By Lauren Tjaden
Parasailing in Florida is a breathtaking adventure that promises brilliant views of sparkling waves and stretches of pristine sand, delivering thrills and laughter that the whole family can enjoy.
Here's where to discover everything you need to know about parasailing in the Sunshine State, including how it works, what to expect, and some of the most spectacular places you can experience this epic escapade.
Here are the basics so you can feel confident and prepared on your Florida parasailing experience.
Experience is Overrated
… At least as far as being a parasailing participant. You don’t need any experience, know how to swim, or have any special skills. Your main job is to enjoy the ride of a lifetime.
Not by Land or by Sea
In parasailing, you take off and land right on the boat, not from the beach or from the water. You’ll be fitted with a special parasail harness, take a seat next to your partner (or partners) on the flight deck, before being softly launched and retrieved using a hydraulic winch system.
Your parasailing company will provide all the gear you need. You’ll wear a snugly fitted life jacket, and will be seated in a body harness - a bit like a swing seat-- which attaches to the passenger tow bar. The bar is attached to the chute, as is the towline that’s connected to the boat.
To Splash or not to Splash
Whether or not you get wet is up to you; just let the captain know. Getting your feet—or more—dunked as you come in for a landing provides a giggle-worthy way to cool off.
Too Scared to Scream
…Isn’t how you’ll feel parasailing. While some pre-flight jitters are common, parasailing isn’t like a rollercoaster, with jaw-clenching twists, jolts and drops. Instead, it’s serene and peaceful, with slow, mild take offs and landings, giving participants a feeling that’s often described as ‘floating on air.’
What to Wear
Parasailing fashionistas wear bathing suits if they plan on getting wet. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter—you can wear flip-flops, a tuxedo or even a ball gown and still fly. But you should be comfortable, and since you’ll be out on a boat in Florida, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are always in order.
Weather.. or Not
Reasonable wind and water conditions are the two most important ingredients for a fun parasailing expedition. Ideally, the wind should be light and laminar, and the water should be smooth. There are specific limits for wind speed, and you can skip down the page to the ‘safety first’ section to read them, but suffice to say, if the wind is howling or gusty and the water is choppy, it won’t make for the best experience. Lightning in the area will keep you grounded as well. Clear, bright days will make for better communication between you and the boat captain, and also provide for fantastic sightseeing.
The Early Bird gets the Best Flights
Mornings are perfect for parasailing, with cooler temperatures, more mellow water and light winds. Boat traffic also is at a minimum in the mornings, and you’ll avoid Florida’s common summertime, afternoon thunderstorms.
Communication is Key
You can still communicate with the crew once you’re airborne, using hand and arm signals for speed, direction and to let them know if you want to end the ride. Even if a microphone is provided it’s a good plan to learn a few hand signals.
Pier into the Distance
Ask your captain where you should look to see landmarks like piers, lighthouses, bridges and even your resort. Keep your eyes peeled; if you’re lucky, you might see marine life like dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and rays.
During the high season, you should make reservations a minimum of two or three days in advance, and if you’re going with a large group, four to five days is better.
Weights and Ages and Numbers, Oh My!
The minimum combined weight for parasailing is 90 pounds; the maximum combined weight is about 450 pounds.
The minimum age is for parasailing is five, and those under the age of 18 need to have a parent or guardian sign a liability waiver for them.
Two or three people can often go at the same time, depending on their weights, wind conditions and the captain’s discretion.
The Federal Aviation Administration limits parasails to fly at an altitude of no higher than 500 vertical feet from the surface of the earth. 400 feet is about how high you’ll get on an 800-foot towline.
With expanded regulations, parasailing in Florida is safer than ever. Your boat operator is required to have a current, valid license issued by the United States Coast Guard and be covered by at least $1 million of bodily injury liability; proof of both should be available. The boat needs to be equipped with a functional VHF marine transceiver and a separate electronic device capable of providing access to National Weather Service forecasts and current weather conditions.
A set of rules regarding the weather exist as well: if the sustained wind speed is more than 20 miles per hour; if wind gusts are 15 miles per hour higher than the sustained wind speed; if the wind speed during gusts exceeds 25 miles per hour; if rain or heavy fog results in reduced visibility of less than 0.5 mile; or if a known lightning storm comes within seven miles of the parasailing area, you can’t go parasailing.
Here’s where you can read all the rules and regulations.
CHOOSE YOUR FLORIDA PARASAILING COMPANY
Here are some popular parasailing providers in the Sunshine State, divided into South, Central and North Florida. These companies are just the tip of the sandbar and you can find many more offerings from the visitors services of the area in which you’re interested. You can also check out more Florida paragliding companies and their ratings on TripAdvisor.
To help you choose the right experience, make sure to read the company’s reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp or social media. While not all the reviews will be unbiased, the input from previous customers of a parasailing company can give you a good idea of what to expect. If there are a lot of negative reviews, you should consider finding another company.
The vast majority of people who go out with this company give it a review of ‘excellent,’ landing it the top ranked spot on TripAdvisor for parasailing companies in the Florida Keys. Participants praise the beautiful tiki style bar where the boat is docked, the pleasant, funny staff and the blockbuster views. It offers single, tandem and triple parasail rides.
