Zip-lining Around the World!


We love getting the adrenaline pumping through our veins.  We have done a number of adventure activities including jet skiing, swimming with sharks, and white water rafting while we have been travelling.  One of our favourite adventures is zip-lining and we have tried it 3 times around the world. 

We wanted to give a review of our experiences at the three locations in Whistler, BC, Canada, Hawaii, USA, and Jamaica.

YS Falls, Jamaica

We were in Jamaica in March of 2011 at the Sandals Whitehouse Resort.  During our stay, we spent one day touring around the south of the island including stops at the Appleton Rum Factory (excellent), Black River, and YS Falls.  While we were at YS Falls, we found out that they had a zip-line course around the falls.  We had not intended to do anything but relax while in Jamaica, but we could not resist the chance for a little adventure.

Jamaica - Zip-lining

The course was five zip-lines weaving in the forest area above the falls.  The first two lines are shorter than the others, and it seemed like a warm up for those who are nervous.  These two lines are fun, but the real adventure begins on line three (the longest one).  For this one, they allow you to take a run at it to try and make it to the landing platform, although almost no-one made it.  By far the best part of the experience was the final line.  It had a 45° angle from the platform down to the ground.  We got going super-fast and they had to set up a special brake to stop us just before we hit the ground.

Jamaica - Tracy Zip-lining

Jamaica - Evan Zip-lining

Although the entire experience was wonderful and we would recommend it for anyone, we did feel there were some negatives.  First, the level of safety at this location was less than others we have been on.  It is still an important factor for them and they make it a priority, but it is just not up to the level of some other courses.  They do not have any device to “catch” you as you fly into the platform.  Therefore, it is up to the guides to catch you as you come flying in and/or you have to use your feet to stop you (not as scary as it sounds).  The second negative is that on the long third line, it is really long and nearly level, so it is very difficult to make it all the way across the line (nobody in our group made it all the way across).  When you stall out in the middle, you have to pull yourself in to the platform pulling hand over hand.  It may not seem like much, but it was a fair bit of work to get all the way back to the platform.

Maui, Hawaii, USA

On our trip to Hawaii in August of 2007, we registered to go zip-lining on Haleakala Volcano on Maui with Skyline EcoAdventures.  We had actually hoped to go on an earlier trip to Maui (our honeymoon actually), but the zip-line tours were booked months in advance.  The course is up on the mountain with some amazing views over the rest of the island.  It is a wonderful adventure!

The course is five zip-lines zooming through the forested area on Haleakala.  Much like Jamaica, we were taken to “harness up” and given some initial safety instructions.  Then we had a short walk up to the first line.  It was nice and close which was good for people who struggle with walking and for anyone who may decide to back out before they get on the first line. 

Maui - Zip-lining

One of the advantages for those who are new to zip-lining is that the lines start fairly short and grow longer as you go through the lines.  This eases you into the process and everyone in our group was so into it by the time they reached the last line that we were trying to make ourselves go as fast as we could.  The guides were very knowledgeable and they explained some of the ecology on Maui as we made our way through the forest. 

Maui - Tracy Zip-lining

Maui - Evan Zip-lining

One of the great aspects of this course are there is also a suspension bridge that you get to walk across that is at one of the highest points you get at on the whole journey, but the best part is that the guides encourage you to take a run as you take off on the lines to make sure you make it across the entire line.  I loved that we got to try and get going as fast as possible!  At the last line, the stop is actually in the middle of the line and the guides challenge you to get the best ride you can and attempt to ring a bell on a pole at the far end of the cable.  Only those who can keep enough momentum will make it all the way to the bell (neither of us did) and so they encourage you to get LOTS of speed for this one!

Maui - Tracy Suspension Bridge

The downsides to the course (as there are always slight downsides) are similar to Jamaica.  They do not have as safe a harness nor do they have a stopping device to catch you as other courses do.  Instead it is the job of the guides to catch you as you barrel into the platform (although it is kinda fun to fly into the platform while the guide catches you).  The harnesses do not have shoulder straps and as a result you do not get to “freestyle” when you are zipping across (meaning you can’t flip upside down or anything like that).  Also, as we mentioned earlier, it books up early, so you need to make sure to book well in advance.

Whistler, BC, Canada

A big thanks to Ziptrek Whistler for hosting us on our zip-lining tour in Whistler.  Living in Vancouver, Canada, you could consider this to be our “home” course, however, it was actually the last of the three we have done.  We were very excited to finally get the opportunity to try it out!  So we took the 2 hour drive, but the drive was well worth it for the amazing scenery. 

You can read more about our experience in Whistler on our special blog post for it here.  The highlights are that it is also five lines.  The first line is right in Whistler Village at the base of the ski runs (if you have ever been to Whistler Village, you have probably seen it).  The other four lines are a nice 10 minute drive up Blackcomb Mountain.  The guides are great and they fill you in on the ecology of the area while you go between the lines. 

Whistler - Zip-lining Ready to Go

There is a lot to say that is good about these lines.  One, almost all of them are higher than most of the ones we have done on other courses.  This is great for those who love a little adrenaline rush, but could be a downside to those who are not as much of a fan of heights.  The safety regulations are a little bit stricter, so you wear harnesses with shoulder straps.  You may be asking why this is in the “good” section, but because of these regulations, you are allowed to flip upside down and twist around as you cross the line (which is soooo much fun!!!). 

Whistler - Zip-lining Evan Upside Down

We don’t have too much to say on the negative side for this one.  I would say that the safety regulations lead to the lines having special braking systems to stop you as you approach the platform.  As a result, you slowdown as you reach the platform, which takes some of the thrill away for those adrenaline junkies (like us).  Also, they do not allow you to take a run at the lines, like we could do in Hawaii.  We love to go fast and these two factors do slow you down slightly, however, the lines are more steeply inclined than other courses (except the last one in Jamaica) to get the speed up!  The biggest downside is that we didn’t want it to end ;).

So there you have it.  Our views on zip-lining and no matter where the course is, the experience is amazing!  If somebody says to you let’s go zip-lining, we highly suggest you go!

Where in the world have you tried zip-lining and what did you think?



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4 Responses to Zip-lining Around the World!

  1. Zip-lining is so much fun! We’ve been in Hawaii and Whistler. The one in Whistler is fabulous. 🙂 Would definitely be up for trying it elsewhere too!
    Debbie recently posted..Safety In South AfricaMy Profile

    Debbie October 16, 2012 at 11:36 am Reply
    • Hey Thanks Debbie for the kind words!

      Zip-lining is sooo much fun!! We will always keep our eyes open for other courses when we travel to try it again!

      evan&tracy October 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm Reply
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