My flyboarding experience with Searide Dubai that flopped

When I planned my Dubai trip, one thing I wanted to try for sure was flyboarding. The videos floating on the net were super exciting and with a price tag of around 300 AED, I felt I can give it a try. However the attempt didn’t go very well. This post shares my complete experience on trying flyboarding- Booking process and actual experience.
Dubai Flyboarding operators, price, booking process, personal experience

When I did some preliminary search, below were the options and rate I found
Booking on
Type
List Price
Final Price
What it includes
Remarks
Sea-ride.com

Official website of operator
315 AED
315 AED
20 mins flyboarding, VAT included (weekday/weekend)
Photos
 (My original understanding, was 30 mins)
Grupon
Coupon website
400/
700
199/189 AED
20 minutes of flyboarding, weekday
Notice the hiked original price
Weekend 20 AED more
Official website of operator
370
370
30 minutes of flyboarding

Official website of operator
300
300
30 mins, VAT extra no online booking,


Wherever possible I prefer to avoid middlemen and deal directly with operator. Usually this gets us better flexibility, service and price. With the same thought I decided to go with Sea-ride.com instead of booking on coupon sites. Other reasons that influenced my decision were
  • Groupon website showing original price at an inflated level of 400/700 AED was a turn off for me, as I realize that they're faking original price to show increased discount.
  • I thought it is a 30 min ride with Sea-ride (other websites showed 20 min slot)- I thought even if searide is bit expensive it might be worth as duration in more. I was wrong on this part. Searide website didn't clearly call out duration, booking section showed 30 mins of slot, so I assumed each booking is for 30 mins. They claim it is only 20 mins and it is mentioned somewhere. Read further to know details
  • Sea-ride.com guys answered my questions on whatsapp and were flexible to accommodate us on some other day, in case my flight is delayed
  • In case of any changes, it is lot easier to deal with vendor directly. If booked on a 3rd party site, depending on the nature of agreement between the 3rd party site and service provider, some changes may not be possible
  • The location of Searide Dubai felt closer to Burj Khalifa and other places I wanted to visit. Few other operators I checked had their venue further away.
With this much research and a bit of whatsapp discussion with Searide Dubai and a friend of mine in Dubai, I decided to go with Searide Dubai.

The booking experience
Searide.com’s website isn’t the best designed one. I couldn’t select two slots in one booking- had to add one slot to the cart, go to final page, then do some circus and add second one. In this process I selected a wrong date for second slot. Thankfully Searide guys gave good support via whatsapp and email to confirm that I can have 2 slots on Friday, 20th and can ignore the wrong date selected on booking.
There was no immediate confirmation. Email confirmation only came next day. I paid 630 AED for 2 slots- paid via credit card. Looking back, this feels like a mistake. Note that even confirmation doesn't call out that ride duration is only 20 minutes. Since the slots were 30 min each, I thought I will get 30 minutes.

My original thought was to book for afternoon- but Searide Dubai suggested that sea is calmer in the morning and I should book an earlier slot. But my flight arrival was same day morning- I had to factor a few hours possible delay and travel time to Searide Dubai location, hence I selected 1 PM.

Further, I see lots of slots available on almost all day on the website- probably it is fine to just walkin-prior booking is NOT mandatory- there isn’t a lot of demand-at least this is what I feel- use your discretion. But there’s no discount for walk-in customers either- usually since payment is immediate and no bank charges are involved, some companies can afford to give some concession for spot cash payment.

I did some preparation by reading about flyboarding. There weren't too many blogs. This and this posts were useful. Blogger Mridula had written about her short stint at Flyboarding in Thailand. There were a few good videos as well.

On the day of action:
We arrived early- the directions given on the Searide Dubai's website was useful. We need to take a turn after this building to reach the wharf.
We reached bit earlier than planned- reached there by 11.30 AM instead of scheduled 1 PM. There were no other customers so Searide Dubai accommodated our time change request without any issue (informed them over WhatsApp). 

I didn’t like following 3 things about Searide Dubai
1. Flyboarding duration 20 mins only, not 30
Nowhere on the website it could be seen that action time is only 20 minutes. Since the booking slots are of 30 minute duration, I had assumed we will get 30 minutes of flyboarding, compared to cheaper options which were only for 20 minutes. This was the main reason I overlooked 210 AED pricing on groupon, thinking I will get 10 extra minutes, so 315 AED is fine.This was probably my fault not reading carefully, or Searide Dubai’s clever marketing.

The staff there, Steve from France wouldn’t accept our argument that we had paid for 30 mins.I couldn't prove that it is 30 minutes as duration was never mentioned anywhere. I totally felt cheated at this point. I took this up with SeaRide Dubai on WhatsApp later- they again insisted that it is clearly mentioned somewhere that 10 minutes briefing and 20 min ride- I couldn't locate this text anywhere on their website. I've asked them to provide a screenshot, waiting for the same.

Update: Sea-ride Dubai WhatsApp support agreed that English version of the website doesn't list duration of the activity anywhere. This is basic information, so I consider  this misrepresentation of facts and cheating.

2. Couldn’t take a companion along
I had booked 2 slots- for me and a blogger friend while 2 more family members who won’t be trying flyboarding accompanied us. I was hoping each of them will get a jetski ride while one of us are trying flyboarding. But Steve asked both non-participants to watch from the shore while he took me n the other participant on JetSki. I was expecting one participant and one non participant will go together on each ride, but our non participating guests were shunted away. This was again a disadvantage and loss for me
3. No practice session near the base
A quick practice session inside the creek would have helped us gain some practice/confidence. Instead we were taken directly into ocean, where waves are high. I know swimming, which is a pre-requisite for flyboarding but not an expert in ocean swimming. Lot of my energy went into ensuring sea water doesn’t enter my mouth.

