One of the many things that keep us traveling is the excitement of seeing a new place, and there are big thrills to be had when you get a view of the land- and seascape while parasailing. In just about every cruise port, you'll find folks parasailing, soaring above the water, taking in a sky-high view of their ship, the sea and the city nearby.
If you're new to parasailing, it goes like this: After a safety talk, you board a boat and head out and then you strap yourself into a harness attached to a huge parachute and as the boat accelerates, you rise into the air. Don't panic, you're tethered to the boat by a strong cable, but you'll fly high -- sometimes as high as 1,300 feet -- and after you've had some time to look around, they'll reel in the cable and you'll descend gently to the boat.
Whether you're a parasailing veteran or the idea gives you goosebumps, read on because we've got a list of some of the best cruise ports for parasailing that you'll find anywhere.
Want to ride in a UFO? We do too, but until we launch UFOCritic.com, we'll have to settle for parasailing Hawaii over the waters of the Big Island with UFO Parasail.
On an excursion from Kona, you'll get major air thanks to a tether that stretches to an incredible 1,200 feet (that's nearly a quarter-mile, if you're counting), putting you high above the waves for 10 minutes or more on each ride. While you're up there, one of the amazing sights you'll see is the water in the bay below; it's so clear you can see right to the ocean floor and spot all sorts of aquatic wildlife from schools of fish to dolphins to sharks.
Ride solo, in a tandem or even in a triple harness for longer rides and to share the experience with friends.
From the air, the long, thin shape of Roatan makes an impressive sight. Parasailing around this Honduran port will give you a peek at the jungle-clad island and the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean -- home to way too many schools of fish to count.
You'll see the waters change color from a deep, sapphire blue to bottle-green and turquoise near shore and shallow reefs. Roatan Trips and Tours will send you 800 feet into the air to spy on the fish-filled sea; expect 15 to 20 minutes of flying time, which is plenty to get your fill of the beauty here.
Other tour operators -- West Bay Tours, Detour Roatan and plenty more -- offer parasailing excursions perfect for your day in port.
Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas
Royal Caribbean's revamped private island, now Perfect Day at CocoCay, is a total cruise playland filled with things to do: ziplines, a water park, a huge freshwater pool -- even a giant helium balloon. While you're there, spend some time in or under the water snorkeling and kayaking, but be sure to give parasailing a try.
Offered through Royal Caribbean's shore excursion program, parasailing rides will send you hundreds of feet in the air for an impressive view of the ship and the island and the chance to see the reefs and grass beds in the surrounding waters. You'll spot schools of fish, plenty of snorkelers and sunbathers, and maybe even members of your own group waving from far below.
Castaway Cay, The Bahamas
Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay has everything you expect from Disney -- costumed characters, plenty of places for kids to play, top-notch customer service and all the adventure and activities you can handle.
Yeah, you can go fly fishing, pet a stingray and get on a jet boat tour, but as thrilling as any of those can be, how can they compare to soaring high above the turquoise waters and sandy beaches? You'll only get that view parasailing.
As you soar more than 600 feet above the water, you'll be treated to the sight of your ship and of Castaway Cay before you descend back to the boat. The thing we love best about this parasailing tour is that Disney allows kids as young as 8 to fly (as long as they meet the minimum weight requirement and fly with an adult).
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
New Zealand's Bay of Islands is full of, well, islands. Hundreds of them. As your ship comes into this bay, you'll snap a dozen photos and still not capture the size and scale of this place. To do that, you need to get higher, and the way to do it is with Flying Kiwi Parasail.
Flying Kiwi is located in the town of Paihia, a short walk or even shorter ride from where the tender boat drops you off; it takes tons of cruise passengers on breathtaking flights every year.
From your sky-high seat (its 1,300-foot flight is the highest we've found), you'll see just why Bay of Islands has this name. If you're lucky, you'll spot dolphins, orcas, seals and other sea life below you.
Imagine boarding a speedboat and darting out through the waves into the blue Caribbean Sea and then flying high above, admiring the coastline of Aruba and skyline of Palm Beach. You can do it. Several parasailing outfitters in Aruba can get you hundreds of feet in the air to take in the view and on the way down, they can even let you dip in the water.
Aruba Watersports Center offers parasailing and a whole slate of adventurous activities (like scuba and snorkel trips, WaveRunner rentals and more); AquaXotic Sports and Delphi Watersports have similar activities, but the star is parasailing.
Flights in Aruba range from 400 to 600 feet, and while it's not the highest parasailing ride you can take, the reward is worth the trip. Once you see the reef-studded water and schools of fish below, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
Samana and Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic
Go parasailing in the Caribbean anywhere and you'll see water in a dozen shades of blue, but parasailing over Samana Bay and Cayo Levantado, you'll see the mountains and the vivid green of the forest descending to the sea.
And that's not all. Every year, more than 3,000 humpback whales migrate to the waters around the Dominican Republic, and from your seat high in the sky, you can -- if you're lucky -- spot a pod of whales or even a mother and her calf. Afterward, it's beach time, where you can wave to the other parasailers filling the sky.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
At the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, the wind and water are just right for parasailing, and soaring over Cabo San Lucas is a perfectly peaceful way to take in the sights.
What sights? Besides the skyline and the folks sunbathing the day away on shore, there are whales to spot, surfers to see and even sea lions. If you're parasailing in the right place, you might even see Lover's Beach and the famed Arch.
No matter where you're flying, there are plenty of options for parasailing outfitters. Happy Flights Cabo works with cruise passengers (and even tries to get you in the air to see your ship), as does Cabo Parasailing and Chilango's Parasailing.