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.

Booking.com
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

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.

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.
30 Jul 2016

Can you kitesurf in Gibraltar?

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kiteboarding in gibraltar

 

I moved to Gibraltar six months ago. It was a means to an end as I wanted to get more kitesurfing into my daily life while still keeping my day job. Gibraltar hosts numerous online betting and gambling companies, so finding work isn’t that hard. Gibraltar is also a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, meaning that you get paid in GBP, everyone speaks English and you have an airport minutes away. And the sun is shining, right, so all in all it’s a pretty convenient and pleasant place to live in.

Cross the border and you have all of Spain waiting for you to be explored. This is when the fun begins. The most obvious destination for a kiteboarder is Tarifa, roughly 35 minutes away. Everyone raves about Tarifa. It’s the Mecca of European kitesurfing. Now lo and behold, I don’t value the kitesurf around Tarifa that highly. There are way better spots both in the UK and in Sweden, but what you don’t get there is wind consistency. It is windy over here. That’s for sure. And sunny. So choppy spots aside, it’s still a great place and the vibe is unbeatable. Everything oozes surf culture.

 

 

 

It’s hard to find a well paid design job in Tarifa though, so that’s why I compromised and moved to Gibraltar. But 35 minutes drive isn’t too bad for a cheeky after-work kite fix, right? This is where it gets tricker. First off, I need to mention the border queues. If you’re driving, you might have to wait a staggering hour simply to get out. Weekends are fine, but don’t attempt an escape after work, between five and half six. This is why those sessions after work have been far less than I initially hoped for. Ok, so why not stay in Gib then? Here’s Gibraltar for you – it’s a massive rock and very little level ground surrounding it, of which 90% is developed. There’s only two beaches in the whole country (if I may call it that)! Sandy bay and Catalan bay. These beaches are on the far side of the rock and the reason I’ve never seen anyone kite there on a strong Levante is most likely because of the turbulence caused by the steep rock that sits right in front of them.

Can you kite surf in Gibraltar? No. Maybe it’s allowed, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it anyway. What you can do however, is to go across the border into La Linea, the neighbouring Spanish town and use one of the two beaches, either side. Because they’ve got two beaches, one on each side, you can ride both on Levante and Poniente. Playa Levante and Playa Poniente they are conveniently called.

kitesurfing around gibraltar
la linea playa levante

Playa Poniente

 

These beaches are accessible after work but they’re not great. Poniente is better, although fairly small with a bit of chop. It’s sheltered by the bay and harbour though, so it definitely works. And I’ve never seen more than five, six kites there. Levante provides a much much bigger area, both water and beach, but you have to deal with bang on-shore wind and a nasty shore break. To enjoy this spot you need a howling Levante simply to get past the speed killing waves.

Palmones is a good middle-ground for Levante, halfway towards Algeciras. And past Algeciras, but not as far as Tarifa there’s Playa de Getares which is said to be decent as well. Mind you that the Spaniards favourite pastime is lounging on the beach, so any of these beaches will be full of people in the weekends between June and September.

13 Feb 2016

St Lucia kitesurfing spot guide & review 

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cas en bas st lucia kitesurfing

Dates: Jan 16 – Feb 6
Rideable days: 14 out of 21
Wind: Easterly trade wind, 10 – 20 knots
Kites used: 15m and 10m
Air temp: Around 28˚C
Water temp: Around 27˚C

Where to go kitesurfing in January? There is Cape Town, Perth, SE Asia, Cape Verde and a few other decent destinations but my friend Bjorn and I set our eyes on the Caribbean. The season there might be even better in February to April but the season starts as early as November/December and over 3 weeks I got about 65% windy days which is pretty decent.

We wanted an island with a few spots available, room for exploration and preferably flat water. There weren’t many guides and reviews available online regarding which island to visit, and after first investigating Cuba which turned out to be too expensive we decided on St Lucia as it seemed to offer what we were looking for and has direct flights from London with Virgin Atlantic.

map of the caribbeanmap of POIs on St Lucia

 

 

1. Cas en Bas kite beach

2. Italian guesthouse which we found on AirBnB

3. Gros Islet, the local town with bars and street parties

4. The marina, where you can get great pizza and sushi, watch tourists and overhear discussions about sailing

5. Rodney Bay, where you can visit the mall and party in slightly more high-end bars compared with Gros Islet

6. The Reef kite beach

7. Coconut Bay kite beach

8. Big flat water and swell area upwind of Coconut Bay

Getting there

There are ferries to and from Martinique, the neighbouring island in the North, but most likely you’ll fly in to one of the two airports. The bigger one is in Vieux Fort in the South, which has two kite spots right next to it. But more on that later. The other one is in Castries, the capital in the North.

