Love theocean? Then chances are good you love water sports. And no doubt you've doneall the usual - swimming, sailing, fishing, boating. Perhaps you've also tried somewhatmore daring sports, such as surfing, kayaking, and water skiing.
But haveyou checked out the latest, hottest trends - jet skiing, kiteboarding, andparasailing? Maybe it's time to add these new "Xtreme" thrills toyour personal bucket list.
At NorthCarolina'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 Atlanticon one side and a network of sounds on the other. Each island is home to variousoutposts 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'vealways longed for a wet & wild challenge, now's your chance to make ithappen.
Have youever dreamed of rocketing through open water at 40-60 miles per hour or more? Renta Jet Ski, Wave Runner, or other high-powered PWC (personal water craft) from anOuter Banks water-sports company. Then get set for the thrill of a lifetime.
Never jetskied before? Most rental companies provide step-by-step lessons. And restassured, your guide will keep watch throughout your ride to make sure you're safeand sound.
As abeginner, you may want to opt for a leisurely guided tour - gliding gently overthe calm waters of Currituck or Pamlico Sound, for instance. If you're aseasoned jet skier, you may wish to ramp up your speed and even try specialtricks such as jumping, flipping, spinning, and barrel rolling.
Jet skirentals are available at a number of outposts, including North BeachWatersports and Corolla Watersports in Corolla, North DuckWatersports in Duck, Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head, HatterasWatersports, and others. Most rental companies have convenient launchingdocks, so you won't have to worry about finding a public boat ramp.
Typical jetskis are sit-down models, but you can also find stand-up PWCs, which offer evenmore challenge. No matter which craft you choose, though, you'll burn plenty ofcalories, work a wide range of muscles... and have the time of your life.
Ready foreven more radical thrills? Try kiteboarding (also known as kitesurfing). Idealfor flat water - or for the ocean when the surf is low - it has become a hugelypopular pastime in the NC Outer Banks.
When youkitesurf, you ride a special surfboard behind a big, contoured kite attached bysturdy cables to a large, ergonomic handlebar. This controllable kite harnessesthe power of the wind to pull you across the water surface. At times it canlift you many feet into the air.
As youadvance in the sport, you'll learn how to do adrenaline-pumping tricks, such asflips and spins. But even as a beginner, you'll relish the rush of beingsuddenly airborne.
Kiteboardingcompanies dot the Outer Banks, from Corolla down to Nags Head and Hatteras. Alloffer in-depth lessons along with equipment rentals.
Kitesurfinggear is relatively affordable, so you may want to splurge on your ownequipment. Shops such as Kite Club Hatteras and Radikal Kite &Jetski have kites and apparel for sale.
Is it awater sport or an air sport? Actually, parasailing is both. You're attachedwith a strong, secure harness to a parachute-like canopy (called a parasailwing). At the same time, you're connected to a towing boat. As the boataccelerates, you're lifted high in the air for an unforgettable ride.
Someparasail companies can take you as high as 1200 feet, for an exhilarating aerialexperience with incredible scenic views. Not quite ready to soar that high? Optfor 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 everythingunder control.
Today's state-of-the-artparasail canopies allow for higher, more exciting ascents even in lower winds.Many companies also offer tandem harnesses for up to three people, so you canride side by side with your friends.
A number ofOuter Banks watersports companies provide parasail trips - including CorollaParasail (Corolla), OBX Parasail (Kitty Hawk), Causeway Watersports(Nags Head), Kitty Hawk Kites (several locations), and others. A typicalride may last 10-12 minutes. All told, though, the entire experience will takeabout an hour or so.
Interested in Something a Little Less Xtreme?
You'll findlots of options for laid-back fun in the NC Outer Banks - from easy-to-learnsports like stand-up paddle boarding to relaxing excursions such as sunsetcruises and dolphin-watching tours. So, whether you're looking for adventure orjust R&R, you'll easily fill up your bucket list.