【Paragliding vs. Parasailing】 | Comparison between these two aerial sports

Welcome back to our blog! Today at Overfly Tenerife, we are going to compare these two aerial sports: paragliding vs. parasailing. Although it may sound quite obvious, there are many times that people confuse both sports because they are very similar somehow.

Down below you will find all the information needed and related with paragliding vs. parasailing. However, if you are interested in discovering more information related with paragliding, you must take a look at our blog:

Paragliding vs. Parasailing

The main difference between these two sports (paragliding and parasailing) is that paragliders are not attached to a vehicle. Parasailers are usually attached to a motor boat that generates impulse enough at the same time that it connects the parasail pilots to safety.

On the one hand, paragliding is a recreational and competitive aerial sport in which the pilot uses a paraglider — it is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft.

On the other hand, parasailing is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail.

There are two types of parasailing — the terrestrial and the aquatic. The terrestrial way of practicing parasailing is over land and you are attached to a jeep. Meanwhile, the aquatic way to practice parasailing is over water, where you will be attached to a motorboat. Anyway, if you use a paraglider, you will have the chance to fly like a bird.


Safe conditions of paragliding and parasailing

Safety is the highest priority when it comes to paragliding. Apart from the paragliding safety equipment, such as the helmet, safety conditions include being at the right place at the right time, such as being at a high cliff during a sunny day. You should pay attention to the speed of the wing because it can vary by the minute.

A paraglider should never take off into winds more than 24 kilometres per hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 40 to 48 kilometres per hour. Never take off in wet conditions such as rain, storms or snow.

Bear in mind that you must never practice parasailing if the wind speed exceeds 80 kilometres per hour. Everyone who flies using parasail needs to wear helmets to prevent head injuries and life jackets in order to prevent drowning.

Basic principles of both sports at launching time

One the one hand, we could say that there are 3 basic principles to paragliding: how to launch, how to turn, and how to land a paraglider. If you want to launch the paraglider, you can run into the wind and down a slope with the paraglider behind you. This is one of the many paragliding launch techniques, which is called “hopping” or “jackrabbit”, and it lets you get a feel for the lift the paraglider receives when it encounters air.

On the other hand, we find that in parasailing, the rider or the riders (2) are put into a harness which is attached to a parachute. As the vehicle starts to speed up, the air fills the parachute and the parasailer is lifted up. However, they keep attached to the vehicle by a tow line.


Origins of paragliding and parasailing

In this section, we want to tell you a little bit about the origins of paragliding and parasailing. However, we have already talked about the origins of paragliding in another post of our blog, so we invite you to read it for getting more complete information — Paragliding History ➞ Let’s take a look over the origins of this aerial sport

With regard to parasailing, the first time that someone practiced this sport was in 1961. That flight was performed by Colonel Michel Tournier — from France —, who was flying attached to a tractor. Later — in 1963 —, Jacques-Andre Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a license from Lemoigne, who invented the paracommander parachute. He bought the license in order to manufacture and sell the 24-gore parachute canopy. That canopy he had developed for towing received the name “parasail“.

We hope that you have enjoyed our comparison between paragliding vs. parasailing. Anyway, if you have any doubt or you need any further information, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be here to help you anytime! Remember that we are waiting for you in the south of Tenerife to fly higher than you have ever done before.

We want to fly with you; we want to be your wings.

Paragliding vs. Parasailing


The main difference between paragliding and parasailing is that parasailers are attached to a vehicle (usually a motor boat) that generates enough momentum and connects the parasailers to safety.

Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. Parasailing is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail. There are two types of parasailing: aquatic (over water where a motorboat is used) and terrestrial (over land towed by a jeep). With a paraglider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, climb to elevations of 15,000′, and go cross-country for vast distances.

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The paraglider consists of a canopy (the actual “wing”) constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by sturdy kevlar lines called risers, and a harness. In addition, the brake cords provide speed and directional control and carabiners are used to connect the risers and the harness together. The pilot sits in a harness for maximum comfort. A paragliding harness should let you feel like a king on the throne; check out the ones with a lumbar support adjustment strap for extreme comfort.

Paragliding (with a canopy)

The wing or parafoil needs to have a total area of 250 to 350 square feet and a span of about 30 feet. The weight should be no more than 10 to 12 pounds. The more cells of the leading edge are closed the better chance to have a smoother aerodynamic experience.

