You don’t need your own gear or a motorboat to skim the water on a wakeboard or a pair of water skis. There are a total of three water ski cable courses on Lake Balaton: this time we visited and tested the one at the Lidó Beach in Vonyarcvashegy, which has a massive sunbathing deck and lots of friendly locals.
Not having your own gear or a motorboat cannot stop you from trying what it’s like to soar in the water on a wakeboard or a pair of water skis. There are only a couple of criteria you’ll have to meet at the Vonyarcvashegy water ski and wakeboard course: for example, you’ll have to be above the age of 8, and it also helps if the idea of swimming has not only come up in your nightmares. Other than that, a bit of sturdiness and perseverance is enough for you to be able to tear along the course.
The course is located at the Lidó Beach in Vonyarc, at the end of a long pier. Here is where you’ll find the clubhouse as well with changing rooms and all the equipment, and the rescue boat is moored at this spot, too. You’d rather enjoy the view or catch your breath between two rounds? Head to the gigantic, 200-square metre sunbathing terrace of the sports centre.
You’ll be provided with a life vest, and a neoprene suit if the weather is a bit chillier, along with everything else you might need. If you bring along your own wakeboard, you’ll be subject to separate rates, but the difference in fees is not considerable. If you are new to all the water sports you can try here, we recommend that you go with waterskiing first.
If the waves are not too crazy on the Balaton, you can learn the basics in as little as half an hour, and complete the 830-metre course without any trouble afterwards. In the case of wakeboarding, beginners can get the same result – and some sore muscles the next day – within 2 hours.
Instructors on the premises will help you at the start, talk you through the basics and inform you about relevant safety instructions. Wearing a life vest is mandatory, and after the first, or gazillionth, fall you’ll know exactly why. If you fall in right after the start, it only takes a couple of strokes to reach the pier, which shouldn’t be a problem even in full gear. However, if you loose control of the handle further along the course, a rescue boat will come and take you to the shore. The important thing is that you stay calm, get away from under the cable course as fast as possible, and float on the water until the boat arrives to take you back to the start.
The morning is the best time of day for newbies to arrive, as the cable course is not to busy and it operates at only 25-30km/h. In the afternoon the speed of the course is increased to 30-35km/h, more suitable for pros, so you may find yourself feeling like you are literally in the way. The course is outfitted with several obstacles where the more experienced lot can try spectacular jumps and tricks. An employee we talked to during our visit told us the good news that in a couple of weeks a new obstacle would be added.
Many think that both waterskiing and wakeboarding are expensive, but giving them a try or pursuing them as a hobby will not bankrupt you. Half an hour on the course – which will probably be just about as much as you’ll be able to handle the first time around – plus equipment will cost you HUF 3,000, but one-hour, two-hour and all-day tickets are also available. Wakeboard tickets cost a couple hundred forints more.
We really dug the feeling, even though we were bouncing on our butts the first time we ventured into the water, and slammed face-first into the lake at the second attempt. The third time was the charm because from then on we were able to conquer the waves more or less and enjoy ourselves. Of course, we are still nowhere near flying several metres high in the air – for the time being anyway.