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Paragliding vs. Parasailing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 4, 2024
Paragliding is a recreational flying sport using a free-flying wing, while parasailing involves being towed behind a vehicle, usually a boat, while attached to a parachute.

Key Differences

Paragliding involves a pilot flying a lightweight, foot-launched glider aircraft. The pilot sits in a harness and has full control over the wing. Parasailing, conversely, sees participants tethered to a parachute which is then towed by a boat or vehicle, with limited control over movement.
In paragliding, the pilot experiences a free-flying adventure, soaring and gliding with the currents of the air. Parasailing mainly offers a ride above water, with participants enjoying aerial views while being towed by a boat.
The equipment for paragliding includes a paraglider wing and a harness. Setting up involves finding a suitable launch site, usually a hill or mountain. Parasailing requires a specially designed parachute and a towing mechanism, typically involving a speedboat.
Paragliding requires more extensive training and skill, as pilots must understand aerodynamics and weather conditions. Parasailing is more accessible, often requiring minimal instruction, as the towboat driver controls most of the experience.
Safety in paragliding depends heavily on the pilot's skill and weather conditions. It has more potential risks due to free flight. Parasailing, being more controlled and usually over water, is generally considered safer but still has risks, especially in rough weather conditions.

Comparison Chart

Flight Control

Pilot has full control over the wing
Limited control, towed by a vehicle


Free-flying adventure, gliding with air currents
Aerial ride above water, towed by a boat


Paraglider wing and harness
Designed parachute and towing mechanism

Training and Skill

Requires understanding of aerodynamics
Minimal instruction needed

Safety and Risks

Dependent on pilot skill and weather
Considered safer but has its own risks

Paragliding and Parasailing Definitions


A recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders.
He experienced the thrill of paragliding over the mountains last weekend.


Popular as a tourist activity, especially in beach resorts.
Many beach resorts offer parasailing as a fun attraction.


Requires skill in controlling flight and understanding weather.
After months of training, she mastered paragliding techniques.


Involves being attached to a parachute-like canopy.
The parasailing experience was exhilarating as I soared above the water.


Popular in areas with hills or mountains for launch points.
The Alpine region is a favorite for paragliding enthusiasts.


A recreational kiting activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle.
We went parasailing along the coastline, towed by a speedboat.


Involves a lightweight, foot-launched aircraft without a motor.
Paragliding relies on natural air currents for movement and direction.


Requires little to no pilot skill, as the towing vehicle controls the ascent.
First-timers find parasailing to be a thrilling yet accessible activity.


Offers a free-flying experience, often at high altitudes.
Paragliding above the valley provided breathtaking views.


Generally considered a safer and more controlled aerial experience.
Parasailing was a safe way to enjoy the views from high above the sea.


The sport or activity of flying by means of a paraglider.


A parachute that is designed with openings or extensions to allow airflow and is towed behind an automobile or motorboat to lift a rider attached by a harness into the air.


The sport of gliding with a paraglider.


To be pulled into the air while harnessed to such a parachute.


The use of a paraglider in other settings, such as surveillance or military applications.


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.


Present participle of paraglide


Present participle of parasail


Gliding in a parasail


Do you need special training for paragliding?

Yes, paragliding requires training in flight control and weather conditions.

What is the main difference between paragliding and parasailing?

Paragliding is free flying, while parasailing is being towed by a vehicle.

Is parasailing safe for beginners?

Yes, it's generally safe and requires minimal instruction.

What kind of equipment is used in parasailing?

A parachute-like canopy and a tow rope connected to a vehicle, usually a boat.

Is parasailing dependent on wind conditions?

Yes, but less so than paragliding, as the boat provides the primary lift.

Can you control your direction in parasailing?

Control is limited as the boat largely determines the direction.

How high can you go in paragliding?

Paragliders can soar to several thousand feet, depending on conditions.

Do you need to be physically fit to paraglide?

Basic fitness is helpful, especially for takeoff and landing.

Can two people paraglide together?

Tandem paragliding is possible with a trained pilot.

What kind of views can you expect while paragliding?

Paragliding offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Can paragliding be done over water?

It's possible but more common over land, like hills or mountains.

What's the average duration of a paragliding flight?

It varies, but flights can last from a few minutes to several hours.

How does weather affect parasailing activities?

Rough weather can lead to cancellations; calm, clear days are ideal.

Is parasailing easier than paragliding?

Yes, parasailing is generally easier and more accessible.

Can you take photographs while parasailing?

Yes, if safety precautions are followed.

Can you parasail in any ocean?

Most coastal areas with parasailing operators are suitable, but local conditions apply.

Are age or weight limits common in parasailing?

Yes, most operators have age and weight restrictions for safety.

Are there competitive forms of paragliding?

Yes, there are various competitive paragliding disciplines.

What should you wear for paragliding?

Comfortable clothing and a helmet; weather-appropriate gear is recommended.

How fast do you travel in parasailing?

Speed depends on the boat's speed, usually around 15-30 mph.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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