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14 Jun 2017

Kitesurf spot guide – Atins, Brazil

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This is a guest post by Atins.me. Thanks for the info guys, this place looks amazing!

One of the best Flatwater Kiteboarding spots in the world. For pros and beginners, Atins offers ocean waves, a variety of flat water lagoons, and wide, empty beach fronts at steady cross/onshore winds of 15-30 knots.

 

Kite spot summary

Why Kite in Atins One of the best Flatwater Kiteboarding spots in the world.
Kite season: Juli – January, with strongest winds without fail: October – December
Wind: 15-30 knots, sideshore (always)
Kite sizes: Mostly 7 – 9, sometimes 12
Weather: Shorts and wetshirt
Freestyle Kite: Huge river delta/flatwater spot
Kitesurfing Wave: Exit the delta and you’ll have waves, albeit a little choppy and white-waterish
Kite Beginners Perfect to learn in the lagoon close to the beach
Kite services: There are various small schools and centres, some also rent and repair. Trips can be organised. Bear in mind it’s a small place of the trodden path, so infrastructure is limited.
Kite trips: Downwinder arriving in Atins, downwinder to along the beaches of the Lençóis Maranhenses (spectacular dunes)
Kite Hotels: Plenty of pousadas, some of which are specialised in Kiters. For preservation purposes nothing directly on the beach (yet).
Get there: Closest domestic airports are São Luís (SLZ) and Parnaíba (PHB), international is Fortaleza (FOR). From SLZ it’s 4 ½ hours by car/bus/van to Barreirinhas and from there another hour by boat. Atins is the final destination for the amazing and ever more  popular downwinder from Jericoacoar, as well as of the touristic route “Rota das Emoções”.  
Kitesurfers Night: Unlike Jericoacoara Atins does not have much in the way of night life to offer. Here, you unplug, kick back, relax.

Wind in Kite area

Thanks to the trade winds Brazil’s entire Northeast coast is as safe a bet as it gets when it comes to constant winds. From July to December you’re guaranteed to kite, October and November see the strongest  winds of up to 30 knots. The wind is a constant cross / on-shore to the beach.

Gear

Bearing in mind Atins is well off the beaten path, there are a few schools, some of which also rent, sell and repair equipment. There’s also always someone around interested in buying some equipment. Some pousadas such Convento Arcádua offer distinct facilities to wash, dry and store your equipment. The Bar.co by the beach also offers storage.

Beginners

The best time for beginners is low-tide launching right on the main beach. The lagoon is superflat and the bottom is sandy (no rocks). There are a few schools that give classes.

Trips

Kite schools in Atins offer custom downwinders along the extensive beaches of the Lençóis Maranhenses. Kiting inside the parque and the dunes is under intense scrutiny by the Nature Reserve Organization (IBAMA).  

Hotels for kitesurfers

Convento Arcádia

Peaceful refuge, 100m from the beach. Great for chillaxing, kitesurfing and exploring the dunes and lagoons of the Lençóis Maranhenses!

Your host, Carmen, will welcome you to the Convento Arcádia set in half a hectare full of coconut palms, a grove of cashew trees, and carved into the bend of a sand dune. In less than 100m you will find yourselves at the beach or in the nearest restaurant.

We carefully developed the architecture of the Convento Arcádia in harmony with its surroundings to provide for a unique and cosy atmosphere. Its outdoors kitchen is designed for dinner parties to the sound of the sea and the wind, large verandas provide ample shaded space to relax and kick back with a good read in one of the many hammocks. For Kiters the Convento offers purpose-built facilities to wash and store your equipment. And if you’re into Yoga there’s a fully equipped open-air studio inclusive mats, blocks and belts.

The main house offers three rooms, two doubles and one large suite with a double and two single beds, and sleeps a total of eight people. We also rent these rooms individually. In addition, we offer three chalets each with its large private veranda. The chalets come with a large double and two single beds.

All rooms come with ensuite baths and are tastefully arranged and decorated. Breakfast will be served on the main house’s veranda and rooms are cleaned on a daily basis. The kitchen is ready for you to prepare meals at your own convenience, just be prepared to bring some essentials from Barreirinhas or São Luís the choice of groceries in Atins is very basic. Of course, Carmen will provide tips on where to buy the freshest fish, and the like. Upon request we can also arrange meals to be prepared for you in the house.

 

Travel info

The nearest major domestic airport to Atins and the Lençóis Maranhenses is São Luís (SLZ). The closest international airports are in Fortaleza (FOR), Belem (BEL) or Natal (NAT), from where you can fly on to São Luís. Many domestic or international flights might also be routed via the capital Brasília (BSB).

SLZ is serviced by the following airlines:

– Azul
– GOL
– TAM

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is quite extensive and has no access roads. Because of the nature of the park’s protected status, only especially licensed vehicles are permitted access. Entrance to the park is made exclusively by 4-wheel drive trucks.

When planning your trip to Atins some thinking ahead might be sensible. The schedules of the means of transport for the various sections are not fully aligned and you might experience some unwanted down-time in Barreirinhas when missing the connecting 4-wheel truck or boat. Check out http://www.atins.me/travel/ for detailed and up to date info on the various means of transportation.

