Hangin' on: Hurricane Disco latest craze on water in Okinawa

Travel
Photos courtesy of Shoji Kudaka, Stripes Okinawa
Photos courtesy of Shoji Kudaka, Stripes Okinawa

Hangin' on: Hurricane Disco latest craze on water in Okinawa

by: Shoji Kudaka | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: August 25, 2017

It started just like an easy tea cup ride at the carnival. Slowly we spun, hovering on top of the water. But suddenly, the spin picked up speed and my view of the ocean ahead became that of the clear blue sky.

Feeling my body spin around, I rocked up and down and lost my sense of direction. Several times during the ride, the round float went vertical like a ferris wheel at sea. At the top of the “wheel,” I held the grips tightly as I battled gravity. At the bottom, my body nearly flipped backward into the ocean.
 
The whole time I screamed at the top of my lungs as I experienced the unique and new thrill at sea. What was a 10-minute ride turned out to be an escape from the ordinary like no other.
 
I got a taste of Hurricane Disco - one of the newest additions to the many water activities that Okinawa has to offer.
 
This year, Okinawa may not have not been threatened with a powerful typhoon yet, but this new breed of cyclone is taking people by storm on the beaches, explained Arisa Kondo, a staffer at Moon Beach re-sort, one place offering the new thrill ride.
 
“This is the hottest water activity you can experience,” Kondo said. “It’s very popular, especially among young folks. It’s currently available at only a few locations in Okinawa and Moon Beach is one of them.”
 
How it works is very simple. Passengers ride a float, which is towed by a Jet Ski just like a Banana Boat or tubing ride. But, instead of saddling a banana-shaped float or sitting on an inner tube, passengers sit on a big float that looks like a giant spinning top. Feet go towards the middle with backs face the outside of the disc and hands firmly grasping the grips (feet go outward at other locations). Once the Jet Ski gets going, turning left and right, it sends the top spinning and bouncing unpredictably.
 
“This is something that many customers have never experienced before,” said Kondo.
 
“Some Americans have looked curiously at the float and asked, “What’s that”? It’s hard for me to explain the ride in English, but I can say with confidence that it will be a wild ride. You may fall off, but that can be a lot of fun as well.”
 
According to Kondo, one of the highlights of the attraction is when strong wind blows and lifts the float to an almost 90-degree angle to the ocean, which can be a little scary. But no need to worry said the young instructor.
 
“Our staff checks on the customers and makes sure of safety,” Kondo said. “Many kids love this. The float can take up to eight passengers at a time, so it’s a good activity to enjoy with friends and family.
 
Passengers sit across and face one another, which makes it fun to see how the people you know react as the float bounces and spins.
 
I shared my initial ride with Mr. and Mrs. Tsutsui and their two daughters from Osaka. They all  screamed their heads off like I did. After the ride, Mrs. Tsutsui said smiling, “That was fun. It was exhilarating.”
 
I asked one of the daughters if she was scared. She didn’t say anything, but instead shook her head deci-sively no. All of her yelling but she wasn’t scared - must have been screams of joy.
 
Hurricane Disco at Moon Beach
Fee: 2,970 yen per person (tax included) 
*Customers need to be 10 years old or above
*English-speaking staff on site.