Zipline Thrills: Screaming Like a Rock Star in Hawaii

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Zipline Thrills: Screaming Like a Rock Star in Hawaii

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Maui , Hawaii Island , Kauai , Oahu
Sep 01, 2010

For some people I know, hiking the Kalalau Trail on Kauai makes them break into a sweat.  Others I know won't even think about driving the famous road to Hana.  For those people, I do not recommend ziplining.

But if you have a general respect for high places, like I do, and you like speed, like I do, then, you'll love ziplining.

Ziplining is still a relatively new adventure in Hawaii.  I know of three companies on Kauai, two companies on Maui and one on Big Island that offer zipline tours.  (You can find the list of outfitters here.)  You may be wondering about Oahu.  Me, too.  What's with that island?  Why aren't there any zipline tours on the busiest of Hawaii's main Hawaiian Islands?

My summer's pursuits (others might say, "vacation") included trying the favorite adventures posted by OutriggerHawaii's Facebook fans a few months ago.  To that end, I went sailing off Waikiki.  I hiked Kalalau Trail on Kauai.  I cruised Kauai's Napali Coast on a catamaran.  I went scuba diving off the private island of Niihau.  And I went ziplining over the treetops above Kapalua in West Maui.  (Give me a moment to catch my breath.)  I still have an adventure on Hawaii (Big) Island to come; it's planned for October.  (Check back.)

I thought my most challenging adventure of the summer would be ziplining.  Turns out, it wasn't.  It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

I just published my feature story on ziplining on  You may be wondering, "What the heck is ziplining?"  Let me just put it this way, it's like clipping onto a telephone wire that spans a valley and flying--er, zipping--to the other side.  That's it.  It doesn't take any great physical exertion.  The biggest effort may be of the mind--before letting go.

Here's my story:

We stepped up to the launch box of the first zipline, and I looked around, wishing I hadn’t passed up that bathroom at the bottom of West Maui's mountain. It took 20 minutes to get to this spot above Kapalua—at 1,900 feet elevation—in a mid-1970s-built military machine outfitted with eight gears, called the “uni-mog.” Blue gum eucalyptus scented the air. Christmas berry trees surrounded the clearing and molasses grass covered the ground. But there were no restrooms, not even a port-a-potty.

Until recently, the land on which we gazed at the base of the mountain was a Maui pineapple plantation. After almost a century of continuous production, Maui Land & Pineapple shut down its pineapple operations at the end of 2009. Now, the high-vitamin C and low-acidic fruit that you find at restaurants, grocery store shelves and farmers markets relies on private farmers working 1,000 leased acres. It’s a laborious and time-intensive harvest, taking 18 to 24 months from hand-planting to hand-picking.

My eyes landed on Justin, our “sending guide.” He sported a tattoo of Saturn on one arm and Jupiter on the other. “Nerves,” he said.

I remembered hearing that one of only two fears a baby is born with is falling and loud noises. I’ve never outgrown either.

To read the rest of my ziplining story (please do), click here



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