JetLev is my new fave water sport, here’s why you need to get involved:
Until about a week ago, I hadn’t even heard of JetLev. In fact, when I first saw it a few days ago during my recent stay at the Hyatt Aruba, I was taken aback by the futuristic-looking contraption that laid in the water between taking customers on airborne joy rides. Frankly, it looked like a torture device until I saw a guest get strapped in and start to literally walk on the crystal clear Caribbean water as if he was a modern day vacation bible hero. I took a sip of my hibiscus cocktail and made a mental note: this is the direction my life needs to take.
By the next day I was signed up and ready for JetLev, which can best be described as a Buzz Lightyear-like machine that acts as a rocket pack for the water. You wear a bathing suit– it’s in the water, but you get strapped into something that looks like a hybrid between a bike seat and a 1980s fantasy.
After getting outfitted with a life vest and a helmet (which by the way, if you have long or big hair like I do will require the bigger size), an instructor takes you into the shallow parts of the water to explain how the machine’s ignition, key, and controls work. The instructors are super nice– they seem to really enjoy working with sun-starved tourists and basically enjoying the beach for a living. They can’t be blamed, and after watching them work I started thinking I may be doing life all wrong.
Once in the water, I did a few practice trips around a small patch of beach where the water was roughly 6-8′ deep. If and when the instructors feel like you have the concept of steering and managing your own height/air pressure (the air pressure is what propels the rider into the air), they kind of let you do your own thing. The helmet does include earpieces, though, which let the instructors sit dockside and give you instructions. I heard a lot of “push up… now down… steer left. MORE LEFT!” and other such advice throughout my experience.
I literally walked on water at one point, waved to hotel guests, and then had a weird gasp-of-air experience when I realized I was hovering without gravity thanks to the force of air the JetLev pack was pushing behind and underneath me. Truthfully, I wasn’t even that high above the water, but there’s something about feeling your feet totally off the ground with nothing but water beneath you that gives you a sort of spiritual high and fear rush all at once, even if only for a few seconds.
The entire first lesson was about 50 minutes, easy enough for anyone who is able to drive a car or ride a bike (you do need a mild amount of hand/eye coordination, but that’s about it), and a totally worthwhile experience if you happen to already be at the Hyatt Aruba or any of the nearby hotels with easy access to that patch of beach. Red Sail Sports, the JetLev operator, happens to share a pier with the Hyatt, meaning the shortest commute ever to tropical celebratory cocktails at the end of the lesson.
To get a better idea of how it works, here’s a short video of my first experience with JetLev:
For more information on JetLev and other watersports at the Hyatt Aruba, go here.