Ever have one of those perfect, adventure filled days that leaves you pinching yourself wondering if this is really your life?? A week or so ago we had one of these days and it was all due to the best zip lining experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.....the Umauma Falls zip line experience!
Located just 30 minutes North of Hilo, Umauma falls is a beautiful spot. While zipping you have breathtaking views of the ocean, the ability to see stunning waterfalls not open to the public, and access to knowledgeable and entertaining guides.
The zip lining course is 9 lines of varying heights and lengths with the longest being over 2000 feet! You also traverse a 200 foot suspension bridge that was honestly scarier than the lines. The grounds are stunning with unparalleled views, gardens, and of course the waterfalls. You can do a zip and dip combo, which I highly suggest, where you can do all 9 lines then have a provided picnic lunch down by the waterfall. After that you can enjoy a cool swim, jump off the rocks, paddle around in a kayak or paddle board or just relax on the side watching the fun.
We arrived early in order to sign all the waivers, get weighed, and look around the gardens. Once everyone is there you can use the bathroom and gear up. Everything was set up for us and we basically just needed to step into the harness. It was far more comfortable and easy to get on than I was expecting. The guides buckle everything for you, get you fitted in your helmet, explain what is going to happen, and triple check everything to be sure all is safe.
Once geared up we piled into the 4x4 vans and headed to the top of the course. Now I went with all 3 of my kids who are 17, 12 and 8. The 8 year old and I were beyond nervous about zipping as it was our first time. As we descended the first staircase the butterflies were so bad it was hard to focus but I had to act brave so my little guy wouldn't become more nervous.
The head guide explained exactly what would happen at the first line, and at each subsequent line he also explained before we started. I loved knowing how long and how high each line would be. The very first line is not high or very fast. I thought it was a great idea to help people like us get past the jitters and understand exactly how it was all going to work. The second line is a lot longer and higher, not sure I could have done it if that was the first one!
The staff does basically all the work for you. Safety was of utmost importance and everything had a secondary and even tertiary safety component. The staff hooks you in and double checks everything before you leap off. They are in constant communication with the landing platform so you can feel assured there will be no banging into anyone else. As you approach the landing platform the staff slows you down to a stop, no need to fumble with the lines. I loved not feeling responsible for stopping myself.
There is a weight limit of about 280 pounds and as I later learned that has nothing to do with what weight the lines can hold as they hold infinitely more than that but rather due to the fact that the guides have to stop you and if you weigh 400 pounds you are going to be coming in way too fast for them to do it safely. There is also a minimum weight and size. My 8 year old was well over it. He weighs about 65 pounds and on 2 of the lines momentum alone didn't carry him all the way but the guides quickly shimmy out and pulled him in the rest of the way. They also taught him to tuck his legs in like a cannonball so he would go faster, he loved that!
After all his nerves I could barely keep up with him as he was the first in line to zip! The staff was so encouraging and had great energy so we all had a blast and felt confident.
The first half of the course is a double line so you can zip next to each other. It was a blast, my older 2 raced each other and then my 8 year old and I did. Not a fair race since I outweigh him by so much. I kicked his butt is an understatement!
Check out this video to see what the experience is all about!
After the zipping we were given a chance to change our clothes and jumped in another van to the dip portion of the day. It was a short drive and even shorter hike down to the waterfall. They had a great picnic lunch packed for each of us and after eating we were able to swim in the pond under the waterfall. There is also a stand up paddle board and kayaks to use which was so much fun. The brave were able to climb up to a few spots on the rocks to take a huge plunge into the water. I declined but my boys were leading the charge!
After all that excitement we were exhausted but alas the Umauma Experience has one more trick up its sleeve. The Giant Swing! Now this is no play of words, it truly is a giant swing. NO way was I getting on it but my 2 youngest insisted so up, up, up they went. Sound the gong, pull the cord, and they dropped like rocks. They said, "it was scary, fun, and my stomach dropped out for a second". You can also tour the facility on an easy nature hike but since we did the zip, dip, and swing we saw it all!
If you are looking for a fun family adventure day with thrills, amazing views, and a great crew to hang out with then Umauma is the place for you!