Parasailer taking off from beach
Parasailer taking off from beach.


How to describe the feeling of parasailing?

Well, let’s see. It’s kind of like you’re a bird, soaring high above the ocean surface, except you are nestled into a secure holster that’s attached to a parachute that’s being pulled by a boat, thereby requiring you to exert little to no physical energy. Which basically means you’re a bird that can just lie back, relax and enjoy the view… you spoiled, lucky bird. But even though parasailing is a relatively low-exertion outdoor water activity, it nonetheless gets the adrenaline pumping as much as any other, only in a different way. It’s not too difficult to see how this is the case when you consider that the average parasail fly height is right around 400 feet. Some can even range up closer to 600 feet.

Most people get their first taste of parasailing by seeing someone else doing it. Hey, is that a parachute? Check out that person flying above the water! I want to do that! Yep, that’s how it starts. And while that may be the reaction of those amongst us who are willing to jump in and try just about any new water sport, there are plenty of other people who justifiably have questions as to the safety of parasailing, and want to know a lot more about the process than just the part where you’re drifting comfortably in mid-air.

up close photo of a guy parasailing high above the water
Up close photo of a guy parasailing high above the water.

We want to take as much guess work out of the process as we can for you and hopefully address some of those questions and concerns that might otherwise keep someone who really wants to parasail from trying it out in the first place. Let’s break down parasailing so you have everything you need to decide if this is the right activity for you and yours. With knowledge comes the power to make an informed decision so you can do your planning with eyes wide open.

Safety is the first priority whether you are an expert or a beginner, regardless of the particular water sport of interest.

This mindset ensures that you’ll always lead with caution and be aware of your surroundings, including the safety of the people with and around you. While we would never tell anyone not to worry about safety in the context of any outdoor activity, we can tell you that, amongst water sports, parasailing is very safe, with a low number of safety incidents recorded in the past decades in relation to the millions of parasailers who enjoy this activity safely each year. With that broad disclaimer that parasailing is in fact a safe activity, there are certainly particulars to be aware of as you move forward.

If you’re planning a trip and considering adding parasailing to the itinerary, you’ve probably already done some research and seen that there are a wide selection of companies and outfitters at virtually every beach and vacation destination that offers parasailing. You may have also noticed on previous vacations that many times there are even a handful of different companies sporting their services on the same stretch of beach. The point is that you’re not going to have any problem finding a parasailing service. Most all of them provide a very professional service, but there are little things to keep in mind that will give you the upper hand in finding the perfect-fit option for you and your crew.

detailed photo of young lady parasailing, note safety belts, life vest and harness seat
Detailed photo of young lady parasailing, note safety belts, life vest and harness seat.

There a few main considerations.

One is the condition of the gear, most notably the towline. This should never even come into question. The towline should look clean and completely in-tact with no visible signs of wear whatsoever. Every professional parasailing service should not only be okay with demonstrating the integrity of their towline, parachute and craft, but rather proud, as this is a way to provide evidence of their level of service and experience. Professional captains and crews are proud of their equipment, not least of which is their boat, which in many cases is also their living. They take this and the safety of the people in their craft seriously. One of the best parts of parasailing is that you don’t have to over-plan. All of the gear you need (boat, harness, towline, parachute, life jacket) are all there for you, so you just need to bring you.

Rock-solid gear should be a no-brainer for any professional service, and the integrity and quality of their equipment should be on ready display, but quality gear is not the only determining factor when selecting a parasailing service. The best of the best also offer experience, positive attitudes and a commitment to making sure everyone on board feels not only comfortable, but also fully informed about what to expect from the trip. Experienced pros are committed to making sure you have a great time and a memorable experience. They know that in order to achieve this, everyone on the boat has to know what’s what. From word one, the people you work with should be upbeat and positive. They’ll explain the process, get you outfitted with your life-jacket and generally review any safety precautions and signals that can be communicated from boat to air and vice versa.

Parasailing over the sea
Parasailing over the sea.

So, everyone knows about the whole flying bit, but how do you get off the boat to start? Despite popular belief, you don’t actually get a huge, stomach-sinking rush when you get pulled back by the parachute and lift off the boat. Quite the opposite, you’re secured in your seat with a harness and released by a winch that lets you out into the air very smoothly. The feeling is not one of being jerked back into the sky. You float out easily and witness the horizon and landscape open up in incredible proportions below you. When you achieve heights of over several hundred feet, you’re able to see not only very far distances, but also down into the water, where you might spot everything from large schools of fish and rays to dolphins and sharks.

The descent back toward the boat is equally peaceful and methodical, as you are reeled back in at an even speed. You can decide for yourself if you want to land right on the back of the boat and keep 100% dry, or you can tell the captain to give you a dip in the water on the way back in (highly recommended).

Parasailing is actually one of the most peaceful water sports you can find, providing the kind of transcendent experience you have to try to believe.

The average cost per person for a parasailing trip ($100 to $150) is very reasonable, especially when you consider how unique the experience is and how infrequently you actually have the opportunity to do it. Then factor that there is no need to rent or buy any additional gear or equipment, and you have yourself a perfectly justifiable reason to give parasailing a go on your next trip. This activity is best enjoyed with another. Go tandem or with a trio so you can relive this unbelievable experience with those you care about most, over and over.