Adventure Activities in Maui -- Try if You Dare Volume 1

Adventure Activity Maui

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The first thought in your mind when you hear Maui, Hawaii, is not of an adventure activity, but images of the miles of beautiful sandy beaches that hug most of the coastline on this island in the Pacific Ocean. Being the second-largest Hawaiian island, it is definitely too big to see in a day -- so I dare you to familiarize yourself with the different parts of the island and culture with these unique experiences from land, air, water and even palate. (Please note there are age restrictions for many of these activities.)

1. Hang gliding

Want to experience the picturesque Hana coastline in East Maui without having to worry about mosquitoes? For $150 for 30 minutes, $200 for 45 minutes, or $250 for 60 minutes (not including tax), let Armin of Hang Gliding Maui take you up 3,500 feet in his powered hang glider where you can reach out and literally touch the clouds. Between the gulches, waterfalls, valley, and underwater reefs all visible from up here, it is an absolutely unforgettable experience. When he turns the engine off to allow you to experience what engineless hang gliding feels like, you gracefully glide over the luscious rainforest below without a care in the world.

Unfortunately, this is not an experience you can share with your significant other since there is only one seat aside from the pilot's -- but if you both go, he will arrange to take one person up the coast and the second person the opposite direction so you will have gorgeous shots of both to share. Since personal cameras are not allowed due to safety issues, you can choose to purchase the pictures taken from the camera mounted on the wing.
Meeting place: Hana Airport

2. Zip line

Skyline Eco-Adventures, the first zip-line operator in not only Hawaii but also the country, has added longer zips to its original five-zip Haleakala course for $95 per person and the newer eight-zip Kaanapali course for $149.95 per person (not including tax). Whichever you choose, both will have you flying high with only the help of a cable and a harness.

You start with a short hike to your first zip, while the friendly and knowledgeable guide provides an informative talk about the native birds common to this natural surrounding habitat. The first zip is relatively short and not too high -- perfect for easing into it and build the confidence of those still unsure about going through with it. With each subsequent zip, it is longer and faster and you will find yourself giving into the gravity and zipping away over the canopy forwards, backwards, every which way. Before long, you will be humming "zip-a-dee-doo-dah!"
Meeting place: depends on which zip line tour you choose

3. Biking down a volcano

Biking may not seem the most adventurous activity on Maui -- but biking down a dormant volcano from the summit is. Although commercial downhill bike tour operators are prohibited now from the summit, bikes are still allowed in the park. Bundle up in layers and rent one from Haleakala Bike for about $45 and have someone drop you and your bike off at the summit.

While you are coasting down at your own pace, do not forget to make stops along the way for pictures, as every turn seems to offer another vista point. Take this opportunity to peel off another layer as the difference in temperature can be 40-50 degrees between the summit and sea level. After your 10,000-foot descent, you can meet back up with your ride at the bike shop.
Meeting place: Haiku Marketplace

4. Rafting in the Pacific

With so many snorkel spots to choose from, many of which you can jump right into from the beach, getting an underwater view of Hawaiian marine life seems a given. However, having the opportunity to experience the Kanaio Coast -- an untouched part of South Maui that is largely inaccessible -- is priceless. Bring a waterproof or underwater camera and join Blue Water Rafting, the only operator to this remote coastline where for $100 per adult, you are taken on a four-hour adventure through hidden sea caves and lava arches formed by the cool water touching the hot lava hundreds of years ago.

Do not be surprised if you get an up-close-and-personal encounter at La Perouse Bay with spinner dolphins, turtles, and/or eagle rays while snorkeling that is sure to delight all. Make sure to hang on during your return as it can be a bumpy ride back; but you and your fellow rafters probably will not even notice as you will still be thinking about the unforgettable adventure you just shared together that will bond you all forever.
Meeting place: Kihei Boat Ramp

5. Try poi (at least three times)

My introduction to poi was at a luau during my first visit almost 10 years ago -- and like many others, I did not have the best initial impression upon tasting it. Never one to shun something based only on a first impression (especially a staple and sacred part of Hawaiian life), I gave it another try after we stopped by a poi-pounding demonstration at another luau in a subsequent year.

Maybe it was seeing the hard work that went into mashing the corm of the taro plant into an edible paste, but after tasting this fresh dime-sized sample, it was starting to grow on me. Although not a huge fan yet, I like many other visitors found other options more tempting at the buffet spread. When I decided maybe the third time's the charm and paired poi with the salty kalua pork, I found the flavors complemented each other nicely and actually liked it.

Yes, it is an acquired taste and the chances are you will not like it the first or even the second time you try it -- but when given a chance, it may surprise you. If not, that is OK too; but just don't compare it to Elmer's Glue.
Available at: luaus, supermarkets, and places serving plate lunches

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