We flew to Vieux Fort straight from London with Virgin Atlantic. It takes about 8 hours and they let you check in 23kg kite equipment on top of your normal luggage. You can stay in the south, or rent a car and head North where there’s more night life and in my opinion the better kite spot out of the three available. We weren’t sure whether we needed a car for the whole trip so we took a cab instead. The drive takes about 90 minutes and costs around 85USD.

Where to stay in St Lucia

We stayed at the Italian guest house at the top of a hill near Gros Islet. This turned out to be a good compromise, being located between the beach and the town. But it also meant a lot of walking and climbing hills. Roads are proper dirt roads as soon as you deviate from the main roads, but you can still get around with a 4×4. We opted for the healthy option and had a good 35 min walk to the beach every day, and another 20 min walk when we walked to Gros Islet.

rodney bay st luciaitalian guesthouse gros isletst lucia dirt roads

So what is St Lucia like?

St Lucia is a volcanic island with mountainous terrain and lush jungle all over the island. Air and water temperature are both pleasant in January without being too hot. Boardshorts and t-shirt became the uniform. The local currency is EC, East Caribbean Dollar but USD works fine too. Prices are fairly high for accommodation, food etc, comparable with European ones. If you’re on a budget consider Asia instead, but having said that, it’s not over the top and cheaper options can be found if you stay away from the touristy parts.

The island has a fair bit of tourism but the tourists tend to stay in clusters around the beach resorts and the marina in Rodney bay. The clientele consists of mainly old people and couples. Don’t expect a party scene except for the Jump Up – the weekly street party in Gros islet on Fridays. Things are basic, even quite poor in a lot of places but the water is drinkable, the internet works and roads are decent. For having such good conditions for kitesurfing it’s a very small scene. We pretty much met all the North side locals during our stay and the headcount were somewhere around 25. Other things to do on the island includes snorkelling and diving, boat charters, spa treatments, horse riding and golf.

It’s hard to tell where you have the locals. Some were super friendly and others were a bit shady to say the least. Not intimidating, just different. It’s island vibes all over the place – reggae, rum punch, bbq, ganja, jerk chicken, irie… slow is ok. A new experience for a fast paced Londoner who’s greatest encounter with the Caribbean would’ve been going to Brixton market. The food is good but the service in local restaurants was amongst the worst I’ve experienced (although not rude).

Wind conditions on St Lucia

Trade winds from November to August, but peak with good consistency from East is February to April. The wind is fairly light most of the time, suitable for 10m – 14m kites. Occasionally it picks up and you might want a smaller kite but my 10/15m quiver turned out to be a good mix, and if you can only bring one kite I’d bring a 12m.

Cas en Bas spot guide

In the Northern part of St Lucia there is basically only one spot for kitesurfing. But it’s a good one. Cas en Bas (sometimes seen on maps as Plantation beach or Cotton bay) has got two kite schools and one bar/restaurant. It’s a pretty secluded, small bay that would get busy with 15 kites in the water. Luckily you can ride outside the reef and get more space and a bit of small waves to play with. Even more lucky was that we never reached more than 12 kites in the water at any given time.

This is a hidden gem that never tends to get busy. You meet the local community hanging with Simon and his Aquaholics kite school in the North end of the beach. A tightly knit gang of expats and locals who spend an awful lot of time on this beach since they’ve all realised the value of a healthy work/life balance. It was a pleasure and a humble experience to join them for a few weeks. I’ve never felt this welcome on a kite spot before, probably because all other spots are either too big and commercial or not suitable for post-kite socialising (try a windy UK beach in November and you’ll understand what I mean). I did pay for keeping my gear in Aquaholics’ container but Simon gladly lent me both boards, straps and bars whenever I wanted (you break shit when you ride hard every day).

aquaholics st lucia cas en bas st lucia kitesurfing cas en bas st lucia kitesurfing cas en bas st lucia kitesurfing

Other places to kitesurf in St Lucia

On my last day I had the opportunity to see the two other spots on the island. They are a short drive between each other, both located minutes from the airport outside Vieux Fort.

