Thursday, July 30, 2009

Parasailing up, up and away!

(This article was originally published HERE)
Photos courtesy of Dan Westphal
THE sight of multi-colored parachutes floating hundreds of feet above the ocean while being towed by a speeding boat has caught my interest for a long time, and I vowed I would not leave the island without trying this amusement ride that had tourists coming back for more. My chance at parasailing finally came early this month when my officemates planned a trip to Managaha Island.
Tasi Tours supervisor for Managaha Yuka Saito booked me and our advertising in-charge Jeanette for a parasailing trip and warned us not to take any alcohol.
At 2 p.m., we were already onboard a boat and speeding toward the middle of the ocean. A couple, then a mother and daughter were ahead of us to go up. We were to be the last. I watched with fascination as the huge parachute unfurled and those ahead of us flew into the skies by two’s.
I watched them as the boat captain, Dan Westphal lowered them into the water a few minutes later to get their feet wet then released them back into the air.
Before we knew it, our turn came. I examined the contraption tied around my body and struggled to drive away the fear that started to gnaw at my guts. I don’t have fear of heights but I don’t know how to swim.
I decided to think of the hereafter later if something happens and we get disconnected from the boat. Tightening my lifejacket, I looked down and saw the warning on the harness which says “the use of the device puts life and limb to risk. Use at your own risk” or something to that effect!
Uh-uh, some assurance indeed!
Before long, we were soaring high above the clouds. Capt. Dan set off at an average speed and I began to enjoy parasailing.
It was exhilarating to float over 150 feet above the clouds and enjoy the view of the islands which looked like tiny globs and the clear blue waters below. Suddenly we were plummeting down at full speed! I nervously looked down to check if we were disconnected from the boat.
I was expecting Capt. Dan to dip our feet slowly in the water but everything was going so fast before I knew it water was up to my neck and I took my first, second and third gulp of sea water.
Before I could think again take my fourth gulp of the ocean, we were soaring up and away again at such a speed I could only hold my breath as I held on for life. Soon it was over and we were gently lowered back to the boat. What I expected to be an ordeal I have to survive turned out to be a very enjoyable yet safe adrenaline-pumping activity.
Although not for the weak of heart or for those who suffer from acrophobia, parasailing is an addictive form of recreation once you get the hang of it.
Capt. Dan said that they get an average of 20 clients who go parasailing in one day, and up to 40 during the peak season.
Parasailing in Managaha costs $65 for adults and $45 for kids and available for people from six to 70 years old. For more information, please call Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. at (670) 234-7148, fax (670) 235-7141, email or visit

Monday, July 20, 2009

A banana, a boat and a ride

If you think that being a non-swimmer in a small island like Saipan is enough to make your life miserable and boring, you’re quite wrong. The island abounds with interesting water activities that gives you access to experience all the thrills and excitement of getting wet.
If you have been here for sometime, you won’t have missed seeing inflatable yellow or pink banana-shaped raft being pulled by a boat around the island. You won’t have missed seeing up to six people garbed in life jackets and helmets and holding on to a piece of plastic arm grip for dear life as the boat makes huge waves on the water.
Getting up very early last Saturday didn’t faze me like ordinary days because I was looking forward to a day of adventure at the Managaha Island. After a hearty lunch, Tasi Tours supervisor for Managaha Yuka Saito told us that she can book us for a ride at the banana boat. Five minutes before 1 p.m. I was already at the area designated for passengers of the banana boat, clumsily tying the knots of my lifejacket and my helmet.
“If the banana boat flips over, let go. Don’t hold on,” the boat captain instructed just before we pushed away from the shore. I fought the fear that was starting to build up inside me and instead started to pray that my life jacket can hold me if we indeed flip over. I chose the rear seat and it was a good decision because the five people in front of me warded off much of the water. We started off smoothly, but when we were some meters away from Managaha, the boat picked up speed and we rode above high waves, crashing through the breakers into the blue waters.
A thrilling ride indeed, with me saying my prayers so fast and waiting for the signal to abandon the banana boat whenever the boat made quick twists and turns.
As I held on for life on the small handgrip, my imagination went wild. If there was a leak or a small hole in the inflatable balloon, that would be my end, but of course it was just my imagination. I feared yet at the same time was excited at the thought of being forced to jump into the blue waters.
I clung to the assurance Saito gave us earlier that Tasi Tours has always put the safety of their customers in all the marine sports as their top priority.
The ride was brief, and before we knew it, we were heading back to shore. The memory of those 20 minutes of wet, thrilling adventure is something I will treasure.
Another option to the banana boat is the Banana Split. Unlike the banana boat where you have to balance your body, you can comfortably sit on the banana split but the thrill lies on the incredibly dizzying speed as you skim over the water.
Saito said they also refer to the banana split as water jet. She said the banana boat ride is available for children and adults for $30.
Other thrilling marine sports are available at the Managaha Island like scuba diving, bubble maker, sasy, parasailing, aqua naut, and snorkeling tour. For more information, please call Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. at (670) 234-7148, fax (670) 235-7141, email or visit
This article was first published HERE