What It’s Like to Zip Line 500 Feet Above O‘ahu’s North Shore
Soar above Keana Farms in Kahuku on a zip line.
Proof that we went down a zip line.
Photo: Climbworks at Keana Farms
Kahuku is known for its shrimp trucks, its football team and viral high school graduation video. Now it’s also home to O‘ahu’s newest zip line tour, at Keana Farms.
Keana Farms is a commercial farm that produces vegetables and fruits that you’ve probably seen at the grocery store and Farmers markets. It’s also adjacent to North Shore’s lush mountains that happen to be perfect for a zip line tour.
The zip line is operated by a Mainland-based zip tour called CLIMB Works. Eight zip lines are situated high enough to see beautiful beaches in Kahuku, but low enough for you to grab an apple banana from the trees.
Aaron Campbell, owner of the company, says he wanted the zip line to be a cultural experience for guests. Campbell envisioned a tour that educated people about ancient and modern agricultural practices, in an effort to promote sustainability. Adding a zip line was the perfect way for people to tour the farmland by soaring above it instead of walking through it, he says.
Rappelling up to the zip line tower.
Photo: Brittney Nitta-Lee
We decided to give it a try. The tour is three hours long, so we booked ours at 10 a.m. on a Thursday. Getting to Keana Farms was fairly easy, as it’s located right next door to Kahuku High and Intermediate School. Follow the dirt road, and you’ll see the check-in office for the zip line tour.
We checked in and signed release forms on one of the iPads mounted on the wall. Before we knew it, we were getting strapped into our gear, harnesses and helmets included. The tour allows up to 10 people per group. Since we were a party of two, we joined a mother and son, a brother and sister and a family of four. Our tour guides gave us a brief introduction and off we went with our new group of friends.
We walked to the first station, which is designated as the practice zip. It didn’t look too bad until we walked up the spiral staircase and were greeted by two steep zip lines. The guides mentioned that visitors claim this is the scariest zip out of the eight, and we agree.
An ATV takes you to the actual zip line. While on the ATV, we got a mini tour of the farm and drove by a few taro patches. Even though we sat directly behind our guide, we could not hear him as he talked about the history of Keana Farms, we’re guessing. We suggest adding a microphone with a speaker system attached to the ATVs.
Just like Disneyland, the tour has cameras that capture you zipping away, if you’re willing to pay $25 a pop for the resulting photos. Better to bring your own GoPro or camera, although it turns out to be tricky to hold a GoPro in one hand and hang on with the other.
The company takes no responsibility for your belongings, if you think that your phone is safe in your pocket, you should probably think again. There are no lockers, either. Fortunately, we had a small fanny pack to keep our phone and keys safe. But we weren’t allowed to take a water bottle with us. Certain zip towers have water stations, but not all. By the time we finished the second zip, we were dehydrated.
Is It Scary?
A swinging bridge that we had to cross to get to the last zip line tower.
Photo: Kanoa Gabriel
After the first few zip lines, we were pros. The first three zip lines really got our nerves pumping, but the rides are over sooner than you expect them to be. By the end, we were used to the experience and were able to fully enjoy being up in the air.
Zip line tours are not for people afraid of heights. CLIMB Works built the zip lines to be safe, but if the idea of hanging on a handle bar while zipping on a line spooks you, maybe skip this experience. Additionally, obstacles such as swinging bridges and rappelling add challenges to the experience.
What Do You See?
As much as we wanted to look around and enjoy the Kahuku scenery, we didn’t. Instead, it took most of our concentration just to make sure our bodies were in the correct position to zip. We did enjoy the view of the ocean but, while the zip line was designed to give riders a different perspective of a commercial farm, we didn’t get to see much in the way of specific crops.
Overall, our three-hour zip line experience was a good one, but light on the cultural aspects. The experience could have been improved with more information on the farm and its part in Hawai‘i’s sustainable initiatives. At least the next time we buy local tomatoes we’ll be some of the few who can say we’ve seen them growing.
$169 per person, kama‘āina discounts are available, CLIMB Works, Keana Farms, 56 Kamehameha Highway, open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 200-7906, climbworks.com/keana_farms
Read more to see how the experience is for kids or families
READ MORE STORIES BY BRITTNEY NITTA-LEE