Skip to Content

Currently Viewing Posts in Tour Tips

Even Heroes Need Guides

You’re The Rappel Maui Hero. They’re the Rappel Maui Guides. Together You Can Do This Thing!

rappel maui heroes

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.”

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.

How to Book Activities & Tours in Hawaii

Are you  going to book activities and tours while in Hawaii? Being a good consumer when planning your Hawaii vacation can save you time, money and frustration, and ensure that all your memories of Maui are great. Good consumerism can apply to anything, and making a reservation for doing an activity or taking a tour excursion in Hawaii is no exception.  Here are some tips for travelers from the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. You can get this and much more information from DCCA at their web site.

travel agencyThere are a few different ways to book an activity:

  • Direct with the tour operator–You can usually call the tour company directly to book or make a reservation online.
  • With an activity desk or hotel concierge–These are the booths or desks you see in the lobby or around town. Activity desks can also sell tours online.
  • With a travel agent–These are agencies that also sell other kinds of travel services, like cruises or airline fares. They might be location-based or online.
  • As a discounted or free gift after having attended a sales presentation–These are activity desks that also ask you to attend a time share or other pitch in order to claim your reservation.

Who Can Operate an Activity Desk?
The State of Hawaii regulates activity desks, and an activity desk must obtain a registration from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s Professional and Vocational Licensing Division before it can operate. You can find out if a company is properly registered as an activity desk at the CCA web site or by calling (808) 587-4272.

What Information Are You Entitled To?

An activity desk must clearly display the name and telephone number of the activity provider whose activity is being booked or sold. And, an
activity desk provider must disclose to you, in writing, if a discount offered for an activity requires you to first attend a sales presentation.

What Should You Look for Before You Book Directly With an Operator or a Desk?

An activity desk should be able to provide the following information, or get the information if they don’t have it immediately handy:

  • Where the excursion or activity is located and figure out how you’re going to get there
  • Where you will need to meet and whether transportation to the site is included
  •  What’s included in the cost, and if there additional fees like equipment rental or meals
  • If the activity is appropriate for you, and you meet the restrictions or requirements the operator may impose. Assess whether you are able to meet the physical demands of the activity. Some high adventure activities may not be appropriate for pregnant women or individuals with certain health issues.
  • What the cancellation policy is.  Be sure you understand it. Make sure you understand under what conditions a refund may be available.

 Pro Tips:

Be wary of deals that require you to book 60 days in advance. (Most credit card companies will only allow you to dispute a charge within 60 days of purchase.)
Ask if there are any limitations on what you can bring. Plan ahead if purses, handbags,or backpacks are not allowed.
Ask if you can bring your camera and if you can take pictures or video. If not, ask if pictures will be available for purchase.
Stay cool, drink plenty of water and don’t forget reef-safe sunscreen.

How Does Weather Affect a Rappel Maui Tour?

WHEN IS THE WEATHER WET IN HAWAII?

Some recent weather history on the Hawaiian Islands: the summer of 2015 was a very active one. It marked one of the strongest El Niño patterns in recorded history, which meant that warmer water temperatures along the equator brought higher numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes across the Pacific Ocean. El Niño was blamed for other strange weather patterns on the mainland that winter. There was flooding in some parts of the world, and severe drought conditions in others well into the spring of 2016. Here in Hawaii, the storm activity that crept across the Central Pacific made for noticeably wet weather. In 2016, that spring and summer never dried up; the moderate to heavy rains continued for the rest of the year, with some areas of the island receiving twice as much rain as usual. In early 2017, the weather began to settle into a more normal pattern; however, the weather in the rainforest is very unpredictable. If you are wondering what the weather is going to be like during your scheduled tour date, you may have to wait until 48 hours before your tour, unless a larger front, system or tropical storm is forecast. Also keep in mind, weather can vary wildly from shore to shore. It’s common for the weather in Kaanapali to be dramatically different from the weather in Haiku.  We can tell you how much rain has fallen or is expected at the activity site within the next few days.

WHAT DO WE DO WHEN IT RAINS?

A near-falls descent.

When heavy rain falls over the northern part of the island, it impacts Rappel Maui tours in a few ways.  We operate rain or shine, and we tell all of our guests to expect at least a little rain, even if it’s a few minutes of mist. There is frequently rain in the rainforest, and it’s evident from how lush and green the surroundings are at the activity location that is just a few miles from one of the wettest parts of the island: Hana. If heavy rains or prolonged periods of steady rains cause the streams to swell to levels that are unsafe for swimming, we operate the classic tour on a normal schedule and use alternative rappel stations that are a safe distance from the water course. Sometimes those stations are right next to the waterfall flow, ending in the ponds, and other times, when the falls are roaring and raging, we use jungle walls and cliffs that are farther away from the stream flow. The times when we do not operate due to weather is when extreme conditions cause road closures, landslides or widespread outages.

