For pleasure and physical fitness, water sports provide excellent exercise and deliver a great deal of enjoyment. While some water sports are location-dependent – for example, you'll need a coastline with waves to go surfing, or a lake or bay to go water skiing – others need only a swimming pool. You can participate in some activities with little or no investment, while others require specific pieces of water sports equipment that you'll have to pay for before you can get started.
Surfing is done by riding a wave, which is propelled forward by the downward motion of the water; body surfing is performed without a board and requires little additional equipment. Windsurfing is a popular beach or lake activity, and uses a sail to propel the windsurfer forward while he or she steers the board using a mast.
Other water sports require a motor boat. Water skiing, wakeboarding and knee boarding are three well-known examples. These activities are more expensive than surfing, since you'll need to buy or rent a motor boat or jet ski with adequate horsepower. It's also best to get someone with extensive boating experience to commandeer the boat. You may have to hire this person at an additional cost.
Another popular sport that utilizes motorized water crafts is parasailing. The parasail pilot sits in a harness below a parachute, which is attached to the boat with a rope. As the boat moves forward, the parachute rises into the air, allowing the rider to lift off the surface of the water.
Kite surfing is similar to parasailing in that it harnesses wind energy, but differs in that it allows for more contact with the surface of the water. The kite surfer rides a small surfboard which is attached to a kite. This kite propels the rider through the water, and experienced kite surfers can also perform freestyle tricks to add to the fun and challenge.
Snorkeling is a perfect activity for those who enjoy being underwater. Usually performed in streams or lakes, and especially in ocean reefs, snorkeling requires a mask and breathing apparatus as well as specialized instruction. There are many safety considerations to make before snorkeling, which you should be taught by a licensed, experienced professional.
One piece of snorkeling equipment you'll want to become familiar with is the BC, or buoyancy compensator. Buoyancy compensators allow the snorkeler to float on the water's surface, if desired. You should also consider adding swim fins or flippers to your arsenal, as these accessories facilitate easier, stronger swimming.
A group activity, water polo can be played in your local community pool. You'll need a ball, nets and different-colored caps to distinguish the players on the two teams. A standard water polo team consists of six players per side, but you can play with more or fewer, depending on how many friends you're able to recruit.