I love the ocean.
But I’d rather be on it than under or over it.
So you can imagine my apprehension to try the H20 JetPack, a fairly new ocean thrill offered by H20 Sports Hawaii.
I’m not used to flying above the ocean — or being strapped to a jetpack powered by a 250-horsepower marine engine that follows you in a pod attached to the jetpack. I’d much prefer to sit on a longboard at a mellow surf break and worry about catching a set — not air.
But, as is often the case, I was on assignment. So you gotta do what you gotta do.
I met the crew at the H20 Water Sports office at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center. We rode a slow-moving boat into Maunalua Bay, where we met up with an anchored barge that had cubby holes for our belongings and every water toy imaginable.
There were about 15 of us on the boat, all visitors to the island and eager to get out on the ocean, whether on a Jetski or Banana Boat. Only five were braving the H20 JetPack — and all of them were from Japan.
Apparently, some Japanese celebrities had tried the JetPack and now it’s a badge of honor for visitors to Oahu to do the same.
You start by strapping the 27-pound jetpack to your back. Then you learn how to move it with hand controls. The throttle is controlled by an instructor, who communicates with you via a headset in your helmet. So it’s safe — at least safer than if you had to control the entire thing yourself.
Experts can fly up to 30 feet in the air — the length of the tube that connects the jetpack to the marine engine — but you’ll likely just get a few feet above the water. In fact, while most will catch some air, only a very small few will reach remarkable heights. (And they tend to be helicopter pilots, believe it or not.)
It’s not really my thing, to fly over the Pacific Ocean, though it’s definitely an experience. But if you’re a thrill seeker and you’ve exhausted all of your options in Hawaii, this is the toy for you to try.
For me, I’d rather fight the crowds in the lineup.
H20 JetPack is offered Monday through Friday only by H20 Sports Hawaii. Cost is $169 (subject to change). To try it, call H20 Sports Hawaii at (808) 396-0100 or visit www.h2osportshawaii.com.