We Tried It: Coral Crater Adventure Park
Our tips for zip lining, climbing and free-falling with keiki as young as 6 years old.
Who: Two families, consisting of: mom, dad, 9- and 7-year-old girls and mom, dad, 6- and 4-year-old boys (but the 4-year-old boy was too young to participate in most of the activities.)
What: Adventure park with zip lines, 18-challenge ropes course, Free Fall and Big Swing
Where: Coral Crater Adventure Park
When: A Sunday morning, 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Do your keiki like to climb and swing? How about zip line and free fall? If your ‘ohana enjoys a good adventure together, Kapolei’s Coral Crater could be for you. Our family had never zip lined before and I wasn’t sure if our 6-year-old son would love it or get scared at the last minute. So, we took along our good friends and their brave 7- and 9-year-old daughters to add to the fun. Read on to find out how our day went and what tips we have for your family.
If you haven’t heard of Coral Crater Adventure Park, don’t worry, neither had my aunt who lives just a five-minute drive away in Kapolei. It seems to be O‘ahu’s best-kept 35-acre secret. The park only opened this year and sits inside a former coral quarry on what was once part of Barber’s Point Naval Base. The dug-out basin is filled with trees, shrubs, chickens and even a huge, tame pig, creating an ideal landscape to zip line over.
The Half Zip Line Course
We visited on a Sunday morning, arriving at 9:45 a.m. for a 10 a.m. tour. The owner, Jim Owen, and all of the guides we met were very friendly and enthusiastic. We got started right away and were quickly harnessed up and headed for the “Half Zip Line Course.” It consists of three zip lines, the last of which is a tandem line. The guides took care of all of the safety issues for us, from hooking-in to braking, which freed us up to just lie back and have fun. The kids asked to go first, and, with a push, each went whizzing down the first line, over tree tops and into the distance.
“Welcome to Zipline Airlines!” the kids shouted as I landed on the platform they were waiting on. Both families had fun taking photos, joking around, and we got to race each other on the final tandem line. Our guides taught us the “cannon ball,” “torpedo” and “grandpa” positions to help us go as fast as possible. While keiki are supposed to weigh at least 60 pounds, two of ours were underweight but had no problem reaching the end of each line without getting stuck mid zip. We all really enjoyed the experience, which took about one hour, and are already talking about going back and doing the full, six zip line course.
Back on the ground, we took a much needed water break at the base camp. Being in Kapolei, the park is very hot and dry. Luckily, the park sells cold water for $2 a bottle on site.
Adventure Tower Ropes Course
After a short break, we hit the Adventure Tower and its 18-element aerial challenge course. The tower looks like an enormous, multistory treehouse made out of telephone poles. The guides explained how to clip ourselves and our children onto the ropes using two magnetized carabiners each. It sounded a little complicated at first but turned out to be very simple. The expensive system won’t let you unclip both clips at the same time. In other words, no matter what you do wrong, you cannot fall to your death, which is pretty awesome.
We started about mid-way up the tower at around 40 feet off the ground. While none of us are officially scared of heights, balancing on swinging planks up in the air is slightly terrifying. But, it’s also a great way to safely get over fears and bond with your family. All of us parents enjoyed showing our kids where to put their feet, how to hold on and then high-fiving and hugging them when another level was passed. Although children as young as 6 are allowed to do the course, it was difficult for our 6- and 7-year-olds, who are each about 4 feet tall, to reach the overhead ropes. In some spots it was impossible. But, when the going got too tough, our guide would zip over (literally) and rescue our little ones for us.
Each section offered something different, from a see-saw plank and a springy bridge to a gliding surfboard. Our 6-year-old made it through half of the challenges and then went to play with his little brother on the low section of the climbing wall below. The girls and parents made it through all of the challenges, with the other dad and 9-year-old saying the ropes course was the highlight of their day. The course took us around two-and-a-half hours to complete, but the gymnastic fourth grader said she wished it were longer and had even more challenges.
Free Fall and King Swing
Our final adventures of the day were the Free Fall and King Swing. The Free Fall reminded me of when I used to jump off waterfalls back when I was braver–and more foolish–many years ago. Luckily, this activity packs the same adrenaline punch without the danger. For the Free Fall, you stand at the top of the tower, roughly 80 feet off the ground, and “walk the plank,” right off the edge. You free fall for 20 feet and then are lowered to the ground. Three people in our party chickened out, but I won’t name names here. The bravest of the bunch was our friends’ 9-year-old daughter who could hardly wait for her turn. Their 7-year-old made several failed attempts and finally asked the guide to pick her up and drop her over the edge. Amazingly, she didn’t even scream. The Free Fall was definitely the most exciting and frightening event of the day and the girls are still proudly saying “I walked the plank!” days later.
By comparison, the King Swing wasn’t so scary but was immensely fun. You stand on a platform half-way up the tower, take a sideways step and swing out a good thirty or forty feet. You swing back and forth like Tarzan soaring high above the ground. Everyone did the King Swing, including our 6-year-old son. It was a real highlight to end the day on.
Our adventures took about four and a half hours all together, and we were ready for lunch and a rest by the end of it. But, both families would like to try more of Coral Crater’s activities another time. We heard that they offer a “Sunset, S’mores, and Stars–Full Zip Line and King Swing” adventure. It’s quite pricey at $149.99 per person, but would highlight many of our favorite activities and add a fire pit and ‘smores to it. Maybe we’ll consider it for a family birthday party. Or, our 6-year-old son and the girls really want to try out the “Zombie Apocalypse.” Participants use replica M4 laser tag guns to shoot people dressed up as zombies at night. This adventure is costs $39.99 but we’re not sure our keiki are as brave as they think they are. The park also offers ATV and electric bike tours, and has birthday packages starting at $799.99.
- Consider your child’s age and personality. After all, you know them best. Keiki need to be at least 6 for the zip lines, Adventure Tower, Free Fall and Big Swing. The zip lines and Big Swing are easy and not too scary. The Adventure Tower is physically and mentally more difficult, and is better suited height-wise to children who are at least 9. Children as young as 4 can rock climb and ride on ATVs. But, our 4-year-old boy chose to run after chickens and observe the pig with his auntie instead. He had fun, but I wouldn’t recommend the park for children under 6.
- Decide what you want out of your adventure. If you want care-free fun, choose a zipline and/or Big Swing package. If you want a challenge and to bond with your keiki, go for the Adventure Tower. Or do it all for a fully balanced day.
- Give yourself enough time. The Half Zip took us about one hour. The Adventure Tower took us almost 2.5 hours. And, the Free Fall and Big Swing took another hour. Allow time for water breaks and lunch.
- Go with friends. You’ll have more people to race on the zip lines, joke around with and more photo ops.
- Dress appropriately. Be prepared for the heat and red dirt. Wear closed-toe shoes, lightweight clothes that will be comfortable under a harness, sunscreen, sunglasses and bring a change of clothes.
- Take a camera and keep it safe. Take a Go Pro Camera on a clip that you can attach to your harness and/or a put a phone in a pocket that you can securely close.
- Pack water and be ready to buy more cold water. It gets very hot and dry out there!
- Bring snacks and consider packing a lunch. We were told that there is usually a taco truck on site and that there will soon be up to five food trucks at Coral Crater. However, the day we visited, the truck didn’t show up.
- Bring cash to tip your guides. Ours guides were a lot of fun, wonderful with the kids and kept us safe.
HONOLULU Family received free admission to try Coral Crater Adventure Park.
Coral Crater Adventure Park, 91-1780 Midway St., Kapolei. (808) 626-5773, coralcrater.com