Coconut Bay has got a kite center located on the resort beach, which means that you access the beach via the resort gates. But the beach itself is public so you can also find your way to the beach through some semi-hidden dirt roads. Don’t ask me how – we had connections through the local riders and went via the resort. Close to the center is a mess of chop and beginners but ride upwind for a bit and you’ll find big areas of flat water and few riders. Not bad at all. There are also some swell where the waves hit the reef and you can have quite a bit of fun out there too.

coconut bay 0 coconut bay 3 coconut bay 2 coconut bay 1

 

The Reef is a more local story, easily accessed by anyone. They have a restaurant, a kite and windsurf school and even a few rooms for rent right on the beach. The water carries similar chop as the Coconu Bay center but the vibe is nice. All in all Cas en Bas is still better than both these spots but it’s fun to mix it up with a day trip every now and then.

reef kitesurfing st lucia reef kitesurfing st lucia reef kitesurfing st lucia reef kitesurfing st lucia reef kitesurfing st lucia

 

This was a really good trip and it got me curious about all the other kite-able islands around the West Indies. I’m sure I’ll be back, but maybe as part of an island hopping trip in a year or two. Kitesurfing is great for your wanderlust!

28 Jul 2015

Kitesurfing in Gokova – Spot guide & Review

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Photo 17-07-2015 12 25 03

Dates: July 17 – July 24
Rideable days: 8 out of 8
Wind: Thermal, 12 – 25 knots
Air temp: Around 35˚C
Water temp: Around 25˚C

There are some kitesurf spots that keep being mentioned when talking about great kite surf holidays close to Europe. Gokova in Turkey is one of them. It had been on my list for a long time alongside Dahkla, Neretva and a few others. But since Asia’s friends live in the same area we decided to kill two birds with one stone this summer and visit both them and Gokova.

Getting to Gokova

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 00.19.06

We flew from London to Dalaman with Monarch. It’s cheap but be prepared to share flight with loud chavs if you go in the holiday season. Also, note that you might have to pay for a visa on arrival. For instance my Swedish passport went through no cost, but Asia’s Polish passport set her back £20.

Dalaman is the nearest airport, about one hour drive from Gokova. We picked up a car at the airport but instead of going North we actually drove down South to Antalya to visit Asia’s friends living there.

The drive between Dalaman and Gokova is pretty much along one road, so it’s a convenient spot to get to. I’m sure it’s possible to get to Gokova by bus as well, but save yourself the trouble and pick up a cheap rental car that you can use for the daily commute to the beach as well.

Where to stay around Gokova

Akyaka – 10 minute drive to kite beach

This is where most people kitesurfer stay, mainly because it’s balance of pulse and accessibility. It’s a pretty sleepy village, but it’s beautifully located on a slope by the water and there are enough restaurants and bars to keep you busy. There are also a couple of supermarkets if you’re staying in a place with self catering. This is what we did, as there are plenty of good value AirBnB flats available. Everything happens on the bar street, and down by the water so it’s very easy to get around in the evening. You’ll find some kitesurf bars on the right hand side of bar street.

We stayed up on the hill with a view to the kite beach. Any kites up yet? Ok, let's go!

We stayed up on the hill with a view to the kite beach. Any kites up yet? Ok, let’s go!

Marmaris – 30 minute drive to kite beach

This could be a better option if you’re in a mixed group kiters/non-kiters, or if you want more action in the evenings. Marmaris is internationally known as a beautiful resort and hosts a lot of tourists, and clubs, bars etc to accommodate for them.

In a village around kite beach

You can get really close to the kite beach if you want by staying in a nearby village, but then you won’t do much other than listening to fighting cats in the evenings.

The spot

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 17.26.15

1. Parking, beach and kite centers.
2. The teaching is taking place right in front of the centers.
3. A bit closer to Akyaka it gets less busy but still a lot of beginners practising here.
4. A lot of bathers over here, and also the wind is much weaker.
5. Upwind of everything you have as much space as you can ask for but also deep water and a lot of chop.
6. On this side of the “pier” is more wind, more advanced riders and less busy.

