Costa Rica kitesurfing in February – A gusty wildlife paradise

This is a guest post by Ken Wilkins. Thanks for this insightful review!

All text and images in this article, unless stated otherwise © Ken Wilkins and used with permission.

30 knots wind and 10 days out of 10, but… read on!

Costa Rica is a wonderful diverse country, teeming with rain forest, wildlife and killer surf. As a kitesurfing destination though I think that there are better places to go in the world. The reason I can sum up in two words – it’s gusty. Not just ‘gusty’, but ‘pump your 7m for dear life for 20 seconds and then hang on, again for dear life, for the next 20 seconds gusty’.

I spent a total of five days at each of the main kitesurfing locations, Lake Arenal and Bahia Salinas.

Kitesurfing in Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal is wonderfully scenic with loads to see and do. Think volcanos, mud baths, zip wires and rain forest with a myriad of animals and reptiles.

Hummingbird hovering in the air
Costa Rica isn’t short on close-up wildlife.

The kitesurfing is at a place called Tico Wind at the far end of the lake from the volcano. There is a small and quite sketchy launch area on to the lake.

When I was there the cross shore wind blew 30+ knts every day and was super gusty. Unfortunately during my time there I wasn’t well, but I did go there regularly to watch the action. It was fine for windsurfers but to be honest it was so gusty I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself on the water.

Because you are up in the rainforest area the weather is a lot cooler than the coast and a wetsuit is needed. Off the water there’s loads to do and plenty of decent reasonably priced accommodation can be found. We stayed at the Agua Inn which was lovely, and there are a few nice places to eat within a short drive.

Kitesurfing in Bahia Salinas

Once I felt better we made the trip up to Bahia Salinas near the Nicaraguan border, far warmer than Arenal and a beautiful beach with loads of launching space.

Ken doing a jump while kitesurfing in Bahia Salinas, Costa Rica.
Defying the strong gusts in Bahia Salinas.

Wind is cross on. I did kite here but because it was again so gusty I didn’t enjoy it very much. I can handle fluctuations in the wind, but here its was ridiculous. To be frank it was bordering on the dangerous, as on occasions the wind dropped so much on the water that the kite fell in to the power zone before the next 30+ knots gust took it.

Off the water there isn’t much to do apart from walk the beach or take a swim. You can go on a day trip in to Nicaragua which we didn’t do (and regret). There are a few restaurants around, or you can eat where we stayed at the Blue Dream resort which was OK but nothing to write home about.

Ken walking up on the beach after a kitesurf session in Bahia Salinas, Costa Rica.
A day on the water is still better than a day in the office. Even when gusty conditions are getting the best of you.

Costa Rica kitesurfing – To sum up

So, my humble opinion is come to Costa Rica for the wildlife, rainforests, beaches and surf but not for the kitesurfing. If you’re prepared to travel all that way at that time of year places like South Africa and Sri Lanka are going to be way more enjoyable on the water.

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