Should You Go on a Jet Ski if You Can’t Swim?

Jet skiing lets you experience the thrill of riding the waves, and at the same time, enjoy the breathtaking view over the ocean horizon. Let’s say your interest in riding a jet ski has been piqued, but you are a non-swimmer or simply can’t swim very well? Should that hinder you from the delight and pleasure that this water sport can offer?


You can ride a jet ski even if you can’t swim, thanks to safety measures such as life jackets and safety lanyards. As long as you operate within the specified riding area, trained jet ski guides can assist you immediately in case of an emergency.


Read on to learn more about riding a jet ski if you can’t swim, and the precautions that’ll help keep you safe while jet skiing.

Why Is It Safe for a Non-Swimmer To Go on a Jet Ski?

You can safely go on a jet ski as a non-swimmer because you’ll be wearing a life jacket and safety lanyard. You will also receive jet ski safety training beforehand, and licensed professionals will be present to offer you assistance while riding.

You Will Be Wearing a Life Jacket

The greatest fear of every beginner jet ski rider is falling off from the personal watercraft (PWC) into the water. If you can’t swim, the terror is all the more legitimate. Don’t worry – your life jacket is intended for the very purpose of saving you from drowning.


In most states, it is mandated by the law for you to wear a life jacket. Even if you’ve been told it is not compulsory to do so in a particular coastal area, you must always insist on getting a life jacket. They will help provide buoyancy if you accidentally find yourself in the water.

The Safety Lanyard Will Stop the Engine if You Fall

Not only that, your jet ski will come equipped with a safety lanyard. I would strongly advise you to attach the lanyard to your wrist or life jacket at all times while operating a jet ski.


This safety lanyard is essentially an “engine kill switch” because it automatically shuts off the engine in the event you fall. Once the engine is stopped, the jet ski will not “go rogue”; hence, you can swim back to it and reboard the PWC easily.

Your Jet Ski Rental Provider Will Provide a Safety Briefing

Your rental provider is obligated to give you a safety briefing (also known as a “training course” in some places) before you are allowed to head out to the open waters. Among the essential things you need to pay extra attention to are:


  • How to control the jet ski (steering, braking, neutral, and docking).
  • Features of each type of equipment and gear, and how they ensure your safety.
  • The area that is specified for jet ski riding.


It is vital for you to operate within the specified area all the time – trained professionals employed by your rental provider can keep a proper lookout for you and come to your assistance promptly.


If you still feel uneasy and insecure about the idea of jet skiing as a non-swimmer, I would strongly advise all first-time riders to join a guided jet ski tour. That way, you will start your ride by following the lead of a highly skilled jet ski operator.


By riding at a more manageable speed in a guided tour, you can slowly learn the basics of steering the jet ski and will soon be able to maneuver within the riding area by yourself freely.

Is It Easy To Fall off a Jet Ski?

It is not uncommon for beginner riders to fall off the jet ski, usually because they have attempted to ride at full throttle before they are even familiar with the waters and the controls of the PWC.


However, it’s best to avoid panicking after falling off the jet ski – you are still safe due to the precautions I have discussed in the above paragraphs. You must never forget to stay calm in an emergency, find a position where you can breathe properly, and call for help.


If you have drifted off too far from the riding area for anyone to help you, you should try to swim back to the jet ski, turn it upward (if it has been overturned) and reboard the vessel.

Life-Saving Tips for the Non-Swimmers

Though it is perfectly okay for a non-swimmer to operate a jet ski out in the open waters, you mustn’t be reckless and put yourself in an unnecessarily dangerous situation. Some of the key life-saving tips you should keep in mind before riding a jet ski are:


  • Listen carefully to the safety rules and guidelines.
  • Put on your life jacket in a proper manner. This also means ensuring your life jacket is in good condition and free from rips, tears, and holes. Your buckles and straps should also be secure and in working order.
  • Make sure to secure the safety lanyard to your wrist or life jacket.
  • Do not attempt risky maneuvers or ride at an excessive speed.
  • Be attentive to other jet ski riders, boaters and swimmers – never operate your jet ski too close to them to prevent a collision.
  • Always maintain high alertness to the surroundings, but don’t panic if you unexpectedly fall off the jet ski.
  • Only explore within the specified riding area.


Jet skiing is undoubtedly one of the most popular water-based activities, and even people who can’t swim can enjoy riding a jet ski. Your safety is ensured with the life jacket you’re wearing, the safety lanyard on your wrist, and the constant supervision by trained professionals or lifeguards.


That being said, handling a personal watercraft is not as easy as driving a vehicle on land since it involves a wholly different set of techniques. For a full-fledged riding experience, I would still recommend you pick up some swimming skills before renting a jet ski to go out for a spin.

Scroll to Top