You have to pay for beach access, which includes parking and access to toilets and showers but 20TL per person per day is not peanuts if you’re staying for some time. There are two ways to get away cheaper. One: Pay for 10 days at once for 100TL per person and save 50%, or Two, walk along the shoreline from Akyaka and save 100%. Maybe if you got your gear in a storage at one of the kite centers option Two is worthwhile but we chose option One and were happy with the discount.

The parking lot can get well busy so arrive around 11 for a good spot. But they are more or less the same anyway.

The parking lot can get well busy.

There are a lot of kite centers/schools. Not sure how many but at least 6 of them lined up side by side. With that many schools there are obviously a lot of teaching going on in the water. Lessons take place in the area in front of the schools, and continues towards Akyaka. Wind is pretty much onshore, so getting out past the students can be a bit of a hassle but once your upwind of them you have a big playground with few kiters around. Finding place to launch and land was never really a problem and there was always some friendly person around to help you.

Most intermediate and advanced riders ride on the right hand side of the pier like bank at the far right side of the beach (viewed from the sea, facing the beach). It’s windier there and a lot more space per kite. If this is where you want to ride you can launch on the beach and walk straight to this side without having to pass upwind of the “pier”.

The beginner side is busy close to the beach.

The beginner side is busy close to the beach.

It's a lot less busy on the other side of the pier thingy.

It’s a lot less busy on the other side of the pier thingy.

The wind

This is hands down the most wind consistent spot I’ve ever been to. Because of the thermal wind that blows in from sea and funnels through the valley you can be sure to have wind as long as it’s sunny and hot. The wind works like clockwork. A steady nice breeze kicks in around 11:30, builds up for a few hours and starts to drop around 4:30. Some days I could ride until 7pm, other days the wind was gone by 4:30pm but overall it is a very consistent pattern.

Usually I would start on my 15m, ride it for 1 hour, then change to 11m between 1 and 3pm, and then swap back to 15 in the late afternoon. Asia did the same with 7m and 11m kites. A lot of girls were riding 9m all day, and a good size for men is 12m.

Summary

All in all it’s a good spot, but not great. It’s not as flat as promoted. Actually it’s quite choppy unless you’re close to the shore, but there you have all the beginners. It’s not that great for beginners unable to stay upwind either as they’ll never get beyond the mess of students and instructors.

It’s probably best suited for intermediate riders who want to cruise, jump a bit and enjoy the warm water and beautiful scenery. Gokova also gets major plus points for its wind consistency.

A few quick ones

Trendy cafe and restaurant became a favourite in Akyaka. Follow the path North along the beach to find it.

Take a haircut with great service for only 15-25TL.

Avoid the rookie mistake of leaving kites in a hot car all day, creating leaks in the valves. By the end of our trip all 3 kites were leaking.

Be aware of crazy driving. They tend to be bad with signalling etc.

To come back to Akyaka from kite beach, we found the easiest way was to take a right when the little dirt roads split (it says no left turns but most people ignore this), but instead of going on D400 towards Marmaris you go under it and into Akcapinar, turn right and you’re soon back on D400 but on the right side towards Akyaka.

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Photo 22-07-2015 13 48 12 Photo 22-07-2015 13 46 28 Photo 20-07-2015 12 42 04 Photo 19-07-2015 11 08 36 Photo 19-07-2015 11 07 43 Photo 19-07-2015 11 04 32

Photo 17-07-2015 18 41 42 Photo 19-07-2015 17 41 23 Photo 20-07-2015 16 48 30

12 May 2015

Kitesurfing in South Sardinia – review and spot guide

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Dates: May 1 – May 10
Days on water: 3.5 out of 8
Wind: Scirocco and Mistral, 0 – 30 knots
Air temp: Around 27˚C
Water temp: Around 17˚C

We’d had a May trip planned for months. For a long time we thought we’d go back to El Gouna, but last minute I got curious about Sardinia. It’s been a destination for kitesurfers for a long time, but you still don’t hear too much about it. After some research online it made a lot of sense to spend a week in the South of Sardinia instead of Egypt.

The best way to get there is to fly to Cagliari and pick up a rental car (you’ll need one). The drive to Sant’Antioco is about one hour away along almost empty country roads.

