Up, Up and Away: Parasailing in Boracay

Sunday, June 16, 2013Ryan Mach

"Why would you be scared of something that's completely safe?" I challenged a colleague who was shrieking with excitement when we were discussing about possible activities we'd be doing in Boracay. Parasailing was one of the top choices. The conversation happened in January, back when we were planning a summer getaway.

"Ehhhhh, we'll be extremely high up. Can you imagine looking down when you're several feet up? What if the line snaps? Those hungry sharks will be feasting on us!" she retorted, in a ridiculously exaggerated tone that got us all cracking up.

I told her Boracay's too mainstream so we went for El Nido instead. The plan to parasail never pushed through. Not with her anyway. I was able to do parasailing with a different set of friends last April on the last leg of our Romblon Backpacking Trip. Since Boracay lies very close to Tablas we reckoned it'd be a good idea to swing by at the island before going back to Manila.

What is Parasailing?
Parasailing, according to our online friend/consultant Wikipedia, is also known as parascending, or "parakiting."  It is a recreational kiting activity in which a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed canopy wing akin to a parachute (can be Superman-inspired but the feeling of being invincible is not guaranteed.)
The kite is normally manned [not always by robotic, tired guides] and anchored to boat. There's a harness which attaches and connects the rider to the parasail, which is safely (should be!) connected by a long tow rope. The boat can drive off or stay afloat unmoving. Parasailing should not be confused with the sport of paragliding.

Is it Safe?
For someone who's innately scared of heights, it's a bit surprising to find myself unafraid of parasailing. Okay, well, parasailing is relatively easy and safe, but when you're up there, really high up there, like 50 storey-high up there, it can be quite disconcerting. The height made me queasy. It was only then that I finally understood why my colleague was brimming with apprehension and excitement in the mere mention of parasailing.
"Kung gusto niyo na bumaba, senyas lang kayo ng ganito, (If you want to come down, just do this)" one of parasailing guides advised us, me and Melvin, two excited boys who were eager to fly. The guide made a circular motion with his right hand.
[Safety instructions may sound boring but they're essential]

I pretended that I was paying attention, but I really wasn't. We'll be just 15 minutes tops up, why would I want to get down without finishing my turn?  After making sure that we're safely strapped to the colorful and massive parachute hovering above our head, they started to hoist us slowly.
The girls who were having a party on the speedboat shrieked and waved at us. They were too cool to let us have a go first. With every DSLR and point-and-shoot camera pointed at us, we waved back and screamed. We did the OK sign a few times while grinning from ear to ear and we screamed some more.

Is it Fun?
Up there, looking down and seeing the expansive view of the sea, I was consumed with an intense feeling of exhilaration and (I didn't quite expect this) fear. The fear crept into my system too sudden and unannounced. It happened when I realized that we were several feet up in the air. I held on to the strap and wondered out loud if there ever was an accident involving parasail air pumps malfunction or something. (Apparently, there was but I didn't know this at the time). My companion answered me with a non-committal grunt.

I quit looking down and diverted my attention to the island of Boracay which looked too small and so far away. With only the wind gushing in our ears and the sound of the parachute flapping, everything seemed muted. We couldn't hear the loud music booming from the boat's stereo hundreds of feet below. We were flying adrift and had no control over the parachute.
If the tow rope, which looked thin, snapped, we'd be goners.

Why Should You Try It?

Parasailing in Boracay can be overrated but it's fun, believe me [although may not be suitable for the acrophobics out there]. And it's not very expensive (700 per person, discounted rate). I think there's just one company that runs the parasailing business in Boracay and you can easily spot their office in Station 1. Crew Diamond, that's the name. (Contact number: 0927-5935909)
Additional perks: you get to ride on a speedboat. You can have a little party while you wait for your turn.
You'll have the best, unobstructed view of the sunset.

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