Travel and Leisure — August 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

Zipping Maui Style

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It’s hard to resist nailing yourself to a beach chair when you’re vacationing on Maui. But if you spend all your time on the shoreline, you’ll miss the best activities the island offers: ziplining, where  you’ll cover a lot of ground you’d otherwise miss by parking it at the beach. With zipline tour companies proliferating on Maui like ferns in a tropical forest, your greatest challenge will be choosing one. These are our top picks.

Haleakala Skyline Adventure
It’s the first zipline tour company and location in the United States, with a comical and professional staff that take you on five zip runs. Located in Upcountry (near Haleakala National Park), you’ll zip among canyons, down 90-foot drops, through towering eucalyptus trees, and you also cross a fun Indiana Jones’-style swinging bridge while hiking between runs.

Ka’anapali Skyline Adventure 
The sweeping panorama of the ocean beyond the West Maui shoreline and front seat views of West Maui’s craggy, green, mist-enshrouded mountains are stunning. A midway stop includes tasty snacks and beverages on a platform 1,000 feet about the valley floor. They also just recently added a Zip n’ Dip tour: four lines, three hours, and a big splash into a lagoon pool at the end.

Piiholo Ranch Zipline
Piiholo is located in “Upcountry,” near Makawao on a cattle ranch that offers horseback riding and ziplining. The zipline course features canopy zips (3, 5 and 6 lines) and adventures zips (4 lines, 2 hours; or 5 lines, 3 hours and over 6,455 ft. of zipping) and an all day zip and waterfall combination adventure. They offer the island’s longest side-by-side zipline (a half-mile). On the 6-line canopy tours, kids (ages 8-12) can zip free. The 3- and 6-run canopy tours also include a thrilling 40-foot “QUICKjump,” an assisted “free fall” that gets you to the ground below. (There’s an option to rappel down if you don’t want to jump.) Those tours include a stop at a tree house for light snacks and refreshments.

Kalapua Ziplines
The tour starts with the traverse of a 360-foot long suspension bridge. The tour launches above Kapalua Resort with aerial views of tropical forests, pineapple fields and a 50-foot waterfall. Tours include up to seven all-tandem ziplines (with options for 4- or 7-line runs). They use full-body, swing- or hangglider-style harnesses, which some find more comfortable than webbing harnesses. The longest line is 2,300 feet and the 7-line run takes 4.5 hours. They also offer a moonlight zip with three lines. Tours include a catered gourmet sandwich lunch with desert.

Maui Ziplines
Tours commence from centrally-located Waikupu at Maui’s botanical garden, Maui Tropical Plantation. This family-friendly course zips you over a lush landscape of flowering plants and shrubs, dense palms, and a lagoon, all on side-by-side ziplines ranging from 300 to 900 feet. Children as young as 5 accompanied by an adult can participate, while kids ages 11-18 can zip without an adult accompanying them.

Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline
This is Maui’s longest (5 hours and 8 runs) high-adrenaline zipline tour. It boasts spectacular views of the North and South shores, as well as Haleakala. It traverses 2.5 miles and crosses 11 ridges and 9 valleys, launching from the Waikapu Valley in the West Maui Mountains and ending in Ma’alaea. Their 8 ziplines range in length from a 250 ft. training run to a 3,600 ft. screamer. Their highest run is 650-feet above the ground. Uniquely, on each tour a native Hawaiian Hibiscus (Hawaii state flower) seedling is transported up to a planting site to help reestablish this federally-listed endangered plant. They also offer private tours.

NorthShore Zipline Co
This is a fairly new venture. The lines run from tree-to-tree with minimal horizon views but also no platforms to deal with. Sail through a canopy of giant eucalyptus trees 70 feet above the forest floor at speeds to 40 mph on ziplines up to 900′ long on seven different ziplines on Maui’s North Shore. This is a family friendly zip that welcomes kids as young as 5.

Other Considerations
Each of the companies we’ve listed puts safety first. Pay attention to the safety talk, no matter how much of a buzz killer it may seem. Luckily, it seems that a sense of humor is a required job skill—and some of them are good enough to be on Last Comic Standing. 

Ziplining isn’t cheap and there’s always a chance your zip tour will get canceled because of weather. Ask the company directly how they deal with refunds and rescheduling, and get it nailed down before you sign the paperwork. If there’s one good reason to book your zip before you suffer beach burnout, this is it: you might not get a chance to rebook later in the week. If they have other groups already booked on the next run, you won’t have a chance. Also, don’t forget to figure a tip into the price. An average tip is 15 percent; 20 for extraordinary service and assistance.

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