If you are going to be in Kaanapali Maui and you are interested in going parasailing you are in luck! There are many options that depart from Kaanapali beach, the nearby Mala Wharf, and the Lahaina Harbor. You can choose from a variety of different packages that can take you flying by yourself or with a friend. All of the parasail companies that operate on Maui utilize the new “Winch” method of launching and landing the parasails. This is the safest way to parasail and was developed after many accidents happened using the old system.
The old parasail method (dangerous)
Kaanapali Parasailing is an activity that is much safer than it was in years past. Historically Kaanapali parasailing trips were done by attaching a static line to the back of a boat that has a parachute on the end that is known as a parasail. To try the parasail the boat captain will gas the boat to make the parachute take off into the air. Suspended under the parachute is the passenger(s). Sometimes companies will fly with up to three people riding on the parasail. In the past, the landing was something that required a very talented driver in order to do correctly. The driver would have to slowly ease down the throttle to allow the parasail to slowly lose altitude. At the same time, the captain will carefully maneuver the boat to allow the riders to land in a specific place. Normally, the landing zone was either a beach or a floating platform. Occasionally the boat captains would misjudge the landings which would lead to serious injury or in some cases even death. To make things safer, an entrepreneur on Maui decided to create something much safer.
The new winch parasail method (much safer)
What he designed was what is now known as the winch parasailing system. How it works is simple. There is a platform that is built on the back of the boat that has a mast on it. On the top of the mast is a winch that can let out and bring back in line. The parasailers take off by starting on the platform on the back of the boat and then letting out the line from the winch until there is 800-1200-feet of the line between the parasail and the boat. When it is time for the ride to be over, the boat crew will simply use the winch to bring back in the line and land the parasailers down onto the back of the boat for a gentle, safe landing.
All of the parasail rides in Hawaii are done using the winch method because it is so much safer for the riders than the older fixed line parasail system. In total, most of the parasail trips will take between an hour and an hour and a half. Each flight is normally about 10 minutes long, the total time is dependent on how many people are in the group and if everyone is flying single or tandem. If more people are flying tandem the trips are normally closer to an hour, if there are mostly single riders the trip length is normally closer to an hour and a half.
Kaanapali Parasailing only goes for half the year
Maui Parasailing is something that is only available when it IS NOT Whale season. During whale season the county of Maui pulls all the parasailing permits because it is not safe for the whales (or the parasailers) to do flights during whale season. The coast guard requires that boats in the whale preserve turn off their motors if whales come close to the boat. If there is a parasailer in the sky and the boat had to come to an immediate stop the parasail riders would drop out of the sky could possibly create a dangerous situation. For this reason, parasailing is not allowed during whale season on Maui. If you really want to go parasailing in Hawaii during the wintertime you will need to go to Oahu. There is not a whale sanctuary there so parasailers are allowed to operate all year round.