Jumping Backward off a Cliff : Maui Style Zip-lining

I’ve been zip-lining a couple times this year, but each one has been vastly different. There was the adrenaline rush of a one-off gorge zip in Thunder Bay and the recreational course through the Carolinian treeline of Long Point.

When I signed up for zip-lining with Skyline Eco Adventures on Maui I was picturing myself flying through the rainforest, overlooking plant-life and waterfalls. While it didn’t turn out to be in that type of environment, it ended up being even better than I had imagined.

The drive up the mountain was an epic adventure of its own. We navigated bumpy dirt paths through a field filled with potholes that resembled the Grand Canyon and bounced around our seats as we ascended the foothills.

Everyone was laughing as we swayed from side to side and flew up in the air above our seats. Red dust filled the air (and the van) around us and the coastline disappeared behind it. Finally, we had reached our summit.

One by one, everyone piled out of the van, eager to start our first zip. We were fully briefed on safety and instructions, so it was time to go.

“Who wants to go first?”


So, there I was, at the first of 8 zip lines and the first to launch out of a group of about twelve people. I stood at the top of a small staircase that lead to nowhere and observed my surroundings; there was a wide mountain valley in front of me thickly layered in desert shrubs and rocks that looked minuscule in the distance. Everyone stood behind me watching me with looks of both excitement and nerves.

“Okay, go ahead”

I hopped down the steps as fast as I could and launched my body out into the open air.


Like some sort of pale Hawaiian bird, I was soaring through the sky above Maui. I looked away from my landing point and became captivated with my new view of Ka’anapali, the town below. Everything looked so tiny below me; I could see a white stripe of beach and hundreds of small colourful squares dotting the land in front of it.

Focusing back on the objective at hand, I turned by body back into the landing position. As the incoming platform approached I lifted my legs and prepared to stop. It was a perfect landing.

Once everyone had cleared the line we continued on to the next one. With a little more confidence, we completed this one a little bit quicker and were soon on to the next.

As I began my zip, I felt the line loosen and then pull tight. I was entirely sure what was going on, but before I had the time to think about it, I was suddenly flying up in the air. WOAH. I flew up and then down and then up again. I looked forward and saw my guide pulling a rope that was attached to the line. He was physically bouncing me around the air and I was loving every second of it.

I was laughing like a school child by the time I reached the end and immediately requested that he do the same to my friend that was coming next. He obliged:

Before I knew it we had completed the first five lines and it was time for lunch.

Leaving the edge of the mountain valley, we hiked across a ridge through the red desert dust. A trailed lined with tall grass and small trees lead up to a wide patio that was a 1000ft over-hang above another large gorge, with an amazing view of West Maui. Everyone piled onto the deck for lunch, where we were served chicken sandwiches, chips with salsa and delicious home made brownies.

The best part of the lunch break was feeding the brownies to the hungry mongooses that were scavenging below. Our guides informed us that the mongooses were not interested in chicken or any of the other food–they only wanted our brownies. funnily enough, this was true!

As lunch ended, it was time to finish the last three lines of the course, and we would be doing them in style.

The first line was used to get everyone back into the groove of zipping, but was also more challenging with the absence of our usual steps. The launching pad was no more than a declining board, much like the landing bases. With a running jump, these zips proved to be pretty exhilarating. We quickly made it across to the second-last zip line and prepared for something even more exciting.

“Who wants to try jumping off backwards?”

“Do you even have to ask?”

I soon found myself standing backward on the edge of a cliff, with my heels hanging over the edge and the rest of my group facing me in anticipation.

“Alright, go ahead….”

I bent my knees, kicked forward and launched myself blindly into the open air behind me. It wasn’t just a normal zip-start, I flew my entire body upward and over the height of the line, eventually swinging sideways back into the proper position.

OH MY GOD–WAIT!!” screamed my instructor.

I heard everyone gasp and stare at me with looks of horror. What was wrong? Was I not attached properly? Some of the others jumped forward to watch me with wide eyes as I slid backward in the air. But before I could even react with any sort of fear, I realized it… my instructor was only joking.

I resisted the urge to give him a playful showing of one of my fingers to thank him for the potential heart attack, and simply laughed as I zipped my way across the gorge. As I landed on the next platform, the two people that had gone before me reacted in about the same way as the others. They had heard the whole thing and thought that something terrible had happened.

It was humour like this that made the tour such a great time. They guides were a non-stop comedy show as we flew back and forth over the mountain and made sure that those nervous people were no longer nervous. I certainly enjoyed it!

Finally, we had reached the final zip line; the longest one of them all. It was 1800 feet of pure air-rushing adrenaline and bird-like freedom high above the island of Maui. It was going to be awesome.

As everyone lined up, our guide started to prepare us for the final zip. He warned us that this one was different than the others–it was longer and therefore we would pick up more speed arrive at the landing pad much faster than we were accustomed to thus far. We would need to pick our feet up as high as they could go and pull our bodies up to glide into the elevated landing pad. He told us to avoid any unnecessary turns as they could throw off our angles at the high speed. By the end of his little talk, everyone seemed hesitant.

“Who wants to go first?”

Who do you think volunteered?

This was it. Without any dwelling thoughts, I took two steps back and launched myself forward off the ramp, and soon I was taking my final flight through the air.

This line was so long that I felt like I was in the air forever, the landing pad looked so small in the distance that I paid no attention to it, but admired the view of the ocean and land beside me. I closed my eyes to feel the wind against my face and smiled at the feeling of freedom.

Before long, it was time to land. I picked my feet up and prepared for a hard stop. The zip slowed down. Suddenly, I realized it was another joke. The comedian guides were just messing with us to see who would be scared to go. Luckily I hadn’t fallen for their little trick!

I coasted in gently to the landing pad, so much so, that the waiting guide physically had to pull me the rest of the way in.

“How was that?” the guide asked.

I answered with  a laugh and asked if I could go again.

Zip-lining with Skyline Eco Adventures was definitely one of the highlights of my time on Maui. If you’re looking for a little adventure with an adrenaline-filled comedy routine thrown in, I suggest you try it out too.

Thanks to Carrie Seim for the photos of me zip-lining!

This trip was made possible by the Maui Visitor’s Bureau;
all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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6 Responses to “Jumping Backward off a Cliff : Maui Style Zip-lining”

  1. Cam @ Traveling Canucks
    October 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    We were originally supposed to do this course, but bad weather put a quick stop to those plans. Fortunately, they have another course on Haleakala… but this course looks much better
    Cam @ Traveling Canucks recently posted..Why Going to Ibiza May Surprise You

    • Seattle
      October 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Yeah, I remember reading about your tour before I went, which is how I knew about the other course. I think yours looked pretty cool too though, I would have loved the bridge part!

  2. Marilyn
    October 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Wow, you make me want cast my fears to the wind and try zipping… I like the idea of multiple courses. That’s crazy.
    Marilyn recently posted..Our Week at the Farms

    • Seattle
      October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      You have to try it, it’s SOO much fun! And it looks like you’re already on the island, so you don’t even have to travel far to get there 😀

  3. Rachel
    October 16, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    I’ve only tried zip lining once, a not-so-short course at the adventure parc last year, that was quite an adventure I must say. And I’m now thinking of trying it again in a more exciting way.. like what you did. I like the adrenaline! 😉


  1. the lazy travelers | no travel required - August 20, 2013

    […] This post opens with, “I’ve been zip-lining a couple times this year…” so color the romantic impressed. Jumping Backward off a Cliff: Maui Style Zip-lining […]

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