I so enjoyed having my daughters and nieces visiting me on the Big Island over the holidays. Actually, who am I kidding? They weren’t really visiting me as much as the island. There were only three of them here at any given time, so the house was not overflowing. And I especially loved that I was not expected to cart them around. I was happy to turn over my car keys and let them do their thing. But I did manage to squeeze in one adventure while they were here, mostly because no one else wanted to go. My niece Carly and I tried parasailing in Kona.
I have spent seven years looking at parasailers out on the ocean when I go to Kona – the experience looks amazing. I was supposed to go with my sister Nancy while she was here in September. On our appointed day, we patiently watched the boat come into the Kona pier, scrutinized the crew as they folded the parasail from the previous “flight” back into its bag, and eagerly boarded. But once we moved out to open water, the captain found the wind was too irregular and he cancelled the parasailing flight. We were bummed, and I promised to wait to go with her this spring. Sorry Nancy, I couldn’t wait any longer.
Carly and I “flew” with UFO Parasail. They are located inside the King Kamehameha Hotel, just a short distance from the Kona pier. After watching the safety videos and signing waivers, we wandered out to the pier to watch the UFO boat come into berth.
Our Captain, Rob, didn’t talk much. Jonathon was the talker; he did the “dog and pony show” for us and another couple. We were able to watch the other couple get strapped into the gear, launch and return. The flight time is about 10 minutes, plenty of time as we were to learn.
When it was our turn, I found myself very calm. The harness is worn like a swing with a wide flat loop around each thigh. While Jonathon strapped us in, he said, “Don’t straighten your legs to shift the harness unless you want to fly with a giant wedgie until you land.” That mental image was very clear and we complied with all instructions.
Then we sat on the back deck of the speed boat and Jonathon clicked our harnesses into place on the bar above us. There were just two attachment points and that gave Carly pause, but it was too late to back out. They unfurled the sail behind us as the boat moved forward, and we felt ourselves lifting off the deck. The boat sped away and the guys gradually let our cable out 800 feet. So we were not 800 feet up, but 800 feet from the boat. There’s also a 1200 foot option for a little more money.
Those first moments pulling away from the boat were thrilling, watching the boat get smaller as we soared higher and higher into the air. My ears even popped.
But soon that calm peaceful feeling returned. It’s so silent up there. It was just us and that blue tow line, connecting us to the tiny boat below. We could see so far, including the decks of the cruise ship moored off-shore. I always enjoy watching a shoreline from a boat, but this was a different experience entirely – so clear for many miles.
Ever since Pele stopped spewing lava from Leilani Estates, the air quality has changed drastically on the west side of the island. From 1983 to May 2018, Kona had a good chance of having vog (volcanic fog) in the afternoon. When Pele started pumping lava in May 2018, Kona had a thick brown blanket of vog most of the time. But now that this latest eruption has ceased, the vog has stopped entirely. The air on the west side of the island is clear, and even the green flash has returned at sunset on some evenings. This was a great parasailing experience.
Just about the time the “swing” under our thighs got uncomfortable, we could feel the crew reeling us back in. Ten minutes is definitely enough time in the air. All guests are asked if they want a foot dip in the water before landing. Of course! As we came in close to the water, I mused out loud, “I wonder what would happen if there was a shark right under us…” Carly was not amused.
Then back up into the air for a concluding maneuver to position us for the landing. I took this final opportunity to finally go “no hands.” I felt very brave and sassy. Carly thought I was nuts. Aside: you might be asking, what’s with the Maui Jim parasail? It turns out the owner of Maui Jim used to be a crew member for UFO Parasail. So they have some sort of joint advertising program.
Landing is as easy as take-off. The crew is able to position the harness frame right over the back deck and all you do is stand up. They quickly unbuckle you from the frame, remove the harness, and you’re free. Then it’s a leisurely ride back to the pier.
Will I do it again? Yes, with my sister, Nancy. I don’t want her mad at me. Worth the price? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. This adventure makes my proposed itinerary for guests from now on.
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