Paragliding VS Parasailing Compared- What’s The Difference?

We address the age-old debate between paragliding and parasailing, which is often raised by visitors on beach vacations or by those who are new to these sports. Both paragliding and parasailing have extremely similar sounds, making them easy to mistake at first. We’ll outline the distinctions between the two activities so you can choose one to attempt.

Running beneath a curved wing to get lift and fly is called paragliding, and it may also include a pilot and a passenger (tandem paragliding). A paraglider receives no help and is entirely propelled by the air and thermals, with the exception of paramotoring.

A person being dragged by a boat while tethered to a parachute in the enjoyable and straightforward pastime known as parasailing (parasail). The pilot reaches flight once speed and lift are attained. The pilot will slow down and land in the water as soon as the boat slows down or the pilot loses contact with the boat.

Basic differences between paragliding and parasailing

On the one hand, we may argue that paragliding is based on three fundamental principles: how to launch, how to turn, and how to land. You can run against the wind and down a hill while carrying the paraglider behind you if you wish to launch it. One of the numerous paragliding launch methods, sometimes known as “hopping” or “jackrabbit,” allows you to experience the lift that the paraglider experiences as it comes into contact with air.

The rider or riders are strapped into a harness that is connected to a parachute in parasailing, on the other hand. The air fills the parachute as the car accelerates, lifting the parasailer into the air. However, a tow line keeps them connected to the car.

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The history of parasailing and paragliding

We’d like to briefly discuss the history of paragliding and parasailing in this section. However, we have previously discussed the history of paragliding in another blog article, so we encourage you to read it for further details. — Let’s look at the beginnings of this aerial sport, paragliding.

Parasailing was first performed in 1961, according to historical records. Colonel Michel Tournier, a Frenchman, flew the mission while being tethered to a tractor. Later, in 1963, Pioneer Parachute Company’s Jacques-Andre Istel purchased a license from Lemoigne, who had designed the Para commander parachute. He purchased the license so that he could produce and market the 24-gore parachute canopy. Parasail is the name given to the canopy he created for towing.

We hoped you liked reading about the differences between paragliding and parasailing. In any case, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need any further information. We are here to assist you at any moment! Keep in mind that we are waiting for you in the southern part of Tenerife so that you may soar higher than you’ve ever done.

Visual differences

A paragliding wing has a banana-like curvature and many air-holding cells that support flying. This is referred to as a “ram-air airfoil” in the context of aerospace engineering. A parachute used for parasailing is more like a half-dome form.

Both use a network of wires to connect the person to the wing or parachute. More changes may be seen here, with paragliding lines, risers, and hand brakes arranged to provide the pilot the most control. This amount of control is not possible with parasailing lines since the boat hauling the parasailer does all of the driving. While someone paragliding is the pilot of their craft, someone parasailing is only a passenger.

Skills required

You alone are in charge while paragliding alone. To guarantee they can safely launch, fly, and land a paraglider in a range of weather circumstances, paragliding pilots must complete extensive theoretical and practical training.

You are matched with an experienced pilot who will fly the paraglider and make all choices for you while tandem paragliding as a passenger. The only crucial actions are to launch with the pilot and elevate your legs upon landing to cushion the shock on your ankles. You will still get a briefing from your pilot before to takeoff to make sure you are completely informed of what will happen and what you must do while launching and landing.

Parasailing is a simple activity that requires minimal expertise. You’re standing on a boat, and the boat’s speed gives the parachute lift. Even so, a skilled pilot will still give you a safety briefing to make sure you know exactly what to anticipate and how to indicate if you want to cancel your trip early.

Due to this, parasailing is a fantastic activity for tourists looking for a fast thrill. If you just have a little amount of free time to spend while participating in other vacation activities, paragliding could appear like a bigger time commitment.

Where are the best places to go paragliding and parasailing?

