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.