This seven-day-a-week operation boasts safe, top-quality equipment and a dedicated, hardworking staff. Their USCG licensed Master Captain has over 30 years in the boating industry and over 8,000 flights, so you can kick back and enjoy the scenery.
Heralded as Key West's top boat tour and water sports operator for over 30 years, Sebago offers a wide variety of tours and watercraft that includes sailing catamarans, parasail vessels, and schooners. In addition to parasailing, they’ll take you on a jaunt aboard a banana boat and show you the wonder of snorkeling the vibrant coral reef.
Getting wet is optional but fun is required with a Miami Parasail, ranked number one in Miami by TripAdvisor. Its professional staff promises a unique, memorable experience as you take in grand views of Miami Beach stretching far below you.
The folks at Hollywood Parasail welcome people ages five to 95 in Hollywood Beach to enjoy a 10-to-15-minute parasail flight, either solo or with one or two buddies. To find the location, look for the red beach umbrellas behind the Marriott Hotel.
Snag a look at stunning Fort Lauderdale from a different perspective. Voted number one in the area, this high-flying company boasts a 100% safety record, a feat accomplished by having vastly experienced captains and crew and completely updated equipment.
Parasailing Palm Beach, Riviera Beach
The only USCG certified vessel in Palm Beach County welcomes you to savor an unforgettable birds-eye view of Palm Beach, soaring hundreds of feet above the crystalline waters while you soak up the balmy Florida sunshine.
Touted by TripAdvisor as number one of 31 tours in Siesta Key, Parasail Siesta lures visitors with the heady excitement of a powerboat ride combined with the scenic views and tranquility of a hot air balloon flight. You’ll admire the glistening white sands of Siesta Key and Lido Key from an utterly novel vantage point.
This family-owned operation has been an icon on the glorious sugar sands of seven-mile-long Fort Myers Beach for over 28 years, providing WaveRunner rentals and dolphin tours as well as parasailing. They promise ‘the scariest part of parasailing is waiting your turn,’ with United States Coast Guard-licensed captains focused on your enjoyment and safety.
With easily accessible beachfront locations in both Naples and Marco Island, Marco Island Water Sports dares you to try the ultimate eco-thrill, flying solo, double, or even triple over the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. Paddleboarding, ecotours, Waverunner rentals, guided Waverunner tours and Banana Boat rides round out the delights.
Central East Florida
Discover the smooth, hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach in a unique way when you soar over them in a parasail. You’ll depart from stunning, easy-on-the-eyes Ponce Inlet – home to an imposing lighthouse, Florida’s tallest—and venture into the Atlantic for a thrilling, fun expedition into the sky. If you’re up for even more adventure, save time to climb the lighthouse when you get back.
Blast off over Cocoa Beach and Florida’s Space Coast for mind-blowing views of one of the Sunshine State’s most beautiful shorelines. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to see Kennedy Space Center while looking down.
Central West Florida
North of Pier 60, situated right behind the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa against the shimmering, calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, BouYah Watersports boasts the highest-quality equipment, a flawless safety record and a service-oriented, safety-certified staff. They also offer paddle boards, kayaks, banana boats, Jet Skis and Jet Ski tours.
Enjoying the number one position of 49 tours in Madeira Beach, the Eagle parasail team is comprised of safety-minded professionals eager to share the joy of flying with you. They vow that your landing will be so soft that anyone age five to 95 can join in the fun. They fly singles, tandems, and triples, so you can savor this adventure with friends and family.
Suncoast Watersports urges you to set your sights high with this bucket list experience. Embark on an exhilarating parasail above the clear water and white sands of St. Pete Beach on a solo excursion or share the adrenaline with friends and family. You can also turbo-charge the day with a Wave Runner rental or guided tour, or indulge in an affordable, scream-worthy ride on a Banana Boat.
On a paragliding spree with St. Augustine Parasail, you’ll see historic St. Augustine like you never imagined, along with soaring views of the Atlantic Ocean, Anastasia Island and Vilano Beach. This note from a customer named Erica is typical of its rave reviews; ‘You've got to try this for yourself. They make it comfortable and easy for anyone.’
Ranked by TripAdvisor customers as the number one company not only in the area, but all of Florida, and winner of the Water Sports Industry Association operator of the year award, you can be assured that your Just Chute Me parasailing adventure over the glistening white sands of Destin will be epic. It features over 20 years of experience; reliable, coast guard inspected boats; and a crew that’s committed to leave you smiling.
Banana Boats! Jet skis! Sunset parasailing! Snorkel tours! This veteran-owned, family-friendly watersports biz offers them all and more. Nestled behind Pompano Joe's Restaurant in Miramar Beach, it scored the win of the 2020 Travelers Choice Award as well as the WSIA Parasail Operators Award of Excellence. Climb aboard its Ocean Pro Parasail Boat, aptly named the ‘FAR OUT,’ to see what the buzz is about.
Family owned and operated by Captain Jim Holloway, Panama City Parasail welcomes everyone in your gang between the ages of five and 90 for an escapade above Panama City Beach’s famed sweeps of sugar sand. Don’t forget to ask about the outrageous free fall dip – a toe-tingling stunt that’s certain to end up with getting soaked.
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