Since it is simpler to get lift and take advantage of thermals on hilly or mountainous terrain, paragliding is often done there. These areas often include beach vacation spots like Bali, coastal towns like Cape Town, or snowboarding/skiing destinations like Aspen, Colorado, Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, or the Tirol region of Austria. Nearly all acceptable paragliding destinations have a large number of paragliding clubs with access to adequate launch sites.

However, if there is enough wind and running can be included into the launch, it may also be done in other places, such as flat, inland sites. Most of the time, parasailing is done from a boat, where there is some amount of protection in case anything goes wrong. This often limits this pastime to water settings, typically coastal beaches that draw a youthful, social audience.

Another method of parasailing is to be pulled by a car, often a four-wheel drive. Off-road parasailing is another name for this. It’s a risky pastime since there is just hard ground to land on; there is no water. Only experienced parasailers who regularly fly above the sea should try this. To maintain adequate speed and make sure you can land safely, the car’s driver must also be skilled and focused.

Equipment needed

The paraglider comprises of a harness, a rip-stop nylon canopy (the real “wing”), and risers, which are strong Kevlar cables from which the pilot is hung. Additionally, the harness and risers are connected by carabiners, and the brake cables govern direction and speed. For optimal comfort, the pilot is secured in a harness. If you want to feel like a king on the throne when paragliding, look for a harness with a lumbar support adjustable strap.

The benefits of paragliding with a canopy

The wing or parafoil must have a span of around 30 feet and a total area of 250 to 350 square feet. No more than 10 to 12 pounds should be used. The likelihood of experiencing a smoother aerodynamic experience increases with the number of closed leading edge cells.

A variometer enables the pilot to locate the ideal air hub for continued high flight or a sinking jet stream for descent. Choose a version that is well heard and has a GPS. These are pricey, but they are worthwhile. The most recent GPS tracking systems have connections to Google Earth, which may display changes in the topography and be quite helpful in avoiding an encounter with the uncharted. Compared to being in a private jet, you are considerably more susceptible to the air currents surrounding you. With the aid of the variometer, you may fly with more control and accuracy by learning how quickly you are rising and descending.

A parasail, tow line, boat, or ground vehicle with a winch are necessary for parasailing. A boat with an engine of at least 90 HP is required for safe parasailing. A body harness, a start canopy, and a towline must be provided by the parasailing organization. A professional observer, a ground crew, and an experienced boat driver are also necessary for safe parasailing.


When paragliding, safety comes first. Safe circumstances include the ideal setting, such as a tall cliff. Although wind speeds might fluctuate by the minute, unless a paraglider pilot is exceptionally skilled, they should never take off into gusts over 15 mph. In winds of 25 to 30 mph, never fly. Never take off while it’s raining or snowing. The moisture will be swiftly absorbed by the wing, which increases the likelihood of an uncontrolled fall. The atmospheric pressure may be impacted by cloud cover.

In gusts greater than 50 mph, parasailing is not recommended. All parasailers must wear helmets to protect their heads from injury and life jackets to avoid drowning. There are no obstacles in the way of your takeoff. Trees, other boats, and mountains are a few examples of obstacles.

Basics of operating

How to launch, turn, and land a paraglider are the three fundamental concepts of paragliding. Run down a hill towards the wind while carrying the paraglider behind you to launch it. By using the “hopping” approach, you may experience the lift that the paraglider experiences as it comes into contact with air.

A rider (or two, sometimes) is strapped into a harness that is connected to a parachute while parasailing. The parasailer is pulled higher as air fills the chute as the vehicle he is riding in moves faster, but he is still connected to the vehicle by a tow line. On boats with winches—devices that draw tow wires and parasailers back to the boat—parasailers ride at the rear. The parasailer is lifted into the air by an increase in pressure within the sail as the boat speeds up; at this point, the parasailer’s height is governed by the boat’s speed.