Atins itself is a little spread-out, so for Kiters it may be worthwhile choosing a Pousada close to the beach for convenience. Transport in the village is generally on foot, or you can call a Quad Taxi.

Need to know

Other useful tips and information can be found on http://www.atins.me/read-this/. Most importantly: Do bring cash, card payment is still not accepted in many places!

Costs

Atins is a little pricier than other places closer to say Fortaleza, mainly due to the added cost of logistics. Accommodation for example can range from R$ 50 to R$ 1.000 per night.    

Booking.com
09 May 2017

Kite Center Sri Lanka – Ride the Kappalady lagoon and the Indian ocean

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Kite Center Sri Lanka - Ride the Kappalady lagoon

 

This is a guest post by Kite Centre Sri Lanka. Visit them here for more info. All images taken from Elements-resort.com

Kite Center Sri Lanka is located 30 minutes south of Kalpitiya in the Northwest Province of Sri Lanka at the point where the wind is funnelled between Sri Lanka and India. This funnelling (Venturi Effect) gifts our spot with constant, stable, reliable wind in both our winter and summer kite seasons. We are right on the beach at Elements Watersports and Nature Resort on the shores of the Indian Ocean and Kappalady Lagoon.

The lagoon is a flat-water lagoon which in many places is shallow enough to stand and in others is deep enough for jumping and freestyle. It is a great location for riders of all levels as the water is very calm and flat. The beach is clear with no obstacles. The beach is mostly only used by kitesurfers.

Kite Center Sri Lanka - Ride the Kappalady lagoon

 

For those looking to learn to kite, we have an on-site kite school. All of our instructors are IKO certified. We offer a range of courses to suit everyone from the absolute beginner, to those looking for a refresher/intermediate course, to the advanced rider who wants to improve his/her freestyle skills.

Kite Center Sri Lanka - Ride the Kappalady lagoon

 

We offer lessons from the beach on the lagoon as well as kite lessons from a boat on a nearby larger lagoon. Here, the student is in the water with the kite and the instructor follows in a boat. In the winter kite season the ocean is also calm and so is also great for learning. We always have a rescue boat on hand.

We also rent kites and all kite equipment. We have kite sizes from 2m to 14m.

In addition to kite lessons and rentals we also run guided downwinders and kite safaris in the ocean and to and from islands and sandbars in nearby lagoons.

The temperature here is a constant 29-35 degrees and the water is always warm, so no wetsuits are required.

Our winter kite season runs from 20th December until the end of March. In this season the South-easterly wind starts to blow at between 11am-1pm and keeps blowing all afternoon. It blows at between 15-20 knots.

Our summer kite season runs from mid-May to mid-September, with the North-westerly wind blowing 24 hours per day.

In both seasons the wind is side on-shore in the ocean.

In both seasons the wind is reliable, steady and clean. In the summer the wind is clean on both ocean and lagoon, but the ocean is pretty rough and choppy during this season. In the winter season the wind is clean on the ocean (and the ocean is calm) but is a little gusty on the lagoon.

Kite Center Sri Lanka - Ride the Kappalady lagoon

 

For accommodation we have a choice of lagoon villas or Cabanas. We also have a beach restaurant and lounge right on the beach. We can arrange airport transfers.

When not kiting you can relax by our pool, walk on the beach, rent one of our stand up paddle boards for paddle around the lagoon, visit the famous local shrine or visit the nearby Wilpattu national park for a safari.

28 Mar 2017

Kitesurf Spot at the Costa Brava/ Sant Pere Pescador in Spain

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This is a guest post by ION Club Gulf de Roses. Visit them here for more info

The Bay of Roses is located on the Northern end of the Costa Brava in Spain close to the French boarder. Sant Pere Pescador is the main
kitesurfig beach of the whole bay, a wide and sandy beach gives perfect conditions to practise kitesurfing all year around. Here you can find three official kitesurfing zones as in high season kitesurfing should only be practised in official zones. The spot “Sant Pere Pescador “ is featuring the strong Tramuntana wind from the Pyrenees and steady sea breezes from south east in the summer months.

Like mentioned before, Sant Pere Pescador is a spot offering wind conditions all year around but if you look in lessons and rental of Kitesurfing Equipment you should plan your trip between April and October as during the winter months none of the schools located here are operating. Nevertheless you may find wind and even warm temperatures during the winter months. Let’s explain a bit more about the prevailing winds in Sant Pere Pescador.

Wind

Sea breezes (thermal winds) blow side-onshore from the right, gradually picking up during the day. As a general rule you can expect the thermal to get up to between 3.5 – 4.5 Bft, with good days blowing a steady 5 Bft though (in knots 12/13- 18-20 knots).

The wind here is also particularly constant, which is perfect for learning and improving your kitesurfing skills. Your best chances of catching the thermal winds are between May and September. We recommend kite sizes for an 80 kg person from 10m²-15m².

The Garbi: this very warm south wind is not blowing too often here, in some seasons we see this wind more often than in others…
The Garbi tends to appear after the south-easterly thermal wind has kicked in, with the wind slowly swinging to a southerly around 4 pm.
This southern wind, blowing side-shore from the right in Sant Pere Pescador and Side-ONShore from the right in Empuriabrava, tends to be somewhere between 5 and 6 Bft (in knots 16-22).