A variometer allows the flier to find the right air hub to continue flying high or a sinking jet stream to return to the ground. Pick up a clearly audible version with an integrated GPS. These are worth the extra pricing. The newest GPS positioning devices have links to Google earth, which can show terrain changes and be extremely valuable in preventing a run-in with the unknown. you are subject to the air currents around you much more so than when in a private airplane. The variometer is a useful instrument for telling you how fast you are rising and falling, information that will help you fly with precision and control.

Parasailing requires a parasail, tow rope, boat or land vehicle with a winch. Safe parasailing takes place behind a boat that has an engine with at least 90 HP. The company that organises parasailing must provide a body harness, a canopy for the start and a towline. In addition, safe parasailing requires an experienced boat driver, a skilled observer and a ground crew.

Safe Conditions

Safety is paramount when paragliding. Safe conditions include the right location such as a high cliff. Wind speeds can vary by the minute, but a paraglider should never take off into winds more than 15 miles per hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 25to 30 mph.Never take off in wet conditions such as rain or snow. The wing will soak up the moisture quickly and an uncontrolled descent is likely to occur. Cloud cover can affect atmospheric pressure.

One should not parasail in winds exceeding 50mph. All parasailing participants need to wear life jackets to prevent drowning and helmets to prevent head injuries.there are no obstructions in your take-off path. Some obstructions include, trees, other boats and mountains.

Parasailing (with a parachute, and grounded to the boat)

Basic Principles

There are 3 basic principles to paragliding: how to launch, turn and land a paraglider. To launch the paraglider, run into the wind and down a slope with the paraglider behind you. This technique is called “hopping” and lets you get a feel for the lift the paraglider receives when it encounters air.

In parasailing, a rider (sometimes two) is put into a harness that is attached to a parachute. As the vehicle he is on goes faster, air fills the chute and the parasailer is lifted up, but remains attached to the vehicle by a tow line. Parasailers ride to the rear of boats equipped with winches–machines that pull tow cables and parasailers back to the boat. As the boat accelerates, the parasail catches air and increased pressure within it lifts the parasailer into the air, at which point his altitude is dependent on the speed of the boat.

An introductory lesson in paragliding costs about $500. A tandem lesson may cost less, around $150. A certification course costs an average of $1500. A paraglider costs between $4000-$5000. As safety is paramount, it is recommended that only new equipment be purchased.

A one hour 40 minute parasailing flight can cost up to $55 in the U.S.


The best way to start paragliding is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. You fly solo during your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. Under radio supervision, you will fly solo from the training hill and progress to higher flights, all in two days. The basic techniques of paragliding – launching, turning, and landing – are fairly easy to learn. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on your own without instructor supervision, you need to take a Novice (Para 2) Certification Course, which generally takes a total of 7 days and a minimum of 25 flights. As this is a self regulated flight one does not need a license to fly.

Parasailing requires no formal training, and most beaches and holiday destinations offer parasailing activities. The ground assistants take their positions holding open opposite sides of the sail. The boat driver slowly begins accelerating to take up the slack line while ground assistants and the parasailor move forward with the rope. Assistants hold the guidelines to help the sail fill up with air. The parasailor should take a few long strides with the rope taut, but not aid in the liftoff process by jumping or pulling up his or her feet. The canopy will do this on its own. Steer the parasail by pulling down on risers on the side of the desired direction. No steering should actually ever be necessary. Release the safety pin to allow the parasailor to float gently down into the water at either a high or low altitude.

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Paragliding was originally used by the U.S. military and NASA. During World War II, the US Navy recruited and trained sailors to fly paragliders towed by submarines. The vantage point of the glider allowed the men to see over the horizon for any approaching warships. This was the first documented use of a free flying, foot launched aircraft in such a fashion. In 1961, Pierre M. Lemoigne invented the paracommander parachute, which had vents in the rear to allow for longer gliding From that time, paragliding has developed to become a popular recreational activity and a competitive sport. In 1978, three French paragliders, Jean-Claude Betemps, Andre Bohn and Gerard Bosson practiced a technique of running and jumping off the face of cliffs in the French Alps. This form of paragliding became increasingly popular, and in 1979 Bosson flew a paraglider at the Hang Gliding World Championships.

