Woo-ee! Captain Eric of Niagara Jet Adventures swirled the boat around in a whirl of frothing water and deep waves and then stopped short, creating a huge volume of water that engulfed the boat and drenched the passengers riding in the rear “wet” seats.
The jetboat was filled with laughing and squealing passengers as we went bopping along the Whirlpool and the Devil’s Hole—class 5 white-water-rapids (6 being the highest category)—in the Niagara Gorge. Whether you sit in the exposed expect-to-get-soaked “wet” seats or the interior “dry” seats, you can be sure of a truly exhilarating experience—made even more so by the expertise of “cowboy” Captain Eric with his 360-degree spins.
Located in Youngstown, New York, Niagara Jet Adventures is just a 15-minute drive from Niagara Falls. Upon arrival you are shown a short introductory film, encouraged to ask questions, introduced to your captain, fitted with a life jacket, and ushered into the waiting jetboat.
Majesty of Nature
Niagara Falls, a.k.a Thundering Waters, has captivated the imagination of man for 12,000 or more years and still today, this majesty of nature inspires open-mouthed awe. To stand overlooking the falls, while it births rainbows out of its mists, is a never-to-be-forgotten thrill.
I first came to Niagara as a teenager and even though I’ve since travelled the world, on my recent visit I still found the same thrill in donning the complimentary rain slicker to ride the Maid of the Mist boat almost into the Falls; the same delight in getting soaked in the Cave of the Winds—a series of platforms taking you as close to the Falls as your tolerance for getting drenched allows; and riding the trolley over to Goat Island to view Horseshoe Falls.
By the way, if you walk or ride to Goat Island before 10:00 a.m. you are sure to see the daily rainbow that straddles the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, providing the sun peeks out.
The U.S. and Canada share Niagara Falls, each with its own massive cataract, and it’s fun to check out both sides of the river. Every night you can admire the Canadian side of Niagara and the coloured lights playing on the American Falls lit with an artificial rainbow, and on Friday and Sunday nights there is a fireworks display which can be viewed from either side. The Rainbow Bridge connects the two sides.
We flew into Buffalo and drove to Niagara Falls. After checking into the Giacomo Hotel and admiring its eclectic melding of Art Deco, Mayan, and Egyptian symbolism in its architecture and décor, we headed for the Niagara Falls State Park.
A “Discovery Pass” ticket purchased at the information centre covers the Maid of the Mist; the Cave of the Winds; the Discovery Center; the Aquarium; and the not-to-be-missed Niagara Legends of Adventure Theater on the lower level of the centre. The theatre shows a movie that dramatically re-enacts much of the history and myths associated with the falls and is informative and entertaining.
The pass also includes unlimited rides for one day on the Niagara Scenic Trolley that stops at all the main attractions and a discount off purchases at any of the gift shops.
Things to Do
For aerial adventure, try a helicopter ride over the falls with Rainbow Air Helicopter Rides. Our pilot gave us a thrilling ride over the swirling whirlpools, the Rainbow Bridge, and the mists the enormous amount of falling water produces, creating beautiful arcs of colour in the air.
Also on our agenda was a boat ride on the Erie Canal at Lockport, one of the charming historic towns along the canal and only a few minutes’ drive from Niagara. Mike Murphy, owner of Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises, piloted us through the only double set of working locks still operating on the Erie Canal.
A recent addition to “things to do” in Niagara is the dinner sunset cruise with Niagara Sunset Cruises’ Niagara Belle. We arrived at dock-side in Lewiston, another historic river town, and saw the Niagara Belle moored across the river in Queenston, Ontario.
Part of the fun was boarding a tender that took us across the river to embark on the Belle. It was the night of the full moon and we envisioned wonderful views of the sunset and moon, since the sunsets had been glorious every other night during our trip. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and the sky was so overcast that all we saw was grey—no rainbows, no sunset, no full moon!
However, all was not lost since the prime rib dinner was very good and it was wonderful to be out on the river after the heat of the day.
Barbara Angelakis is a seasoned international traveller and award-winning writer based in the New York City area. To read more of her articles and adventures, visit LuxuryWeb Magazine at www.luxuryweb.com
Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation: www.niagara-usa.com
Niagara Jet Adventures: www.niagarajet.com
Giacomo Hotel: www.thegiacomo.com
Niagara Falls State Park: www.NiagaraFallsStatePark.com
Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises: www.lockportlocks.com
Rainbow Air Helicopter Rides: www.rainbowairinc.com
Niagara Sunset Cruises: www.niagarasunsetcruises.com