- Theme parks
- Palm trees
There is one tourist activity you can do in the Sunshine State that entails aspects of all 3 of those things, though: Parasailing!
Florida has many parasailing operations, most notably in the state’s more tourist-centric areas, such as Destin, Pompano Beach, and Clearwater.
As a native Floridian, I scarcely would go a day at the beach without seeing two people harnessed to an aloft parasail canopy, tethered by a single rope to a boat skimming the water 500 feet below. Makes sense that there always seemed to be a few brave souls floating in the skies under these elaborate kites – 3 to 5 million people parasail each year.
I, afraid of heights for most of my life, didn’t put much thought into actually paying money to be strapped into one of those things though. However, in recent years, I have become fairly more daring – and met a special lady who feels about as much one with the sky as she does one with the water (she is a certified SCUBA diver, by the way). Well, you can probably finish the rest of this paragraph… Yes, we decided to go parasailing right here in Florida.
Our Florida Parasailing Experience
We were in her hometown near Destin when we decided to take the plunge…. Er, flight. Destin, an affluent resort city about 50 miles east of Pensacola, has several parasailing outfits. We had spontaneously decided to go parasailing and were looking around for any company that seemed to have a decent reputation – and an opening for two riders that warm Saturday afternoon.
After calling a few local parasail operators, we came across one offering 2 seats later that day. So we booked the opening – then we high-tailed it over to Just Chute Me, a popular parasailing company in Destin, Florida. The crew members were friendly, the equipment appeared well maintained, and the experience was beyond what we had ever expected.
From the moment we started ascending hundreds of feet above the waters of the Choctawhatchee Bay (the Gulf of Mexico was too choppy that day) to the second the crew playfully splashed us down into the emerald waters, we had the time of our lives. Up in the air, we could see the entire bay spill forward below us, with grand vistas of the Gulf over one shoulder and amazing views of the Florida Panhandle over the other. Even radio towers seemed dwarfed below our sight line as we flirted with heights that rivaled that of a 50-story skyscraper.
After being safely reeled in, we enjoyed watching the four other couples in the 12-person vessel take to the air, in turn, during the entire 90-minute tour. We also made friends with the other guests on the boat and enjoyed the beautiful views all around us, all of which only added to the overall enjoyment of the experience. One of the crew members even took photos of us while we were in the air and leisurely taking in the sights on board he boat!
How To Choose A Florida Parasailing Company
There are many parasailing vendors in Florida, and as there are essentially no state laws regulating parasailing as an industry, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind regarding parasail safety when looking for parasailing companies in Florida:
- Federal Aviation Administration height limits for parasail activities is 500 feet; a line up to 800 feet long can achieve the maximum legal parasailing height
- Most parasailing incidents have occurred during high winds, so find out if the parasail company will wait out severe weather and make sure they offer rain checks in the event of inclement weather
- Some counties in Florida require that motorized vessels stay a certain distance from shore; it is okay to inquire about this with the parasail operator you are considering
Don’t go for the cheapest parasailing experience – go for the one that people rave about the most. Check out Yelp, Google Reviews, and other sites where individuals who have parasailed posted comments about their experiences.
Remember, there are dozens of parasailing operators in Florida, so if you don’t get a good feeling about one, try another.
No matter what, you better believe that you’re about to be in for the ride of your life!