In Sant Pere Pescador it can be a bit gusty though close to the shore, Kitesurfers enjoy this wind a bit further out. Or you enjoy the Garbi a bit more north in Empuriabrava where it might blow a bit more constant. We would recommend kite sizes for na 80 kg person from 8m²-12m²

The Tramuntana on the other hand is a little different. This wind comes rushing down from the Pyrenees in the north, usually picking up to between 5 Bft and 8 Bft (in knots 20-35). The water state also changes due to the perfectly side-shore from the left wind in Sant Pere Pescador, leaving you with small waves breaking by the beach, further out the wind swell can be quite impressive.

It is very hard to predict the Tramuntana, although it is more common in cooler months. But actually the Tramuntana can kick in any time and once it arrives the weather tends to stay that way for two or three days. Often the Tramuntana is blowing day and night, so no quiet moments for kitesurf beginners – only action for experts. Recommended kite sizes for an 80 kg person is 5m²-9m².

Kitesurfing Center and Kitesurfing Zones


The ION CLUB Golf de Roses Kite Centre is open from spring to autumn every year. The center is located at the southern end of the bay of Roses between Sant Pere Pescador and L’ Escala at the 4-star campsite and bungalow park La Ballena Alegre Costa Brava. The Kitesurfing Zone has been operating since 2005, and is not only the first official kitezone in Catalonia, it is also the safest in the area.

The Kitesurfing zone consists of two areas, one for ION CLUB‘s classes and another for kite-experts. In high season from June-September you should book very early to use the Kite Expert Zone. No restrictions are applied before or after the above dates, except those of the Teaching Area. Kitesurfing instruction are offered daily for all levels & ages and in many languages in the official ION CLUB teaching zone.

The Starter/Refresher courses are designed to teach you the fundamentals of kitesurfing. After a short theory session, which includes safety rules and guidelines, you will quickly move on to practical handling and feeling the power from a kite; first on the beach, and then on the water. This will help you learn how to move the kite correctly and how to react in different situations.

Safety is priority, which is why we use the buddy system when teaching beginners and ‘refreshers’. This means working together in groups of four students with two kites per instructor. To take part in our Intermediate and Advanced courses, you will need to have mastered the waterstart. We’ll start things off by checking what you have learned and filling in the gaps. Next we’ll look at improving your body position so you can learn to ride safely and confidently in both directions. Conditions permitting, we’ll have you sailing upwind in just a short time! Who knows? You might even want to try a few small jumps. The ION CLUB instructors may choose to use the centre’s video camera for post-session visual feedback. Specials: teaching with Radio Helmets (Headzone).

Two other kitezones are located further north in the bay of Roses close to the Campsite la Gaviota in the community of Sant Pere Pescador or in Empuriabrava. Please remember that actually in low season you are allowed to kitesurf everywhere, the restrictions/zones are concerning only the high season. The zones are necessary to keep the sport safe and all other beach users should be able to enjoy the water as well in a safe way. Read more here.

Where to stay ?

The North of the Bay of Roses is not so ideal for kitesurfing due to the fact that the wind is either offshore when the Tramuntana is blowing or onshore when the thermal wind is blowing. So if you look in kitesurfing we recommend to find a place to stay further south even if ROSAS itself has a big offer in apartments and villas. From Empuriabrava onwards further south you have a big variety of Camping Sites and Bungalow Parks. Especially the community of Sant Pere Pescador offers many campings such as La Palmera, La Gaviota, Aquarius, Riu, Amfora, Las Dunas and the last one is La Ballena Alegre.

All those Camping Sites are located in the naturalpark Aiguamolls, so the whole area is preserved from constructions. Further south towards the end of the Bay of Roses you can find the medival village of Sant Marti d’Empuries offering some nice Villas and especially L’Escala with a wide range of Villa -rentals and hotels. A good plan is also to rent a room or apartment in one of those “Casa Rurales” which you find in the little villages in the inland. Read more here.

14 Mar 2017

Chasing the sun in Sri Lanka – Kiteboarding in Kalpitiya

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Period: 23 December 2015 – 7th Jan 2016
Windy days: 11 out of 13
Air temperature: 30+ degrees
Water temperature: 26 degrees

This is a guest entry by Persida Roata. Thanks for another great kite spot review!

Intro

Kiteboarding in Kalpitiya on Christmas day is definitely a good change from all the usual heavy meals and family gatherings back at home.

The climate here is tropical and by the time we got there the monsoon was getting ready to go, yet it was still not very sure about it. So we did get a lot of humidity and rain almost every day, even if it was only for 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, it was hot and the water was warm.

How to get there

To reach Kalpitiya you have to fly to Colombo airport and then arrange a transfer to the village. The ride takes about three hours and it costs around $100 for a six seat van (if you are a group) or $75, if you are travelling solo.

Don’t forget that you might need a visa to enter the country. You can get that online, fill up a form and pay around $30. You get it on your email and works pretty fast.