4. Photos- There's no extra charge for photos, which is good but Searide Dubai won’t give your photos/videos directly to you. They say they will post in on their facebook group and we have to take it from there.

The actual flyboarding Experience in Dubai:
The rider needs to wear a heavy boot, which is connected to jetski with the hose pipe- 50 meters long-this can propel one in air for upto about 10 meters (remaining 40 meters needed to maintain some distance from Jetski). The extra ordinary videos you see on Youtube will have much longer hoses-100-150 meters.

Flyboarding uses JetSki's propelling power to pump water through the hose. By directing the waterjet pressure downwards, one can rise in the air. Once you manage to stand steady, you can try some body movements and stunts. For most beginners, standing steady for several seconds will be the first challenge, before they can do anything else.

At the creek we were given a life jacket and helmet. A brief was given-one person had to wear the flyboarding boots and sail slowly out of the creek. (since Jetski's power is diverted to flyboard, it is not possible for 2-3 people to sit on JetSki, ride out to sea and then begin flyboarding. With the hose attached, Jetski can slowly move forward with a student in water leading.

Once in open sea the attempts to stand on one's leg began and it wasn't easy. To stand up, one should be able to push the legs vertically down, so that water from the hose is directed vertically down to push the student up. Any inclination (angle) will push the student at an angle which will result in falling back into water. After each fall one needs to flip over to get back to take off position- this felt a tiresome process due to heavy boots.

Another thing to remember never face the jetski while flyboarding. In such cases, instructor will slowly drop the throttle and let you fall into water. This is to avoid collision with student and jetski. So always face away from JetSki.

A friend- Rutavi Mehta who went before me managed to stay afloat for a few seconds. I couldn't manage even that. During the 15-20 minutes I got to practice, I couldn’t get up on my legs. Partly because I struggled a bit swallowing salt water and partly because flipping over to right position was difficult due to heavy boot.
Another important thing is coordination between you and instructor- unless the instructor turns jetski throttle, there’ll be no water gushing under your foot. Coordinating the same is also crucial.

Steve, our instructor said most first time students of flyboarding learn to stand up in 5-10 minutes. May be true. I will need another practice session to get some success at flyboarding. Will try again whenever I get another opportunity.

Our 20 minutes were over before we knew it.

For the first timers, if there's an option to practice in freshwater it will be great- no need to fight waves and salt water. But I don't know if such an option exists. Most flyboarding sessions seem to be done in sea water only.

Some FAQs w.r.t my Searide Dubai flyboarding experience:
Q: Can we carry lots of stuff?
A small bag can be given to Searide Dubai staff for safekeeping while out for activity. Large bags possible but with some difficulty.

Q: Is there a changing room?
Yes, the wharf has bathroom facilities for men and women. No locker room though.

Q: Can we carry stuff like camera while on Jetski?
Yes. JetSki has a small pouch where sunglasses, camera can be kept if required. However avoid carrying stuff that are not water resistant.

Q: What kind of GoPro mount is suitable?
Chest Mount, Helmet mount and Wrist mount can be tried. Helmet they give may not have a mount- you will have to carry your own.  Chest mount is best. Best video is done by someone sitting on the jetskip- the instructor themselves or your friend sitting behind. Instructor will need one of his hand to control Jetski throttle, so he can’t be shooting non-stop.

Q: Do they (Searide Dubai) provide refreshments?
A bottle of water was given. No other refreshments. There seem to be a few restaurants in the area but not yet open by 11.30 AM

Q: Do they (SeaRide Dubai) folks take picture?
Yes, instructor will click some pictures. But they will not give it on a pendrive or whatsapp or wifi. Photos will be uploaded to Searide dubai’s Facebook page and you’ve to take it from there. No extra charge for photos

Q: What are the pre-requisites for FlyBoarding?
One should know swimming- preferably ocean swimming. Weight should be less than 80 kgs. Critical illness like back-pain etc are a negative.

Things to check before booking flyboarding session
  1. Duration (20, 30, 60 minutes etc). if you're booking 60 minutes I suggest booking 2 separate slots of 30 minutes each- you will get exhausted, so some rest/break in between will be good.
  2. Price and what's included- Tax, photo/videos etc
  3. Length of the hose pipe also plays a role for serious players- not easy to find out- first timers can possibly ignore this.
  4. Flyboarding venue- a closer venue with slightly expensive operator that costs less taxi fare might be more economical overall than a cheaper operator who is located further away from city/metro station resulting in much higher taxi expense (Min taxi fare is 12 AED)
  5. Time- if sea is calmer, you can practice better. If waves are higher, you will have to spend more energy trying to prevent saltwater entering your eyes, mouth.
  6. Additional activities you may want to try- like JetSki ride/tour, surfboarding, swimming- any discount for combo package etc
  7. Additional facilities- lockers, refreshments, bathroom/changing room access, parking etc
I don't have any experience with other operators to compare and suggest if Searide Dubai is best or not. I felt cheated on the timing part-not clarifying that it is 20 minutes only. Next time I will be more careful and will try some other operator.

Check my other adventures: Skydiving in Mysuru * Macau tower walk * Bali's longest and most spectacular ATV Adventure * Scuba diving in Murudeshwar  * Paragliding elementary course *
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