By GABRIELA CAMPOS
School of Communication
University of Miami
Posted December 5, 2008
CRUZ BAY, U.S. Virgin Islands-- As a child, I always wanted to know what it would feel like to have wings and glide above the clouds as a bird overlooking everything and everyone below. Being able to parasail for the first time over the turquoise-blue waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, I was able to do just that.
Everyday tourists from across the United States and the world arrive at the U.S. Virgin Islands in search of the white sandy beaches, techno-colored Caribbean fish and a few days of complete serenity.
|Virgin Islands visitors Mike and Marissa Mogavero slowly rise about 100 feet into the air near St. Thomas (Photo by Gabriela Campos).|
I, on the other hand, was looking for adventure. I needed to find a way where I could enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the islands, but that I could also feel the adrenaline pumping through my body. Parasailing was just what I was looking for, especially since I had never done it before and did not quite know what to expect.
For my first time parasailing, Caribbean Water Sports and Tours seemed perfect, mainly because they are the only company in the U.S. Virgin Islands that provides parasailing. They have pick-up locations all over St. Thomas and St. John, yet, their most popular spot is on the cruise ship dock near the shopping areas of St. Thomas.
Though they usually take between 30 to 250 people parasailing a day, my specific day was kind of slow, for it was just myself and a couple enjoying their honeymoon. Then again, the busiest times of the year are always between February and April and the months of summer.
From the moment I stepped onto the small, about 20 seat boat, my heart started racing. Clumsy as I always seem to be in times like these, I was so nervous and yet, so excited, that I almost fell right off the Cruz Bay dock when trying to step onto the boat. Luckily, I was able to retain my balance and sit safely inside the boat, ready and able to listen to directions from the crew.
Greeted by Jotham Magocsi and Mike Glinka, the three first timers, the Mogaveros and I, were asked to fill out a waiver form. I soon began to ponder what could happen and whether or not I could be injured. But I convinced myself that nothing could and would occur. With the waiver signed, the boat slowly moved away from the marina and headed off towards Pillsbury Sound between the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.
|Newlyweds Mike and Marissa Mogavero enjoy their time parasailing (Photo by Gabriela Campos).|
Before I even knew it, Glinka was strapping on pieces of equipment around me and explaining how everything worked. The white and blue parasail was attached to a long towrope which was also attached to the back of the boat. I was then, volunteered by my fellow honeymooners, to go first. I was led to the back and asked to sit down on the flight deck where my harness was hooked to the parasail. It was right then and there that it finally hit me that there was no turning back now.
Slowly, the towrope was released, but I was not moving. All of sudden the boat gained speed and I was quickly hoisted up into the air. At first, somewhat stiff in shock, I grabbed onto the sides of the harness.
At about 100 feet above the water, I started to loosen up and gain confidence. I was gliding and slowly being lifted higher and higher. At about 400 feet, everything below seemed so small and unimportant. The boat was the size of my pinky and the wakes from the boat disturbed the crystal blue water below creating white lines of foam. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.
“You begin to notice the virtual absence of any wind, and you don't even have a sense of speed,” said Mike Mogavero. “Up there, you feel a profound sense of well being.”
Though the day was cloudy and definitely not the perfect day to parasail, the clouds did not ruin the view below. You could see both St. John and St. Thomas and if you looked farther away in the distance, you could even see the third island of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix.
The water was turquoise blue, so transparent that even shades of corals were visible. It was calm and completely silent. Not even the wind made any noise and for about ten minutes my mind was at ease. Everything was completely still and it seemed that time was frozen.
Until, I was so-called “dipped” in the ocean. I would not exactly call it a dip, but more of a dunk, where half of my body was submerged in warm ocean water of the Caribbean. I realized I should have worn a swimsuit and not jean shorts. A lesson learned for my next time parasailing.
At left, the Mogaveros prepare to return to the boat after 12 minutes in the air (Photo by Gabriela Campos).
Below, the view of St. Thomas from about 400 feet above the crystalline Caribbean water below (Photo by Caribbean Water Sports and Tours).
As I was reeled back towards the boat, I could not help but feel upset that it had all ended too soon. After sitting on the boat for another twenty minutes while the honeymooners took their turn, we slowly made our way back to the Cruz Bay dock and I was forced to re-enter reality. I could not help but overhear my fellow honeymooners as they talked among themselves about their experience.
“Wait till we tell everyone back home we went parasailing,” said newlywed Mike Mogavero.
That is exactly what I did. For the next hour, I spent all my cell phone minutes calling everyone I knew and telling them about my adventure parasailing. In fact, for the following couple of days, I would go on-and-on, telling everyone around me, how my first time parasailing was nothing like I had imagined.
Surely it was an adventure and adrenaline was pumping through my body the whole time. But parasailing was also extremely peaceful, tremendously relaxing and proved to be the best view of the beauty of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If You Go:
Caribbean Water Sports and Tours staff will pick you up anywhere in St. Thomas and St. John, but the most popular pick up locations include the Marriott Frenchman's Reef, Downtown Waterfront, and the cruise ship dock on St. Thomas and at the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center dock at Cruz Bay on St. John.
Prices start at $80 for singles and $130 for doubles.
Reservations should be made about 24 hours ahead where you can schedule a pick up time and place.
You can also pay by credit card in advance or after your adventure.