In a nutshell: Spectacular fly-by views of the forest, countryside, ocean and volcano.
Minuses: Not for the budget traveler.
Sound-bite: “It was like floating through the forest in a 40 MPH recliner!”
The Pi’iholo Ranch Zipline boasts five lines, including the longest side-by-side line in Hawaii (over a half mile long.) All the lines at Pi’iholo can accommodate at least two parallel riders, so it is perfect for couples and family. (They have one zipline that has four parallel lines which is a blast if you brought the kids along.)
Just above Makawao Town at 2000′ elevation, visiting Pi’iholo is a dramatic change in scenery and a refreshingly cool contrast from hot days of beach and sun.
With the ocean far below and off in the distance, you glide high and free above fragrant eucalyptus canopy. Zipping along up here as misty mountain clouds pass through the tree-tops becomes more like flying high over hobbit-land in a dream than the “Hawaiian vacation” you may have imagined. You realize up here that Maui is so much more than beaches and tiki torches depicted on postcards – what you know about Maui takes on yet another spectacular facet.
At heights up to 600′ off the ground, and speeds of up to 40 MPH, it is also definitely a thrill ride – but even a nervous young woman who was coerced into going by her husband was put to ease by the very well trained, and friendly staff. In fact she said that the single biggest factor to put her at ease was the understanding and patient explanations of the safety mechanisms built into the design. (I found that perspective interesting, because I just automatically assumed cheating death is part of the thrill!)
Common wildlife sightings include axis deer, mountain boar, the endangered Pueo and nēnē. There is a Safe Harbor nursery and preserve for the nēnē located on the ranch. More than 300 head of cattle roam the ranch, and 40 horses are corralled on the property.
But this isn’t just fantasy-dream meets thrill ride – the activity also stuffs its fair share of sight-seeing and eco-adventure into the package. Flying over rough terrain and verdant gulches, riders soar over a beautiful forest canopy of both exotic and native plants and trees – natives such as Koa, Ohi’a & Halapepe. Native birds like the majestic and endangered Pueo and the once virtually extinct nēnē call this forest home.
Pi’iholo Ranch is a working 800-acre cattle ranch, still boasting genuine Paniolo tending hundreds of head of cattle and dozens of horses (this is the real-deal, they even have their own rodeo arena.) The ranch is owned by the most widely known family on Maui (hint: the quickest way to get to Baldwin Beach from here is to take Baldwin Ave.) You can feel the rich authentic ranch history that spans across seven generations and two centuries of Maui’s past. Long known to visitors for their horseback riding and ATV tours, their experience treating visitors right shows – they even thoughtfully include drinks and a snack halfway through your zipline tour. Just talking to the staff you can tell they’re passionate about Maui and their land, and sharing both with visitors.
Tip: Booking activities directly can be cheaper.
Most places people find out about activities are online and local kiosk or concierge booking agents who earn a fairly hefty commission on each sale. Many activity vendors offer discounts for booking in advance directly though them. Piiholo Ranch Zipline offers $10 discount per person.
All tours start with a walk across a 317-foot suspended bridge, which is an unusual experience in itself. Participants must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 75 pounds and 275 pounds for ziplining and at least 60 pounds for Tango Tower (a 42-foot tall climbing tower and rope course.) The tour is not for people who can’t exert under moderate physical activity, pregnant women, people with back problems or any serious medical condition. Closed toed shoes are required, and long pants (if you even brought ’em!) are suggested. They supply rain gear if needed. They’re currently offering a 10% discount if you book direct on their website.
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