We stayed in Sant’Antioco which is the largest village in the area. A very picturesque village with plenty of restaurants but not much night life this time of the year. The Sardinians/Italians start late but it also ends pretty quickly. Before 9 nothing happens, then they dine for a couple of hours and then the bars close around 1. But this isn’t Rome and we weren’t here to rave all night long (although quite doable since the wind usually picks up in the afternoon). Instead we enjoyed a very mellow week with a lot of cooking in our lovely AirBnB flat with a view over the bay (got to love towns that are built on slopes).

 

Our lovely flat during out stay.

Our lovely flat during our stay.

Food is great, wine is great (and cheap!), the sun is strong and the landscape is beautiful. At times I found myself perfectly content just doing the normal touristy holiday things. And then I came back to reality and remembered that our car was loaded with kite gear and I became even happier. I didn’t have to compromise on anything.

Well, except for the wind…

I’ve been lucky on my last trips, with wind almost every day, so it was a bit of a let down to end up with one of those weeks when the trailing winds couldn’t decide who would get right of way and as a result the wind strength and direction was all over the place for the first 4 days. In the end we only got 3 good days plus one border line afternoon.

Despite wind stats and online resources (including my own) Sardinia wind doesn’t seem to be as reliable as say the Greek islands. Something that was confirmed by the local riders I spoke with. Generally wind would pick up in the afternoon but it still wouldn’t be enough on days with no or very weak wind in the morning. On the good days we got we were enjoying both Mistral and Scirocco from 16 to 30 knots.

Kite spot guide in Southern Sardinia

Punta Trettu (Kite Village Sardegna ASD)

Not a huge launch area. Especially in low tide as shown here.

This spot managed by Kite Village is quiet, beautiful and perfect for beginners and freestyle thanks to its vast shallow water area. It’s a 400m walk out from the parking lot / centre, and the launch area is not that big so spot probably gets busy with some 20, 30 kites. This week it was more like 10.

You have to pay a €15 KVS membership fee but that lasts the whole year and gives you insurance (that works in other countries too!) and access to the centre facilities. Not a biggie to access this scenic spot.

The spot is a 20 minutes drive from Sant’Antioco, and you can spot it from the road that connects the two islands. If you see kites in the air it’s a go. If not, maybe consider saving yourself the drive.

15m kite and flat water was perfect for practising unhooked tricks.

15m kite and flat water was perfect for practising unhooked tricks.

Zorro the kite dog at Kite Village.

Zorro the kite dog at Kite Village.

Kite Village at Punta Trettu is a charming centre.

Kite Village at Punta Trettu is a charming centre.

No wind, but at least sun is out.

No wind, but at least sun is out.

Flat and shallow!

Flat and shallow!

Sating Di Cirdu (Level Up Kite)

Opposite Punta Trettu, on Sant’Antioco, you find Level Up Kite and their spot offering similar conditions to Punta Trettu. They also have, to my knowledge, Europe’s only permanent kite wake park with a set of obstacles and sliders for wakestyle galore.Right outside Level Up are a set of seaweed islands that creates butter flat, but waist high water perfect for both freestyle and big airs. As with Punta Trettu you have to pay for insurance to access the spot. It costs €10 and lasts the whole year.

From Sant’Antioco, drive towards Calasetta but keep to the coast until you reach a gate to a fish/seafood factory. The spot is on the premises.

Butter slide at Level Up Kite

Butter slide at Level Up Kite

Trying to go big but the 15m is too slow when you ride finless!

Trying to go big but the 15m is too slow when you ride finless!

Asia's now up and riding. Good progression in only 3 days.

Asia’s now up and riding. Good progression in only 3 days.

More kite dogs at Level Up Kite.

More kite dogs at Level Up Kite.

Porto Botte

Not the busiest of beaches. Good for kitesurfers though.

Not the busiest of beaches. Good for kitesurfers though.

Open sea spot with a bit of chop but nothing major. Check out the Polish run Skyhigh.pl and their well facilitated centre. They do kitesurf and surf camps all year around, plus any other water sport you can think of.

 

Porto Botte is about 20 minutes drive from Sant’Antioco, over to the main island and then a bit South-East.

Sky high's centre is impressive.

Sky high’s centre is impressive.

Don't be put off by the gates - the inside is welcoming and friendly.

Don’t be put off by the gates – the inside is welcoming and friendly.

Plenty of beach at Porto Botte.

Plenty of beach at Porto Botte.

