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How to Ride a Jet Ski: 7 Things to Know

by | Jul 1, 2020 | Watercrafts | 0 comments

First person view of jet ski in Marco Island

If it’s your first time riding a jet ski, there are a few things you should know about before jumping on!

Jet skis, much like anything else, can be dangerous if not operated properly. Luckily jet skis are pretty straight forward and are tons of fun!

First things first; safety.

Always wear a life jacket. You may think you’re too cool for one or you’re a good swimmer, however, they are required for your safety. Jet skis are great, but it’s important to be safe while riding one. 

Understand how jet skis work. If you’ve ridden a jet ski before, you can skip this tip. However, it is important to know that not all jet skis are made equally. If you are riding a different jet ski, it is important to note the differences. 

Jet skis typically average up to 65 mph, but can climb to over 80 mph… that’s fast! So it’s important to understand how they work before getting on one. Reference to “Getting Started” below to understand the basics. 

Be Prepared. This includes having sufficient gas in the tank, a properly sized life vest on, either a wet suit or dry suit depending on how cold it is, eye protection, as well as knowledge of what to do in certain situations – such as if it flips. You will get wet and you may fall off, so be prepared! But don’t let that shy you away from getting on!

For first time riders and those riders who just need a refresher, below we have listed out seven things you need to know before getting on a jet ski. 

1. Getting Started

Straddle the jet ski seat by climbing on via the back so as not to tip the watercraft. Hold the handlebars tightly but not too tight. Get comfortable in that position before starting the engine. 

Turn the jet ski on and push the throttle on the handlebars. Slowly begin to push the throttle to get the feel of it. Only go about 5 to 10 mph until you get comfortable and are away from the shoreline. There is typically a marina zone where you are meant to move slowly, just like a car through a residential area.

Once you are out of the way of boats and the shore, begin to gradually pick up speed as you start to feel more comfortable. Remember to look up and out and not down at the handlebars as you go, and hold the handlebars straight for the majority of your ride.

2. Remain in Your Comfort Zone

As you get more comfortable you may want to begin to speed up, but do so as you feel comfortable. Don’t try anything too crazy right off the bat if you’re a first-timer.

As you get more comfortable, practice turning the jet ski. You need to accelerate into the turn, however, it is gradual and not drastic.

Don’t turn too quick or sharp because jet skis can tip over! That means, you better be prepared to rock the jet ski back to an upright position before water starts to collect in the engine. If it does, you’re not only sunk, you’re bank account will hate you.

Be careful of wakes as they can make for a bumpy ride the faster you go over them.

3. Standing vs Sitting

You may have seen people standing on jet skis before. Some jet skis are even made for standing only, however depending on your comfort level, it may be best to stay seated for the entirety while riding. 

Standing gives you less control and a greater chance of you falling off.

However, if you are feeling uncomfortable by staying in the seat for too long or you are moving over choppy waters, standing for a few seconds could help.


As stated above, it is important to keep your hand on the throttle when turning. Don’t turn too sharp or you could flip it.

Also, you don’t want to let off the gas if you are trying to turn, especially if you are turning away from danger. Keeping your speed will help you to maneuver easily and quickly in the intended direction. 

5. Wakes

Riding a wake is part of jet skiing. As boats or other jet skis go by they will leave a wake behind them, some big and some small. 

Maintaining a relative speed is important when going over wakes. If you feel comfortable riding a jet ski you may be able to catch air and jump wakes, however, this takes time and practice to master the timing of it. 

If a wake seems too big, let off on the throttle and just ride the wake out until the water smooths out. Don’t become anxious as your balance when riding out a wake is very important.

6. How to Get Back On

Maybe you fell off, or maybe you jumped off the jet ski. Either way, you need to know how to get back on the jet ski while in the water. This is called re-boarding yourself.

In order to do so, you can easily swim to the back of the jet ski, grab the handle that is back, and pull yourself up onto the back deck of the jet ski. If you are riding with another person, allow one person to board at a time. The other person can then help board the second. 

If you have had many failed attempts at boarding the jet ski, take a break, catch your breath, and re-evaluate the best way to board. This may take some upper body strength to maneuver. 

7. How to Be a Good Passenger

If you’re riding tandem with another person on a jet ski it is important not to disrupt the driver by holding on to their arms or shoulders while they drive. 

Holding the driver’s waist or the bottom/back part of their life jacket allows both people to ride comfortably and hang on. Don’t be too tense either, relax your arms and enjoy the ride!

Riding a jet ski can be an extremely enjoyable experience for you as long as you remember to be safe, learn the basics, and stay in your comfort zone!

If you’re looking for an incredible jet ski experience, WOW Marco Island Jet Ski Tours and Rentals is the place to go! Before we start our tour or your rental, we ensure you are fully comfortable with riding a jet ski. We’ll go over all of the safety precautions and features so you know what to expect and the actions to take to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

Remember to have fun while on your jet ski!

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