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.
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.
“So, I just have a question,” the person on the other end of the phone says, “how scary is rappelling?” That’s a tricky question, given that there are different kinds of scary, and the fear factor in any adventure is personal. If you want to know for yourself, read on, or call us at 808.270.1500 to talk about your day. You can also see firsthand what Audrina Patridge thought of her first rappelling trip when she and the show 1st Look came to visit.
What Kind of Scary Can You Expect–and Not Expect?
It’s NOT haunted house-scary. There are no “gotchas” in a Rappel Maui tour–and we keep it that way on purpose, no surprises.
It’s NOT unsafe-scary. We don’t take risks with equipment, best practices or behavior. Period.
It’s NOT prison camp-scary. There are no snakes, no rabies, no malaria, no dengue fever. There’s plenty of bottled water to drink, snacks to eat, and hand sanitizer/running water at the picnic area.
It’s NOT amusement park-scary. Unlike a roller coaster ride or even a zip line, rappelling is not a ride that happens to you. Once you begin your descent, you’re in control of the action and the pace. You’re the boss, with your guide team there if you don’t know what to do, or need a hand.
DO expect to feel the kind of scared that comes with doing something exciting, thrilling, that you don’t do everyday. Like walking down a tropical rainforest waterfall on one of the most remote islands on Earth, for example.
If you are feeling afraid at first, DO expect to feel a sense of accomplishment and invincibility afterward. Like you faced your fears and conquered them.
You may not look graceful during all of your rappels. You may want to take a “do over” before you feel like you’ve got your ninja moves down.
Rappelling down natural, wild terrain may cause a broken nail, a scraped shin or some bruised skin. We’ve seen our friends show these off later, while telling and retelling stories about their epic day. We heard one young photographer say, “Mom, turn so that your scratch shows.”
The outdoors are messy; you may find the water chilly–or exhilarating. You will wear unusual equipment, get wet and gritty, and stay that way for a few hours. You might not look good in a helmet. You might follow a 10-year old who looks like a circus-performing monkey on her first rappel ever. Those are the realities of taking on one of the best adventures on the island. Let’s say that the “scary” stuff dissipates for most people long before everyone is finishing their dessert cookie at lunch.
What to Expect When You’re Rappelling
You will feel excitement from your surroundings and the experience. There’s the roar of the falls, the birds and breezes in the trees, the sensation of intense sun or soft shade of the tree canopy. Your senses will be stimulated. If the cliff exposure or the heights are turning your adrenaline up to 11, tell your guides; they are experts in focusing energy in the right direction. And you’ll find the built-in support of others on your tour, even if they are complete strangers, surprisingly inspiring.
Best Bets For Good Times DO try to relax. Take photos and videos for sharing later.
DON’T worry about being inexperienced. We cater to people who don’t do this every day; that’s why the very best in the business are on the team.
DO listen up, look around, laugh out loud.
You can do this!