Where to stay – how to find good accommodation

There are quite a lot of options, ranging from fancy hotels to kitesurfing resorts and further more to private guest houses.

We stayed in a private guest house, three minutes away from the beach, for a very good price. We didn’t have any meals included, but we could go shopping in the town (by car/scooter/tuk tuk) or to the local mini store – five minutes walking distance. Renting a scooter is about $8/day and a tuk tuk could go around $13/day.

Since there was no internet there, we purchased, right in the airport, local SIM cards with quite a lot of data traffic on it. I remember I paid somewhere around $7 for 5GB!!

The kite spot

To go kiting we had two options: the lagoon, or our beach that was so close to the house. Our beach was right at the ocean so the waves were growing as the wind picked up. But it was not that bad after all.

Wind

The wind was pretty good. It was almost every day, ranging from 12-18 knots, and sometimes over that. Rain was sometimes messing up our kite sessions. The wind blew early in the morning or even for the whole day.

The Lagoon

The Kalpitiya lagoon is a great place to learn doing the waterstart, going upwind, transitions or tricks. It is flat and wide enough, as you ride across it. It is also pretty long so there is enough room for everybody. On the sandbank that separates the lagoon from the ocean there are several fishermen’s shelters you can use sometimes to hide from the sun (or the rain).


The depth of the lagoon varies. It seems that it gets very deep as you start, but somewhere in the middle it gets rather shallow, so careful with wilder jumps.

Also, there are some wind corridors that shape up along the lagoon, where the wind blows stronger or in gusts.

The water is not very clean, it is rather brownish and there are some sharp shell snails. So it is wise to wear some feet protection.

Another thing you might want to be careful at is the muddy slippery area before you get into the water. It is like that because during monsoon season the water rises. Some people stand there while launching their kites and that can be very unsafe. Also, you need to watch out for it especially when you come out of the water, because you feet are wet and you still have the kite hanging up and pulling you.

The Ocean

Riding on the ocean seemed like a dangerous business for a beginner. But it has actually helped me to make a lot of progress. It was very convenient because it was close to our house, the beach was rather clean with fine sand and the water was much cleaner than in the lagoon.

It was a bit difficult passing by the area where the waves broke, on the shore, but other than that, it was pretty awesome. The wind here blows cross on shore and the water gets deep quite fast.

 

Beach

The beach was pretty wide, full of crabs and fishermen’s boats and there was no tide.

 

Dangers

Besides the ones mentioned above, it is advisable to wear insect repellent and flip flops at all times. Walking barefoot on the village streets is not a good idea, because there is a parasite worm you can get from the puddles. This gross thing gets into your body, through any small cut or wound on your feet and crawls up under your skin. There is an antidote you can find there that will kill it but you will get to keep it as a souvenir inside your body. Yuck!

Another thing is stray animals. We had wandering in and out of our front and back yard cats, lots of dogs and donkeys. They were useful for eating out most o the food leftovers, but they can also be disease  carriers.

The food

Depending on your preferences you might like the food or not. Most of the stuff there is of Indian influence and I am not a big fan of that. So I had some very limited choices. Everything was spicy, even those meals that were served as not spicy. But I went for the safer ones – rice or noodles with fish and veggies. We also cooked at the house. We were buying fresh tuna from the fishermen or we could pick up clams right from the beach and cook them. ☺
What I liked a lot were these crepes filled with coconut. You could also get very nice and ripe fruits of all sorts, right from the village or the town.


Downtown there were lots of stores for food, clothes, house etc. We were also buying milk, eggs and we once bought some cheese from the Pharmacy!! ☺
Alcohol was pretty hard to find (even beer) and it was rather expensive.

What other things to do

What I did, what others did.

Boat trip

One of the days we went on a boat trip outside the lagoon, to a small, long but narrow shaped island. We wanted to go kiteboarding but we didn’t have much luck with the wind. On that island you can ride both onshore and offshore. If you have enough wind and a boat to follow you, it’s a nice opportunity for a downwinder all the way back to the lagoon.

Buddhist Temples


We were a big group and we had rented a van. We decided on two days we would take off from kitesurfing and go see some of the island. On the first day, we saw two beautiful Buddhist Temples – one in Anuradhapura and the other one in Dambulla. The latter is actually made up of some rooms dug in a wall of a mountain. It is pretty impressive.

Sigiriya

On the second day of the trip, we went to one of the best known touristic points in Sri Lanka – the rock of Sigiriya. This is placed inside a very large park, it is rather crowded – so expect queues and the entrance fee is about $30. It is quite spectacular once you get to the top of it. The view is completely amazing. But going up the stairs is slow, because of the crowds and not comfortable if you are not fond of heights. So be patient and brave. It is all worth it!

Wilpattu National Park

This is a place not far from Kalpitiya. I didn’t have the chance to go myself, but other friends did and they loved it. Here there are lakes that were born from rainwater. Plus you get to see the elephants and other animals!

©Photo Credit – Bogdan Popescu

07 Mar 2017

Feelgood Camp 2016 throwback

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Every summer since 2011 a small group of kiteboarders has made an effort to get together in the South of Sweden to hang out, catch up and enjoy the Swedish summer’s breeze. Last year was the first time I actually got around to get some video footage and you can see the rather quick and dirty result here. I’m already looking forward to Feelgood camp 2017!

