One of things you have to do when you’re in Surfers Paradise is sample the night life. The city never sleeps! The other thing you have to do is jet packing.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly, this is probably the closest you will ever come.
HOW JET PACKING WORKS
The Jetpack uses water for high-density propulsion. A long, flexible hose attached to the pilot’s flying apparatus is connected to a jet ski, which powers the pump. As the pilot navigates the body of water, the jet ski follows approximately 60 feet behind. This allows you to reach speeds of up to 25 mph and a height of 30 feet if you’re brave/skilled enough!
The main structure is built from fibreglass and is surprisingly light and easy to manoeuvre. It has a racing car-style harness to keep you secure and handlebars for (relatively) easy steering.
A variation on the jetpack is the flyboard, which has a jet of water beneath each of your feet, which are strapped tightly into boots attached to the board.
EXPLORE THE GOLD COAST WITH CONTIKI…
…AND HAVE NO REGRETS
I experienced jet packing while on Contiki’s BEACHES AND REEFS tour between Sydney and Cairns. Although jet packing isn’t actually one of the optional extra activities, you get a lot of free time in Surfer’s Paradise and you can easily arrange to spend a few hours jet packing at the lake. I can’t recommend this tour enough. It’s perfect for meeting other travellers, guaranteeing fun times all day every day and taking all of the hassle out of planning your travels.
Jetpack Adventures first made jet packing commercially available in Australia in 2012. The company’s main location is Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast. Others include Sydney, Central Coast, Sunshine Coast, Melbourne and the Whitsundays. The Surfers experience has recently been relocated to Waterways Drive, Main Beach.
A single 15-minute flight on either the jetpack or flyboard costs AUD$175, and at the time of writing, a combo including 10 minutes on each was also available for AUD$175. Other packages give you more time on each and concessions are available for group bookings. Jetpack Adventures customers also receive a voucher for 2-4-1 meals at the nearby Southport Yacht Club.
JET PACKING IN ACTION
Once you’ve pulled on a wetsuit, you’ll need to back yourself into the jetpack frame, which is positioned on the water’s edge. When you’re strapped in, you have to stand up and walk out into the lake. After a few demonstrations that you’re able to right yourself after landing face first in the water, it’s time to turn on the engines.
There’s a bit of a kick as the water starts to pump through and then you’ll feel yourself being propelled forwards – slowly at first.
One of the company’s experienced pilots will talk you through everything you need to do using audio in your helmet, and the jet ski driver will also be close by to assist if you have any questions.
You’ll start with simple twists and turns and eventually work up to flying out of the water and changing direction in mid-air!
Getting ready for your flyboard experience is as easy as putting on a pair of shoes – until you realise you’ll either have to crawl or be dragged out into the deeper water!
Once there, you get to do some dolphin dives as you get to grips with the amount of foot movement necessary to change direction. The flyboard is quite sensitive, but even the most uncoordinated person should soon be able to propel themselves out of the water until they’re standing upright with at least a few feet of air between them and the surface of the lake.
WHICH IS BEST: JET PACKING OR FLYBOARDING?
Jet packing is perhaps a little easier to get the hang of, but flyboarding feels less restrictive. With the jetpack you feel a bit like you’re swimming in a straight jacket, which is disconcerting when you fall from a height. Flyboarding has the added bonus of enabling you to do the thumbs up sign for photos or wave to your friends on the shore. I reached higher altitudes with the flyboard, but I’ve also spoken to people who preferred the jetpack because the flyboard was quite sensitive to foot tilting and they couldn’t stay airborne for as long as they could with the jetpack.
My advice would be to try both, as it’s surprising how much you can pick up in 10 minutes, but if you opt for just one both experiences are insanely good!
For a better idea of the difference between jet packing and flyboarding – or just to have a laugh at me and my friend Ben stacking it multiple times – check out the video below.
Unlike most tour operators, Jetpack Adventures let you use your own cameras to film the experience. You can either attach a GoPro to the handle of the jetpack for a beautiful close up of your face as you model the ‘drowned rat’ look, or you can ask your jet ski driver to film you on both the jetpack and the flyboard using a GoPro selfie stick. The video footage above was taken from the shore with a regular camera. Jetpack Adventures also have GoPro packages, ranging from $29 to $69 and including footage from one, two or three separate cameras. The latter comes as a fully edited video.
If you want to bring friends along for moral support, the staff are great fun to hang out with and they might even let some of your fan club have a ride on the back of the jet ski if you ask nicely.
Potential pilots should meet the following criteria:
♦ Total WEIGHT load of pilot: 150 kg maximum/330 pounds
♦ Total HEIGHT of pilot: 200 centimeters/7 feet maximum, and maximum waist size: 48 inches
♦ Able to swim/be comfortable in water
♦ No fear getting the face submerged briefly
♦ No heart conditions and no pregnant women
♦ Tandem: up to 50 kg/10 years
♦ Solo jetpack and flyboard: 10 years +
♦ Persons under 18 years of age at time of booking must be accompanied by parent/legal guardian
♦ 0% blood alcohol level
…and you might also want to prepare yourself for a few embarrassing photos…
I was a guest of Jetpack Adventures. Any opinions expressed are a genuine reflection on how I felt about the experience. I would not endorse it on this website if I wasn’t confident you’ll love it just as much as I did – if not more! For more information, check out the Jetpack Adventures Facebook page.