SAFETY FIRST

The main role of your guides is to make sure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable day. Safety is their first priority, and a generous portion of their attention is spent on looking out for one of the least forgiving dangers of rappelling: flash flooding. There are times when the water in the streams is not high or swift, and there’s blue sky above. Danger is not obvious to the average guest, but the guides opt to use rappel stations not directly in the water course. What gives? The local papers are full of accounts of visitors and locals alike getting stranded–or much worse–after seemingly safe conditions turned ugly within the period of a few seconds. When guests ask guides what made them veer from the preference of using the waterfalls, there’s usually a good reason based on ground saturation, the weather upstream, and river gauge readings taken before the tour began. Guides don’t take chances with your safety or theirs; if invisible dangers change your tour, and you’re unsatisfied or concerned, please call the reservations line to talk about your personal experience.  And if you’re ever interested in seeing for yourself what can happen when untrained explorers are caught off guard, this video and accompanying story is an excellent cautionary tale.

 

Choosing a Rappel Maui Tour

Now there are two tours to choose from: The Classic Rappel Tour and the Extreme Zip Rappel Tour. Not sure which tour is right for you? Compare tours below, or call us at 808-445-6407 or chat with us online to tell us exactly what you’re looking for, including the availability of private custom tours.

[table id=4 /]

How to Save Money on Maui

Maui’s beautiful sights are one well-known and often-discussed topic; another is the expense associated with traveling to Maui–one of the most remote places on Earth.  If you’re on a budget, budget-travel-hawaiiyou’ve noticed that everything, from food and accommodations to fuel and excursions, costs a little more than it does on the mainland. If you have some time to plan and shop wisely, you can save money and make more of your vacation to Hawaii’s unique destinations. You can check out the latest deals and discounts on Rappel Maui tours now.

Take the Road Less Traveled
Vendors off the beaten path are often able to offer better retail prices on items like groceries, clothing, souviners, swimwear, snorkel gear and more. Look for activity desks and sales agencies that are off the main drag. Google and TripAdvisor forums make this easier than ever.

Try Hotel-affiliated Activities–Even if You’re Not a Guest There
If you’re out of ideas, or if you’ve hit a streak of bad luck with the weather, resorts are a great place to get the ideas flowing. You likely won’t find deals at places like spas there, but you might find something fun to do at one of the activity desks. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to use the activity concierge or sales desk, and some desks can be more price-competitive than others. Larger resorts also offer indoor and outdoor classes, from flower arranging and hula, to fitness and surfing.  Some hotels also sell day passes to exclusive pool use.  Looking for a wacky, one-of-a-kind poolside experience? Try the Fishpipe at the Grand Wailea Resort in South Maui.  Some hotels and resorts will offer you discounts at a very steep discount if you attend a presentation.

Meet Two or More Goals with One Activity
Some activities are combinations by design, but there are many more that let you double up on the action by coincidence.  There are hike/kayak combo tours, cruise/snorkel tours, helicopter/hike tours, and more.  There are also tours that let you see sights as a bonus to taking the tour, as opposed to being the main attraction. For example, when you take a Rappel Maui tour, your transportation includes a drive down half of the famous Road to Hana and views of all of its scenic jewels before you even get to the main activity.

Exclusive, Online-Only Deals
Some of the more established or web-savvy tour operators will run specials on their activities that you wouldn’t know about unless you subscribed to their newsletter, or filled out a form at their web site. Take your time looking through an operator’s web site, and call or email to ask about accommodating your budget. You may also be able to buy coupon deals at third party sites, such as Yelp, Groupon and others. A reputable operator will let you easily and reliably unsubscribe from their sales communications.

Visiting During Certain Times of Year, and Booking Activities During Certain Times of Week or Day
Do you have flexibility when you travel? Look into visiting Hawaii during slower periods, when the demand for activities is less intense. Not only do you stand a chance of scoring a discount, but tour groups are usually less crowded during low season. On Maui, these times of year are usually in October, November, January and early February.  Certain days of the week can also be less busy than others. At Rappel Maui, lower volume days are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Find out which days cruise ships dock at an island’s harbor–these are usually higher volume days on an island in general.

Discounts for Volume
Are you able to round up a group of several participants? You might be able to get a volume discount if you book a group of greater than 5.

