If you're planning a trip to Kauai, you might be disappointed to find out that parasailing is outlawed in the island's waters. However, the sport is still a lot of fun when practiced in places where it is legal, like around other Hawaiian islands. There are many reasons that Kauai has chosen to outlaw it, though, some of which are based on dangers inherent in the sport itself.
What is Parasailing?
Parasailing is an adventure sport that many people look forward to participating in on their vacations. It involves a parachute, similar to those used in skydiving or paragliding, a special harness, a tow line, and a speedboat with a special rigging for attaching the parachute.
The parachute is attached to the tow line, which is attached to the rigging on the speedboat. Then, participants are harnessed to the parachute. When they are safely attached to the chute, the boat speeds up gradually and the parachute is released. It catches air from the wind generated by the boat's speed, and the participant is hoisted up into the air, dangling from the harness, to the extent that the tow line will allow.
Participants can ride around in the air as long as the boat stays in motion. When the ride is finished, the tow line is reeled in until the participant is once again standing on the boat's deck. Only then does the boat slow significantly.
Many people find parasailing a relaxing alternative to either skydiving or paragliding. Because they chute is tethered to the boat with the tow line, some participants feel safer than they would relying on the chute alone. In addition, the ride allows them a bird's-eye view of the ocean. In places with clear water, riders can often see sea turtles and other sea life swimming below them.
Why is Kauai Parasailing Illegal?
Parasailing has some inherent dangers. Tourists have been killed in oceans around the world practicing the sport. Some have suffered harness failures, where the rider fails to remain attached to the parachute once it's airborne. Other times, tow lines from separate parasailing boats have crossed, pulling both sets of riders out of the air.
Allowing parasailing also means allowing more fuel into the oceans. For locations with a high level of eco-consciousness, like Kauai, this means allowing more pollution than they are comfortable with.
For safety's sake and for the sake of the health of the surrounding oceans, Kauai parasailing is outlawed. However, the sport is still practiced other places, so tourists looking for it in particular should not struggle to find a destination that allows it.
Photo from savingqueen_com via flickr, licensed by Creative Commons