 

20 Feb 2017

Kiteboarding in Paje, Zanzibar – Blue waters paradise

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Period: Jan 19 – 2nd Feb (peak summer wind season)
Windy days: 10 out of 13
Air temperature: 30+ degrees
Water temperature: 28 degrees

This is a guest entry by Persida Roata. Thanks for this great kite spot review!

Kiteboarding in Paje, Zanzibar was one of the most spectacular experiences for me. The island is a mere paradise, for kiters or non kiters. That is why you can always take your other non kiting friends or your family (children included) on a wonderful vacation here.

The climate is sub-equatorial and it is located in the Southern Hemisphere. That is why January was summer time there and it was very hot and sometimes humid. The sun is not what most Europeans are used to. It is strong and it can burn your skin easily and fast. So make sure you have some very good sunscreen lotion with you, lycra rash guard and a hat.

We had very little rain in the two weeks and sometimes it was a bit overcast.

How to get there

So we were a small group of four kiters from Romania travelling for two weeks on a low budget.

There are several well known companies flying directly to Zanzibar Airport, which is a fairly new airport – Turkish, Qatar, FlyDubai, Ethiopian. You can also fly to the mainland, to Dar Es Salam, in Tanzania, and get the ferry boat to the island.

Low fares

We landed a super price deal, flying from Sofia, Bulgaria – which is not far from Romania – 350 euro round trip, by Turkish Airlines. There are several very good deals you can look for and most of them fly from the very big European airports, like Milan, Istanbul, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, London etc. Look for smart combinations and you can also take a low cost flight to get there.

I’ve used momondo.com – which is a flight aggregator.

Luggage – best practices

Travelling for kiteboarding can be a hassle. You are packing several thousand Euro worth of equipment there and you want to get it there and back safe and not to cost you a fortune.

I wish I could tell you how exactly to avoid sports luggage fees, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear guide to that. Turkish Airlines, for instance, doesn’t have the clearest policy on that. While there is a sports baggage section on the site, kiteboarding equipment is not among the listed types that are subject to extra fees. They also don’t have a clear policy about oversize baggage.

So we got through for free, with no extra fees. Other friends, flying the same flight, the same day weren’t so lucky.

Therefore I think people should print out the luggage policy and be ready to support their cause, if it gets to that. And also have some extra money on the side, in case you don’t win this one  ☹. Also European low-cost air companies apparently accept sports luggage for an extra €30-50 fee, which is not that bad after all.

Another tip I’d like to share regarding the luggage is to have it all wrapped up in plastic foil. Thus you are protecting your bag as well.

Lost baggage isn’t any news to anybody, but arriving at your spot without your gear can suck big time. So what we did – I know it doesn’t look very flashy, but it can save you lots of trouble – is to add a sheet of paper under the plastic wrap that mentioned the destination, name and email address or phone number. Sometimes, if it’s snowy or rainy you baggage tag can soak up and get ripped off and they can never know whose that bag is. Better safe than sorry!

Where to stay – How to find good accommodation

We stayed at Summer Dream Lodge, in Northern Paje. It was 100m away from the beach and even if it was a bit far from the crowded kite spots, we had a lot more room on the beach and the water just for us.

The place was really nice. Very clean, with delicious food and very good value for money. It can host groups, families or even single travelers, as they have different types of bungalows, including a dorm type one. The bar and restaurant prices are very good and the owner and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

The four of us shared one bungalow with a private bathroom.

There are lots of accommodation options all throughout Paje, for different kinds of budgets. Some are spectacular but they can of course charge you up to $200 per night for larger apartments.

We booked our bungalow through AirBnB which was easy, but we later on realized that the site fees were rather high for both sides – guests and host as well. So watch out for that.

The kite spot

Now let’s get to the most important issue  ☺. Kiteboarding in Paje is indeed spectacular, but to be honest, that is mostly due to the incredible scenery. The water is crazy blue sometimes, it looks like you are riding in the sky!

Wind

January to February is one of the windy periods in Zanzibar. There are also windy months during their winter – June to July.

But to be very clear about it: it may be a matter of luck, but this is not a region for small kites. So when you pack, make sure you get your bigger kites too. Most kites flying varied from 11-12m up to 19-20m foils!

I weigh less than 50 kg and I only took out my 9m twice. The rest of the days were for the 12m one.

We were lucky to be able to ride in about 10 days out of our entire stay, but most of them were not very long sessions and some were really light wind. So also, make sure you pack a bigger board too.

The wind is usually starting in the afternoon and during our stay it ranged from 10 to 16 knots, and rarely maybe 18 knots. If you check the forecast you will see much less wind. That is because there are extra knots adding up from a thermal wind.

When the tide is low or moderate, the water is flat. When it gets high, the water becomes quite choppy.

We also caught two
incredible morning sessions, one at the very sunrise. It was breathtaking! You can also ride all the way to the reef. It looks like it’s from another planet. A couple of friends who stayed in February as well went out on a full moon too!

