Ziplining, Local Style

Big Island Eco Adventures combines zipline thrills with aloha spirit By: Marty Wentzel
Two suspension bridges are included in Big Island Eco Adventures’ (BIEA) zipline course. // © 2010 Big Island Eco Adventures<br />
Two suspension bridges are included in Big Island Eco Adventures’ (BIEA) zipline course. // © 2010 Big Island Eco Adventures

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The Details

Big Island Eco Adventures
808-889-5111
www.bigislandecoadventures.com

Rates are $159 per person. Zipline/lodging/dining packages are priced from $375-$650 per couple. Commission: 15 percent.

Ziplines are all the rage in Hawaii so, when I recently went on an excursion with Big Island Eco Adventures (BIEA), I wondered how its tour would differ from all the others. As soon as I met our guides, Adam and Brandon — born and raised in the area — I found my answer. The duo injected such an irresistible aloha spirit into their duties that I felt like I was part of their ohana (family) from the moment our four-hour excursion began.

Launched in December 2008, BIEA is headquartered in the town of Kapaau in North Kohala, on Hawaii’s Big Island. Its objective, according to BIEA sales and marketing manager Ha’aheo Neves, is to bring happiness to people.
“The owners placed the zipline course in this particular rainforest so that guests feel fully immersed in nature as they fly through the trees and see the beauty of Hawaii from on high,” Neves said.

Based on my experience, I’d say BIEA has achieved its goal. With eight ziplines and two bridges, the course is set in a forest filled with blossoming ginger, towering trees, pristine waterfalls and ocean views that clients won’t soon forget.

After outfitting us, our guides loaded our group into a six-wheel-drive vehicle. Before going off-road and uphill, we drove through quaint old towns that doubled as their own longtime stomping grounds. Not only did they share the history of the region with us, but they pointed out where they went to school, their favorite beaches, the places where wild boar cross the road and the best place to get a plate lunch. They waved to friends driving in the other direction and shared funny stories. Their humor was infectious, and they had the whole group laughing well before we reached the zipline course.

At the same time, the guides made it clear that safety comes first. Their method of instruction was such that no one in the group ever felt unsafe or uneasy. Before each line, they told us what to expect — a waterfall to the right, an ocean panorama to the left — so everyone was always prepared.

The course was set up in graduated fashion, from the easiest run to the hardest. By the final zipline, each participant was letting out screams of delight. More than one said, “I want to do it again!”

Another special touch was the Mac Nut Hut at the end of the sixth zipline. We stopped there for snacks. The setting, above a 32-foot waterfall, presented the perfect photo op, and the guides got big smiles as they snapped pictures of us.

Hoping to build on BIEA’s family-friendly feeling, the owners recently bought Luke’s Place restaurant in Kapaau and the 22-room Kohala Village Inn in nearby Hawi, both landmarks dating to the 1950s. In August, BIEA began offering one- and two-night zipline/lodging/dining packages for clients who want to spend more time getting to know this laidback, lovely part of the island.

For me, the BIEA zipline experience epitomized the essence of island hospitality. While clients can’t be sure they’ll go ziplining with Adam and Brandon, visitors are practically guaranteed the same warmth and friendliness no matter who leads their tour, said Neves.

“All of our guides take great pride in being able to share their home with others,” said Neves. “Their goal is to give guests the greatest time of their lives.”
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