Western Washington cities like Seattle and Tacoma are literally surrounded by water. There are ample opportunities to get out on boats, kayaks, paddle boards and more to enjoy the maritime culture and some of the finest scenery in the country.
But there is only one place in the Seattle area where you can go parasailing—Pacific Parasail located on Tacoma’s waterfront.
Formerly, Pacific Parasail operated from a dock in Kirkland as well as there was another parasailing company based in Seattle, but as of 2016, Pacific Parasail in Tacoma is the only place still open. While it may be a drive from the Seattle-area, rest assured the experience is worth it!
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What is parasailing?
Parasailing is a water sport that requires no skill, no bathing suit and no wetsuit. It’s incredibly approachable whether you plan it months in advance or simply decide to do it spur-of-the-moment. It involves one, two or three riders sitting in a harness (almost like a swing, but more secure) that hangs from a parasail, which is similar to a parachute, but has gaps in it to let some air through. A boat pulls the passengers and the parasail behind it and the passengers sail high into the sky. While it may look like an extreme sport, parasailing is actually very gentle and even feels slow from high up in the air, but the views flyers get to experience are second to none.
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What’s the experience like?
Pacific Parasail offers two experiences in one—a boat ride around Commencement Bay in Tacoma as well as a 10 to 12 minute flight. All total, you’ll be on the boat about an hour, possibly by yourself or with only your party, and possibly with another party or two (more time on the water is never a bad thing, though). Before leaving the dock, you’ll be fitted with a life jacket, which you’ll keep on until you arrive back at the dock. When it’s your time to fly, you’ll be fitted with a harness that’s fastened around your midsection. The harness is almost like a swing. To take off, you’ll have a seat on a platform on the back of the boat and will simply be lifted up into the air. The ascent is slow and steady.
Once you’re up in the air, the flight is smooth and quieter than most people might expect. The parachute almost has a dampening effect on winds passing around you. Make sure to look around as views are really what parasailing is all about—you’ll see Mt. Rainier and the Olympics,... downtown Seattle (you can spot the Space Needle if you look closely and the day is clear), and wildlife far below you. Count on seeing lots of water birds, but also look for seals and maybe even a rare whale here and there if you’re flying between June and September. You won’t feel a lot of bumps or tugs. Flights are smooth and slow feeling, which helps even people a little nervous to try this out feel better.
When your flight is over, you’ll gradually be towed back to the boat and onto the platform. Your feet will never touch the water and you won’t get wet at all. As you come in, you’ll land right on your feet and a staff member will unhook you from the harness.
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Is parasailing safe?
Pacific Parasail has operated in Tacoma since 2003 and is family owned and operated. Boat captain and owner, Doug Luthi, is proud of the company’s safety record of more than 20,000 flights and no accidents. Chatting with him about the company’s history, he said that they always operate on the safer side of things—while parasails can go up into as high as 21 mph winds, he won’t let his company fly above 15 mph winds just to be sure.
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Pacific Parasail is usually open on the dock behind The Ram from May to September, but if the weather is nice, they may open sooner in the year. Generally, they are open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. or sunset seven days a week, but if weather is bad, hours can change. While it’s best to make reservations in advance to ensure your spot, be flexible. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you might not be able to fly. Check the forecast in advance as there’s really nothing like being up far above the water on a clear day.
Pacific Parasail has both 600-foot and 1000-foot towlines and you can choose which you get when you book your flight. The 1000-foot line costs a little extra, but gets you up a little higher—the perfect option for people who want to add a little more adrenaline to the experience!
You can fly by yourself, tandem (two people) or triple, so long as the total weight doesn’t exceed 450 pounds.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Location, Rates and Contact
Pacific Parasail is located at 3001 Ruston Way, Tacoma (on the dock behind The Ram). Rates start at $79 for single adults, $69 for military/student/seniors, and kids fly free with an adult. There are also group discounts.
For more information, visit Pacific Parasail’s website.