Tide

Now this was one of the difficulties we had to face. Depending on how the tide goes in and out, you may be in the situation to have wind but no water. In the Southern part of Paje Beach, there is a small lagoon that is full of water even in low tide. But the water is rather shallow and you could also get your fins stuck in the sand, since the bottom of the sea is not even.

The tide varies. Sometimes you get low tide most of the day and the water returns only in the afternoon. You can always check the tide forecast online. Sometimes the tide is very low, and sometimes it is moderately low.

On the other hand, when you have a high tide, there are other issues. The water gets so high it covers most of the beach. So setting up, launching and landing you kite can turn into a challenge. Kites hanging in coconut trees were pretty fashionable here ☺.

If you are lucky to catch windy mornings, usually the tide was high, but it starts going low already. Thus you can ride for a couple of hours until it can get dangerously shallow and then land safely on the beach. Plus, the sun and ocean as well are much nicer in the morning.

The water temperature can get uncomfortably high in the afternoon. So if you’re looking for refreshing water, get on the board and ride out farther from the shore, because close to the beach, it feels you are soaking up in a cup of hot tea.

Beach

The beach is insanely white and the sand is very fine. There are seaweed around, especially during high tide, and they can get on your lines. Also, watch out for pieces of broken glass on the beach and other types of garbage (mostly bottles and cans).

Dangers

Before kiteboarding, you should make sure you have checked your spot during low tide as well. That is because there are some seaweed farms, and there are also quite crowded sea urchins areas. There are also some small but angry jelly fish that can sting – but only in high tide. The whole beach is full of crab holes and at night there is quite a lot of crab traffic going on. ☺

The food

The food in Zanzibar is delicious. You really can’t go wrong with anything. Except for pork meat (they are Muslim), you can get various meats, mostly fresh fish and seafood. The cook it on the grill, deep fry it or cook it in different types of sauce, mostly based on coconut milk. Fruits are also very tasty and ripe – pineapple, mangos, lychees, bananas, coconut, avocado, papaya, etc. Price is not the lowest, but you can try bargaining with the merchant.

Alcohol is easy to get and at a very good price. A local beer (Safari or Kilimanjaro) is around $2.5.

What other things to do

What I did, what others did.

Safari Blue

This is an awesome one-day trip. You go by boat from the South-Western part of the island and stop by at a mangrove island, then you go to an incredible sandbank. After you are done marveling at the beauty of the blue waters, you go snorkeling for a bit and then to lunch on another island. Here you also get to see a huge baobab tree. The lunch is great and has enormous servings. You can also buy souvenirs there, so make sure you have some shillings with you.

The price for this is $35. It is so worth it!

Prison Island

This is about 20 minute boat ride from Stone Town. Initially built to keep prisoners there, it had never had the chance to be that. So instead it is now the home of tens or hundreds of giant tortoises!

The entrance fee is $4.

Stone Town

At least one visit to Stone Town is a must. The city is roaming with people, cars, scooters and bicycles. You can see the local so mixed architecture, get money at the bank and spend it on souvenirs in the many shops and markets. You can also spend it on lunch/dinner at fancy restaurants or even at the food market. The food market starts at about 6:30 in the evening and is on the seafront. The food there is good, but make sure you double check the price before you order something.

To get to Stone Town from Paje is easy. Either you get a taxi that can be around $25-$30, or you get the local Dala Dala. It costs $1 per ride and it’s most definitely fun to try it at least once. Don’t expect any personal space during a Dala Dala ride. ☺

Spice Tour

Another tour worth taking is the Spice Tour. On the way to Stone Town, there is a forest where a guide takes you to see where different spices come from. You can see things like vanilla plant, cocoa tree, coffee tree, cinnamon and nutmeg tree, avocado or papaya tree, turmeric roots etc. The tour ends with a very nice lunch and a coconut tree climbing demo. ☺ You also get some lovely gifts.

We took a full day tour including this Spice Tour, a Stone Town Tour and the Prison Island trip and it was $35 for the day, transfer from Paje included.

It is good to know that all the local service providers: drivers, guides, luggage carriers etc expect tips.

Diving

I haven’t done it personally, but another friend did and she was extremely excited by the scenery. She went diving on two separate days, once in the North Eastern shore and then on the South Eastern one. The cost was approximately $300.

Nungwi

Another trip some friends took that I didn’t, was going up north to Nungwi for kiting. The scenery is spectacular. That area is different from Paje, with more-high end hotels and not as crowded. If you want to take a trip there to ride, book a whole day for it.  A taxi is about $25-$30.

Party

Paje is also a great place for nightlife too. There is a party almost every evening. I only went to 3 of them: at Teddy’s, at Jambo’s, right on the beach and at Vuvuzela, which is next door to where we stayed. All of them have entrance fees of about $2-$3.

07 Jan 2017

2016 Annual Kitesurf Summary

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Tarifa in July

The year that passed has been a slightly different one that I initially imagined. I kickstarted the season with three weeks in St Lucia, with a 50/50 wind ratio. Immediately after that I moved from London to Gibraltar in the hope of sun, wind and a different life. I got all three of them. I certainly got sun, and I also changed my busy Metropolitan lifestyle for something a lot more simple and relaxed. I also got a lot of wind, and Tarifa only 30 minutes away. But despite this I didn’t get out as much as I had hoped for. The problem was living in Gibraltar. Trying to cross the border into Spain after work turned out to be a nightmare with car queues up to an hour some days. This resulted in me resorting to weekends mainly. But without a solid community of kite buddies, which I’d had in London, riding also became less of a priority even in the weekends.

