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9 Jet Boat Thrill Rides Speed You Through Rapids

Hold on as the Jet Boat Does 360s During Your Thrill Ride

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Riding in a jet boat on Niagara River near Niagara Falls

Riding in a jet boat on Niagara River near Niagara Falls

(c)Dick Friedland
Jet boat thrill rides give you a taste of what the actors in the Miami Vice TV show enjoyed while racing at high speed through the water. During these thrill rides some riders hang on to their seats so tightly their knuckles turn white as the jet boat rockets through churning rapids. Other yell and wave their hands in the air as the boat does 360s so close to a massive whirlpool that it looks like the boat will be sucked in!

Racing Around Devil's Hole in the Niagara river

These jet boats race through a narrow gorge, where the water has been compressed as it pours over Niagara Falls and becomes rapids in the narrow river. (Niagara's Devil's Hole Rapids has a class 5 rating.) The boats travel past rocky shores, do 360s and circle whirlpools where you just know it would be all over if the boat got caught in the waters circular action. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours leave both from Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Canadian side, and from Lewiston, N.Y., on the United States side of the river, during the spring, summer and fall months.

Avoiding Rocks in Shotover Gorge, Queenstown, New Zealand

White knuckled riders are common on the jet boats racing through the canyons of the Shotover River. At times, you're positive the boat will swipe a boulder or rocky outcrops because the river is so narrow, but skillful drivers know when to turn, where to do 360s, and where to idle so you can enjoy the spectacular views. Shotover Jet operates these boats. You can also book one of the rides through Viator.

Watch the Surfers on Australia's Gold Coast

Rides with Jet Boat Extreme include 360s and water slides during a tour of the beaches along Australia's Gold Coast. Trips that go past Seaworld and several islands are available daily.

Boating in the Lava Canyon of Iceland's Hvita River

The jet boats create fish-trails of water that wash against the black lava-rock walls of this canyon in the Hvita River. It's a special way to see some of Iceland's most dramatic natural settings. Pickup and drop-off on a Riverjet trip are in Reykjavik April to September.

Hellgate Excursion on the Rogue River

These boats have a shallow draft and loads of power, so you'll jet over just inches of water to reach the edge of the Rogue river's restricted section. On the way back, you'll race through the whitewater rapids again. During the tour, a guide will tell you all about the history and the geology of the river and region.

A variety of tours are offered, from the two-hour, 36-mile trip from Grants Pass through Hellgate Canyon, to the "Quick and Scenic excursion. You'll view the canyon where John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn filmed "Rooster Cogburn" and Matt Dillon plunged into the depths to escape a gang in hot pursuit in "Gunsmoke". Hellgate jet boats rides run May to September.

Jet Boating on the Great Lakes

You can go on a jet-propelled ride, with full throttle slalom runs, and fast turns and twists, in Chicago. During the rides, which leave from Chicago's Navy Pier daily, March to October, you'll get an entertaining narration about the Windy City. The company also has fast-paced cruises in Baltimore.

Jet Boating in Galveston, Texas

You'll do just as the boat's name - Spintime - implies. During this jet boat experience in Galveston, Texas, you make hard right turns, mad dashes and experience "The Hamilton Spin". Watersports operates during the summer and has weekend hours during the winter.

Thriller Rides in Miami

This company offers a high-speed cruise along the Miami coastline, so you get panoramic views of the city's skyline, the homes along Millionaire's Row, the Art Deco district of South Beach, and the beaches where travelers are lounging on the sand. The Thriller Miami Speedboat Tour is offered right through the year.

Self-Drive Speed Boat Tours in San Diego Harbor

You'll travel slower in these smaller speed boats during this 13-mile ride. While it's not a jet boat tour, it's still lots of fun driving the boat on a circuitous route around the harbor from Cabrillo Isle Marina. You'll swing by a display of Navy ships, aircraft carriers and massive oceangoing ships surrounded by smaller sailboats and speed boats. You'll view the downtown skyline, Coronado Bridge and at certain times of the year see sea lions.

The kicker: You'll navigate and captain your own speed boat while following a trained and knowledgeable guide in a different boat. There is a two-way communication systems mounted in each boat so you'll be able to hear your guide throughout the tour.

More Watersports Thrills

Here are lots of other ways to can enjoy playing in or on the water.

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