Arriving at the office of Paradise Jet Boating at Main Beach on a Gold Coast afternoon, we discovered our Surfers Paradise jet boating tour was pretty much fully booked, despite the threat of the heavens opening any minute. Like us, everyone was more interested in having fun than being worried about getting wet (although that was about to happen too, we just didn’t know it yet).
After being greeted by a friendly and efficient receptionist, we checked in and signed the waivers and were asked to wait for our driver. Our family was lucky enough to have been jet boating a couple of times before so we were almost blasé about the upcoming tour. This was about to change.
He gave everyone a cheerful hello then proceeded with a safety briefing before directing us to the lifejacket area, followed by a group photo and photos for each family group. It might sound like this took a while, but it was efficient and very quick. After this, we were directed down to the jet boat so our driver could arrange us based on our heights and weights for maximum fun and safety.
We might have been fairly relaxed about our upcoming adventure but some of the kids onboard the jet boat – which equated to about half the passengers on our trip – were jumping out of their skins with excitement. Listening to their excited chatter before the jet boat took off and their ‘ooohhhs’ and ‘aaahhhhhs’ and laughter while we were zooming around the Broadwater was loads of fun.
We were directed to our seats and advised that certain seats might get some splashes of water occasionally. After everyone was seated and we started pulling out of the marina, our driver joked that he was sorry for any confusion but the only seat that would stay dry was his. Loads of nervous chuckles later, we were off to explore the Northern Waterways of the Gold Coast.
A slow ride out of the Surfer Paradise marina had us passing mega yachts and other pleasure craft of every description. Our driver explained that he needed to keep to the speed limit, not just for safety reasons but because there was a police boat nearby. Unlike his promise to keep everyone mostly dry, this turned out to be true and the police on the boat gave us a jaunty wave.
As soon as we passed one of the outer buoys, Dave gunned the huge engines into a roar and we were blasting our way through the water leaving a trail of excited screams in our wake. It wasn’t long before he started winding his hand in the air to indicate a spin was coming up. We knew what to do thanks to the safety briefing onshore and hung on, braced our feet on the floor, and spun around like a record, only faster.
The noise of the boat was almost drowned out by the howls of laughter and delight from the scores of kids and teens on board including our son. There were also a few squeals from a couple of very wet adults down the back of the jet boat. If you book this Paradise Jet Boating trip, it’s best to do it when you can head back to your accommodation and get changed, not when you’re jumping on a plane that afternoon.
Our driver continued north towards South Stradbroke Island and treated us to some more quick turns and spins along the way. We eventually reached Sovereign Island, a series of man-made islands housing some of the Gold Coast’s – and Queensland’s – most expensive real estate.
Our driver pointed out mansion after mansion including some half-completed eyesores that were the result of bankruptcy and economic downturns. We were all wide-eyed at the houses of the mega rich that sometimes reinforced the old saying that money does not necessarily buy good taste. We were at the northernmost point of our tour as he pointed out the largest mansion on Sovereign Island, with the two vacant blocks on either side bought by the owner to guarantee privacy.
He then said that he would show us his place that he was renovating. “Wow, jet boating must pay really, really, really well,” we thought – until he showed us an overgrown block housing a shipping container with a ladder leaning up against one side. “Look at the new stairs I put on to reach the penthouse,” he laughed. Not surprisingly, the container belonged to the builders, not our driver.
On the return leg of our tour, we passed more beaches, but much closer this time, and our driver also looked for the wake from other boats so we could get airborne. More excited squeals, howls of laughter and a wet passenger or two later, we made our way back to the jetty at the marina.
After jet boating in New Zealand, we were expecting this spin around the Gold Coast to be more chill than thrill. However, our modest expectations were blown out of the water by an amazing display of jet boat handing prowess that left many of the other tours we had done in Paradise Jet Boating’s wake.
Disclosure: The writer only got slightly damp as a guest of Paradise Jet Boating and highly recommends this fun tour. If you want to stay dry, ask to sit up the front near the driver like we did as they usually prefer to stay dry as well.
Looking for some things to do on the Gold Coast? Some of our favourite Gold Coast activities include hot air ballooning, whale watching, jet boating, visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or David Fleay Wildlife Park, indoor skydiving with iFly, bushwalking in the Gold Coast’s national parks, SkyPoint Climb, exploring the Gold Coast’s markets, checking out the local cafe scene, and enjoying the Gold Coast for free. There’s also plenty of fun to be had if you visit the Gold Coast in winter or have some wet weather.