The first mentions of parasailing is a flight by Colonel Michel Tournier from France flying behind a tractor in 1961. In 1963 Jacques-André Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a license from Lemoigne (who invented the paracommander parachute) to manufacture and sell the 24-gore parachute canopy he had developed for towing which was labeled as a “parasail”.


The first Paragliding World Championship was held in 1989 in Kossen, Austria. Since that time, the championships have been organized by the Paragliding Commission of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or FIA, which governs all air sports. The championship is now divided into three separate events. One is for cross-country, another for aerobatic stunt, and one for accuracy. In addition to its championships, the FIA also maintains world records for paragliding.

Land based parasailing has been formed into competition sport in Europe. In land based competition parasailing, the parasail is towed to maximum height behind a 4 wheel drive vehicle and then releases the tow line and flies down to a target area in an accuracy competition. The sport was developed in the early 80’s and has been very popular ever since. The first international competitions were held in the mid 80’s and continue to run today.

Paragliding vs. Parasailing: What Is the Difference & Which One Is Best for You?

paragliding vs parasailing

The above conversation is what you can expect from two friends or even two strangers on the internet arguing about which is better between paragliding and parasailing. And the argument can get very intense at times. But which one is actually the better of the two?

At first glance, both paragliding and parasailing may seem similar and even confusing to people not familiar with them. But there are key differences between the two of them. I’ll be explaining what the two sports are and highlighting the differences between them. Then, you can decide which one appeals to you the most. So here we go.



What Is Paragliding?

Paragliding is an extreme and fun sport where a pilot runs or achieves lift by using a paraglider. The pilot sits in a harness that’s suspended under a curved wing.

Usually, the paraglider isn’t motor-powered and relies on the air and thermal differences to achieve life and cover long distances. But in some cases, a paraglider may receive some assistance from a motor – paramotor.

The curved shape of the wing is skillfully exploited by pilots to gain height, often reaching altitudes of a few thousand meters. The pilot is also able to glide over long distances and the glider is steered by pulling handles put beside each shoulder.


What Is Parasailing?

Parasailing is similar to paragliding, except the person is towed behind a vehicle, usually a boat. The equipment used for parasailing, a parasail, is different from that of paragliding. Parasailing can be done over water, aquatic parasailing, which involves a motorboat. It could also be done over land, terrestrial parasailing, with the pilot towed by a jeep.

Since a vehicle tows a pilot in parasailing, the vehicle will have to slow down to avoid the pilot breaking the connection between him and the vehicle to slow down.

Paragliding vs. Parasailing – The Key Differences

The main differences between paragliding and parasailing are the equipment used, safe conditions required, basic principles, and costs. All these will be discussed below.

Equipment Used – Paraglider vs. Parasail

The paraglider used in paragliding is a canopy/ellipse-shaped wing made from a light and tough material such as rip-stop nylon. The pilot is suspended from the wing by sturdy kevlar lines called rises, and a harness on which the pilot sits.

By sitting on the harness, the pilot is comfortable and controls the glider through brake cords that provide speed and directional control. Paragliding pilots use a variometer which allows them to find the right air hub to continue flying high or a sinking jet stream to return to the ground.

The equipment used for parasailing is more of a parachute. A harness is also used but the pilot is towed by a vehicle. If a boat is used, the engine should have a minimum power of 90 HP. Parasailing companies usually provide the body harness, a towline, and the parachute. Also, they provide a ground crew, a skilled observer, and an experienced boat driver.

Safe Weather Conditions

Paragliding requires the right weather conditions and launch site. Usually, a cliff, dune, or hill is used. Paragliders should check wind speed before takeoffs and never takeoff when wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour (mph) unless highly experienced and trained.

Regardless of the level of speed and experience, no paragliding pilot should fly in wind speed that exceeds 25 mph. Wet conditions, such as rain or snow, are also not ideal for paragliding because they may interfere with the control of the glider.

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Parasailing can be done in faster wind conditions compared to paragliding although wind speed should not exceed 50 mph. Parasailing participants are also advised to wear life jackets if they are towed by a boat to avoid drowning. Helmets are also recommended to prevent head injuries.

