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Road to Hana: Motion Sickness Concerns?

faqs about rappel mauiBecause its reputation is infamous, the Rappel Maui staff is often asked about the long and winding Road to Hana. 

How twist-y and turn-y is the Road to Hana? And will I get carsick during the ride?

For the most part, the Hana Highway is just a normal highway as it wends its way from the busier town of Kahului (where the OGG airport is), to the crunchy hamlet of Paia, where the sign says, “Do not feed the hippies.” The views become more wide open as the highway traverses the North Shore, past the surfing, windsurfing and turtle rest stop attraction of Ho’okipa. (Ho’okipa means“hospitality” in Hawaiian.) Onward are some sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean from higher elevations, but the Hana Highway does not truly become that infamous Road to Hana until after the mile marker reset to zero at the corner of Hana Highway and Kaupakalua Road in Haiku. 

Why Does the Road to Hana Get So Much Publicity?

At the Twin Falls fruit stand, or approximately mile marker 2, the Road to Hana scenery becomes more jungle-y and lush, but the twists, turns, switchbacks and one-lane bridges don’t come along until about mile marker 5.  This is also where you’ll want to take in the roadside beauty.  There are miles of bamboo, the ocean, waterfalls and rainbow eucalyptus trees. (No one painted them, we swear.) You’ll also notice that the road makes it impossible for the driver to focus on anything but the road, so take the opportunity to enjoy yourself as a passenger. We make our stop at about mile marker 10. That means the drive is particularly motion-worthy for about 5 miles of our journey, as you can see on the map. map of road to Hana to Rappel Maui activity site

Because our guides drive the Hana Highway every day, they are deft at keeping the motion to a minimum. And it’s a slow-motion trek once the curves begin, both because of the narrow lanes and the habits of visitors trying to get a glimpse of a roadside waterfall while driving. Your guides also stock chewy ginger candies, which seem to help with nausea–and are also just plain delicious. And, those who are most prone to carsickness can always sit in the front seat as the first line of defense, or the seat directly behind the driver as the second.

To speak in more detail about the drive to and from the activity site or the Road to Hana, please call or use the online chat function to talk story about making your tour the best part of your visit to Maui.  Or check out these other related question and answer posts to learn more. 

Every Hero Needs a Guide

rappel maui guide in the wildYou’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.

What People Say About Their Guides

“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.”

Don’t Fear the Waterfalls: Man-o-war Edition

you won't find man-o-war on a rainforest rappelWith 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.

Best of Maui by the Numbers

Maui No Ka Oi: “Maui’s the Best”

Why Maui is Number One (and a Lot of Other Numbers)

If you read travel-related media, you’ll find that Maui consistently ranks high for “best of” categories. In fact, it spent 20 years at the top of Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Island in the World list. Here are some numbers of all kinds about why Maui is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world.

Ranked No. 1, Travel & Leisure, for Top Island in Hawaii

Ranked No. 5, Road Affair, for Most Beautiful Island in the World

The island of Maui has 10 of the world’s 13 climate zones.

12 of the more than 300 reviews at TripAdvisor, mention the cookies we serve for dessert during the picnic lunch

Ranked No. 14, Travel & Leisure, for World’s Best Islands

Ranked No. 15, US News & World Report, for Best Honeymoon Destination

Ranked No. 38, The Flight Network, The World’s Best Once-in-a-Lifetime Journeys

There are 600 turns in the road on the famous Hana Highway–You’ll experience about half of it before reaching the activity site

Call 808-445-6407 to ask about your own number one adventure on Maui. We’re open 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What Will the Weather on Maui be Like Next Week?

The Weather Forecast is: Who Knows?

It’s very common for us to receive a phone call or a chat request from someone who says, “My tour is next week, and the forecast calls for rain.” A shrugging-type response is common. While it may be true that the forecast calls for rain, it doesn’t mean much to locals. That’s because, for the most part, your run of the mill online weather forecast for more than a few days in advance will not be accurate. Most reporting that isn’t island-specific is reporting weather that’s happening in some vague, central location, like an airport that is nowhere near your destination. The truth is, there is no way to make an accurate prediction of island-wide weather on Maui more than a day or two in advance. And even then, there have been lots of times when a “100% chance of rain” brought nothing but sunny skies and vice-versa. Why is the Hawaii weather forecast so tricky to predict? For starters, it’s a tiny spit of land surrounded by surrounded by deep water–big water, ocean water. There are somewhat reliable weather patterns around the island, but large or severe weather systems moving along the Central Pacific are, literally, hit or miss on the huge Pacific canvas.

Weather Trends Based on Micro-Climates

With the exception of periodic unstable weather patterns and cooling or rainy fronts moving past the islands from offshore systems, there’s a different kind of local weather forecast based on the island’s micro-climates. The western shores of Lahaina and Kaanapali are usually sunny, with winds picking up late morning. The southern shores of Kihei and Wailea are usually hot, dry and sunny. The north shore gets the lion’s share of the wind, and Haiku is where most of the north shore rain falls. As you travel the windward (north-northeast) side of the island toward Hana, the weather becomes increasingly wetter.  The summit at Mount Haleakala is usually very windy and at least 15-20 degrees cooler than the coasts. In fact, there’s ice or snowfall at the summit each winter. Kula, Makawao and Pukalani are at higher altitudes, and lie within the volcano’s rain shadow, which means they enjoy cooler temperatures and less rain than the north shore towns.

Will it Rain in the Rain Forest?

In a word, yes. The Rappel Maui activity site receives at least a little rain every day. It’s what keeps the waterfalls flowing and the landscape green. It’s the reason we operate rain or shine. When heavy rains or prolonged rains cause the waterways to flood, we stay out of the direct flow of the stream, and use rappel stations that are a safe distance from high or swift water. The more severe the flooding, the farther away we get from the stream.  Unless we’re expecting a tropical depression or storm, we probably won’t be able to tell you exactly how much rain there will be in the rainforest more than 48 hours in advance of your tour. The El Nino and La Nina years can sometimes make weather patterns more predictable. Because of the nature of the Rappel Maui activity, along with the activity location, the activity is very rarely cancelled due to severe or dangerous weather.

Island Topography and Geography

Maui’s land features are the main determinates for most of our weather patterns.  What most visitors don’t understand is that, while the island is relatively small, each one of the Hawaiian Islands has a collection of micro-climates. That’s why, if you call us very concerned about the amount of rain your’re watching from your Kaanapali hotel the day before or day of your tour, we will tell you that the weather for one part of an island is usually completely different from another, even if there’s only a few miles (as the crow flies) between them. Maui has more than a dozen micro-climates, for example, and so the weather in Lahaina and Kihei will likely be hot and dry most of the time, while the mountains within eyeshot of these locations are sometimes the wettest place on the earth.

Wind Direction Plays a Part in Weather Approaches

When offshore weather is approaching from the south and blows northward, it’s known as a kona wind. When weather is blown from the north toward the south, its know as a trade wind. Trade winds are the most common wind direction, and are responsible for keeping the island pleasantly temperate and vog-free.

We’re Here to Talk Story

Do you want to talk about the weather? We are ready to take your call and give whatever insights we can about the island and its ever-intimate relationship with nature. Our phone hours are 7 AM to 7 PM, Hawaii time, every day of the year. Or get your fingers tapping and chat with us online.

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.

Bringing Generations Closer

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.