skyline hawai‘i: do good. have fun.

It took 16 years, but in 2018 Skyline Hawai‘i President and Co-Founder Danny Boren finally achieved his goal of combining a sunset experience at Haleakala Summit with a zipline experience at his company’s course on Haleakala Ranch, the first zipline course in the United States.

“We purposely designed our first zipline tour to be fairly short, and with a lower price point, in order to entice people to add it on to their sunrise trip, or do it before going up to Haleakala Crater during the day,” Danny says. “Before we started Skyline, we had met with every downhill bike company, trying to convince them to stop on their way down, and create a combination tour with our zipline course. Unfortunately, we had no takers.”

In 2010, Danny began reaching out to the National Park Service asking if Skyline could bring just one bus into the park each day for sunrise; afterwards, they’d take these guests to the zipline. “They [park officials] told us they were revamping the way permits were being issued,” recalls Danny. “We kept checking back with them every two years or so, hoping they hadn’t forgotten about us.”

In the meantime, Danny and his late father and co-founder Buck, kept themselves mighty busy building Skyline into the company it is today. They opened zipline courses in Ka‘anapali, on the Big Island and Kaua‘i, and even one in Tennessee at Dollywood Theme Park. Dollywood, you ask? “It was an oddly winding path that led us to develop the course at Dollywood,” Danny explains. Kind of a “being in the right place at the right time” type of situation. “It was the first attraction in Dollywood’s history that wasn’t owned by the park. Dollywood is not your typical concrete jungle-type theme park. Situated at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s very forested with 150-foot-high hills. We hiked guests up to the top of the hills and zipped them through the park. We didn’t have to build any towers; we simply zipped from hilltop to hilltop.” Despite its success, Skyline sold the Dollywood course to the park in 2011, and now concentrates its efforts in Hawai‘i.

Becoming a National Park concessioner in 2018 meant developing new tours. Besides its zipline tours on three islands, Skyline now offers three sunrise-oriented experiences at Haleakala: Classic Sunrise Tour, which includes breakfast at Kula Lodge ($170); Sunrise ‘N Zip, which incorporates ziplining, a continental breakfast, and lunch ($220); and a Downhill Bike & Zipline tour, Skyline’s ultimate experience combining sunrise viewing, biking partway down Haleakala, ziplining, continental breakfast, and lunch ($250). Last August, Skyline also introduced their Road to Hana Guided Tour ($170), which is a full-day adventure encompassing stops at places like Kaumahina State Park, Ke‘anae, Pua‘a Ka‘a State Wayside Park and Wai‘anapanapa State Park on Hana Highway’s “front side”; and Charles Lindbergh’s grave and Manawainui Gulch on the “back side.”

Danny takes great pride in Skyline’s guide training program. “We have a lot of competition everywhere we operate,” he says. “The truth is, you’re going to have a great time no matter whose tour you go on. At Skyline, we’ve always tried to focus on the overall experience. And that goes right back to the training.” All skyline guides are NAI certified (National Association for Interpretation). Following completion of that program, guides undergo an additional in-house, three-day training course, with each day culminating in a “field trip.” “The first day is environmentally oriented,” Danny says. “It concludes with a trip to Haleakala Ranch to plant native trees. The second day focuses on pre-contact Hawai‘i, taught by our cultural advisor, Kamalu Eleban. We do some classroom work, then we hike the Alaloa (King’s) Trail at La Perouse, followed by a visit to the native fishpond in Kihei. The third day is post-contact, beginning with Captain Cook and leading up to present day. We watch the movie ‘A Plastic Ocean,’ which is an amazing film, but nearly makes you cry learning about our plastics pollution problem. Afterwards, we perform a beach cleanup.”

If the new recruits are summit guides, they undergo an additional two days of training inside the National Park; If they’re a Hana guide, they spend another two to three days learning that tour. “In total, our guides participate in five to six days of concentrated training,” says Danny. “This is really important to us as a company. We want to make sure our staff members feel connected to this unique place, and that they can convey that while on their tours.”

Skyline’s business slogan is “Do Good. Have Fun.” “We’ve always felt it’s our responsibility as a member of the Maui community to do good,” Danny explains. “We need to protect what we have for our future generations.” In support of this mission, Skyline was the first zipline operator in the world, and the first business of any kind on Maui, to join 1% For The Planet—an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes. “One Percent For The Planet actually audits our tax returns every year, and verifies our donations to environmentally based nonprofits to make sure they amount to one percent of our sales,” Danny says. Within this program, Skyline worked with Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Hawaiian Cultural Lands, and the West Maui Watershed Partnership to help get each of them certified as a nonprofit. “One Percent For the Planet is a very serious organization, and it doesn’t award its logo easily. When you see the logo on a company’s marketing materials, you know they’re legit.”

Skyline has taken its commitment to honoring the host culture one step further with their new vehicle design, which honors the last great mo‘i (king) of Maui, Kahekili II, who ruled from 1766 to 1793. Kahekili was named after Kanehekili, the Hawaiian God of Thunder. According to legend, the right side of Kanehekili’s body had been burned black by lightning. To honor his namesake, Kahekili covered the entire right side of his body with tattoos. Paying homage to this ancient mo‘i of Maui, the right side of Skyline’s vehicles are decorated with traditional Hawaiian tattoos.

Danny Boren was born and raised on Maui, graduating from Seabury Hall in 1996. After earning a college degree in Entrepreneurship, he headed to Central America with the intention of opening a surf camp. But the discovery of canopy zipline tours caught his attention, so he returned to Maui and started Skyline Eco Adventures in 2002 on the northwestern slope of Haleakala. “We began with just a handful of people, and it was pretty slow getting started,” Danny admits. “In our first month of business we took a total of only six people ziplining.” Nowadays, Skyline employs around 150 people on three islands.

Local boy done real good.

–heidi pool

AT A GLANCE…

WHAT •
Skyline Hawai‘i, offering a variety of unforgettable tours for the lover of natural beauty, the adventurous thrill-seeker, and everyone in between.

WHERE •
On Maui, Skyline Hawai‘i operates in Ka‘anapali, on Haleakala Ranch, at Haleakala National Park and on the Road to Hana.

WHEN •
Tours are offered daily.

HOW •
For more information and for reservations call 808-518-2740 or visit the websites at http://www.skylinehawaii.com or zipline.com.

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