, bring a mini soap or body wash with you. Remember to either leave them in the van during the rappelling, or keep them in the dry keg in your backpack. If you decide to bring cleansing wipes with you, make sure that you dispose of them properly. When improperly disposed of, wipes can have a devastating effect on the forest’s fragile ecosystem.
7. Make memories; capture the moment. Take a “before rappelling,” “after rappelling,” and then an “apres rappelling” photo to document your transformation from uninitiated neatnik to rappelling ninja, back to undercover adventurer. Once you’ve cleaned up and perhaps taken a trip to the spa, no one will have guessed you spent a day cruising down waterfalls and trekking through raw nature–until you show them the photos.
Inquiring minds often call the Rappel Maui offices wanting to know if the day-long rappelling tour is physically hard or challenging. They want to know if they need to possess a certain physique, or if a lot of strength or physical conditioning is required. Read on to get these and other answers, or call the Rappel Maui offices at 808.270.1500 for personalized information.
Come As You Are Most active and healthy people are perfectly prepped for a Rappel Maui tour. You don’t have to bring “the gun show to town.” You don’t have to get “pumped up.” You will not need an “xtreme” sports drink that “gives you wings.” (You don’t need wings; you’ve got ropes.) You will find that the most useful body parts during a rappel are you ears and brain. First you’ll need to listen to your guides’ instructions, then you’ll need to process and apply the information. And then you’ll need a keen willingness to have fun while taking a few steps away from your comfort zone.
Gravity Is Your Friend
Since you’ll be making 3 or more descents down a rock cliff (as opposed to rock climbing), your rappelling equipment will be working in cooperation with gravity to take the brunt of the work. No significant amount of arm strength is necessary; just some moderate arm movements to slow or stop downward movement, and grasping/loosening a rope with your dominant hand. You can use your non-dominant hand to steady or position yourself around rocks or trees, hold the front of your harness or rope, or throw a shaka out during a photo opp. Some overall coordination is required, and where looking graceful is concerned, your mileage may vary. (You can delete those pictures later.)
Getting The Hang Of It (All Puns Intended)
You’ll sit back into your harness, like a chair (that’s hovering over a waterfall pool), and position your feet on the surface in front of you so that you can take one backwards step at a time. You’ll use the equipment to lower yourself down the surface as much or as little at a time as you like. If you’re taking one of the dry rappels, you’ll end your journey by simply putting your feet down on the ground, un-clipping your harness from the rope, and cheering on the next person. If you’re rappelling one of the waterfalls, you’ll lower yourself into the water, unclip your harness from the rope, and swim or dog paddle on. You don’t need to be a great swimmer to make it across the pond. If you don’t swim, ask for a personal flotation device so that you can float over to the shallow end. If you need a little encouragement, or an assist, the guide in the water with you can provide you with the right amount of swimmer’s mojo. If you’re a multi-tasker, you’ll also be taking in the spectacular surroundings of the jungle, streams, waterfall and wildlife, and realizing that you have the makings of a truly unique story and memories that will go unequaled once you return to your non-waterfall-hovering chairs at home and work.
Getting Physical What happens after you’ve done all that descending? In this case, what goes down, must go back up. There are no elevators in the jungle (unless you’re on the Jurassic Park set), and thus comes the most physical part of the tour. You’ll take what we refer to as “The Stairmaster,” a length of paths and series of steps cut into the earthen forest trails leading back to the top of the ridge. There’s no hurry; you can take your time, stop, rest, and hold on to the ropes, branches and roots that are there to help you steady and pull yourself along. The trail is green, cool, shady and fragrant, and alive with the sounds of nature. Keep your heart pumping–or not. Get out your camera, or just take in the view. It’s totally up to you during this equivalent of about four flights of stairs.
Call us to ask your specific questions about what it’s like to walk down a tropical waterfall in a rainforest on Maui. Spoiler alert: It’s not horrible.
While a Rappel Maui tour is a thrilling but safe activity, there are some natural hazards that exist out in the rainforest. The good news is, with just a little thought and planning, these common risks can be easily minimized and mitigated.
Insects: While there are mosquitoes in the rainforest, there is no malaria or dengue fever. If you are particularly sensitive to bites, we recommend wearing pants and a long-sleeved rash guard. We don’t recommend bug spray, since DEET can damage rappelling gear, and put chemicals into the rainforest streams.
What’s in the Water: Sometimes longer expeditions take a turn for the worse when canyoneers fail to properly filter or purify their water from natural sources. Avoiding waterborne illness is easy–don’t drink the water from the streams or falls. Since there’s plenty of bottled water on your Rappel Maui tour, there’s no reason to do so.
Temperature: Getting too cold or too hot is a common show-stopper for canyoneers from Maine to Hawaii. If you know that you are prone to hypothermia or hyperthermia, plan and act accordingly. Don’t stay in the water if you find it very cold, and bring a rashguard or even a wetsuit top or wetsuit if you know you get too cold too quickly in chilly water. Drink plenty of water and cool off in the pools if you’re feeling too warm. Eat a good breakfast and hydrate yourself before your tour. Bring towels and a dry change of clothing with you so that you can return in comfort after a day in the water and/or rain.
Rockfall: Rocks can and do move about in the water, especially when water levels rise rapidly. They can also be loosened on dry land by a number of factors, including climate. In this case, we don’t recommend “using your head.” Helmets save lives, and that’s why everyone wears a helmet, every day we go out, for the duration of the tour. No exceptions. Listen to your guides always, who will be watching for loose debris. Lean into the slope and look down (not up) if you hear someone yell, “Rock!”
Swiftwater and Flash Floods: When water levels are high, or there is a threat of flash flooding, we stay out of the streams and waterfalls. We do dry rappels next to or overlooking the roaring falls on these days, the sights and sounds of which are unforgettable.
The Road to Hana: While we don’t drive you all the way to Hana from the pickup location, we do take the infamous Road to Hana about halfway there. It’s about an hour from the pickup location in Central Maui to the rappelling site, and so if you are prone to car sickness, please do let us know in advance. There are a few measures we can take to make sure that you’re comfortable at the beginning and end of your epic tour.
There are other hazards associated with canyoneering in general, but there are some that simply won’t apply to you on a Rappel Maui tour.
Hunters and Land Owners: Since we rappel with permission in a privately-owned valley, we don’t have to worry about angry farmers, ranchers, or Dick Cheney.
Wildlife: The birds mind their own business, and the freshwater fish are so tiny, you need a little net to catch them. There are chickens and ducks nearby that belong to the arboretum, but they’re more like pets. There are no snakes, bears, wolves or coyotes. Further, Hawaii is a rabies-free state.
Do you want to talk about your own personal preparation plan? We have our listening ears on from 7 AM-7 PM every day. Call 808.270.1500 or let your fingers do the typing at our Contact page.