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TOP JANUARY KITESURFING DESTINATIONS

TOP JANUARY KITESURFING DESTINATIONS ANTIGUA When to go: The trade winds blow here during the monthshttp://www.windresorts.com/windy-resorts.html " id="pdf-obj-0-4" src="pdf-obj-0-4.jpg">
ANTIGUA
ANTIGUA

When to go: The trade winds blow here during the months of December through April with an average of 17-19 knots. The best waves here are from December to February. In May the winds drops to 15 knots average.

The highest wind is in June and July when the trade winds consistantly blows 20 knots. In August and September they drop to 15-17 knots. The least windy months are October and November when the wind drops to 12 knots.

Conditions:

The wind direction at the eastern part of the island where most sailing is going on is usually side-on shore which is great for all skill levels. The northeast trade winds averaging 15 knots during the year. (Antigua is one of those places you can go kite or windsurf pretty much anytime of the year.) The water temperature is about 23°C (73°F) in the winter and 26°C (78°F) in the summer. There is a low humidity year-round and very sunny most of the time.

Beaches to go:

Jabberwock Beach at Shallow Bay is the major wind and kitesurfing beach. Located on a beautiful white sandy beach facing the trade winds on the island's northeast coast, it is just 5 minutes from the airport.

This beach has an excellent long sandy launch for kiters with fairly steady, side to side shore winds. It is a perfect place to learn how to kite or to windsurf or to take your sailing to the next level. Jabberwock Beach accommodates kite and windsurfing schools and shops.

Dickenson Bay in the northwest, directly north of St. John's, is one of the island's finest beaches, with its wide strip of powder-soft sand and blissfully calm turquoise waters. This bay is another big center of windsurfing and kitesurfing activity on the island. Halcyon Cove on Dickenson Bay accommodated wind and kitesurfing shops and schools. In January and July, the annual Windsurfing Antigua Competitions are held.

Half Moon Bay is perhaps Antigua's most beautiful beach which stretches for nearly 1.5 km (1 mile) on the southeastern coast. Half Moon Bay lies east of English Harbour near Mill Reef. The Atlantic surf beyond the reef provides good wave sailing in this area. However inside of the reef the water is calm and is good for beginners to practice. The beach is a public park and ideal for a family outing.

Turner's Beach is also worth trying. This idyllic beach is located near Johnson's Point on the southwest coast. The beach has fine white sand and crystal-clear waters.

You may also try to sail from Darkwood Beach which is only 5-minute drive south of Jolly Harbour Marina or the famous Pineapple Beach. Their waters are crystal blue.

As it was mentioned before, there are 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. The great majority rest inside the calm, protected waters of the island's Caribbean side. You may explore the rest of the beaches and find your own perfect sailing spot.

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ARUBA
ARUBA

When to go: Aruba is one of the most popular windsurfing and kitesurfing destination in the world! Aruba's high-wind season is the longest in the Caribbean. Wind speeds are best in May, June and July, when they average 20 to 30 knots. From December through April, they slow to 15 to 20 knots, and from August through November they range from 10 to 18 knots.

Conditions:

Aruba offers warm, crystal-clear water that rarely drops below 24 °C (75 °F) and consistent winds that are a windsurfer's and kitesurfer’s dream: the average wind speed, year-round, is about 20 knots. The island used to be the destination for all levels: beginners to advance. Unfortunately, the high-rise hotels built on the southwest side of the island have created some turbulence and partially blocked the wind. Now the best sailing beaches of Aruba are no longer the best for beginners: it has become gusty inside of the reef.

The island, however, has both flat-water locations and challenging wave conditions. Beginners should stay in the shallow waters inside the reef. More advanced sailors will go outside the reef for speed sailing.

Every year in June, Aruba hosts the Hi-Winds windsurfing and kitesurfing tournaments. This ten-day competition attracts the most competitive professional sailors and hundreds of amateurs to the island of Aruba and is sanctioned by the PBA (Professional Board sailors Association).

