June 2012

ZipLine Hilton Head

Author: Lindsey Hawkins | Photographer: John Brackett

Peaceful, relaxing vacation resort Hilton Head Island (cue that charming hold music from any automated phone system), the endless sands of time, the countless golf havens, the myriad of birds and jellyfish…

What about the rest of us! This land is our land, too, you know—kite surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers, and the visiting teenagers and kiddos screaming in your ear, “Let’s do something fun and wild and free.”

Well, it’s not free, but ZipLine Hilton Head is a two-hour bang for your buck that was just added to the thrill seeker menu at Broad Creek Marina Adventures, and it will make you feel more than free. Whether you arrive by boat or by car to HHI you can enjoy a full day of parasailing, kayaking, speedboat charters, fishing charters, dolphin nature tours and now zip-line tours.

If you hail from the cornfields of Indiana, or the flatlands of somewhere else, you might have missed the recent buzz about commercial zip-line adventure tours popping up all over the globe for daredevils of all ages. Maybe you thought these high wire acts were just for the jocks flirting with the afterlife, or maybe you thought zip-lines only existed in rainforests. True, they do exist in rainforests as an ecotourism way to connect humans to otherwise unreachable nature. But unreachable nature can exist in many different geographic locations, even locations like our very own Lowcountry, where the peaks and hills are absent.

Lucky for you, your family and friends, bored after their third day frying on the beach and hedging their bets to be 1 in 12,500 amateur golfers to make a hole-in-one, Broad Creek Marina built a long sought after HHI adventure destination for locals and tourists this summer, 2012. Zip-line tours now take place seven days a week in the upper forest canopy of Broad Creek Marina, just off the coastline, where you and your kids can ascend up to 85-foot towers that lead to sky bridges and platforms in the tops of live oaks and southern pines. As you zip across the course, cable by cable, you learn and experience the island’s unique ecosystem filled with sightings of dolphins, blue herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, turkey vultures and more. For those of you with a more competitive edge, there is a 900-foot dual zip-line racing course where you can challenge your friends and possibly even make a side wager on who has to buy dinner that night. Are you intrigued yet, or shall we make a reservation for miniature golf tonight?

For those of you still in utter confusion, in the last seven years commercial zip-line tours have gone from approximately nonexistent in the United States to well over 100 different adventure locations across this diverse chunk of land where we work and play. Zipping is a new pop-culture joyride. Hesitant? No need for nerves, because contrary to the historical cable-lines of the past (referred to as death slides), these adrenaline pumping experiences are deemed to be quite safe, not to mention a memorable blast.

Throughout the past several centuries there has been historical documentation of what we now recreationally call the zip-line, but zip-lines weren’t always just for entertainment. Referred to as flying foxes in the Australian outback, zip-lines were used for delivering refreshment, tools and cartons of smokes to hard workers on locations that crossed rivers and rough terrain. Historically, and even in recent days, remote areas in China also utilized this gravity reliant invention for easy transportation across rivers and geographical obstructions. Most recently, these death slides, once made out of unreliable, snap-able rope in the 1700s, have been remodeled from stainless steel cables and turned into a pop culture phenomenon for thrill seekers on vacation. Do you feel informed yet? How about safe?

No worries island moms and dads, our very own Mayor Drew Laughlin took the zip-line challenge this spring to officially open ZipLine Hilton Head in an entertaining ribbon cutting ceremony for the highly anticipated ecotourism project. As Laughlin zipped through the sky in his business suit, certified tour guides stood by to explain the safety harnesses and gear as well as give local media the official, required zip-line preliminary crash course held at sea level. While the safety harnesses are tight around the britches, they are certainly comfortable and fashion forward, as are the leather gloves and hard hats.

While critics may consider zip-lining, nature hiking for the lazy and under-stimulated, it is also considered by some to be a unique physical test and euphoric psychological experience connecting one to an unrealized environment. This may sound a little tree-hugger, however commercial zip-line tours are often used for team building seminars and business sponsored weekend getaways. So ZipLine Hilton Head, conscience of the benefits of team building and upping the fun factor, is also developing several other adventures for their park this summer, including a 40-foot rectangular ropes course, rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline. Who says you can’t mix business and pleasure, or business and fear?

A weekend zip-lining with co-workers or friends might produce some bonding moments, especially when you get to hit up the local waterfront pub afterwards. And one can only agree that reviewing monthly P&L reports can only be more interesting and stress free whilst dangling from a stainless steel wire, 85 feet above the fishes, with your boss sporting an awesome colored safety helmet. Don’t forget that iPhone.

The bottom line, or maybe it should be called upper line, is that zip-lining is a cool way to have fun and challenge yourself mentally and physically. More importantly, it’s now on Hilton Head Island amidst other awesome outdoor adventures. Zipping!

For more information or to book your ZipLine Hilton Head tour, contact Broad Creek Marina Adventures at (843) 682-6000 or visit www.ziplinehiltonhead.com

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