Bucket List: Extreme Water Adventures in the Outer Banks

Outer Banks water adventures

Love the ocean? Then chances are good you love water sports. And no doubt you’ve done all the usual – swimming, sailing, fishing, boating. Perhaps you’ve also tried somewhat more daring sports, such as surfing, kayaking, and water skiing.

But have you checked out the latest, hottest trends – jet skiing, kiteboarding, and parasailing? Maybe it’s time to add these new “Xtreme” thrills to your personal bucket list.

At North Carolina’s Outer Banks you can engage in practically every aquatic activity imaginable, from low-key to super-high-octane.

All told, these fabled barrier islands cover more than 200 miles, with the sparkling Atlantic on one side and a network of sounds on the other. Each island is home to various outposts where you can take lessons in all sorts of water sports, rent (or buy) the required equipment, book sessions, hire guides and spotters, and so on.

So, if you’ve always longed for a wet & wild challenge, now’s your chance to make it happen.

Jet Skiing

Have you ever dreamed of rocketing through open water at 40-60 miles per hour or more? Rent a Jet Ski, Wave Runner, or other high-powered PWC (personal water craft) from an Outer Banks water-sports company. Then get set for the thrill of a lifetime.

Never jet skied before? Most rental companies provide step-by-step lessons. And rest assured, your guide will keep watch throughout your ride to make sure you’re safe and sound.

As a beginner, you may want to opt for a leisurely guided tour – gliding gently over the calm waters of Currituck or Pamlico Sound, for instance. If you’re a seasoned jet skier, you may wish to ramp up your speed and even try special tricks such as jumping, flipping, spinning, and barrel rolling.

Jet ski rentals are available at a number of outposts, including North Beach Watersports and Corolla Watersports in Corolla, North Duck Watersports in Duck, Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head, Hatteras Watersports, and others. Most rental companies have convenient launching docks, so you won’t have to worry about finding a public boat ramp.

Typical jet skis are sit-down models, but you can also find stand-up PWCs, which offer even more challenge. No matter which craft you choose, though, you’ll burn plenty of calories, work a wide range of muscles… and have the time of your life.

Kiteboarding

Ready for even more radical thrills? Try kiteboarding (also known as kitesurfing). Ideal for flat water – or for the ocean when the surf is low – it has become a hugely popular pastime in the NC Outer Banks.

When you kitesurf, you ride a special surfboard behind a big, contoured kite attached by sturdy cables to a large, ergonomic handlebar. This controllable kite harnesses the power of the wind to pull you across the water surface. At times it can lift you many feet into the air.

As you advance in the sport, you’ll learn how to do adrenaline-pumping tricks, such as flips and spins. But even as a beginner, you’ll relish the rush of being suddenly airborne.

Kiteboarding companies dot the Outer Banks, from Corolla down to Nags Head and Hatteras. All offer in-depth lessons along with equipment rentals.

Kitesurfing gear is relatively affordable, so you may want to splurge on your own equipment. Shops such as Kite Club Hatteras and Radikal Kite & Jetski have kites and apparel for sale.

Parasailing

Is it a water sport or an air sport? Actually, parasailing is both. You’re attached with a strong, secure harness to a parachute-like canopy (called a parasail wing). At the same time, you’re connected to a towing boat. As the boat accelerates, you’re lifted high in the air for an unforgettable ride.

Some parasail companies can take you as high as 1200 feet, for an exhilarating aerial experience with incredible scenic views. Not quite ready to soar that high? Opt for a lower altitude, such as 600 or 900 feet. No matter how high you go, though, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Your captain and first mate have everything under control.

Today’s state-of-the-art parasail canopies allow for higher, more exciting ascents even in lower winds. Many companies also offer tandem harnesses for up to three people, so you can ride side by side with your friends.

A number of Outer Banks watersports companies provide parasail trips – including Corolla Parasail (Corolla), OBX Parasail (Kitty Hawk), Causeway Watersports (Nags Head), Kitty Hawk Kites (several locations), and others. A typical ride may last 10-12 minutes. All told, though, the entire experience will take about an hour or so.

Interested in Something a Little Less Xtreme?

You’ll find lots of options for laid-back fun in the NC Outer Banks – from easy-to-learn sports like stand-up paddle boarding to relaxing excursions such as sunset cruises and dolphin-watching tours. So, whether you’re looking for adventure or just R&R, you’ll easily fill up your bucket list.

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