Look for Hidden (Muddy) Gems
It sounds strange, but consider activities that you didn’t know you wanted to try–like walking down a waterfall while suspended by a rope.  Because there are so many outdoor activities in Hawaii, there are probably some activities that you might not have known were activities.  Look for places and activities that are new or off the beaten path–literally. For example, you won’t find any big mainland-style water parks in Hawaii, but you will find natural freshwater water slides in the middle of a sugar cane field overlooking the Pacific Ocean that is only accessible by 4-wheel ATV.  If vacations are good for something, it should be for getting wet, muddy, and suntanned.

Last-minute Deals and Discounts
While you might be taking a chance with sold-out tours and limited availability, some operators will offer you a discount at the last minute, or for a less popular tour time.  If there is a tour time that’s discounted, ask if the time of day makes a difference in the quality of the experience.  Just keep in mind that most tours have a 48-hour cancellation policy.  Check policies carefully when booking any tour.

If All Else Fails, Try Asking
If you call a tour company and ask if there is a discounted rate on any tour, what’s the worst that can happen?

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 808-445-6407 or chat live online with us by visiting the home page of our web site.

What happens if I change my mind?Rappel Maui Safety

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.

Five Reasons Why Rappelling is the Perfect Rainy Day Activity on Maui


If you’re visiting Hawaii in January, February or even March, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some of the island’s cooler, wetter weather.  During some of these winter months, there’s even some snowfall at the top of the Big Island’s and Maui’s volcanic peaks. If you just spent a hefty sum to flee your frozen hometown for a week, no one can blame you for craving the sunny tropical beaches of Hawaii.  But if you’ve got a few soggy, gloomy days in front of you, take heart: We’ve got the perfect rainy day outdoor activity for you while you’re on Maui.

What Makes Rainforest Rappelling Such a Great All-Weather Go-To Tour?

1. Your destination is a rainforest canyon.

With so many outdoor activities on the island being weather dependent, we’re one of the few tours that can safely operate in virtually any kind of weather. That’s why one of the first things we say is: Rain or shine, we go.  How is this possible? Your tour is designed to take place in a rainforest canyon; that means that when it’s raining, you’re witnessing the jungle at its best and most normal state. It’s beautiful, it’s fragrant, it’s cool and it’s natural. When you see it you’ll know where the saying “right as rain” comes from. You’ll have time to listen to the pitter-patter of the drops falling on the plants and trees while the birds sing along.  When other tours must close up shop when high wind and high surf advisories threaten the island, we take you to a secluded area tucked into a snug valley protected by natural cliffs and rainforest canopy.  The weather on the windward side of the island is volatile and unpredictable, yes, but during the winter months, it can be some of the best weather on the island. Will you get wet? Yes, but…

2. You’re going to get wet anyway.

Anyone signing up to go waterfall rappelling is signing up to get wet. Whether that water is falling from the sky or the 50-cliff in front of you, it’s pretty much all the same stuff. This is outdoor adventure. Unless you’ve shown up in a business suit, the rain makes a pleasant sight and sensation that takes a lot of people back to a time when they thought it was fun to play in the rain. And it is!

3. It’s easy to get comfortable.

When it’s rainy, breezy or foggy, you’ll likely get fewer mosquito bites. When it’s sunny and hot, the waterfalls and pools make the perfect place for some chill time. When it’s chilly, a long-sleeved rash guard or wetsuit top under your flotation jacket is just the ticket for staying toasty, and there’s plenty of time for you to remove or add layers as conditions change.  After your tour, you can towel off and change into some fresh togs in one of the private on-site changing rooms. Ask your guide for some warm air in the van on the way back if you’re still feeling chilly.

4. It’s the most unique rainy day activity ever.

Anyone can go to the movies or stay inside when it’s rainy. It takes courage and savvy to take advantage of what most people would call “bad weather.” Going rappelling when everyone else is wandering around the lobby isn’t just making lemonade out of lemons, it’s making lifetime memories out of a rainy day. Embrace it!

5. Your bragging rights are irrevocable.

Hawaii is one of the most remote places on the Earth, with 10 of the 13 climate zones, and more endemic plant and animal species than you can shake a stick at. Not only were you here, a place where one island is getting bigger every second and a whole new island is brewing under the ocean’s surface, but you perched yourself at the top of a 6-story cliff and safely stepped off the edge.  You faced fears, danced with gravity and made new friends. You rocked it.  When most people return from vacation, they say, “I need to go on a diet.” What will you say?