A family portrait, during the ziplining adventure at the Maui Tropical Plantation. // © 2011 Samantha Davis-Friedman
“But they only have five lines and it’s only 60 feet up, how fun could that be?”
That’s what my 13-year-old (and somewhat jaded) son said when I told him we would be doing the Maui Zipline at the Maui Tropical Plantation instead of one of the larger zipline options on the island. In fact, his younger brother, at barely 80 pounds when soaking wet, was too small for some of the larger adventures, and his dad was too nervous.
So, Maui Zipline it was, where children as light as 50 pounds (and as young as five years old) can traverse the lush grounds of the Maui Tropical Plantation on five tandem ziplines ranging in length from 300 to 900 feet. The fact that they allowed 5-year-olds to do it helped ease the mind of a nervous dad, too.
We arrived at the plantation the recommended 30 minutes before our scheduled time and were greeted by the friendly staff who, once we had completed the necessary forms and waivers, helped us into our harnesses and safety helmets. Then, off to the ziplines we went.
Along the way, the guides pointed out the various crops that grew at the plantation, including star fruit trees, pineapple fields and a plumeria orchard. After convincing us gullible tourists to do a few silly and, as it turns out, completely unnecessary stretches (such as the “Hokey Pokey”), they led us up the stairs and out on the platform, 60 feet above the ground.
As with any new adventure experience, the first step is always the hardest, and stepping up to be clipped onto the line 60 feet over the ground was a little nerve-wracking, even for the more jaded “zippers” among us. But when the guide said, “three, two, one, zip away,” there was no time to think. We jumped off and sailed across the two tandem lines in pairs until we reached the guides waiting to catch us on the other side. It was thrilling but still felt completely safe — the perfect extreme activity for my not-so-extreme family.
The second line was considerably less steep, and we were heading into the wind. Therefore, everyone was instructed to “coconut” or, in other words, to curl up like we were going to do a cannonball into a pool to minimize our wind resistance. Most of us managed to “coconut” all the way across but, unfortunately, my smaller son didn’t quite have the body weight to generate enough momentum, and he stopped just short of the platform on the other side. No worries, one of the guides was out on the line in a flash to haul him in.
The third line was long and had a great slope, so we were told that this was our opportunity to garner style points for the most creative zip. My older son took the advice and did a 360-degree spin, while my younger son leaned all the way back with no hands. As for the adults, we opted for what they called “the grocery store” (in other words, the “Safeway”) — zipping with both hands on the handle bars. At the end of this line, the guides cracked open a fresh coconut, and we had a snack break — but not for long. We walked back to the first platform and took an alternate line they called the Big Kahuna, since it’s the longest line and it crosses over the entire plantation.
Finally, it was time for the fifth and final zip — a short but steep line from the tops of apple and banana trees and across the lagoon to the treehouse at the base of a huge tree. There, we posed for a family photo, taken by our guides.
Before each zip, the guides told us about the crops we would be sailing over and talked about Hawaiian culture and lore. They also pointed out the many landmarks we could see clearly from the height of the platforms. Our guides were funny and relaxed, but we felt completely safe at all times. In the end, five lines and 60 feet were exactly right, and everyone from the jaded to the nervous agreed that it was an excellent family adventure. Plus, at only two hours, we had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful Maui sunshine for the rest of the day.