The colours of fall are spectacular, of course, but it can sometimes be tricky to get the kids to buy into a leisurely drive along winding country lanes looking at leaves as a fun way to spend an autumn day.
So we decided to get a literal and very wet splash of fall colour with the Niagara Whirlpool Jet Tours. The day was a hit for us all, tall and small. The waves are truly spectacular, and it’s a blast to head right into them and to be tossed about on the white water.
The Niagara Gorge is gorgeous in fall, and the forests on both sides of the river light up with amazing colour. The Whirlpool Jet Tours boats are moored at a spot that is level to the water on the Canadian side. Across the way in the USA, Old Fort Niagara perches on the top of the cliffs. Away off to the east, the Toronto skyline looks tiny on the horizon. Right from the start, there are sights to see.
The Jet Tours are one hour long: a 20 minute ride out to the rapids, 20 minutes riding the waves of the Class 5 Devil’s Hole rapids and taking in the power of the Niagara Whirlpool, and 20 minutes back. As you ride out, the cliffs along the gorge soon rise up on both sides, and the perspective from the water is awe-inspiring. Add to that the adrenaline rush of riding whirlpool rapids and you have an amazing day out.
Passengers can choose between two types of trips — wet or dry. Guests in open-topped jet boats are guaranteed to return to the dock soaking wet, doused with gallons of water while their boat pilot powers them through the rapids at high speed and expertly spins them through the chop in a complete 360-degree turn. Passengers in the covered Jet Dome get the same thrill ride, minus the splash, and return as dry as they were at the outset.
We opted for the wet tour, and it was, as promised, WET. The air temperature on the day we went out was 11 degrees. It was COLD. Passengers are provided with a full body rain suit, an additional hooded slicker, water shoes and a fleece sweater. I opted out of the full body wet suit and simply wore the slicker and fleece sweater (essential as a wind barrier for warmth on the ride back, once you are soaking wet). My husband was layered in long johns, pants, sweater, full rain suit and slicker. We both got equally wet. If I have one tip to offer, it is to pack gloves. The wind on the ride back is cold, and although I was grinning from ear to ear, I could not feel my hands for a good while after disembarking. A giant pot of hot chocolate awaits you at the end of the ride, and we made ample use of that hospitality to warm up our hands.
You can still make the most of our warm fall and get out on one of these rides. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours will be running through the turbulent white waters of the Niagara River until the end of October. The company’s fleet of custom-built jet boats depart from three locations: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Ont. (shuttle bus from Niagara Glen Nature Centre check-in to Queenston dock) and Lewiston, N.Y. Visitors looking for a more leisurely tour can go for a ride on the Niagara Belle, a fully restored New Orleans-style paddle wheeler.
Booking details are available here.
Whirlpool Jet Tours kindly provided our experience in exchange for a review. The opinions are our own, and our opinion was that it was a lot of fun!