Take to the Skies Off Australia’s Picturesque Gold Coast

Parasailing in Australia (Source: iStock / jwblinn)

As soggy and cold winter weather blankets much of the U.S., lust for summer weather predictably increases. Instead of slogging through seemingly interminable snowy days, plan a trip down under and ready yourself for an adventure of a lifetime: Gold Coast parasailing.

Why Australia? The infinite coastline, warm winds, and friendly locals are three good reasons, but it turns out the country also has a love affair with parasailing — and plenty of experts to guide your adventure.

Find your parasailing spot

While everyone has their favorite location for parasailing in Australia, arguably the best overall is the Gold Coast on the far-flung east of the continent.  A hop, skip, and a glide from Brisbane, this beloved spot hosts several parasailing companies and gives you inspiring views of both the ocean and the urban skyline.

If you’re keen on trying an off-the-beaten-path locale, give Cairns a shot. Located in the northeast, it’s also a popular tourist spot, but tends to draw hikers and explorers more than parasailers.

Grab your equipment and schedule your sail

Almost all reputable parasailing companies will give you what you need to parasail — including instructions, a life vest, and a parasail. If you’re interest in additional items, like souvenir photos, sunglasses, sunscreen, or special pick-up/drop-off arrangements, make sure you check with your chosen parasailing company to see if these are included. If not, you may have to figure out another way to secure them.

While there are countless parasailing companies all over Australia, the top one on the Gold Coast is Gold Coast Watersports ($105) while we recommend The Tour Specialists ($80) for a wind-blown sailing experience in Cairns.

Gold Coast, Australia (Source: iStock)

What to look for

Once airborne, take advantage of the view, some 300 feet in the air. If you’re taking off from the Gold Coast, soak in the skyline of Brisbane and beyond — a stark juxtaposition with the sandy beaches and cerulean waters on the coast. You can also see reefs below the surface of the water and, of course, the breathtaking horizon in the distance.

If you start Cairns way, you’ll get an even more impressive view of reefs. Also, enjoy the sweeping view of mountains flanking the coastline, waving palm trees, and the white wash of the ever-agitating ocean waters.

Know before you go

Parasailing seems like a pretty simple operation: A boat sets out at a specific speed with the parasailer on board, fitted with a sail to catch the wind. At the right speed, the parasailer takes flight behind the boat. Straightforward, right? Still, there are still a few things to keep in mind before you take to the skies.

  • > Parasailing rides vary in length, but most last about 45 minutes. That’s not all time in the air, though; much of it is the time spent getting ready on the boast and getting up to the right speed for “takeoff.” The actual time in the air runs about 10-15 minutes.
  • > Each parasailer is connected to the boat by a tow rope, often made of durable materials like reinforced polyester with anti-wear coating. This allows boat operators to slowly release you into the air for takeoff and reel you back in for landing.
  • > There is seldom, if ever, an age requirement for parasailing, though most companies will require children under the age of 18 to secure a signed waiver from a parent or legal guardian.
  • > You don’t have to be able to swim to parasail — and you don’t even have to get wet. At your instruction, some parasailing companies can arrange to give you a “dip” in the water in the middle of your parasailing adventure, but it can be avoided if you’d rather stay in the air.

Insider’s tip: Try tandem parasailing

Most who are new to parasailing don’t know that you can do tandem parasailing — or sailing with another person. The process is the same, except two people (each with their own parasail) take off at the same time. This is an especially fun experience for couples, but any two people can take advantage of it — and most Gold Coast and Cairns companies can accommodate tandem parasailing.