The best beaches for sailing:

Fishermen's Huts is the most popular site in the area located at the end of Palm beach. It is a beautiful white sand beach with a great stretch of shallow water and lots of wind. Unfortunately, the wind is VERY gusty due to the high-rise hotels built recently on Palm beach. But both windsurfing and kite surfing rental shops and schools are still located in the vicinity of Fishermen's Huts so this is where you are going if you are a beginner.

Boca Grandi Beach is kite surfers number one choice in Aruba. It is located at the very bottom of the southeast side of the island. Boca Grandi bay is huge and has a little chop to small waves conditions most of the time. The wind is side on shore, so it is safe for beginners as well. The Hi-Wind kiteboarding contest every year mainly takes place at Boca Grandi. One detail that probably has to be mentioned is that the beach is covered in plastic garbage brought by the ocean from all over the world. Be environmentally friendly and pick up a few thing on your way back. And of course don‘t leave your own garbage.

Druif Beach is not as gusty as the Fishermen's Huts and the wind directions are side onshore. A rescue boat is available at Divi Dutch Hotel water sports facility located right on the beach, just drop by the water sports center and introduce yourself, so that they will keep an eye for you.

Bushiri Beach is just down the road (south) from Druif Beach and is quite good for sailing as well. Kiters should not sail too far south from this beach otherwise they might reach the airport zone. (No kiting is allowed in the vicinity of the airport due to the landing airplanes.) Arashi Beach is another spectacular beach not far from the California Lighthouse with white sand and vast shallow waters. This place is popular among swimmers but has no restrictions for other water sports. (Unlike Baby Beach). Plenty of fish in these waters make it also a popular snorkelling spot. The wind is off shore and you are on your own here. Advanced sailors only.

Rodger's Beach is another alternative but for advanced sailors only. The beach is located at the very south point of the island just past San Nicolas. It has the gigantic oil refinery, which is claimed to be harmless. There is no obvious water pollution in these waters. Again the wind is side to side off shore and you are on your own here.

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BARBADOS

When to go: The best time to spend your windsurfing or kitesurfing vacation in Barbados is from end of November to the end of June. This is the time when the cooling trade winds blow with high consistency at a moderate wind speed. The peak season runs from December to February and the month of June. The best waves are from November to February. In April and May the wind is mostly in the morning until noon. July to mid November is hurricane season. Although the last hurricane that directly hit Barbados was back in 1955 all sorts of conditions are possible during this time of the year. July can surprisingly be good for waves and wind.

Conditions:

The island is warm and sunny all year round with an average daytime temperature of 25-29°C (75 - 85°F) and with northeast trade winds to keep it cool. These trade winds blow between 15 and 25 knots during the peak season. It offers a combination of windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing. It is also known to be one of the best wave spots in the world. Depending on where you chose to surf on the island the conditions vary from flat water to mast high waves. The waves are slow and not as powerful as compared to the waves of Hawaii.

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing beaches:

There are three main areas to windsurf or to kitesurf. They are the Sivler Rock beach, Silver Sands beach and Oistins Bay. You can also go to Long beach, or even try your luck at the Crane hotel beach. Silver Sands beach conditions are challenging. Located at the southern most tip of Barbados on a dream beach of fine white sand. The wave heights are between 5 and 15 ft. Intermediate to advance level. Silver Sands is rated the best spot in the Caribbean for advanced windsurfing.

Silver Rock beach is the island’s top windsurfing spot. It is perfect for wave sailing, providing the easiest and most convenient launch for everyone, from beginner to advanced sailors. If you don’t wish to deal with the outer waves you can always stay inside the reef. Silver Rock is also the official venue for some Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) events.

A stretch of white sandy beach on Oistins Bay is 5 miles from Silver Sands. The prevailing wind direction is from the left side on-shore. The winds are constant but the sea is generally flat and calm which makes it perfect for beginners and intermediate sailors. The best beach in the bay is Casuarina Beach which is accessed from Maxwell Coast Road. This is one of Barbados' wider beaches, and it's cooled by trade winds even on the hottest summer days.

