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My name is Isaiah, and I became a Hike Maui guide in 2015. Since then, I’ve hiked hundreds of Maui visitors through our island’s awesome rainforests. Most days, I can hardly believe I get paid for what I do! Lots of people on my tours ask what it’s like being a guide for Hike Maui. Here’s a taste of my typical “day in the forest.”

My chest swells as I take a deep breath of that sweet Ho‘olawa Valley air. I have 12 hikers of various ages and apparent ability levels on my tour which will take us through a labyrinth of trees, bushes, and waterfalls. The weather forecast calls for possible flash flooding, so I do a little background check on my guests. One hiker tells me, “Hey, my man, so I had two knee replacements last year. And my wife has vertigo, and some mild loss of feeling in her toes and feet.” All righty then. “Should be a walk in the park,” I reply. Luckily, all of us guides are CPR and first-aid certified, so we’re covered.

The pounding sound of Ho‘olawa Stream thunders through the forest like car tires negotiating a bumpy highway. Twin Falls is our first stop. The gradual descent to get to the falls is a good starting point for assessing my group. The tiny marble-shaped rocks roll around underfoot, providing some minor balance challenges. I let my group know branches from a nearby tall hibiscus bush can be used for stability. But I find my outstretched arm helps the most.

Everyone makes it down the incline no problem. Piece of cake so far! Spray from the waterfall wafts through the air. The crashing sound of the waterfall cascading onto the rocks below nearly drowns out our voices. We huddle together like a sports team does before a game. I teach my group about the trees that surround us, many of which migrated here from other parts of the world. Maui’s amazing climate allows almost anything to thrive.

Confident my group can negotiate the rest of the hike, we move on to the next waterfall. The top of the second falls in the valley is a good place to introduce cliff jumping. Again, there are trees and branches to hold onto as we make our descent to the jumping area. I teach my group about the “3 points of contact” method that will become useful later in the hike. It’s a technique for making sure your balance is solid at all times. I ask, “Who wants to jump?” A few raise their hands. We sit down and go over some cliff-jumping procedures. Some get a bit nervous. Others ask, “How high is it?” “Is it deep enough?” “It’s all good,” I assure them. After several guests jump, they make their way back up to the top, grinning from ear to ear.

We continue upward through the valley to see more waterfalls. I point out the flora along the trail, including rainbow-hued ti leaves riffling gracefully in the breeze. In order to get to the next waterfall, we need to cross a stream that’s flowing fairly rapidly. No problem. I explain the proper technique, and we negotiate the crossing like experts!

A short hiking distance later, we arrive at the tallest waterfall in this forest. The waterfall pool is still, resembling glass. The heady aroma from eucalyptus and melaleuca trees fills the air. The scene here is so gorgeous it looks like a movie set! This waterfall rises to about four stories high. Behind the falls is a massive dugout you can actually walk to that’s filled with jungle-like vegetation. It makes for a great photo op! The waterfall pool tempts us to take a swim. The water is refreshing, and cools us off after our trek through the rainforest. The crashing sound of the waterfall is hypnotic, and we emerge feeling a bit transformed.

After a nourishing lunch we head back to the van, and my hikers tell me what an amazing time they had. And so did I. For me it never gets old. Every day out there is different and having a brand-new group of guests each time makes it so much fun. Now you understand why it’s hard to believe I get paid to be a Hike Maui guide! There’s no better job in the world.