From 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.
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.
Out in the jungle, we share office space with plenty of critters, including some non-furry, un-cute, downright annoying insects. Most of them are harmless; some of them bite or sting.
Sure, we want to make sure they get the memo that we’re not for dinner, but here’s the straight dope on insect repellent: It damages gear. From helmets to harnesses, and from ropes and webbing to your GoPro camera, the stuff in the spray repellants, including the natural, non-DEET ingredients, does a number on all of the important stuff that keeps everyone safe on the cliffs and trails. Not only that, but it introduces chemicals into the natural watershed.
The most common type of bug bite where we do our wet rappels is from mosquitos. If you’re not usually bothered by mosquito bites, we recommend skipping the repellent before and during your time on the trails and cliffs. If you know that even a few bites will cause you some severe swelling and suffering, the alternative that your Rappel Maui guides offers are chemical repellent wipes that you can apply more precisely to the skin, without also dousing your gear.
For those of you who are hesitant to skip the repellant while rappelling take note: There is no malaria or dengue fever on the Islands (which was not the case at Burning Man this year), so the risk of going au natural is at least limited to some itching. Wearing a long-sleeved rash guard and/or leggings is definitely helpful, both for staying warm in chilly water, and keeping the bites to a minimum. If you do find yourself with a welt or two, your guides will also carry a product called After Bite, which is brilliant at taking the itch and sting out when applied directly to the bite site.
Whichever method you decide to use during your time sharing the rainforest with all of its inhabitants, stay communicative with your guides about how you’re doing throughout your trip. They’re your ambassadors to the Maui outdoors, and are there to make sure you have a fantastic day.