BONAIRE
BONAIRE

When to go: Bonaire has two wind seasons: very windy and windy, each with their own charms. The very windy season extends from the middle of December through August ; the windy season from September to the middle of December. Every October, the island celebrates Regatta Week, with a series of international sailboat and windsurfing races. There are also professional surf-sailing contests throughout the windy season.

Conditions:

Bonaire has long been known as one of the finest windsurfing and kitesurfing destinations in the world. The island offers near-perfect conditions for all levels of surfers, from beginners to experienced sailors.

It has steady trade winds. The boomerang shape of the island breaks the winds current into a range of intensities. Winds blow 12-18 knots September through middle of December and reach 15 to 25 knots the rest of the year.

There are no major wind gusts and if you are a beginner, this will shorten the learning curve. The shallow waters of the major surfing bay also boast favorable on-shore winds making the island the perfect place to learn.

That consistent wind allows sailors to perform jumps, inverted loops, spinning maneuvers, and other "freestyle" moves.

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For the most part, the beaches are full of coral and feel gritty to bare feet (booties may come in handy, but not a must have).

1000 steps beach in Bonaire

The best beaches for sailing:

The best spot for windsurfing is Lac Bay beach which is located on the windward side of the island. Kitesurfing is not permitted at this beach. Lac Bay has the most beautiful turquoise water and balmy breezes. It is approximately 8 square kilometers and free from boat traffic.

It offers near-perfect conditions for all levels of windsurfers. Beginners start out on this beach. The shallow knee deep waters here allow easy recovery from falls, and the bay's protective barrier reef ensures smooth-water sailing. More experienced sailors strike out for the blue-green swells across the bay. In this intermediate area there's still some swell protection offered by the island's outstretched arms, but the energy of the wind and the water are raised a few notches. For experts in search of greater challenge there's an even more adventurous option at Lac Bay's outer edges. Here the mast-high swells of the Caribbean and the steady strength of the trade winds create sailing conditions of unequaled consistency and excitement.

Lac Bay's beaches remain unspoiled by high-rise hotels and casinos.

It has only two resorts nearby which are likely to remain the only developments, since Lac Bay has been declared a protected marine park (Bonaire National Marine Park).

It is necessary for all who use the waters of the Bonaire National Marine Park to pay a Nature Fee of US $10.00 per year. At the time of payment, you will receive a specially designed tag indicating your support for nature preservation and a receipt.

More experienced sailors and kitesurfers should go to Pink Beach which offers flat water sailing and is located on the southern end of Bonaire. Nearby is another good beach for kitesurfing, Atlantis. Also try Klein Bonaire beaches, Bonaira’s uninhabited little neighbor. Lac Cai beach at the entrance to Lac Bay is used by mostly kitesurfers and wave sailors. It is not easily accessible but worth going if you want wavesailing.

CABARETE

When to go: Officially, there are two windy seasons in Cabarete: winter and summer. The winter season stars from January to March. The summer season is from June to August. The best waves are in the winter and the best wind is in the summer season.

Why officially? Because unofficially it is always windy in Cabarete! The months of April and May, and the period from September to the end of December, tend to be a little less reliable in terms of wind and kite surfing conditions. There is a 70% chance of wind during that period of time.

Conditions:

The trade winds and thermals make for strong and consistent conditions. The wind blows easterly, which gives the place perfect side-onshore sailing conditions most of the time. Generally in the morning there is little to no wind. At around 11:30 the thermals pick up and make the wind a lot stronger reaching its peak (up to 30 knots in the summer) at about 4 p.m. Then the wind remains consistent until around 7:00 pm.

Cabarete can accommodate sailors of all levels of expertise. Beginners will practice in the morning. Intermediate to Expert sailors will take to the water in the afternoon. In the winter season there are great conditions to learn and practice wave sailing. The waves are mast height to double mast height in the winter. Parts of the bay (the area from Valero resort to the Ocean One Condos Complex and the Kite Beach) are protected by the reef and therefore will have only small waves (bump and jump conditions). The winds blow averaging 13 - 17 knots in the winter season.