Basic Principles

Three key processes are involved in paragliding naming, knowing how to launch, maneuver, and land a paraglider. There are two launching techniques – forward and backward launching. On the other hand, landing is usually straightforward. Sign up for a paragliding class to learn the basics of the sport.

Parasailing is simpler as the participant is attached to the parasail that is then towed by a vehicle. As the vehicle gains speed, the parasail catches air and achieves speed. The altitude the parasail can achieve depends on the speed of the boat.


Introductory paragliding lessons can set you back by around $500. If you want to take a tandem lesson, you’ll need to spend a little more – $150. Certification courses are also available and cost about $1500 on average. And a paraglider can cost anywhere between $4000 and $5000.

You don’t have to buy parasailing equipment as the company will provide all you need. You pay per hour and a one-hour flight can cost around $55 in the US.

Skills Required in Paragliding and Parasailing

The pilot has total control in paragliding, and this is why it’s important to take paragliding lessons to learn proper takeoff techniques, how to control the paraglider, and land safely. Since weather conditions may vary, paragliding pilots also need to learn how to fly in different weather conditions.

Tandem paragliding is also available and only one person is in control of the glider. Usually, the most experienced pilot takes control and the passenger only has to participate during takeoff and landing.

Parasailing doesn’t involve any skill. The participant is more of a passenger as they achieve lift and height through the speed of the vehicle they are attached to. Your boat operator will give you a safety briefing before takeoff.

The ease of parasailing makes the sport enticing to people on holidays looking for quick thrills. They sit like a king on a throne as they are propelled by a vehicle. Easy peasy.


Where Can Paragliding and Parasailing Be Performed?

There are a variety of locations where paragliding can be performed but coastal areas or areas with hills or mountains are preferred. The reason for this is the ease to achieve lift and leverage thermals in these areas.

Tandem paragliding is available at some popular holiday destinations such as Bali for tourists. Tourists get to experience the thrill of paragliding without having to worry about controlling the glider as they are paired with an experienced pilot. Many paragliding clubs with access to suitable launch sites exist in almost all suitable paragliding locations.

Parasailing is usually carried out with a boat. The reason for this is that aquatic parasailing provides some level of safety should there be an issue. Participants are mandated to wear life jackets to prevent drowning should they find themselves in the water for any reason. The preferred choice of aquatic parasailing means the activity is restricted to coastal beaches attracting young and adventurous crowds.

Some people carry out parasailing on land and a powerful vehicle, preferably a four-wheel drive is used to tow the participant. Terrestrial paragliding is more dangerous than aquatic paragliding since landing is on hard ground. The driver of the vehicle must be focused and experienced. And only adrenaline junkies with extensive aquatic parasailing experience should participate in terrestrial parasailing.

Which One Is More Dangerous?

Paragliding is more dangerous than parasailing because the pilot achieves higher altitudes. Parasailing typically doesn’t exceed 100 or 200 m above the ground as tow speed and cable length are limited. The launching and landing of paragliding are also more complex compared to parasailing. And paragliding has a much narrower range of conditions than parasailing.

Some people carry out parasailing on land and a powerful vehicle, preferably a four-wheel drive is used to tow the participant. Terrestrial paragliding is more dangerous than aquatic paragliding since landing is on hard ground. The driver of the vehicle must be focused and experienced. And only adrenaline junkies with extensive aquatic parasailing experience should participate in terrestrial parasailing.

Which One Is Better?

Both paragliding and parasailing can provide fun and memorable experiences. I personally found paragliding more thrilling than parasailing but I definitely enjoyed both. While the one you choose will be a matter of personal preference, these are a couple of things to consider.

If you want to achieve greater height, enjoy aerial views, or enjoy the thrill of flying in a relaxing manner, you should consider paragliding. Paragliding is also a hobby and will require investment in training and gear. So if you are looking to take up a hobby, paragliding makes more sense for you.

If you don’t have time to learn paragliding, don’t intend to fly occasionally, don’t have the budget paragliding requires, or want a safer method of flying, then parasailing is the one for you. You can get a healthy dose of thrill and adventure when you go parasailing without the commitment paragliding requires.

Source https://overflytenerife.com/paragliding-vs-parasailing/

Source https://www.diffen.com/difference/Paragliding_vs_Parasailing

Source https://www.explorationjunkie.com/paragliding-vs-parasailing/

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