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Published July 16th 2014
Spins, speed, spray, sightseeing, splashes and scenery
High speed propulsion and 360° spins are usually more the stuff of my nightmares than my dreams; an adrenaline junkie thrillseeker I am not. But on my recent trip to the Gold Coast I discovered an activity that combines spins, speed, service and safety in an adventure package that really has something for everyone, even me.
All aboard our jet boat. Image supplied by Paradise Jet Boating.
Paradise Jet Boating is the Gold Coast's original jet boating experience and has been operating since 2004. Our scheduled 11 am departure required us to check in at 10.30 am at their purpose-designed Main Beach Adventure Terminal at Mariners Cove Marina. If you're staying on the Gold Coast you can take advantage of their free shuttle service from a number of locations in their distinctive stretched super jeep.
Paradise Jet Boating is a well-oiled machine - the whole experience, not just the boats. This is a highly efficient and friendly tourist operation. At the check-in counter we read the terms and conditions and signed on for the ride, along with other thrill-seeking couples, groups and families. Our valuables, including cameras and phones, were locked in secure tubs and we lined up to receive our very fetching hooded spray coats and life jackets.
We were seated in the surprisingly comfortable boat where Duffy, our host and skipper, explained the safety procedures and then we were on our way out into the Broadwater for the fifty-five minute premium experience 'Broadwater Adventure', exploring 35 kilometres of waterways. The varied backdrop for the ride includes highrise towers, sandy beaches and luxury homes.
Duffy was charming and very good at his job: an equal parts mix of expert jet boat driver, knowledgeable tour guide, comedian, and sadist. Now there's a man who seems to really enjoy his work. And why not? Where else do you get to drive at breakneck speeds, perform daredevil spins and ensure that your passengers are well and truly saturated by the end of the trip? And all in those beautiful Gold Coast surrounds.
Our Broadwater Adventure featured many exciting jetboat manouvres, always signalled in advance by Duffy, so nobody was taken unawares. We raced full pelt towards markers, only to slip by in a last-minute dodge or turn. Duffy performed many 360° spins in both directions, and with increased speed as people's familiarity and comfort levels increased. It was exhilarating and a lot of fun, even on a wintry morning where high-speed water spray occasionally felt like ice needles on our faces.
Surrounded by spray. Image from Paradise Jet Boating website.
But it wasn't all heart-pounding adventure. We also checked out some of the mansions on the exclusive Sovereign Island, many of them testament to the fact that money can't buy good taste. This really is a whole other world; a place where a $20 million state-of-the-art mansion is only used for approximately one month each year, where a luxury 3 bedroom house has 7 bathrooms, and where an indoor waterfall can be seen through the windows of one enormous abode.
The blend of excitement with scenery and sightseeing is a real winner that makes this activity suitable for children as well as adults. There's something for everyone to enjoy. But be warned - you will get wet; very, VERY wet, which can be a little uncomfortable in winter. Duffy took great delight in spreading the drenching to all parts of the boat, but I think my husband had the worst seat. It didn't matter in which direction we spun or sped - he copped it every time. Make sure you have a towel and change of clothes on hand. Your chattering teeth and frozen feet will thank you for it. The other option would be to dry off in the gorgeous winter sunshine while you wander around the marina.
The boats are equipped with a "JETcam" onboard filming system, which will record your trip. The highlights video can be seen on the big screen when you return to the terminal and a USB stick with the video is available for purchase, along with photos. Everyone left saturated but smiling.
There is a strong emphasis on safety, which is reassuring, but fun is never sacrificed. This is a company that has the balance just right. All the staff were friendly, professional, helpful and knowledgeable, and the whole operation runs like clockwork.
The Broadwater Adventure costs $63 for adults, $48 for children aged 4 to14, or $175 for families of 2 adults and 2 children. Early Bird Discounts apply to early departures at 9am and 10 am each day. They also offer packages that include jet boating in combination with either ballooning, a helicopter ride, or a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. You can book online here.
My advice? The next time you're visiting the Gold Coast give it a try. There are enough thrills to satisfy adventure seekers and yet it's tame enough for children and someone like me. Just don't sit in the back row far right seat. You may need to wring out your socks at the end if you do.