In the summer there is mostly flat water sailing. The reef protected areas will get completely flat water and the rest of the bay will get bum and jumps conditions. The winds average 13-30 knots.

The water is warm all year round averaging about 26°C (79°F).

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Cabarete hosts an annual Classical Windsurfing Competition every summer. Another competition is Master of the Ocean which is held here in the winter. It aims to find the world's best overall water-sport athlete, with competitions in surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. For the smallest windsurfers and kitesurfers, late spring and summer offer the best conditions. There is a kids windsurfing/kitesurfing camp in Cabarete.

Beaches to go:

Cabarete Bay. This bay has one of the largest and widest beaches in Dominican Republic. This 7 km (4 miles) bay has a nice sandy bottom. There is only a few spots of bare reef in the inner bay that are quite easy to avoid. The wind is usually side-onshore. All rentals, lessons, shops and other facilities are right here.

The bay can be virtually split onto three parts: windsurfing area, mixed area and kitesurfing area. Windsurfing area starts from Valero Beach resort up until about Club Natalie Simon. This is where all the windsurf shops and rentals are located. This is also the area with the most beach restaurants and night beach parties. After that is the Mixed area called Bozo beach with a few kite schools and kite rental shops.

This area is the longest in the bay. And finally the Kite Beach which can be easily recognized by 1001 kites in the area at any one time! This is where majority of the kite shops and rentals are located. Remind you, Cabarete bay is a large bay and a walk from the Kite Beach to the Windsurfing area (also to the restaurants area) is a lo-ooong walk!

Playa Encuentro beach is further west; about 15 minutes drive. In the morning it is primarily a surfer’s destination. Sailors dying for waves go there in the summer. Be aware, that according to recent information a resort located at Playa Encuentro has privatized part of the public beach and has closed public access to part of the beach area.

The mouth of the Yasica River called La Boca is one alternative to get a smooth ride on flat water even during the wave season in Cabarete. The waters at the Yasica River and the offshore wind takes you all the way to the beach at Cabarete bay. The fresh water ride and the following downwinder will take about half an hour to complete. Some kitesurfing schools in Cabarete organize trips to La Boca on the regular basis and most of the time it is for free. They will drop kiters and head back to the school. You will have to make your way back by yourself so be confident in your skills before going for such an adventure. Windsurfers can drive there along with equipment but someone else will have to drive the car back.

Beaches NOT to go:

The majority of all inclusive vacation resorts are in Playa Dorada or Costa Dorada ; the beaches at this area have lots of scattered sharp corals and rocks. Also there are NO windsurfing rental shops or schools. As for kitesurfing, a kite school was recently opened in the area. Nevertheless, the location is not great especially for beginners.

Sosusa, is the closest neighbour town to Cabarete. The beautiful sandy beaches of Sosua are completely sheltered from the wind. They are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving but NOT for kiteboarding or windsurfing.

COCHE
COCHE

When to go: The winds generally blow all year. The windiest season is from November till May. Though, the highest wind months are from January to March. In May the wind gets a little weaker, but steadier than in the highest wind months. The least windy time is from August to October. Even during these months, you would expect planing conditions for almost half of your holiday.

Conditions:

The wind blows across the salt flats (salina) and beach, giving perfect, super flat water conditions. It feels like sailing on silk. Coche is ideal for both kiting and windsurfing; however it has recently become more popular among Kitesurfers.

With a pleasant year round air and water temperature of about 26°C (78°F) you can leave your wet suit at home!

The constant offshore wind, direction is from the east, blowing at a speed of about 12 knots in the morning and gradually building to around 25 knots in the afternoon.

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Kitesurfing in this wind direction feels a little strange in the beginning, but once you have got to know the fishermen who are in charge of the rescue service for kitesurfers, you will feel absolutely safe. Nowdays, apart from catching fish, the fishermen spend most of their time helping kitesurfers; they perform this task well and quite reliably.

