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Walking on water
Water balls are springing up around the island and provide a fun challenge for young and old alike. KATY TURNER does her best
Walking on water. Biblical references aside, it couldn’t be that hard, could it? Aqua Balls, Waterwalkerz, call them what you will, these balls have grown in popularity around Europe and are now in several locations in Cyprus.
The Aqua Ball is a large, plastic, see through ball that you climb inside to walk on water, or at least try. Once inside, you often end up more manically running around like a hamster than walking on water! And that’s if you manage to get vertical at all. Apparently practice is key and kids are generally much better at it than their parents.
On the main Nissi Avenue in Ayia Napa what looks a bit like a splashpool has been created. In the knee deep water three empty balls roll around in the breeze. After handing over ¤8 and taking off watches, hair accessories and jewellery you can get inside.
A large zip is undone and you jump in to the 2m ball quickly before too much air escapes. The zip is done up and two large pieces of Velcro keep it in place, but not before a tube is inserted to fill the ball up with air. Once it is taut, it’s time to go.
Even though there is enough oxygen within the ball to breathe for 40 minutes, rides within the Aqua Balls last only four to six minutes, which for some is quite enough, others (generally younger) will want to come back for more.
And for doubters, the Competition and Consumer Protection Service in early July reversed its decision about the operation of Aqua Balls in Cyprus, saying that as no incident had been reported involving them for the last 14 years, their use in Cyprus was approved. The use of water balls is governed internationally by the Water Balls Safety Council, a self governing body that ensures their safe use. OneStop, operators of the balls in Cyprus is a member of this council. The balls themselves were commercially developed by Charles Jones in Italy in 1998, since when they have grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
Waterwalkerz are also available for hire at charity events and birthday parties. These balls too have passed EU safety regulations and are in use at Disneyland and Centrepark holiday locations within the UK. The company’s Katie Paraskeva says at one point last year around 400 children used the balls during one event. The balls are also used in hotels around the island over the summer period.
With a step the ball rolls off the edge of the pool and you’re in the water – you’re not of course, you’re bone dry within the ball despite falling flat on your face and splashing into the water a couple of times. I found it hard to stand up and once up almost impossible not to fall straight back down, which doesn’t hurt as you are cushioned by the water.
Whether it’s just an issue of balance or something more complicated, the children I was with were much more capable of standing up and even looking like the proverbial hamster for short periods of time.
If you want more of a family experience there is a ball that is cylindrical in shape that three people can ride at the same time. This is again harder than it sounds, no sooner have two people stood up but the third loses their balance. Unable to manage we stood aside as three German girls – aged 10, nine and six – gave it a go. They didn’t manage either. Next up were two tourists from Yorkshire, while the guy involved seemed to get the hang of it, his lady friend spent most of the time laughing on the floor. Perhaps their companion’s T-shirt summed it up – Ayia Napa I’m loving it.
Ayia Napa – outside the Panthea Village Hotel on Nissi Avenue.
Protaras – next to the Brewery
Pernera – near the Windmills bar and restaurant
Coral Bay – beginning of the strip
Paphos – Eleni Holiday Village
Available for hire for charity events and birthdays parties – if you don’t have your own pool the team will bring along their own. Tel: 99 099242, www.waterwalkerz.com
Two balls are currently set up within the Hamleys store in Nicosia. €5 a go or free when you spend €35 or more in store.