Jet skiing certainly leaves little to be desired when it comes to heart-pounding thrills out on the open water. It’s hard to top the feeling of freedom and exhilaration on such a small craft with output acceleration similar to that of a motorcycle!
Skimming across the waves, riding wakes and feeling the spray of water on your face are only a few of the many aspects of jet skiing that make it perhaps the most popular activity amongst small, personal watercraft enthusiasts.
All kinds of different people ride jet skis, from beginners just getting their first taste of the sport, to intermediate-level folks developing their abilities, to expert riders who stake out the best jet ski friendly beaches and always have the 411 on the best places to jet ski no matter where they are in the world. Usually this breed of jet skier owns their own craft, which when you purchase brand new, can range anywhere from around $5,000 all the way up to $20,000 for more souped-up rides with all of the most modern bells and whistles.
If you’re a first-time or novice rider or have those people in your group, it’s a good idea to identify an experienced, reputable rental company and go out with a guide. The best jet ski rental companies employ people who are enthusiasts themselves. They should be happy to help you with any and all questions you may have about the operation of the craft, as well as reviewing safety rules and regulations to make sure everyone can make the most of their experience and stay safe. They are also known for offering top-tier customer service that results in the best experience for everyone involved. Jet skiing is supposed to be a blast, and the best guides and companies know that most people don’t get to jet ski all that often. On top of their personal passion for the sport, this is more than reason enough to be committed to both your experience and your safety. Do your research, read your reviews and make sure the rental company you work with is experienced, professional and on top of their game.
The good news is that for the majority of us who find ourselves able to jet ski far less frequently, there is always the option of renting a jet ski at your destination of choice.
Regardless of your situation, you always want to make sure to review all safety procedures so that you’re completely comfortable operating the craft, keeping in mind the safety of yourself and the other riders around you. Even if you’re an expert rider who has been jet skiing in every corner of the world, you still have to account for the fact there are likely to be other non-expert riders out there. But you experts know that… so let’s cover some of the fundamentals for our beginner friends so we’re all on the same page.
As with any other activity that involves a person operating a motorized vehicle, there are inherent safety risks with jet skiing.
You can significantly mitigate these risks by taking the learning process seriously, which includes researching the specific rules and regulations, which vary from state to state. There is not a separate safety course specifically for jet skiing. Rather, it is included within the NASBLA-approved boating safety course. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators provides this comprehensive course that will ensure you understand all of the safety rules and regulations for jet skiing. Jet skis are relatively small as compared to other personal watercrafts, but in the eyes of the law, they are given the same designation as watercrafts up to 40 feet. Because of the easy accessibility to jet skiing and jet ski rentals in most places, it may seem like you don’t need to get any safety training, but the truth is that you do, and that you’ll stay safe and have a much better time as a result.
Now, assuming you’re rightly committed to keeping yourself and everyone else in your group safe and sound, you’ll want to have a head’s up about what to expect from the experience, especially if you’re planning on jet skiing for the first time.
One thing to know is that you can jet ski in all kinds of really amazing and interesting places around the world, some of which you may have never guessed could host such an activity. (Check out our blog to explore our list of Best Places to Jet Ski in the United States). This fact alone means that your experience is likely going to be unique just about everywhere you go. As an extremely broad for instance, jet skiing on the Great Lakes is quite different than jet skiing on the ocean. A ride through the Upper New York Bay in the shadow of the southern tip of Manhattan is a far cry, but equally as awesome as skipping across the waves off the peaceful shores of the Hawaiian Islands. It simply depends upon your desired experience.
If you’re someone that does not like to get wet, or assumes you can sit on the back of a jet ski similarly to how you can sit in a larger boat and not get wet, we’re sorry to break the news to you… but you’re going to get wet. For most of us this is one of the best parts of the water sport, but fair warning to those people who haven’t been yet, the operative word here is, water. You don’t need to wear anything special. Your bathing suit and life jacket are perfectly fine. (You’ll be provided with a life jacket if you are renting. Rentals generally cost between $35-$50 for a half-hour and $75-$100 for a full hour). If you are jet skiing in colder water and/or weather conditions, you should definitely consider wearing a wetsuit. Once again, if you are renting from a jet ski company at a place that warrants wearing a wetsuit, any professional outfitter will absolutely have them available for rent.
Last but certainly not least, there are some operating tips and best practices we need to pass along.
Remember that you have to accelerate to steer your jet ski. Jet skis don’t have rudders, so if you stop accelerating, you also lose your ability to make turns. This is important to remember. Some novice riders have the tendency to completely let off the accelerator when they think they are going to hit something. It is better to maintain your speed and turn your jet ski away from any possible danger. Keep your jet ski straight by not staring at the front of the craft or the water right in front of your jet ski. Just as you keep your eyes on the center of the lane out in front of you at some distance when you are driving on the highway, you also want to keep your eyes fixed straight and allow your hands and motor muscles to do the negotiating. Last but not least, do your best to keep the muscles relaxed and do not hold on too tightly as you steer your jet ski. Just as with operating any other motor craft, you don’t have to jerk the jet ski around to get it where you want it to go. If you operate it properly, you’ll have a blast and spare yourself the next-day soreness.