HALEAKALA RANCH -- Skyline Eco-Adventures has the newest and most
talked-about activity on Maui. Indeed, the Haleakala Skyline Tour,
which opened in March, is the only one of its kind in Hawaii. So
Modeled after an eco-friendly adventure in Costa Rica, the tour
begins with a trek through rugged upcountry Maui, with its
eucalyptus trees and lush ravines.
The part of the venture that causes talk is this: You fly over
70-foot deep gorges on a 300-foot-long cable, reaching speeds of 35
mph in heart-pumping communion with nature.
The guides outfitted us with helmets and harnesses. A safety
briefing followed, during which they taught us the proper technique
for landing as well as which parts of the equipment not to
They also pointed out that each 3/4-inch, galvanized steel cable
has been tested to hold 14,400 pounds, and all harnesses, pulleys
and tethers have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds.
Another short hike brought us to the first launching platform.
(Though the trekking is mild, visitors should be aware that it does
take place at an altitude of 4,300 feet, which can leave people
After a few more instructions about landing on the other side of
a gaping ravine, it was time to begin.
The most difficult part is stepping off the platform.
There's something unnatural about throwing yourself into thin
air over a gulch, even though you're strapped-in, hooked to the
line and don't even have to hold on.
The first two trips were slower than I had expected and made for
unique sightseeing, giving me a chance to examine the vegetation
and view the surrounding trees the way a bird might.
As long as you follow directions and keep your legs moving, the
landing is quite smooth. But one of those strong young guides is
always there to catch you if you have problems.
I found the attraction perfectly manageable, as did the two
other women in the group, even one who is uncomfortable with
Our small group size enabled us to move quickly. The entire tour
took about an hour.
With a larger group -- the maximum number of participants is 12
-- a typical trek lasts about two hours, our guides said.
Walking between each landing platform infuses an educational
element into the thrills. That's when the guides talk about the
surrounding trees and plants, let you experience the natural beauty
of the land and leave you with nuggets of information about the
history of the islands without overdoing the "eco" angle.
The attraction has been so successful that founders Danny and
Buck Boren are constructing two more ziplines to add to the four
existing steel cables, according to one of our guides.
The new lines are expected to be 130 feet above the ground and
600 feet long, which means the maximum speed will exceed 35
Skyline said 10% of its profits go toward preservation. One of
its current projects is restoring a forest of rare, native koa
trees on the slopes of Haleakala.
Book it: Haleakala Skyline Tour
Requirements: Closed-toe shoes are required;
long pants are recommended. Minimum age is 12. Minimum weight is 80
pounds, maximum 280 pounds. It's also best to be comfortable with
heights. There also is a hiking-only option for participants ages 6
and up ($35).
Fees: $69; $59 for advance registration online.
For more information, call (808) 878-8400 or visit www.skylinehawaii.com.
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