How Fast Does a Parasail Go?

You were planning on surprising the whole family with a parasailing day trip, but now you’re beginning to wonder whether it’s the best idea. You’ve heard of parasailing being called an extreme sport, and you don’t think your kids are ready for quite such vigorous activity yet. Fortunately, parasailing is anything but extreme, and you don’t even go very fast. What is your max speed?

The average parasailing speed is 15 miles per hour. The boat captain may go as fast as 30 MPH at times. Even at that speed, parasailers report a feeling of floating rather than being pulled through the sky. 

Do you have more questions about parasailing speed, such as whether the captain can go faster or if parasailing will cause motion sickness? Keep reading, as we’ll answer those questions and more ahead! 

Is Parasailing Fast? The Average Parasail Speed

Let’s just make sure one thing is clear before we proceed: parasailing is anything but an extreme sport. Skydiving–where you jump out of an airplane, freefall, and then release your parachute–is an extreme sport. We’d even call riding a roller coaster extreme, but parasailing? Not at all. (On that note, going on a roller coaster and parasailing are about as different as can be.)

Extreme sports usually involve great heights, which parasailing does not. You also typically go at heart-pounding speeds when participating in an extreme sport, but that’s again not the case with parasailing.

The parasail captain’s boat speed is anywhere between 15 and 30 MPH. That’s it. That’s your average parasailing speed.

At 15 MPH, that’s even slower than you’d drive in a school zone or on a residential street. You’re not quite crawling along, but you’re not going fast in the slightest. Upping the ante somewhat to 30 MPH is not that big of a speed jump either. This is a more comfortable, even brisk pace that we still wouldn’t call swift. 

Does Parasailing at That Speed Feel Like a Thrill Ride?

Okay, but you have to admit there’s a difference between driving on a residential street at ground level and being hoisted up hundreds of feet in the air at that same speed when parasailing. Surely going 15 to 30 MPH in a car isn’t going to feel the same as parasailing at that speed, right?

You’re correct, it doesn’t. If anything, parasailing is more relaxing as you feel like you’re floating. Rather than take our word for it, here’s a first-hand account of a parasailer’s experience courtesy of Patch Florida.

This parasailer readily admits they were afraid of heights and felt very nervous when they first ascended in their parasail. Once that moment passed, their trepidation was replaced with wonderment.

“Between the spectacular view of Anna Maria Island and the coast, the breathtaking blueness of the sky around me and the water below me, and the unparalleled sensation of literally floating through the air, I suddenly realized that I had been rendered completely speechless.” 

Of course, the writer didn’t mention how fast they were parasailing, and do you know why? They probably didn’t know themselves. The parasail captain, who is a trained and experienced professional, manages speed so you don’t have to think about it. You’re meant to relax and enjoy your time when you’re up in the sky, not stress and worry! 

Can the Parasail Captain Go Faster? Maybe Slower?

Speaking of the parasail captain, you have a few questions about what they can and can’t do, especially when it comes to speed. Let’s address your concerns now. 

Why Fast Parasailing Is Dangerous 

If you requested it, could the parasail captain speed up the boat so you go even faster during your parasailing trip? 

No, they cannot. We’ve talked about this on the blog, but parasailing is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. This organization has rules on how high a parasail can fly, and so you can imagine the FAA wouldn’t take too kindly to parasails that blatantly surpass typical speeds.

Here is one section of the FAA’s parasail operation rules. Although nothing is specifically mentioned about parasail speed, you can get an idea browsing through that information about how tightly regulated parasailing must be. 

That’s not only for your safety, by the way, but for that of anyone else who may share the sky with you at any given time. This FAA bulletin talks about two separate incidents in 2014 that occurred when a parasail rig hit a banner tow aircraft. Although no one died or got seriously hurt, the accidents still show that recklessness is never smart, especially when you’re 500 feet up or higher.

The parasail captain has a responsibility for all parasailers he or she brings on their boat. They cannot always prevent immediate risks, but one factor they do have control over is their speed. Surpassing 30 MPH is something any reputable parasail captain should never do. 

If your captain says sure, no problem, they’ll gun their boat motor to go 40 or 50 MPH, then you don’t want to step on their boat and go through with the parasailing trip. Doing so could be extremely dangerous. If this captain is willing to throw away basic precautions, who knows how safe their equipment can be? 

You can enjoy faster thrills in the sky through other activities such as paramotoring. On average, paramotors operate at speeds of 46 MPH, which is a good deal faster than your max speed when parasailing. 

What about Slower Parasailing?

Okay, so you can’t go faster when parasailing, but what about traveling slower? Possibly, but probably not. 

You have to remember, you’re not the only group the parasailing company will take out over the ocean today. They have a tight schedule all day, and slowing down one group of riders means the parasailing ride will take longer. This puts the parasailing company off-schedule, which can affect their customers for the rest of the day.

We can’t stress enough that parasailing at speeds of even 30 MPH does not feel scary. The sensation is like being a dandelion head floating through a springtime breeze lazily. You’re not bobbing and weaving and you never feel like you’re in freefall. Even first-time parasailers found that their fears evaporated once they were in the sky experiencing what it is to parasail for themselves. 

If you’re worried that 30 MPH is too fast to take photos or videos, it isn’t! Your captain wants you to enjoy the sights around you while not progressing at a glacial pace. If your hands are steady, you can photograph the cresting ocean and maybe even a seabird or dolphin with awesome clarity.  

Will Parasailing Induce Motion Sickness? 

You tend to get motion sick every now and again. For the uninitiated, motion sickness occurs when traveling, usually when the travel comes to a stop. Motion sickness can cause vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. You would hate to get sick during your parasail trip, but you’d hate it even more if you had to cancel. What are your options?

For those with only occasional motion sickness, you shouldn’t have to worry about the parasailing part of your day. If anything, riding in the boat could make you a little queasy, so definitely take Dramamine ahead of your parasailing ride. 

If you usually don’t get motion sick, parasailing is unlikely to cause it! 

Final Thoughts 

Parasails travel no faster than 30 MPH, which doesn’t feel fast. If anything, the floating sensation when parasailing is very pleasant, even for first-time parasailers. We hope this article has helped you realize that parasailing doesn’t have to be terrifying like you thought!  

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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