Most are shocked to hear that Skyline Eco-Adventures is actually the first zipline company in the United States. That’s right! We’ve been around for a bit. It’s tough to picture a world without having the option to zip through the air but back in 2002 it was a totally new concept. And how Skyline got started is an adventure of its own!
Danny Boren has always been an entrepreneur. Literally. From selling golf balls at a nearby golf course as a young kid until this very day. He knew he always wanted to be in the outdoor, adventure industry but wasn’t quite sure where life would take him.
After studying Entrepreneurship in college, life took Danny down to Panama where he worked at a surf camp. Here he toyed with ideas to form adventure camps and lodges in various locations. He also noticed that although Central America had plenty of quality coffee growing on farms, there were no coffee shops selling premium coffee in the area, most of what was grown was shipped out of the region. Seeing this surprising lack of good coffee, Danny began making plans to open coffee shops throughout Central America. A Chance Adventure
In November of 2001 Danny’s dad, Buck, joined him in Costa Rica for what was supposed to be a surfing trip to an area called Malpais. But, as chance would have it, Hurricane Michelle hit Central America and her strong winds and rain made it impossible for the guys to reach the beach. Forced inland they headed up into the mountains and found a company called Skytrek that was offering “canopy tours”. The figured why not give it a try?!
It was there, after trying out the tour for themselves, that Buck urged Danny to consider bringing this foreign concept home to Maui where Danny was raised. Danny still had his eye on potentially opening the “Starbucks of Central America” as they really didn’t know much about ziplining. There was that minor detail. Another thing to consider was that Maui was already so saturated with island adventure activities. But after months of travelling in Central America, Danny was liking the idea of heading back to Maui, and so he started planning the new business.
What’s in a Name?
Skyline = Skytrek + zipline (Danny loved the “sky” name and decided to combine the words)
Eco-Adventures = Sustainability and conservation have always been at the core of the company
Location, Location, Location
Back home on Maui Danny began meeting with landowners and telling them of his idea to have people jump off of cliffs and fly through the air on their properties. Coming from a 23-year-old who had never run a business before, many Maui landowners didn’t take this new business idea seriously. But thankfully the folks at Haleakala Ranch took the time to understand the idea and they were ready to let Danny give it a try. And so, Skyline’s first location, the Haleakala Skyline Tour, was born on Historic Haleakala Ranch in beautiful upcountry Maui. The location was an ideal first site for a tour because it is conveniently located on the way up to the Haleakala Crater and is the perfect adventure to pair with sunrise or sunset at Haleakala. Visitors are encouraged to make a day of exploring all there is to see and do in Upcountry Maui!
Open for Business!
The Haleakala course officially opened for business in December 2002, but it wasn’t until March 2003 when the first paying customer arrived. And what an epic day it was! Danny remembers getting the call from the office manager, “We got a booking!!” After that initial tour, business started gradually picking up.
Standing Apart in a Competitive Tour Industry
Danny knew that to stand out in such a competitive tour industry, they had to build a great team. “Hiring the right people was critical,” he states. “You can train someone to be a guide, but you can’t train someone to be nice.” The guides are what make the organization stand apart and truly make for a memorable experience.
Along with hiring the right talent, Skyline chooses to live by the 3 C’s: conservation, community, and culture.
Conservation – Skyline is the first zipline company to join 1% For the Planet and has given more than $1 million since 2002 to non-profit groups working on such causes as native forest restoration.
Community – Skyline continually involves the Hawaiian community by giving back to Maui charities, promoting community service with its staff and even highlights a new local organization each month.
Culture – Skyline appointed a company “Cultural Advisor” a few years back to help train our guides about Hawaiian culture. This knowledge is passed along to every single tour group, expanding the knowledge and history of the islands to those who join us.
Expanding and Island Hopping
Maui (Ka’anapali) – In 2007 Skyline opened a second course in Maui by expanding to the west side. The eight and 11 line tours offer incredible views of Maui’s mountains and coastline and you can even view four islands from up on the course! Take a tour and see if you can spot which islands these are!
Big Island (Akaka Falls) – By 2011 it was time to expand to other islands. Instead of taking an ownership role the Boren’s decided to franchise the seven-line Big Island course to close family members. Featuring breathtaking ziplines that fly by multiple waterfalls – including 250 foot Kolekole falls – Skyline’s Big Island location is truly one-of-a-kind Big Island adventure!
Kauai (Poipu) – The latest course opened in 2013 consisting of five and eight line tours on the beautiful island of Kauai. Zipping over multiple lush valleys just minutes from the beach and the hotels in the Poipu area, Skyline’s Kauai tour gets you off the beach just long enough to whoop and holler through the air for a morning or afternoon adventure!
Skyline has done consulting work and operated a tour on the mainland, but the company is Hawaii focused. Operating four locations on three islands means that Skyline is able to feature many of Hawaii’s most amazing areas and give back to the places and people that make Hawaii such a great place to visit and to live.
There are more than 100 employees currently working for Skyline that make us who we are today. We are a growing organization yet small enough to hold on to the family-feel the Boren’s founded the company on. Remember our first course on Haleakala? There are now more than 2000 native trees planted there some over thirty feet tall, all growing in an area that was, when Skyline started, just grass and pastureland!
Skyline has come a long way since 2002 and we cannot wait to see what the future brings!
If you live in Hawaii or are coming to the islands on vacation, we would love to host you on any of our four courses. Even if you have been ziplining before, each course offers something unique. Visit our website for more information and let us know if you have any questions or feedback!