 

Other spots include Porto Pino and Chia, both supposed to be good wave spots. All in all South Sardinia provides plenty of spots from super flat to rolling waves within an hour drive.It’s a place to come back to and discover more of this seemingly forgotten island. Come July/August and it might be another story, but the Spring here is mild so if you’re looking for sun, wind and great Italian wine for €3, Sardinia is definitely worth a visit in April – June.

Obviously food and drinks were satisfactory.

Obviously food and drinks were satisfactory.

Green fields is just one of the scenes here.

Green fields is just one of the scenes here.

Far side of Sant'Antioco

Far side of Sant’Antioco

20 Oct 2014

Spot review: The ultimate guide to kitesurfing in El Gouna, Egypt in October

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Dates: October 4 – 10, 2014

Egypt is one of the best autumn and winter kite surf destination if you’re living in Northern Europe and in the following post I explain why. The British summer had been one of the weakest in many years wind wise so we decided to take a one week long holiday where we could find wind and sun in October.

Why we chose Egypt for kitesurfing

There were Fuerte Ventura and Cap Verde, but they’re not great for beginners and we wanted a safe, shallow water spot for Asia to take lessons. There were Dahkla in Morocco but getting there was too much of a fuss and tickets too expensive. Then there was Tarifa which we had visited earlier this year which probably would provide wind but again, it’s not that beginner friendly and it wouldn’t provide the sun and warm water we were craving. And there was Egypt. I’ve been there before but the lack of a rich fauna and ‘real’ culture in the resort areas make it less of a favourite destination (I don’t dive but if you do this might make it more attractive).

Having said that it ticked all the other boxes:

  • Shallow water
  • Established kitesurf schools
  • Warm air and water temperatures all year around
  • Cheap direct flights from London
  • Wind all year around – especially April to October

It’s hard to argue with that.

So Egypt it was. Next step was to decide on which spot to go for. For package deal tourists, which was the cheapest way to travel, there are basically four resorts to choose from:

  • Nabq (Sharm El Sheikh)
  • Dahab (Sharm El Sheikh)
  • Soma Bay (Hurghada)
  • El Gouna (Hurghada)

Why we chose El Gouna for kitesurfing

For the savvy traveler there are other spots too, but it would require more planning and custom made travel/accommodation booking. I visited Kite Junkies in Sharm El Sheikh back in November 2011 but I didn’t like the spot that much. The flat water area was a bit limited, there were plenty of sea urchins and you risked drifting into a jetty or out on deep water if you lost control or wind dropped so I felt we could find better spots. Soma Bay is said to be beautiful but very isolated with nothing to do in the evenings and also lacks big areas of shallow water. Most online research and friends’ reviews pointed at El Gouna as the best option. On top of that my friend Lidia is working at a kite center in El Gouna so having a familiar face and local guide at hand made the decision even easier.

Having it narrowed down to El Gouna it made the search for package deals a lot simpler. We settled on a Friday to Friday deal with Monarch with flight, airport transfer and hotel for about £550 per person. That included 20 kg per person but I also added £50 for my 30 kg kite bag. Since we were already in October I knew the wind was going to be on the lighter side but also knew it could fluctuate quite a bit so I packed my 7, 11 and 15m. I actually happened to use all sizes but I would’ve been fine with 11 and 15 (I only used my 7m the 2 first days when my 11m had a bladder problem).

On arrival in Egypt you have to buy a tourist visa for about £20 and then queue in a chaotic immigration area, but once you’ve found your travel agency the ride to El Gouna is only about 30 min long from Hurghada airport. We checked in to hotel Ali Pasha in the evening and took a taxi to Red Sea Zone, the kite center where Lidia works the following morning.

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Ali Pasha – our hotel in the Marina

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Red Sea Zone – our kite center

Our week followed a similar day-to-day pattern: Wake up early to catch the morning wind and tide, eat breakfast at the hotel, take a tuk tuk to the center, ride or chill until the sun sets, take a tuk tuk back to the hotel for a shower, go out in the marina and find a restaurant for the evening, go home and pass out (riding, sun and food makes you sleepy for sure!).

