Flying high, flying fast around Big Bear Lake
Let the good times fly! Soar 300 feet above the lake with Big Bear Parasail or fly around it during high speed New Zealand jet boat rides in a true amusement park-like experience. Waverunner and jet ski rentals too. At the Fun Dock at Pine Knot Landing. 439 Pine Knot Blvd., Big Bear Lake. (909) 866-IFLY.
One big and wet rollercoaster ride...
Cody Lee can identify with the above quote in the log at the Fun Dock at Pine Knot Landing. He had so much fun on his initial ride aboard Big Bear Parasail’s New Zealand-style aluminum jet boat, the 16-year-old came back for more the next day.
"It’s a bumpy thrill ride of awesomeness," he said upon returning to the dock—wet—after an exciting 30-minute ride on the lake. "It’s way better than rides at Disneyland. (The driver) took us into covers this time, so it was a completely different experience."
Susan Tosko was along for the ride and agreed. "It’s a revitalizing wet roller coaster, full of fun and energy," she said.
Jet boat rides are also a great way to cool off, particularly at the end when the boat does a 270-degree "Hamilton" spin at the end. "A big wave came over us," beamed nine-year-old Madison Lee.
Powered by an 8.1 liter 496cc fuel injected 375 horsepower engine, the 12-passenger jet boat has been turning a lot of heads on the lake since it began operating in May. It’s the only New Zealand-style jet boat west of the Mississippi, built for safety—it’s Coast Guard approved with a 3/8" aluminum bottom plate—and also speed. She could probably do upwards of 60 mph even at Big Bear elevation, if not for the lake’s speed limit of 35.
"We’ve had people who did it in New Zealand come up and ride because they heard we were running one up here," Big Bear Parasail’s Wally Weber said. "Everybody agrees, it’s an Indiana Jones ride on the water. The ride is similar to the big jet boats on the Colorado River but this is smaller and much more intimate."
The boat zigs and zags around the lake, whipping turns off like a water or jet skier. "That’s what this basically is, a giant jet ski," Weber said. "Some people don’t want to rent a jet ski and get all wet. This is the same thing, except you stay dry." Except at the end, that is, when it’s time for the Hamilton spin, and the whole boat tastes the spray...or wears it, depending on where they are sitting.
Jet boat rides zip down to China Island, zoom back past Solar Observatory, then cross the lake for the finale. "Every ride is different, every spin is different, because we’re not on a track," said driver Brian Boyd. "Where you sit on the boat can make a difference on the ride you get, and how many people are on board. We make adjustments to every ride based on boat chop and traffic. The full boat we had out this morning had an awesome time."
Which seems to be a phrase that comes up when describing Big Bear’s latest thrill ride. The boat came from Lake Fontana in Bryson, North Carolina two years ago. Its bright green color makes it hard to miss, and like Superman she’s faster than a speeding bullet, skimming over the water like a lime blur.
Jet boat rides are $29, 12 and under $19 and must ride with an adult. Rides go out at 12 and 2 p.m. daily plus at 4 p.m. weekends, or anytime with a minimum of five passengers.
It's like floating on a cloud...
Thrills are the name of the game at Big Bear Parasail. The signature parasail ride takes flyers to a height of 300 feet above the lake as the 600-foot tow rope is stretched. Above the lake there’s no noise, just incredible quiet and breezes, while views stretch in all directions to include the ski resorts and distant peaks.
Big Bear Parasail offers a ride that’s quite different from those at other operations. Flyers don’t get wet unless they want to; all takeoffs and landings are done from the boat’s platform, and are hydraulically controlled by a special winch operated by the captain. Soar in your street clothes if you prefer, or opt to have toes, feet, knees or everything dunked if wind conditions are favorable. Each flight is about ten minutes in the air, the industry standard.
Big Bear Parasail is open daily at 10 a.m., flying till 4 p.m. weekdays, 6 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Single flyer parasail rates are $79, while tandems takeoff for $129, wind conditions permitting. Observers can get a front row seat on the boat for $20 if there’s room, under 12 observe for free.