By Bob Starink
What do you choose to do when you only have two days on the island of Maui? We decided on ziplining and riding Haleakala.
The ziplining industry has exploded in recent years. There are now ziplines in nearly every holiday destination in the world, and what was the longest zipline on Earth last week may have that title usurped this week. There are four zipline companies on Maui alone. We chose Flyin Hawaiian, located in Wailuku, near Kahului.
Flyin Hawaiian features eight separate lines spanning close to 13,123 feet and attaining speeds of up to 50 mph, with the full experience taking about five hours. The cost per person is $200.
The guides are very competent and highly amusing, adding to the fun of the day. Afraid of heights? You really don’t notice it, and the way the harness has you sitting upright, there isn’t any fear of falling either. You fly along, feeling exhilaration as you enjoy the rides and the views, with the mountain valleys to the right and the Maui coastline to the left. One of the shorter lines is traversed backwards. The longest line flies over three ridges.
See www.flyinhawaiianzipline.com for more details.
Haleakala is an extinct volcano towering over the island. Maui Downhill is one of several companies offering guided bike tours of the mountain. Their signature sunrise tour is $149 per person and includes breakfast, bike and accessories, entry fees and hotel pick-up and return.
As we were staying in Ka’anapali on the northwest coast of Maui, we had to be picked up for the Haleakala sunrise tour at 2:30 a.m., so very little sleep was had. Company mini-buses converge in the darkness from all over the island at their base office in Kahului for orientation and a hot drink.
Soon a convoy departs for the silent climb to the Haleakala summit 10,000 feet above sea level.
We were warned about its being cool at that altitude, but nothing could prepare us for the icy cold when we exited the bus. For this tour you have to be dressed for bike riding, so it’s not practical to bundle up too heavily, but the tour wind jackets weren’t helping much.
Arriving way too early, we then had to try to avoid hypothermia for over an hour before anything happened. Fortunately the park kiosk opened soon after we arrived, so we were able to take some cover inside. Even though there was no heating in the kiosk, at least it was out of the chilling breeze.
As the sunrise progressed, I would rush in and out of the shop retreat to take photos. The sun rises over the crater, which is all great unless you want to take a picture inside the crater itself.
Then there’s a giant sun blinding the scene.
When everyone is done snapping photos, the bus takes us all to another lookout before descending to 6,500 feet (outside the National Park) where the bike ride begins.
Safety is not an issue, with guides riding at the front and at the rear and the company bus at the tail controlling the traffic. There’s no huffing and puffing as the ride is downhill all the way along the switchbacks that lead down the mountainside. The ride is scenic and fun. Stops along the way are made for photos.
The whole tour is eight to nine hours, so you get back to your hotel before noon, allowing some time for shopping or swimming.
There are other biking options at other times of the day, with and without a trip to the summit, so if you don’t feel like getting only three hours sleep or freezing in the pre-dawn temperatures, Maui
Downhill still has the tour for you. See www.mauidownhill.com for full details.
If you go:
There are some impressive resorts on Maui. For the economy-minded, consider the comfortable Ka’anapali Ocean Inn with rooms starting at $100. Looking for a place to eat? The Melting Pot in Lahaina is highly recommended. It’s a fondue restaurant and the full three courses of cheese dipping, main meal (where meats and vegetables are cooked in a special broth at the table) and chocolate fondue dessert are an almost-impossible challenge to get through.
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