A guide to El Gouna

El Gouna is this artificial village built up around a canal system to resemble Venice or maybe Miami. Its main purpose is to welcome Europpean tourists and rich Egyptians who keep their yachts here. A Disneyland for grown ups. There are some big hotels with private beaches like Sheraton and Mövenpick (which has its own kite center), but also a lot of smaller hotels, villas and bungalows. People come here to dive, play golf, kite surf or simply relax in the sun. You can also go quad biking in the dessert or wake boarding at the local wake park (which is impressive with international standards but quite pricey as well). The town’s main parts are Downtown and the Marina. This is where you’ll find all the restaurants, bars and cafes.

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The Marina full of rich men’s toys

Eating out was slightly more expensive than I had expected but it’s well worth noticing that we mainly dined in the Marina area which is quite posh and I’d expect that you can find much cheaper places if you look downtown. In the Marina it’s roughly the same prices as in London, meaning £3.50 for a beer and £10 – 15 for a main. The stores offer fairly cheap drinks and food for self catering. Alcohol is overall expensive and hard to find in the shops, so a tip is to bring some good liquor from the airport tax free shop if you’re like me and enjoy a drink in the hotel room while getting ready for the evening.

In general El Gouna is a very quiet resort. There aren’t a lot of people around as you walk around Downtown and there isn’t much in terms of night life. Normally there is at least one club per night and the venue depends on the night, but it’s not going to be Ibiza vibes. People are here to dive, kitesurf or hang out in the all-inclusive hotels.

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Taking a walk downtown can be a pretty lonely experience

Most things are walking distance but the most common way to get around is by tuk tuk. They take up to 3 passengers and are only 5EGP (around 50p) per person to anywhere within El Gouna.

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Tuk tuk with the Swedish flag on it!

2 restaurants stood out during our week, both located in the marina/new marina and I strongly recommend them. Le Garage is a burger place with a great selection of mouth watering burgers, sallads and sides. This place is on par with the better burger shacks in London! Mori Sushi is the other restaurant I’d definitely go back to. Placed in the quiet New Marina this franchise branch offers one of the best sushis I’ve ever had, and mind you I’ve spent 2 years in Japan. Unfortunately they don’t serve alcohol but their fruit juices and shakes are great to make up for it.

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Best sushi at Mori Sushi!

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Best hamburgers!

Spot review: The kite beach

Red Sea Zone is located on the kite beach between two other kite centers. German I think. It’s a quick 5 min ride from the Marina. Red Sea Zone has a Polish profile but obviously they speak English too. All centers are similar, with school, chill out area, rental etc but they have dedicated areas in the lagoons where they teach and ride.

Overall the kite beach area consists of a huge shallow water area with some dead reef areas that are above water level in low tide. Even in high tide you’ve got to be a bit careful so you don’t crash on these reefs since they can trash you and your board up pretty badly but most of the area is fine sand bottom. You can also leave the shallow water and ride in the deep water. A bit choppy but still good fun.

You’ll find riders of all levels here, but most of them will be beginners with instructors or lawn movers. When we visited it was somewhere between high and low season with about 20 to 70 kites in the air. It was never to busy to find your own spot to ride in.

Weather & wind conditions

Out of 7 days we had 5 decent days with wind. Wind varied between 10 to 24 knots but most of the time I was out on my 15m riding in 10 to 14 knots. This represents this part of the year well, and with the summer being the best period you’re likely to find stronger and more consistent wind in June – August. November – March also provides wind but less often so you need a bigger time window to ensure days on the water.

Wind is warm and smooth without a lot of gusty ups and downs. Air temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius and water was warm enough to ride in only board shorts. A pure pleasure. You don’t even need a sweater in the evening really.

Wrapping up – would we go again? Yes. Would we do anything differently? Not much. We’ve been thinking of going back in a group of friends and renting a villa to keep costs down and be a bit more social as we didn’t spend much time with other people during the week. I’d like to check out Soma Bay as well in the future but as long as we have beginners in the group it’s hard to beat El Gouna.asia-rinding-1 asia-riding-2 asia-chilling asia-and-kimo-kite-lessonel-gouna-kite-backroll el-gouna-kite-air el-gouna-kite-4 el-gouna-kite-2 el-gouna-kite-1 red-sea-zone-volleyballswitch-element-v2-15m-red

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View from one of the kite centres

The kite center at Movenpick is small but the hotel is a stone's throw away.

The kite center at Movenpick is small but the hotel is a stone’s throw away.

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Movenpick is more expensive than the other hotels but I’m sure you get what you pay for

After a day of kitesurfing you look like this

After a day of kitesurfing you look like this