A paragliding beginner’s class costs roughly $500. Lessons with a partner might cost as little as $150. The average cost of a certification course is $1500. Costs for paragliders range from $400 to $5,000. It is advised to always buy brand-new equipment since safety should always come first. In the United States, a one-hour, forty-minute parasailing ride may cost up to $55.


An introductory tandem flight is the ideal way to get into paragliding. You get a taste of flying from this. One benefit of paragliding is that you get to fly alone on your first day of training. Over the course of two days, you will fly alone from the training hill and advance to greater altitudes under radio monitoring. Launching, turning, and landing are the three fundamental paragliding maneuvers, and they are all quite simple to master. However, you must enroll in a Novice (Para 2) Certification Course, which typically requires a total of 7 days and a minimum of 25 flights, in order to gain the fundamental abilities required to fly independently without instructor supervision. One does not need a pilot’s license to participate in this self-regulated flight.

There is no official training needed for parasailing, which is an activity available at most beaches and vacation spots. The ground helpers take into position, holding out the sail’s opposing sides. While ground crew members and the parasailer advance with the rope, the boat’s driver gradually accelerates to pick up the slack. To assist in filling the sail with air, assistants hold the guidelines. The parasailer should take a few lengthy steps while holding the rope tight but should refrain from leaping or lifting up his or her feet to assist with liftoff. The canopy will carry out this task by itself. Pulling down on the risers to the side of the desired direction will steer the parasail. Actually, there should never be a need for steering. The parasailer may float into the ocean at either a high or low altitude by releasing the safety pin.


1989 saw the debut of the Paragliding World Championship at Kossen, Austria. Since then, the governing body of all air sports, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or FIA, has been in charge of organizing the championships: the Paragliding Commission. There are currently three distinct competitions within the tournament. One is for precision, one is for aerobatic stunts, and one is for cross-country. In addition to its competitions, the FIA also keeps track of paragliding world records.

In Europe, land-based parasailing has developed into a competitive activity. In land-based competition parasailing, the parasail is hauled to its highest point behind a four-wheel drive vehicle, then the tow line is released, and the parasail flies down to a target area in a competition for accuracy. The early 1980s saw the development of the sport, which has since become immensely popular. The first international tournaments began in the middle of the 1980s and are still going strong today.

Effect of the Weather

The safety of paragliding and parasailing is influenced by the weather. It is not worthwhile to attempt any of these activities in heavy winds. If you’re trying any of these activities for the first time, you want it to be both safe and entertaining.

When there is no wind, paragliding is more dependent on run-up and thermaling skills. Paragliding is more susceptible to meteorological conditions. For experienced paragliding pilots, winds above 18 mph are too risky. If the wind speed is between 12 and 15 mph and you are going tandem paragliding, the operator will probably cancel or postpone the trip.

At wind gusts of around 25 mph, parasailing operators will often cancel or postpone a trip. Pilots with experience have been known to parasail at speeds of up to 50 mph, although there are significant hazards involved.

Additional Interesting Information

Many parasailing companies will let you choose between returning to the boat or going submerged. This may be fun to do with friends or as a refreshing activity on a hot day. You can get a bird’s-eye perspective of some incredible places by paragliding. From the Austrian Alps to the mountain, city, and coastal convergences in Cape Town to the breathtaking beaches of California and Bali.

What is the best option for you?

Which is better, paragliding or parasailing? Which ought I to try? If you haven’t experienced either, you’ll likely discover that they both provide you a pleasurable and unforgettable experience. However, if you can only choose one and you want to choose the activity that is perfect for you, we’ve got some factors to take into account.

Paragliding is a fantastic choice if you want to soar high and take in the scenery or just unwind throughout the trip. If you want to start a new pastime that you can practice and grow better at over time, paragliding is a fantastic option. When you become proficient in paragliding, you may practice this activity on your own or with other like-minded individuals by joining a club.

Now you have a clear idea about the differences between paragliding vs parasailing. Keep these in mind and you will be able to get the best possible experience of what you do. If you are interested, you will be able to try both these as well.