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What Is Parasailing Like – Here’s What To Expect!

Have you ever dreamed of gliding above the waves? You might want to consider putting parasailing at the beach on the itinerary for your next vacation. Parasailing is a form of recreational kiting that truly lets you feel the wind beneath your wings. You don’t have to be a swimmer, an athlete, or an especially bold person to partake in parasailing. If you’re intrigued by parasailing, you might be wondering if this seemingly carefree recreational activity is dangerous, fun, or a little bit of both? To answer your questions, let’s talk about the parasailing experience!

Anett Victoria - Author of SeaSpiration

Written by Anett Victoria

When it comes to a beach vacation, Anett is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway, or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear, and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious about where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!

How Does Parasailing Work?

It goes without saying that parasailing requires a group effort. When parasailing at the beach, the boat is essentially the “anchor” of the operation and the parasailer is towed behind it while attached to a parachute-like canopy wing.

boat towing a parasailing parachute

A parasailing excursion begins on the boat. After being strapped into your harness that connects to the boat, the winch is seamlessly releasing the rope and the parachute will slowly rise into the air. During the ride, the passenger/passengers stay in a seated position and can enjoy fantastic birds-eye views.

parasailing launch

When it’s time to “return to Earth”, the winch starts bringing in the rope slowly and you will simply put your feet up while descending back to the boat. Your captain will go over your landing spot and landing signals with you prior to your launch.

What Is Parasailing Like?

Parasailing feels like floating! While that answer may seem overly simplistic, it’s the best way to describe the sensation of “riding the air” like a winged creature.

While it’s common to have jittery nerves before taking off, you will soon simply “give in” to the gentleness of floating. The experience of watching the whole world float by is very soothing!

While you’ll be instructed to hold on during takeoff and landing procedures, you are free to wave your hands in the air once you’ve ascended.

Is Parasailing Scary?

It might depend on who you’re asking! Generally, people find parasailing to be exhilarating instead of scary.

While the experience can be tougher for people who suffer from fear of heights or motion sickness, most people who try parasailing find it to be quite peaceful.

man enjoys parasailing

That’s because you will admire gorgeous views that allow you to enjoy the vantage point of a seagull swooping over the tides. Many people are also surprised by the “stillness” they experience while enjoying this experience.

Is Parasailing Safe?

Parasailing is considered a low-risk activity when it is done in the right way. Of course, the risk of parasailing accidents increases when safety protocols are skipped. That’s why working with a reputable company is so important when booking a parasailing experience.

It’s also important to pay attention to the conditions around you. While some places actually ban parasailing in high winds, other places allow individual operators to make the call.

You should know before parasailing that striking water at high speeds can lead other serious injuries, therefore following all of the safety instructions is essential to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for all!

How High Do You Go When Parasailing?

The answer can depend on where you’re parasailing. If you’re parasailing at a beach destination in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that parasails cannot ascend higher than 500 feet (152 m).

two people parasailing

Some operators in other parts of the world may go as high as 600 to 800 feet (183-244 m). Rest assured that 500 feet is all that’s needed to have an amazing experience! In fact, the right wind can ensure that you’ll get to admire coastal views, boat traffic, and even the curvature of the Earth.

How Do You Land When Parasailing?

If you’re wondering how you get down from parasailing, the answer is simpler than what you were probably anticipating. The boat’s winch will reel in your tow line to gently lower you back down to the boat deck. You will simply put your feet out to enjoy the descent.

Do You Get Wet When Parasailing?

While it may come as a surprise, parasailing isn’t a water sport. You can expect to complete the whole experience without getting wet. Both your takeoff and your landing will take place on the back of the boat.

Although you won’t land in water at the end of your flight, your captain will probably be happy to give you a few playful dips before bringing you back to the deck if you ask.

parasailers dipping into the water during the ride

Of course, there is a chance that you may drift down into the water in your life jacket in the event that there’s a malfunction. Your parasailing guide will provide you with details on all protocols that will help you to return to safety and dryness as quickly as possible.

What to Wear for Parasailing

No matter if you are parasailing for the first time or you are a regular parasailer, it’s important to dress comfortably. You definitely want to use a bathing suit as your base layer. While you won’t technically be diving into the water, there will be plenty of opportunities for splashing on the bookends of your ascent.

mother and sun parasailing wearing swimsuit and life jacket

Wearing some comfortable, quick-drying sports clothing over your bathing suit is ideal for avoiding any rubbing or chafing against the life jacket you’ll be given when you strap into your harness.

Clothing that covers your skin and sunscreen will help to protect against sunburn. If it’s a chillier day, a windbreaker can help you to enjoy your views without shivering.

