Much of Hawaii, the Big Island, is undeveloped and unspoiled. It can be difficult to get around and see the natural beauty of the island without the hassle of renting an off-roading vehicle. Even then you may not know where to go or how to get there because signage is poor. For these reasons and more, a zip line tour in Hawaii gives you the most bang for your buck.
For my zip line tour, I chose the Big Island Zip Line Canopy Tour in the North Kohala Coast region. The rainforest with albizia and old growth ironwood trees, views of the Pololu Valley, the coast line, and waterfalls alone were well worth it. It was also a great adventure, doing something to get a little adrenaline pumping. The guides I had were young and really did their best to make sure everyone had a good time.
The course begins with a small zipline (about 200 feet) not too far off the ground. The idea is to get you comfortable with the zipline, your harness, turning yourself, etc. With each consecutive zipline, the height and length increase, building your comfort level and preparing you for the last line, which is around 1,100 feet long and very high up above the tree tops.
About halfway through the zipline tour, we crossed a suspension bridge (not for anyone afraid of heights!) and stopped at a pavilion that overlooked a 32-foot, rushing waterfall. We were offered juice, trail mix, macadamia nuts, fruit kabobs, and banana cake. I was impressed with the quality and variety of snacks we all received.
By this point, I was quite comfortable with the zipline and turning myself around, which I soon learned was very important. Not only did controlling my orientation help me see the waterfalls and the scenery better, but it also ensured that I stayed safe on the lines that required a backwards “landing.” The trick is to turn your harness straps the opposite way that you want to turn, and you have to do it slowly because it takes a few seconds for your twist to have an effect.
I will admit that I was a little bit intimidated by the last line. The height and length did not bother me as much as the fact that there was no starting platform to jump off, as I had grown accustomed to. Everyone had to run and jump off the ground and into the rainforest canopy. The guides said that if we did not jump far enough we might hit our bottoms on the ground. They tended to hype up the “dangers” to scare us a little more than was necessary, all in good fun. Everyone cleared the jump and made it to the other side. It essentially felt like jumping off a cliff, except without the falling thousands of feet to the ground part, of course. As soon as I made my jump, I was immediately distracted by the gorgeous coastal views and a glimpse of Maui not too far away anyway.
No matter which company you choose for your zipline tour in Hawaii, there are some things you should know. Every company has a minimum and maximum weight, as well as rules for customers who are pregnant or have bad backs or other health conditions. They will most likely have you sign a waiver of liability and attest to good health and that you meet their requirements. Wear good walking shoes, bug spray, and pants or knee-length shorts. (The harness can ride up and chafe bare legs.) Be sure that you bring a camera with a good strap that you can keep around your neck or wrist so you can comfortably take lots of pictures of Hawaii’s natural beauty from the zipline. Even if the company you choose provides refreshments, you may want some water during the walk, since most tours are around 4 hours long. You can fit a backpack over the harness, but be sure that your weight plus the weight of your pack does not exceed the weight limit. And lastly, leave all loose and valuable items locked in your trunk. You really don’t need sunglasses in a rainforest.