After years of trailing behind the rest of the Aloha State,
Oahu now has a pair of new zipline products, but the recently launched tours
offer Hawaii visitors more than just the expected high-adrenaline experience.
Kualoa Ranch, on Oahu’s east coast, opened its Treetop
Canopy Zipline Tour in January, just six months after Climbworks Keana Farms
launched its zip tour product on the island’s North Shore. Prior to that, Oahu
visitors keen to try a zipline experience during a vacation on the island were
essentially out of luck.
According to C.J. Hughes, the zipline tour operations
manager for Kualoa Ranch, there were no zip tour products on Oahu before because
the island’s county officials weren’t particularly interested in adding a range
of thrill rides across the destination.
“The county wasn’t sure if they wanted ziplines in the area
because they want to keep Oahu as Hawaii as possible,” Hughes told Travel
Weekly. “They’re trying to make it so you can’t have a big theme park here, so
they were a little bit afraid that ziplines might be the next step to roller
Zipline tours have been an adventure activity option on Maui,
Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii for years, popping up regularly across the
Neighbor Island destinations, but Honolulu County officials appear to have
allowed the Oahu operators to enter the zipline market largely because the new
products include a heavy focus on cultural education and agriculture.
The three-hour Kualoa Ranch tour takes people back into an
untouched region of the gorgeous Ka‘a‘awa Valley, where television shows and
movies like “Jurassic Park” or “50 First Dates” were filmed. The excursion
features seven ziplines, a pair of suspension bridge crossings over ravines and
the chance to see all sorts of Hawaiian plant species, such as Koa and Ohia trees
and Uluhe ferns.
“The main reason we did this was we wanted to share the
valley with people, but we wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t destroy the
valley,” Hughes said. “So we figured with a zipline, people are flying over the
ground instead of tearing it up with their feet. And you see the natural beauty
of a valley that hasn’t been touched. This ranch was purchased from King
Kamehameha III in the late 1800s, and nothing has been done in the back of the
Oahu visitors will find sustainable agriculture is a major
component of the Climbworks Keana Farms zipline on the island’s stunning North
Shore, where the three-hour product features seven zips but also offers
rappelling, rope climbing and sky bridge experiences.
For co-owner Aaron Campbell, who was raised on Oahu, the Keana
Farm zip tour was a chance to expose people not only to the beauty of the
region, including towering mountains and gorgeous ocean views, but also to introduce
travelers to the ancient Hawaiian ahupuaa
system, a tradition of land division typically running from the mountains to
“Basically, what we’re trying to do is look to our kapuna [or elders] for ways to be
sustainable in today’s world and find a nice balance between ancient and
modern,” Campbell said, noting that visitors will encounter a range of farmed
produce, such as bananas, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes and even chili peppers,
that all end up for sale in local supermarkets.
“And we’re trying to show people how the ancient Hawaiian
agricultural system was extremely self-sustainable,” he added. “We show them
examples of what that old system looked like, and at the top of the mountain
they get to see the boundaries of the Keana ahupuaa.”
The Climbworks Keana Farms zip tour is $169 per person and
available to for guests age 7 and older. Kualoa Ranch tours are $139 per person,
and guests must weigh at least 75 pounds. Both activities are commissionable to
Visit www.kualoa.com and www.climbworks.com/keana_farms.