Do you want to be higher than the tallest roller coaster in the world? One minute you are chilling on the beach in Waikiki, next thing you know, you’re 500 feet up in the sky! Parasailing, a breathtaking experience, allows the passenger to glide through the skies like never before, while enjoying the peace and serenity of Hawaii. With a birds-eye view of the ocean, it is common to see dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales. Experiencing a view of ocean life and the astonishing panoramic views will bring you to a whole new level of discovering Hawaii. Parasailing is enjoyed world-wide with over three million riders per year!
Parasailing’s roots go back to Viet Nam, when our brave soldiers pulled parachutes with Army jeeps during free time. The military then used this procedure for training airborne troopers as a cheaper way to get the soldier in the air. This was a rocky beginning to parasailing. In 1962 French engineer Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne developed the ascending-gliding parachute. Lemoigne founded the Aeronautical Training Service to introduce and further develop his ParaCommander parachute and established the sport of parascending. In 1963 the US Air Force used parasailing as part of their training for the Gemini space mission’s water training exercises.
Realizing that water was nicer to land in than dirt and trees, people started parasailing from boats and platforms in the water. Commercial parasailing started in 1969, gained ground in the 1970’s and it popularity soared in the 1980’s. Technology and equipment has evolved drastically since early designs. The chute has also evolved as they are new vented – allowing more control with changing winds.
Parasailing is also known as parakiting or parascending. Land-based parasailing uses a truck or car to pull the chute and has also transformed into a competition sport in Europe. In competition, the parasail is pulled to a specified height, released; and then the person tries to land on a target and accumulate the most points.
In Hawaii, the winch boat parasailing method is used and is considered by most industry experts to be the safest. Riders are strapped into a harness that is connected to the winch on the boat, and the chute. When the vessel/boat accelerates and the wind blows into the chute, the riders are slowly reeled out from the back of the boat. The amount of line that is fed out is controlled by the boat captain. As the ride ends, the winch slowly pulls the riders back to the boat deck.
Winch boat parasailing can be done in groups of up to three people, depending on the wind conditions and the weight of the persons flying. Most providers also enforce a minimum age requirement and advise children under a certain age to ride with a parent. Before starting your adventure, be sure to know what to expect in every step. Take-off and landing takes place on the boat deck, out on the ocean. The participant will be strapped into a harness, which is attached to the parachute and will then be pulled by a towrope. The tow rope can be any from 300 feet to 1,000 feet and the longest in Hawaii is 700 feet, with X-treme Parasail. The deck is constructed in a way to safely winch the passenger skywards and then pull them back to the boat, without ever getting wet! But empty your pockets and wear swimwear! If you want to get wet, ask the captain to dip you in the ocean.
Safety & Tips
Firstly, never parasail during rain, fog, extreme wind or an approaching storm. Always check the weather before starting your ride. Operators should provide a pre-flight briefing and go through the procedures for take-off, flight, landing and evacuation. There are strict licensing and permitting requirements to operate parasailing in Hawaii. It is also required that all parasailing boat captains are licensed by the United Stated Coast Guard. All participants should wear a life vest (Personal Flotation Device). Most parasailing operators offer their service to take memorable pictures of you during your adventure. Finally, always read and understand the release and consent forms provided before signing. Make sure to know exactly what to expect, and if you have any questions, never hesitate to ask. For your comfort make sure to wear a t-shirt.
Enjoy the ride!
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1085 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814