A Beginner’s Guide to Riding a Jet Ski

Don’t miss our pointers on riding a jet ski for the first time. In our opinion, this is how to ride a jet ski properly.

How to ride a jet ski

When you’re first starting out, learning how to ride a jet ski can be a bit intimidating. Many modern jet ski’s top 70mph so it can be very easy for an inexperienced person to get injured.

Learning how to ride a jet ski is fairly easy, but to make it even easier, I compiled this list of tips that might help you out.

#1 Be prepared

Make sure you have a life jacket, proper documentation, and enough fuel for the day. Many states require a life jacket by law and sometimes a license is required as well. It’s good to know what is needed beforehand just in case.

Related: We recommend the greatest GoPro mounts for riding a jet ski.

#2 Understand the watercraft

Different jet skis have different controls. Know where the throttle is and where the emergency shut off is. Make sure you attach the emergency shutoff laniard to yourself in case you fall off at any point. If the jet ski you’re riding has a braking system, locate that as well. Before you learn how to ride a jet ski you should familiarize yourself with the specific watercraft you’ll be riding.

#3 Getting started

Get seated comfortably and place both hands on the handlebars. After starting the jet ski slowly begin to push the throttle. Cruise around at about 5-10mph until you get away from the shoreline.

Some people find it helpful to stay close to the shore for a while until they get comfortable with the sensitivity of the throttle.

#4 Turning/Cornering

After you’re a safe distance from the shore, it’s okay to increase your speed a little bit.

Stay within your comfort zone and practice turning at a slow speed. Lean in the direction you want to turn, and have any passengers do the same.

Keep in mind most jet ski’s require you to accelerate in order to turn since there is no rudder. Some advanced jet ski can turn without accelerating, but the majority can’t.

#5 Riding Wakes

Once you become comfortable riding, you’ll be able to start jumping wakes. Learning to jump wakes is arguably one of the best parts of riding a jet ski. The main thing to remember is to take things slow. Going too fast to jump a wake will result in the jet ski pushing through the wave rather than jumping it. Jumping wakes properly takes practice.

Related: How To Jump a Jet Ski

Final Tips

After you learn how to ride a jet ski, take these extra tips into consideration.

– Check to see if it’s legal for you to ride a jet ski.

To be honest, just about anyone can learn how to ride a jet ski, but in some states, a license is required. Many states have age requirements, but those can vary. Check your local laws to be sure you’re allowed to ride without a license.

– Be aware of your surroundings

This is a tip I can’t stress enough. Riding a jet ski is almost like riding a motorcycle. Most people aren’t looking out for you so you have to look out for yourself. The majority of waterways are open and uncrowded but that doesn’t stop accidents from happening.

Related: Jet Ski Helmet Alternatives

– Know your limits

After a while, you will become comfortable riding a jet ski, and you may start to try pushing the boundaries. While there’s nothing wrong with having some fun, a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Be safe, and be smart.

– Never operate a jet ski while drinking

Just about everyone knows not to operate a motorized vehicle while drinking, but it’s worth bringing up. A good time can turn into a bad time very quickly when alcohol is involved.

– Have good etiquette on the water

There are a few rules to follow on the water that beginners may not know. Jumping the wakes of a boat may be fun, but not everyone wants a jet ski following them up and down the lake. Make sure the boat is a safe distance away before jumping their wake, and be sure they aren’t towing anyone or fishing off of the back.

  1. Great post. My husband has been trying to get me to get a jet ski to ride with him for years and I think I might finally have to do it!

  2. My family is going on vacation in the Florida Keys at the end of next month and we were considering renting some jet ski’s to ride. Do you think my 17 year old son will be able to ride one by himself? Also, do you think it’s safe to let him ride on his own? We’ve rented jet ski’s before but my son has always been to young to ride.


    • Hey Sarah,

      I’d recommend checking the local laws in Florida to make sure he’s allowed to ride by himself. The rental company will most likely know so you can always call ahead. As for the safety aspect, I’d have him ride with someone else for a little until he gets the hang of things. Sometimes teenagers can be a little brave so make sure he has a good understanding of the watercraft. Most rental companies go over the basics of riding as well as safety before allowing renters to go off on their own.

      Be sure you let us know if you have any more questions. Also, check out our post on jet ski rentals before you go. There might be some information in it that you find useful.


  3. My husband is wanting to go on a jet ski tour as part of our next vacation but I need a little help in knowing how to ride one. It’s good to know when it comes to riding wakes I should wait until I am comfortable and take things slow. I like trying new things but it will be nice to be able to take things at my own pace to make it enjoyable.

  4. Surprised to find out people don’t need a license for a jet ski. You’d think they would require one considering it’s like a motorcycle on water.

  5. I have never been on a jet ski; however, it is a desire I’ve had for years. Now that I’m older 50ish, and a little heavier, I still want too, but I’m nervous. We are going to Myrtle Beach soon and I want to give it a try. Any advice? I was actually good until I discovered you might need to jump a wave. Can you just keep moving without a jump?

  6. For the 30hr a year mean the ski is not being used if u go out for 3weeked is 30hours !!! Ski will break down because u don’t use it I pick one up 2017 Sea-Doo 25 hrs on it. It sink . Y it was 25 on told me ski need to be used. 2017 50 HR +
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