“We are so f***ing high up! We are so f***ing high up!” I kept repeating to myself over and over. I am teetering between heart-stopping fear and the hair-raising thrill of the ride. The picture below is the only one I was able to take while we started to ascend and then soar, tethered to the tiny-looking boat in the distance. Although my iPhone is attached to a handy pink lanyard around my neck, I held tight to the cables on my harness, learning the true meaning of white knuckles.
You know when you look out toward the ocean and see parasailers hovering high, quietly drifting out on the horizon? I’ve always looked at them and made a mental note: Parasailing = bucket list. “Some day,” I confided in my friend, “I’m going to do that.” Well, that friend ended up buying me a gift certificate for me and a guest.
When you’re on land and watch the colorful parachute gracefully floating through the air in the distance, it may or may not be as serene as it looks. I’ve read some reviews that mention serenity, peaceful, etc. Not so with my experience, but let me start at the beginning.
We made our reservations with Hawaiian Parasail, one of several companies that operate on Oahu. They are an efficient and well-oiled machine. No problem with phone communications. My questions were answered clearly, and I got the directions and parking details and what I should bring with me. They are located at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, on the right-hand side of the road after you drive past the rear of the Ilikai. They have an empty lot where you can park for free. While waiting for our departure time, we noticed that a company van, sporting their logo on the side, arrived and unloaded the visitors it had picked up in Waikiki.
Time to board the boat. There were five sets of excited parasailers. Each duo goes up in tandem. You leave and return directly from the boat, so you never have to get your feet wet unless you choose the “dip,” which is politely offered before you take off. Total boat time is just over an hour, including transit to and from the dock. Each individual parasail session is about ten minutes depending on the line length you purchase. The excursion is both an enjoyable boat ride as well as the actual parasail itself. Corners were not cut where safety was concerned. We always felt in good hands. Contemporary music can be heard most of the trip, after all the safety rules are explained and vests are distributed. I believe most of our fellow parasailers bought the 1000-foot line trip, which takes you up about 500 feet. Reviewers on Yelp made comments about getting seasick. The boat was fine, but I did get motion sickness.
My experience is that I wasn’t too afraid before going up. I was anticipating the thrill. We were put securely in our harness and slowly released into the blue, open sky. That day was very windy high up. We were being jerked about fast and severe the entire time. I felt fairly safe, but the wrenching in the wind really freaked me out. I never imagined I would be that uneasy. Looking down at the cable, our life line, it suddenly appeared extremely thin as the wind took control tossing us this way and that. I was ready to come down after about five minutes. The view of the Honolulu coastline was spectacular, but I was mostly concentrating on holding as tight as I could to the straps on either side of my harness. I don’t believe I have any unnatural fear of heights, but… I. Was. Scared. After our smooth descent and back on the boat, I started to feel a bit woozy. On the return trip to the harbor, I began to suffer from a faintly-familiar feeling of motion sickness. Yep, I had to go straight home and sleep it off for a few hours. It wasn’t from the boat ride, it was from ten solid minutes of the harsh yanks and pulls of the wind. When I watch the videos I took from the boat, it all looks like smooth sailing. Hmm…not so much.
There was a couple on the boat where the girlfriend was not planning to parasail, so a partner was needed to complete the tandem. The captain asked my boyfriend if he wanted to go up again, right after we came down. Now here’s the thing: my boyfriend insists he has a fear of heights. Ha! He said yes to the second round without missing a heartbeat. There is no way I would have volunteered to go up again. I was done. DONE! I’ll say I can definitely recommend parasailing, especially to those who appreciate a great carnival ride, and it’s an exhilarating activity to experience at least once. Personally, I have no interest in going again, but I’m glad I went. I had a great time in spite of my fear. It was, after all, very exciting.
Take a look at the Hawaiian Parasail website for all your questions, map, directions, contact info, and an entertaining gallery of pictures. It’s a five-star experience.