In the end I actually didn’t get more kitesurfing done in 2016 despite my seemingly ideal location. Progress has been slow and although I’ve picked up a few new tricks like the double front, a clumsy dark slide and switch rolls I still haven’t cracked front to blind.

First part of 2017 brings me back to UK, and the South coast. I’m hoping for many sessions, even mid-week after work. I’m even going to share flat with another kiter so potentially there will be a big focus on riding and progressing this year. I’m also planning a few trips this summer, maybe Sri Lanka or Mauritius and the Meds.

2015 hard facts:

Days on the water: 42
Most used kite: Element 15m, shared 2nd place 10 meters Nitro and Legacy
Countries surfed: 3 (St Lucia, Spain, Sweden)

More action to come in 2017. See you on the beach!

30 Dec 2016

Where to go kitesurfing in the winter months – The best kite trip destinations for December, January and February

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Kitesurf holidays in the winter months

The cold and dark winter months are the perfect time to go on a kitesurf holiday. Not only can you escape the cold and forget about five layers of neoprene, but our winter also coincides with a lot of windy and warm seasons around the globe.

In no particular order, here are my top five kitesurf holiday destinations in December, January and February.

Cape Town

I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about Cape Town, South Africa. Kitesurfers come here every winter year after year for the weather, food and atmosphere. It’s a very wind safe destination providing strong wind and big waves. The cold water does require a wetsuit but as soon as you’re out of the water the warm sun will heat up your body in no time. Cape Town is also home to the annual Red Bull King of The Air competition that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Boracay

This small paradise island in the Philippines has been a destination for kitesurfers and normal holidayers alike for a long time. It’s one of the most wind safe places in South East Asia, providing a big playground for all levels. The kitesurfing here is average with sea urchins, busy waters and small launch areas, but what makes up for it is the warm water, cheap living and great party vibes. Go to Boracay for a combined kite, beach and party holiday. There is good diving too.

Kalpitiya

On Sri Lanka the main kitesurf destination is Kalpitiya. It’s got two seasons of which the winter months provide slightly weaker wind than the summer season. Both water and air temp are in the high twenties. You can find both flat water spots and decent wave spots.

Yucatan

Facing the Caribbean Sea, Yucatan in Mexico hosts several kitesurf resorts. Basic and local, or high end and established; you can find all levels of comfort in Yucatan, and this in combination with good wind stats makes it an ideal destination for kite-obsessed families, couples and singles alike.

West Indies

The band of islands dividing the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean provide good wind in the winter months and allow the explorer to discover endless new spots when traveling from island to island. You can also focus on only one of the islands and enjoy the relaxed island life with the locals. There’s plenty of resources on the web if you want to find the perfect island for your needs, but a good start is my spot guide to St Lucian kitesurfing.

09 Nov 2016

Lanzarote kite surf holiday and spot review in November

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famara beach lanzarote surfDates: Oct 30 – Nov 5
Rideable days: 0 out of 7
Air temp: Around 23˚C
Water temp: Around 21˚C

With kitesurfing holidays we know that days of no wind is part of the experience. We try and mitigate for it as much as possible with the help of wind statistics, late bookings and big kite quivers, but it’s still rare to come back home and say ‘I could’ve kited every day if I wanted to’.

I’ve had some tough luck trips before. But in terms of kiting this was the worst one so far. I managed to book in a week with no wind at all. Speaking to locals, the summer is the time to come for wind consistency. Note taken. Having said that, check this out; the following week shows strong consistent wind all week long. Tough luck.
no wind week lanzarote

This was my week…

good wind lanzarote

Here’s the week after I left.

 

So what do you do on Lanzarote when there’s no wind? You surf. Luckily Famara beach, which is the main kite spot is a surf spot even more so.

 

Here’s my review of Lanzarote for surfers and kitesurfers in early November. Bottom line for kitesurfer; be flexible with your booking or stay for at least two weeks, or you might end up like me with no wind. Except for that little detail, you can still gain some insights with this review and decide whether it’s a place you’d like to visit.

How to get to Lanzarote

Lanzarote is well connected with mainland Europe. I flew with Vueling, but this is after all a package deal resort type of place and most low-budget airlines will drop you on the island

Be sure to add extra sport equipment, which most airlines have reduced to 23 or 25 kg nowadays. My kite bag was 26kg and they didn’t mind but be prepared to shift something over into your hand luggage if they start bitching at check-in.

Renting a car is both cheap and convenient. I see no reason not doing it, but you could of course take a 30 min cab ride to Famara and stay there all the time.

Where to stay during your surf holiday

You can find places to rent via the ordinary booking sites, like AirBb or Booking.com, or book via some of the local agencies.

