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Up in the Air: Paragliding vs Parasailing vs Skydiving

10 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Indian Express Magazine - Eye on 07 July, 2024

If you have been a regular reader of this space, you know that we have a travel video & audio series called ‘Travel Explore Celebrate Life’. We release a new episode every Tuesday on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and JioSaavn. So this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with my friend Sajid Khan who happens to be an avid paraglider. Check out the full episode on YouTube by scanning the QR code below:

And now, let’s get on with today’s topic. If you are an adventure sports lover like me, I’m sure at some point you have dreamt of soaring like a bird, feeling the wind rush past as you glide high above breathtaking landscapes. Let me tell you, we are not alone. The charm of the skies has captivated adventurers for generations, leading to the creation of some of the most thrilling aerial sports known to humanity.

Among these, paragliding, parasailing, and skydiving stand out as three exhilarating ways to experience the freedom of flight. Each offers a unique perspective and adrenaline rush, catering to different levels of daring and adventure.

So today, I wanted to dive into the fascinating worlds of paragliding, parasailing, and skydiving, comparing their experiences, requirements, and the best places around the globe to enjoy them.


Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport in which a pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing. The wing's shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the exterior. Unlike other forms of aviation, paragliding does not require an engine, making it one of the most serene and eco-friendly ways to experience flight. And let me use my experience in South Africa to tell you a bit more.

Imagine standing on a hillside, the wind gently tugging at your wing. As you take a few running steps forward, the ground falls away, and suddenly, you are airborne. The sensation is both peaceful and exhilarating. Paragliding offers panoramic views that are simply unmatched, allowing you to drift quietly above stunning landscapes. Whether it's soaring over alpine meadows, coastal cliffs, or verdant valleys, paragliding provides an immersive experience that is both thrilling and meditative.

As Sajid mentions in our podcast episode, paragliding does require a certain level of skill and training. Beginners typically start with tandem flights, where an experienced instructor controls the wing while the passenger enjoys the ride. To fly solo, aspiring pilots must complete a certification program, which includes ground training, flight theory, and practical flight sessions. Safety is paramount, so understanding weather patterns, mastering takeoff and landing techniques, and performing emergency maneuvers are critical components of the training process.

So what are some of the best places in the world for paragliding? Chamonix, France is one. Nestled in the French Alps, Chamonix offers breathtaking views of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak. The combination of dramatic mountain scenery and favourable flying conditions makes it a top destination for paragliders. There’s also Interlaken, Switzerland. Known for its adventure sports, Interlaken is a paraglider's paradise. The town is situated between two beautiful lakes and surrounded by towering mountains, providing spectacular aerial vistas. Next up, Pokhara, Nepal. With the Annapurna range as a backdrop and the serene Phewa Lake below, Pokhara offers a unique and awe-inspiring paragliding experience. Another place that comes to mind is Queenstown, New Zealand. Often referred to as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown boasts diverse and stunning landscapes, perfect for paragliding enthusiasts. And the final one on Sajid’s list was Oludeniz, Turkey. Famous for its Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz provides ideal conditions for paragliding, with stunning coastal views and consistent weather patterns.


Parasailing, also known as parascending or parakiting, is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a boat while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail wing. And I’m sure many among us have already done this in Goa, Phuket or Pattaya. The boat drives off, carrying the parasailer (or multiple parasailers) into the air. It's a popular water sport that combines the thrill of flying with the serene beauty of the ocean.

I think, parasailing is a unique blend of excitement and relaxation. As the boat accelerates, the parasail lifts you gently off the deck, and soon you are floating high above the water. The sensation is akin to swinging in a hammock in the sky. Unlike paragliding or skydiving, parasailing is relatively passive; you don't need to control the parachute, as the boat does all the work. This makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a more laid-back aerial adventure. The views are spectacular, especially over clear blue waters, coral reefs, and picturesque coastlines.

One of the greatest appeals of parasailing is its accessibility. There is no need for extensive training or experience. After a brief safety briefing and being fitted with a harness and life jacket, participants are ready to go. It's an ideal activity for families, couples, and anyone looking to add a bit of adventure to their beach vacation.

So what are some of the best places in the world for parasailing? First on my list is Phuket, Thailand. With its beautiful beaches and tropical scenery, Phuket is a top destination for parasailing enthusiasts. Another one that comes to mind is Dubai, UAE. Parasailing over the luxurious coastline of Dubai offers a unique perspective of the city's impressive skyline and artificial islands. There’s also Gold Coast, Australia. Known for its stunning beaches and surf culture, the Gold Coast is a fantastic place to soar above the waves.


And finally, let’s come to the craziest of them all, skydiving, an extreme sport where individuals jump from an aircraft at high altitudes and freefall for several seconds before deploying a parachute to slow their descent and ensure a safe landing. It's one of the most adrenaline-pumping activities out there.

The experience begins with an ascent to the jump altitude, typically between 10,000 and 15,000 feet. As you approach the jump point, the anticipation builds. Once you leap from the aircraft, you experience the ultimate rush of freefalling at speeds of up to 200 km/hr. This exhilarating descent lasts for about 60 seconds before the parachute deploys, transitioning you into a serene glide. The final phase of the jump offers breathtaking views as you float gently back to earth.

Remember, skydiving requires more training and preparation than parasailing but is more accessible than many people think. Beginners usually start with tandem jumps, where an experienced instructor is harnessed to them, managing the jump and parachute deployment. Those interested in solo jumps must undergo a more comprehensive training program, including ground school, tandem jumps, and accelerated freefall (AFF) courses. Safety is a top priority, with strict regulations and procedures in place to ensure a secure experience.

What are the best places in the world for skydiving? Again, first on my list is Interlaken, Switzerland. It offers skydivers breathtaking views of mountains, lakes, and valleys. There’s also Dubai. Skydiving over the Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Desert provides a unique blend of urban and natural landscapes. Another unique location is Queenstown, New Zealand. Here you enjoy incredible views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and rainforests. There’s also Hawaii in the USA. Skydiving in Hawaii offers incredible views of volcanic landscapes, lush valleys, and pristine beaches. And finally, Cairns, Australia. Known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, skydiving in Cairns provides a unique perspective of one of the world's natural wonders.

So if we are to think about it, what is the right adventure among these for you? The answer is, it depends. Choosing between paragliding, parasailing, and skydiving largely depends on what you're looking to get out of the experience.

Parasailing is the most accessible of the three activities. Paragliding offers some of the most scenic views possible. Skydiving offers a unique combination of intense and scenic views. The freefall provides a rapid, heart-pounding perspective, while the parachute descent allows for a more prolonged enjoyment of the surrounding landscape from a higher altitude than parasailing or paragliding.

With all this said, let me just put out a disclaimer for you. Each activity comes with its own set of physical requirements and safety considerations. So it’s always best to know your own fitness level and to consult your doctor before jumping onto any of these adventure activities.

Personally, I find that each activity has its own charm. Paragliding offers a beautiful, meditative experience where you can truly connect with nature. Parasailing is perfect for a relaxed, enjoyable time with friends or family. And skydiving  there's nothing quite like the rush of freefalling from the sky.

So, what would you like to do? Whether you choose to glide gently, sail smoothly, or dive boldly, the skies are waiting to offer you an unforgettable adventure. Until next time, keep Celebrating Life!

Listen to more travel stories like this on our podcast Travel. Explore. Celebrate Life on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, JioSaavn, Youtube.

July 06, 2024


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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