I have always had a love of adrenaline activities, such as skydiving, bungee jumping and canyon swinging, but those activities are typically only found in a few areas (though skydiving is more commonly found). So to feed my inner adrenaline junkie, I will often check out the “softer” adrenaline activities in the area, and one of my favorites is ziplining. Ziplining is both easy to do, provides some thrills, and often affords beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
If I choose to zipline, I always go for the one that provides the most thrills with the longest zips, just to make it worth my while. If there isn’t at least one zip that is 1200 feet or longer, then I won’t even bother. I want high. I want fast. I want fun. I have even roped my mother into ziplining with me, and I could NEVER coax her to bungee jump (I’m still working on tandem skydiving), and now she is as hooked as I am. So for our last trip to Hawaii when we visited the Big Island and Kauai, of course I was going to check out the best ziplining on each island.
Both islands offer multiple companies that have zipline tours, but I elected to go with the most recommended ones in our guide books. Those tours offered the longest and highest zips, and they seemed to be set in beautiful nature areas for great views. After all, none of these tours are cheap, so I wanted to make it worth our while.
We visited the Big Island first, and I selected Umauma Falls and Zipline Experience, since it was so highly recommended. The course was set over a lush, beautiful valley, as you descended the course through nine different ziplines. It came both recommended, and the website looked great, so we figured why not? The tour offered access to viewing the Umauma Falls, which are only available to see through a paid tour.
Driving there was a bit long, but still pretty easy. We had based ourselves at a resort in Kailua-Kona (the western side of the island), and Umauma Falls is on the eastern side of the island. So unlike our first trip, we did a LOT of driving to get where we needed to go everyday. But even though the Big Island is the biggest Hawaiian island, it is still easy enough to drive to most sites (assuming you aren’t fighting too much town traffic in parts).
We even got there with enough time to spare to go on an earlier tour, which played into our favor, because the weather was iffy. It always is on the Hilo side of the island with the extensive rain it receives. Throughout our tour, we saw the dark clouds threatening to open up on us, but thankfully, they never did.
Four of the Umauma Falls zips are dual line, so if you are visiting with a partner, you can race down the line to see who gets to the end faster. Just due to the fact that I outweigh my mother, AND I would launch myself off the platform to get as much speed as possible, I always came in first.
Some of the zips afforded views of beautiful lakes and small waterfalls, and even a glimpse or two at a lava cave. And the most touted view was on zip eight, where you can finally stop and take in the actual Umauma Falls. All in all, it was a great tour, and a lot of fun. It combines beautiful views and thrilling zips, to make it worth your time and money. Of the ziplining we have done in Hawaii, the Umauma Falls tour is probably the most picturesque, and one of the most picturesque of any zipline tours I have done.
So after that fun trip, I was hoping our zipline tour on Kauai would live up to the same standards. This time, we chose Koloa Zipline for the same reasons: it looked like it combined the most fun zips with the most beautiful nature (though if there was ever forced to choose, I would always choose to most thrilling over the most beautiful).
Koloa Zipline tour is set within the Waita Reservoir not far from the town of Poipu, so as you travel around the course, you get beautiful views of the lush, green countryside. This particular tour provides a more vigorous workout than is advertised on the website, so know before you go. All zipline tours have a certain amount of walking, because that is how you get from zip to zip. However, Koloa Zipline’s zips are a bit farther apart at times, and there was one short but steep and strenuous hike between two zips. Let’s just say I was feeling the humidity, and was thankful it wasn’t hotter than it was (though the tour provides plenty of cold drinks and snacks to satiate you).
Even though the Koloa Zipline setting is beautiful, it still doesn’t beat out Umauma Falls for sheer beautiful nature. I love trees and lakes, but I love waterfalls more. However, I do think Koloa Zipline is more thrilling than Umauma Falls, in a couple key ways. Sure, Koloa Zipline is only eight zips compared to Umauma Falls’ nine zips, but the adrenaline factor is a bit higher with Koloa.
Koloa Zipline offers the most opportunities for tricks and alternate positions than any other zipline I have done up to this point (and with this trip, I finally broke into the double digits for zipline tours I’ve completed). Sure, you can do the standard sitting zipline position that other tours offer, but you can also do so much more. This is a company that actively encourages people to try new positions, such as upside down, spinning, and my absolute favorite, the prone position. One of the tours in Maui allowed participants to do one zip upside down, but they were clear that this was not something they wanted to get out. But crazy positions seems to be part of the package deal with Koloa Zipline. I had done one prone position zipline before this, but it was in Las Vegas, and it was heavily controlled. Out on this tour, it really felt more like you were flying over the jungle. It was the most thrilling and provides panoramic views for the longer, more beautiful zips.
If you like ziplining already or even just thinking of trying it, I highly recommend both zipline tours. You can never have too much zipline, and the beautiful views and soft adrenaline thrills provides an opportunity to see part of the island in a new way.