The skill level required is intermediate to advance. The beach areas are not shallow. Waterstarting skills are recommended as the wind blows directly offshore.

Beginners that come here can still practice wind or kitesurfing as long as they keep in mind the offshore wind conditions and the risk of drifting out to sea.

Beaches to kite or windsurf from:

Beautiful Playa La Punta is the main beach with its white sand and tranquil turquoise water. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy kiting or windsurfing.

The beach is divided into two kitesurfing zones: one zone for advanced and the other zone for intermidiate level sailors.

Playa El Oasis and El Coco are two other beaches also worth visiting. El Coco, however, is a narrow beach with cliffs.

JAMAICA
JAMAICA

When to go: The trade winds start to blow at the end of November (can be inconsistent!) and continue until the end of May averaging 12-20 knots. July and August is another windy season in Jamiaca. The winds blow 15-20 knots.

Conditions:

The wind is light in the morning, which is perfect for beginners. By early afternoon the wind builds and blows side on shore. It goes to its maximum by night. The water temperature will not require a wet suit.

Beaches to go:

The area where you can potentially windsurf or kitesurf on the island is located on the north coast.

Montego Bay is an interesting city to see. It also has some good night life. There are a few nice sandy beaches like Cornwall Beach, Doctors Cave Beach, and Walter Fletcher Beach. The first one is near all the major hotels in the area. We can also suggest the cove shared by Riu Hotel and Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort. This cove is very shallow and protected by a long stretch of coral reef.

Silver Sands gated community has one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. The community is located just a 30 min drive east of Montego Bay and consists of villas and cottages. Silver Sands offers villas of all sizes with a cook and house keeping included. Windsurfing and kitesurfing at Silver Sands is great for intermediate to advanced sailors. The wind often gets too strong and the water too choppy for all but intermediate and advanced sailors.

Ocho Rios is 1 1/2 hours east from Montego Bay. This city is a cruise ship capital. The bay accomodates many hotels and all inclusive resorts. The beaches are beautiful. Recommended area is Riu Hotel and Sandals Dunn's River Resort bay.

Negril is a resort town that is about an hour west from Montego Bay. It has a reputation for marijuana and nude sunbathing. Seven Mile Beach is a great beach in the area to try. Recent hurricanes destroyed the beach area around Sandal's Negril Resort.

Launches from Montego Bay can be tricky, but not that difficult if you have a little help; however, Negril's launches are great.

Beaches not to go:

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Falmouth is a little town about 20 min drive from Montego Bay that clearly demonstrate the poverty level in Jamaica. The public beach down from Falmouth used to host the only windsurfing and kitesurfing school and rental on the island. However, they are out of buiness (at least at our last check in Dec. 2008). Also, the public beach is in a really bad condition.

Equipment Rentals: Bring your own equipment because there is no professional gear rental available in Jamaica.

MARGARITA

When to go: The winds generally blow all year. The windiest season is from November till May. Though, the highest wind months are from January to March. In May the wind gets a little weaker but steadier than in the highest wind months. The least windy time is from August to October. Even in the least windy times, you would expect planing conditions for almost half of your holiday.

Conditions:

Margarita Island is famous among windsurfers and kitesurfers throughout the world.

There are two things that stand out about Margarita. Consistent side shore winds from the left and shallow water. The wind usually builds during the day, peaking in mid afternoon. In other words: ideal conditions for beginners in the morning, and in the afternoon perfect for intermediate and advanced sailors.

The sea and air are warm in Margarita all year round. You can sail in shorts and bare feet; but be careful of the reef just a little off to the right of the main beach. Margarita island also hosts Professional Windsurfing Association competitions each year.

Best beaches to wind and kitesurf from:

Playa El Yaque, is the place to be if you are a windsurfer or kitesurfer. It is one of the world’s greatest spots to practice these sports.

The amount of windsurfers at Playa El Yaque is comparable with the amount of taxis in New York City in the middle of the day.

