Channeling my inner George Jetson, I strap the jet pack to my feet.
However, even with the power of flight literally at the tip of my toes, there is not initial success. There are feeble lift offs out of the water and face plants, belly flops and comical backward bails. But before long I’m flying, feeling like a majestic seabird soaring above Mexico’s Banderas Bay. This is flyboarding, the newest craze in adventure water sports.
And as the name suggests, you fly above the water on what looks like a modified wakeboard. A 40-foot hose is attached to this contraption from a jet ski and the watercraft’s jet propulsion and resulting rush of water thrusts you skyward.
I first see an offering for this $129 adrenalin rush while on holiday in Riviera Nayarit, the luxe vacation spot just north of Puerto Vallarta. Vallarta Adventures promises heart-pounding thrills with safety and success.
The company touts flyboarding as having extreme street cred, but if you can stand up and follow simple instructions you can easily soar. After a 10-minute steep learning curve, I’ve got the hang of it and I’m doing 360s (well, more like 270s), lame dips and weaves and the odd dive into the sea to emerge like an injured dolphin.
But I’m still proud of myself, after all, I’m flying.
After a half-hour, I return to the boat jubilant to the cheers of Captain Alex, instructor Israel and photographer Jaime. Alex decides to give me a demo so I can grab some pictures. He’s a pro. Immediately he’s high in the air doing front and back flips, backward plunges and perfect dolphin dives. By comparison my flyboarding prowess is revealed for exactly what it was: a middle-aged gringo amateur trying to look cool.
Meantime, my wife is back at Grand Velas All-Suites Resort not missing me, or flyboarding, at all. We’ve picked this piece of paradise because it’s the only five-diamond all-inclusive along the Mexican Pacific and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. And boy, does it deliver. Our ninth-floor suite has stunning views of the elaborate pools complex, golden beach and ocean. After the flyboarding, the serenity massage at the spa is just the ticket.
There are only six four-diamond restaurants in Riviera Nayarit and three of them are at Grand Velas. Tourist book in here as much for the food as they do the sun, sea and sand. Signature resto, Piaf, does French well with duck confit and escargot. Italian-themed Lucca does wonders with ravioli and Frida, yes, it’s named after the famous uni-browed Mexican artist, does Latin-inspired beef tenderloin.