Caleta de Famara is a tiny village right on the beach with almost more surf shops than permanent inhabitants it seems. You’ll find a few restaurants and two tiny supermarkets, but there is no night life to talk about. Overall, you don’t stay in this part of the island unless you want peace and quiet in the evenings. Personally I really liked the tranquil atmosphere.
Caleta de Famara
Famara Bungalows are right next to Caleta de Famara, on the far side of the beach. They have closer to the best surf, a shop and a restaurant. Most places seem to have their own terrace which is nice but they are a bit more pricey than the flats in town.
Samara Bungalows
Campers on the beach also seems to be a legitimate, and classic way for surfers to be as close to the action as possible. Is it your thing? You can rent campers, but I only wish they would rent surf dogs to go with them.
Surf camera at Famara beach
La Santa we should not forget, as it’s the neighbouring village, also with a few restaurants etc. Plus they’ve got their own surf spot but it ends in sharp volcanic rocks so only for experienced riders. It’s also smaller so I wouldn’t kitesurf here.

La Santa surf village

Surf spot in La Santa

The surf between La Santa and La Santa Club hotel.

The spot: Famara

So we already covered a bit about Famara. This is your best basecamp. Stay here and have minutes to the beach for both surfing and kitesurfing. 30 minutes to the airport, and no more than one hour from everything else there is to see.

The beach itself is about three km long with cross onshore wind and swell. When I was there the waves were gentle and good for beginners. There are a lot of schools around and it can get quite busy. This was in November so I can only imagine summer being a lot worse with both surfers, kitesurfers and even swimmers in the water. At least the water is warm (I was only using neoprene boxers and a rash guard). There are some rocks near Caleta de Famara, but otherwise nice sandy bottom with no obstacles.

The kite zone is restricted to the far part of the beach, and in the summer months the zone is reduced even more.

famara1

Samara surf beach

Samara beach rules

The spot: Playa Honda

Playa Honda is the other main kitespot on Lanzarote. Kiteboarder’s come here when the wind is Easterly or Southerly, which are the less common directions. This is a pretty average beach with moderate chop and decent launch areas. I bet it’s really busy in the summer as the place is right on to a village and not far from Arrecife. It’s also neighbouring the airport so make sure your kite doesn’t get stuck in a jet engine (just kidding :P).

Playa HondaPlaya Honda and airport

Things to do on windless days

Lanzarote is a small island. You can drive from North to South in 2 hours, and see pretty much all there is to see in one week. Renting a car is recommended as it will help getting around significantly.
Luckily for me there is quite a lot to see and do on this volcanic island. The landscape is harsh with little vegetation, and you sometimes feel like you’re on a different planet. It’s definitely worth exploring.

Surf – €10/day €50/week

This is a no-brainer. Just do it and have fun with it regardless level. As opposed to kitesurfing you don’t need an instructor if you don’t want to. You can simply rent a board and give it a go.

Timanfaya National Park – €9

Not sure I’d do this in hindsight. I sat in a car queue for 1.5 hours just to get up to a restaurant and hop on a guided tour bus for another 20 minutes. It’s cool. But it was just more of the volcanic climate I’ve already seen plenty of.

Timanfaya signpostMassive car queue to get into the national park

 

 Cueva de los Verdes – €9

This is a guided tour of a volcanic tube/cave where they also hold concerts. I bet the acoustics are amazing but the tour wasn’t too special. Unless you love caves and shit.

Cueva de los Verdes

James del Agua – €9

A pretty cool place that apparently attracted the Hollywood elite back in the 60’s. It’s sort of a nightclub built into the lava formations, so I wish I could’ve experienced it that way. Now I paid €9 and they didn’t even have a DJ. Designed by the Lanzarote born architect Cesar Manrique who is the mastermind behind most of the attractions on the island (picture what the place must’ve been before he put his mark on it).

Jameos del Agua

Mirador del Rio – €4.50

Another Manrique creation. This was a highlight. Great views and interesting 1960’s technocratic architecture. No ball-chairs around.
Mirador del Rio

Playa Papagyo – €3

This was supposed to be a top notch beautiful beach by international standards. Don’t bother.

Playa Papagayo

Arrecife

The sad, run-down capital. Not much to see here but do go and support the local business by buying some cake and coffee.

Puerto del Carmen

The tourist center with all bars, shops and restaurants you can ask for. Typical tourist style but not bad after a few days of void over at Famara.

Puerto del Carmen by night

Playa Blanca

 I don’t know what to say. Touristy bad taste galore maybe sums it up.

 To sum it up

So. Would I go back. Despite my somewhat negative tone in this review, I had a great holiday. I could definitely come back for a combined kite and surf holiday, but Lanzarote would have to fight against similar destinations like Fuerte Ventura, Cape Verde and Egypt and I’m not sure it’d come out a winner.
11 Oct 2016

Chapter One – The best kiteboard movie ever produced

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chapter-one-kiteboard-movie

 

The Red Bull media house just released something that will cause a lot of stir in the kiteboard community. Chapter One could be the best film about kitesurfing ever produced (personally I’ll always keep this close to my heart but that’s more nostalgic value than anything else). The picture, storytelling and soundtrack is all second to none. Regardless whether you kitesurf or not, this is a masterpiece to enjoy many times to come.