Playa El Yague has constant winds with a force of 20-30 knots during almost the whole year. This is complemented with the warmth of its waters which range from 27-32°C all the year long.

There is a fact that perhaps, should be mentioned, if you expect to find turquoise crystal clear waters in El Yaque you will be very disappointed. This beach and waters here are no different than at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, for example.

A 300m-long shallow area is an ideal spot for safely practicing of all levels and also good for children. Mornings bring lighter winds perfect for those learning the basic. The wind increases slowly to approximately 18-30 knots providing excellent conditions for intermediate and advanced kite or wind surfing until dark or until you can’t take it any longer!

Located near the airport, it offers many services including very affordable nice hotels, good restaurants, excellent rentals and lessons.

Kitesurfers may feel a bit frustrated at the begining about the certain regulations concerning the sport. The rules were enforced to ensure kitesurfers and windsurfers safety. According to these regulations Playa El Yaque is divided into various zones.

• Zone 1 -Upwind of the centers: No Time restrictions, open all day to kiting. Kiters can reach it by kiting upwind or by taking the shuttle boat. • Zone 2 -The area in front of the centers and out to the platform: Kiting is allowed from sunrise until 9:30 am, no kiting until after 5:30 pm. • Zone 3 -Downwind of the centers: Riding is allowed at any time as long as you stay out of the lanes of windsurfing traffic. Please note, this area is quite shallow over the reef. Booties are recommended.

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Playa El Agua located in the North-east, is another beach you may try your luck to kitesurf or to windsurf from. It is the most popular of all Margarita Island beaches. This beach is the island’s longest, widest, busiest and the most serviced beach. There you will find kilometres of fine white sand lined with coconut palms, shallow water and kind waves.

Playa Parguito is the next beach South of Playa El Agua. The beach is approximately 1000 m long and about 20 m wide. Playa Parguito is the surfer’s hot spot. Playa Parguito does not offer as many restaurants and other conveniences as Playa El Agua.

Another two places well known for wind and kitesurfing are Coche island and Cubagua island. The beaches of these islands have off-shore winds with glassy smooth water. The islands are just minutes away from Margarita by boat.

The island of Cubagua is a nature reserve with perfect kitesurfing conditions. This island was one of the first settlements in South America. Very few people permanently live on the island and it feels that the kitesurfers arriving there by boat in the morning are the only ones in this dream spot.

On Coche , 12 Km (7.5 miles) off El Yaque to the south, the wind is offshore, providing absolutely flat water. A fishing boat is available to take you to the island or you can reach it by sailing upwind.

MAYAN RIVIERA

When to go: The best time to go to kitesurf or windsurf is during the dry season which stars in December and ends in April. The end of November which is the very end of the rainy season can be good as well. The strongest and the most consistent winds usually occur in the months of January and February. The rest of the dry season time the winds are generally not as consistant. But don’t worry, if there is an occasional day with no wind you will have plenty to do and to see in the Mayan Riviera.

Conditions:

There is a variety of conditions depending on the beach, the location and the forecast of the day. You can get flat water, light surf or wave sailing. Most of the time you will get a light surf (1 m to 1½ m waves). The water is very warm but you might consider a short wet suit in January and February to protect yourself from the occasional cool day. The winds blow 15-20 knots in January and February and 12-18 knots the rest of the dry season.

Beaches to go:

Xpu-Ha bay (pronounced SH-PU-HA): The best beach to kite or windsurf from is Xpu-Ha bay. It is located only 3 km (2 ml) south of Puerto Aventuras. Xpu-Ha is a magnificent wide bay lined by a broad, beautiful sandy beach. Much of the bay is taken up by private houses and condos and unless you stay in one of the bay's resorts you have to pay a symbolic entrance fee. There are a few nice all-inclusive resorts. The beach is big enough to accommodate the hotel guests, residents, and day-trippers without feeling crowded. There is a kitesufing shop and school right on the beach, as well as, a scuba store. The bay also has a few beach restaurants and washrooms.

