Don’t Look Down: Kapalua Adventures

Kapalua's Mountain Outpost takes adventure to new--gulp!--heights.

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In Kelly’s pictures, I miss the trapeze by less than an inch. In my mind, the trapeze is merely a prop, an opportunity gladly missed on the day that I had the guts to climb to the top of that pole and leap off. The safety rope stuck on my way to earth, so I had the dubious pleasure of hearing everyone tell me how brave I was—while I hung there.

The ropes course was the most active part of the tour, while the zip-lines were a rush of speed and amazing views as we reclined comfortably in our chair-seat-harness contraptions and let gravity rocket us downhill.

The length of its runs, the innovative equipment and the ambitious nature of its other challenges set Kapalua’s course apart from other activities we have tried. That’s the way it is supposed to be, says Adam Quinn, Kapalua Land Company’s director of resort activities.

“We are the biggest, baddest, fastest zip-line in the State of Hawai‘i,” Quinn says. “We are a magic carpet ride, just without the carpet.”

You’ll have to forgive Quinn if he gets a little excited talking about his pet project. Three years ago, he submitted an eco-tourism list to his bosses, outlining ways the resort could expand its scope of activities for families. Somebody circled “Zip-line,” and the next thing Quinn knew, he was tromping the mountainside above Kapalua. He spent the next two years laying out his vision for the Mountain Outpost course.

Kapalua brought in zip-line builder Todd Domeck of Louisville, Kentucky, to turn Quinn’s vision into reality. Domeck, owner of Experiential Resources Inc., says he has built many zip-lines, but never one on the scale of Kapalua’s. “It is the longest tour in the United States, and maybe the longest in the world. It was a very challenging location to build in.”

Kapalua’s challenges to create a course in the area called Wao Akua, or Place of the Gods, began long before the construction phase. There were plenty of cultural t’s to cross and environmental i’s to dot.

“We spent a great deal of time working with the local kupuna (Hawaiian elders) to make sure the processes we were about to employ were aligned with cultural sensitivities,” Quinn says. “Not only did we have kupuna come up to perform blessings, our guides ask permission to enter daily.”

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