There are several businesses that offer ziplining tours on Kauaʻi; we selected Princeville Ranch Adventures, which was highly recommended in a free tourist magazine we picked up at the airport. Also, this one has become famous for it’s recently installed 1,200 ft. tandem line King Kong and is often recommended by locals, as they offer an extremely generous discount to Hawaii residents.
We called the night before and although they did not have enough people signed up for the 10:30 a.m. time slot, we were able to sign up for the 9:00 a.m. tour. There are four tour times daily, but they require at least four people to be signed up before running an expedition.Our group of seven felt like just the right number of people, though they will take up to 15 at a time. I would recommend signing up for a smaller group session as we did, to ensure minimal time spent waiting in line for everyone to make the leap.
We were instructed to bring water, hiking boots, sunscreen, and bug repellent and to wear a t-shirt & shorts or pants. We did not bring any shoes with us to the island, but were able to rent extremely comfortable Tevas from them for only $5. In fact, anything you could possibly need or want can be purchased from the gift shop and if you have the financial means to do so, I would recommend doing that.
We showed up at 9:00 a.m. and signed in. We waited for about 10 minutes while everyone filtered in and enjoyed the delicious locally grown coffee provided free in the picnic table area. Once our group was assembled, they helped us all into our harnesses, helmets, and other dorky safety gear. You will look like a dork, by the way. There is no getting around this.
After we were suited & booted, we piled into a giant military vehicle and took a short drive over to the site. The landscape is very pastoral & picturesque and thankfully we were the only people out there because, as I said, we all looked like total dorks.
To break the ice before the first jump of the day, our tour guides asked us to each introduce ourselves, and then say what movie character we would be, if we could be any one. I was, of course, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, and the name stuck with me all day. Surprisingly, this exercise really did break the ice and got people laughing.
The guides aren’t overly verbose about all of the safety measures in place, but they say enough to make you feel very comfortable in knowing you are being taken care of. In fact, if I had one complaint about this whole adventure, I would say that it feels almost too safe (but no sane person would ever feel this way).
Overall, the guides are extremely helpful & knowledgeable, but also very fun… You would never know they do this all day everyday, because they seemed to be having as much fun as we were.
On the zip & dip tour, there are nine zips total, of various length, with a break for lunch after the eighth jump. The tour company provides lunch as part of the zip & dip package, which you eat after jumping into a waterfall and frolicking around in inner tubes. The jump into the waterfall is not super high, but it’s enough to spike your adrenaline (if you still have any left at this point). The water is chilly, but extremely refreshing. I would absolutely recommend jumping in & getting it over with, rather than wading in from the shore – trust me, it’s too cold to be a baby about this.After lunch (veggie or chicken wraps with local veggies, chips & cookies) we hiked over to King Kong and prepared ourselves for the final jump. There are two lines, so people can race each other or hold hands on the way across. Obviously, the heavier you are, the faster you will go and throughout the day you learn techniques to make you go faster. I will say, this is the first time in my life I have ever wished I weighed about 100 lbs. more than I do, because pound for pound, the heavier members of our group definitely had more fun.
I should also mention that there is a weight minimum (80 lbs.) and maximum (280 lbs.) and each person is weighed (discretely) before the tour begins. The danger with being underweight, is that you may not make it all the way across, in which case, you have to hang out there in the middle for about 15 minutes, while one of the instructors comes to get you. This, apparently, happens fairly regularly, but aside from suffering a hellacious wedgie, there is no real danger. If you are overweight, I think the biggest danger is probably coming in too low on to the platform, and banging your knees or legs into it…which, I imagine is quite painful, but surely not life threatening.
King Kong was the only jump I can say legitimately scared me. It’s really long, and the only jump where you have to grab on to something to stop yourself on the other side. The instructor is still there, but you have to break your own speed at the end.
I hesitated to jump about 3 seconds longer than my husband did. He jumped, tucked his body like a pro and sailed across at lightning speed. I had a pleasant ride, but was nowhere close to beating him. He mastered the technique to go straight & fast quickly; while I never did, I still had an amazing time.I recommend this tour to anyone visiting Kaua’i – I think it is something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Afterward, you will be a little worn out and the next day you will probably be a bit saddle sore from the harness, but not enough to prevent you from enjoying yourself and the rest of your vacation.