All-Terrain Treks

A new company offers 25% commission on ATV tours of Maui’s upcountry

By: Marty Wentzel

A new company called Maui ATV is offering commissionable upcountry tours for clients who like to venture off the beaten path.

With its fleet of automatic, four-wheel-drive, all-terrain vehicles, Maui ATV takes visitors across the vast ranch lands and through the rain forests of 10,000-foot Haleakala, the island’s dormant volcano.

Owners Janet and Jeff Baldwin, who pay a 25% travel agent commission, developed the company with friend and tour guide Mike Czar.

A seventh-generation Mauian, Jeff can trace his family tree back to the first Christian missionaries in Lahaina. Haleakala Ranch has been in his family for 120 years.

“Jeff’s father and grandfather were cowboys on the ranch,” Janet said. “Every day after school, Jeff would have to work with his father’s horses. But Jeff didn’t like horses as much as he liked engines and motors.” After Janet and Jeff married in 1991, they often hosted friends and family on the ranch to share its beauty.

“Jeff would tell them the history of the land, and his passion for plants would come through as well,” Janet said. “When Haleakala Ranch decided to diversify into eco-tourism, we combined Jeff’s love of the ranch with his love of machines and created a tour company.”

Maui ATV took its first guests on rides on Jan. 1.

“We weren’t ready for the kind of success we’ve had,” Janet said. “We were sold out almost every day this summer.” Currently the company has 24 vehicles, but the Baldwins have ordered six additional ATVs so they can expand the number of tours they offer each day.

The Baldwins are being careful not to grow the company too quickly. “We have lots of ideas for the future, such as rides for weddings and birthdays,” Janet said.

Maui ATV targets clients, young and old, who love adventure and beauty. “I like it when families join us on the tour. We think we offer something for everyone,” Janet said.

Janet described her company’s ATVs as flexible and easy to maneuver on turns. First, drivers are issued helmets, goggles, gloves and lightweight rain suits. Then, they’re taken out on a practice course simulating some of the trail to be driven, until they feel comfortable behind the wheel.

Maui ATV’s three-and-a half-hour tour runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The tour costs $130.

Two-hour tours, which depart at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., cost $90. During all Maui ATV tours, clients ride through rocky terrain on wild pig ruts, through rain-filled gullies and up steep climbs. Soon they reach the rain forests of Haleakala, an area rich in such endangered plants as ohia and koa trees, and endemic birds such as the apapane.

On the longer rides, guests get continental breakfast, and picnic lunches among the towering trees of the rain forest. Lunch includes a choice of salad or sandwich and fruit juice. Next, the group goes on a short, guided hike, where they learn about the forest and history of the ranch.

Clients on the two-hour tour receive chips, water and sodas, along with plenty of photo opportunities and stories about the ranch.

Clients must be at least 16 years old to drive their own ATVs on the tour, although kids ages 5 to 15 can ride in Jeep-style vehicles along with other guests who choose not to drive themselves.

Recommended attire is closed-toe shoes, long pants and jackets. Call 808-661-0288.