It’s also important to know what clothing to avoid when parasailing. Jeans and clothing made from heavy cotton can weigh you down. Baggy clothing should also be avoided because it can get caught on clips and buckles that are part of the harness.

Finally, avoid wearing any loose items. Sunglasses without straps, flip-flops, loose jewelry, and unsecured wearable tech devices can all easily slide off your body.

Do You Need to Know How to Swim to Parasail?

Knowing how to swim is not required in order to parasail. You will be fitted with a life jacket for the entire experience. All takeoffs and landings are conducted fully from the boat’s deck. Of course, you may request some calculated “dips” in the water if you want to experience the exhilaration of feeling waves against your skin.

Despite this water sport not requiring sharp swimming skills, since this is an activity carried out in/around water, we are not recommend parasailing for people who do not know how to swim at all or have fear of water.

What Is the Best Time of the Day to Parasail?

Most parasailing excursions take place anywhere from the early morning to the late afternoon. Many people consider the morning to be the best time for parasailing simply because they enjoy the fresh light and calm conditions that are generally enjoyed during this time of day.

The calmness of the morning compared to the higher winds of the afternoon can also help to reduce your chances of having your excursion canceled. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re scheduling your parasailing adventure for the last day of your trip.

Best Places to Go Parasailing in the US

The truth is that nearly any coastal area can provide the perfect setting for parasailing. While parasailing in remote spots can be fun, most people prefer to partake in this activity while exploring areas with bustling, resort-lined coastlines because they provide more to look at while in the air.

While parasailing can be experienced near and fear, certain spots offer premium parasailing experience. Here’s a look at some popular spots for parasailing around the country.

South Padre Island – Texas

This spot provides sweeping views of the island and surrounding landscapes! Many adventurers are lucky enough to spot bottle-nose dolphins from above. You might also find yourself gliding along osprey hawks.

Oahu – Hawaii

The year-round warm weather makes all of Hawaii perfect for parasailing! However, the sheer number of parasailing operators in Waikiki on Oahu can make booking an adventure easy. The views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head that are enjoyed from the air will never be forgotten.

Catalina Island – California

A parasailing adventure on Catalina Island is the perfect way to round out a vacation spent enjoying the great restaurants and breathtaking scenery of this destination. The views of the town of Avalon from above make this excursion more than worth it. You might even see dolphins!

Parasailing vs. Paragliding

Paragliding is very different from parasailing because it’s actually both a leisure activity and a competitive flying sport! Parasailing is simply a passive beach activity.
Paragliding is all about “manning” your glider aircraft. Meanwhile, parasailing allows you to be towed along by a boat while attached to a parachute-like object called a parasail. Unlike parasailers who rely on the momentum offered by a motorized boat, paragliders try to glide like birds while riding air currents at massive speeds for long distances.

Some Questions About Parasailing

Is parasailing fun?

Yes! Most people find parasailing to be both exciting and relaxing. That’s because the thrill of being high above the waves is paired with the serenity that comes from enjoying amazing views from above. Of course, anyone suffering from an acute fear of flying or heights may not enjoy parasailing.

Is there a weight limit for parasailing?

Weight rules can vary by operator. Generally, the total combined limit for a single ride is between 300 pounds and 450 pounds (136-205 kg). Weight requirements may even be changed by the captain on a daily basis based on wind conditions. Most operators also have a weight minimum somewhere between 90 pounds and 100 pounds (40-45 kg).

Is parasailing dangerous?

While no water excursion is without its risks, parasailing is considered to be a low-risk activity.

Who should not parasail?

Anyone who doesn’t feel 100% confident should skip parasailing. While parasailing is an incredible experience, someone who suffers from a panic or anxiety disorder may simply be too disoriented to follow all safety protocols. You should also avoid parasailing if you have a heart condition, bad back, neck pain, or any other condition that could result in pain or injury. You cannot parasail if you are pregnant.

How old do you have to be to go parasailing?

While there isn’t technically an age limit for parasailing, many operators recommend that parasailers be at least 14 years old.

Should you parasail if you are afraid of heights?

Unfortunately, this is simply not one of the best things to do at the beach if you have a fear of heights. Any panicked reaction that you have while ascending, gliding, or descending can put you in danger.

Can you parasail alone?

The answer will depend on the weight limit set by the captain of the boat that is being used for your excursion. While most operators have a minimum weight requirement of 90 pounds (40 kg), others may go as high as 150 pounds (68 kg). You will need to fly in tandem with at least one other person if you do not meet the minimum weight limit.

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