Barcelo Hotels Bay: Barcelo hotels complex in the Mayan Riviera is a massive resort consisting of 6 hotels. It is located right between Puerto Aventuras and Xpu-Ha bay. If you stay in one of the Barcelo hotels or ar Xpu-Ha Palace Resort you can kitesurf or windsurf in the bay. Barcelo bay is huge but the watersports area is where you will want to launch. When the wind is “too strong” for the “other resort guests”, you will have the whole left side of the bay for yourself enjoying kitesufing or windsurfing. (Bring your own equipment!)

Playa del Carmen is the major city in the Mayan Riviera. It is located about 50 min drive from Cancun airport. Playa del Carmen is big and very touristy and has hotels for every budget, lots of restaurants, shops and active nightlife. The Fifth Avenue is Playa's well-known promenade. The beaches in Playa are good but crowded. Some of them were badly damaged by the recent hurricanes and lost a lot of the sandy area.

Puerto Morelos is a little quiet fishing town at the very north of the Mayan Riviera. The beaches are wide, long and shallow. The town by itself is a little run down. A prominent reef offshore was recently declared a national park. There are a few big all-inclusive resorts just outside of Puerto Morelos.

Cozumel is an island about a half-hour away by ferry from Playa del Carmen. If you come here to sail,

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try to stay for a few days otherwise you will end up spending most of your day-trip traveling. On windy days the trip can be a little rough; you may experience some sea sickness. (Believe me, even the strongest, may have their portion of the “stomach storm” after that ferry ride!) Once there, get away from the crowded harbor front and hotel zone of San Miguel de Cozumel (cruise ships capital). There are many beaches suitable for kitesurfing and windsurfing in Cozumel but you will need to rent a car to get around the island. It is a big island! The most popular area for sailing is from Punta Molas which has a kitesurfing center to Punta Norte at the northern tip of the island. You can also explore the entire east coast for some virgin sailing spots.

Tulum is about 90 min drive from the Cancún airport. (Do not confuse it with “Tulum Archeologico” which is a famous Mayan archeological site that is located 5 min drive north from Tulum town.) The public beach in Tulum is suitable for sailors of every level. Beginners will have enough space to practice both at the beach and on the water. The easiest access is from El Paraíso Beach Club. You can windsurf or kitesurf from this wide beach all the way to Tulum arheological site and combine your sailing with a free tours of the Mayan Temples viewed from the water.

PUERTO RICO

When to go: December through April is waves sailing season in Puerto Rico. Winds are somewhat inconsistent in the 10 to 25-knot range, blowing side-off to side-on, starboard-tack jumping. Waves up to mast high are usually generated by frontal systems coming off the East Coast of the U.S.

July to September is flat-water sailing season. The North Atlantic generates the trade winds that blow during late spring and summer at a steady 12 to 18 knots. The water gets flat, and the racers come out in full force.

Conditions:

The island is called “ Maui of the Caribbean” because it offers excellent wave sailing conditions for almost half of the year. The other half of the year you will get flat water. The winds blow with the average speed of 15-18 knots throughout the year.

Puerto Rico enjoys an average temperature of 30°C (82°F). Temperatures do not change drastically throughout the seasons. The Hurricane season spans from June to November. You can leave your wetsuit at home but bring the booties. Some beaches have a rocky bottom.

Beaches to go:

There are three major windsurfing and kitesurfing areas in Puerto Rico: San Juan Metro Area, the Northwest Coast and the South Coast .

San Juan Metro Area:

Punta Las Marías is located about 10 km (6 miles) east from San Juan downtown area. There are windsurfing and kitesurfing shops and rentals are available. The wide, sandy beaches of Punta Las Marías with its steady sideshore winds are perfect for all levels of wind and kitesurfing. Kiters and windsurfers actually get along pretty good there and share the same beaches and breaks.

A long barrier reef about 800 m out (0.5 miles) provides some of the best wave sailing in Puerto Rico, with fantastic breaks everywhere. For windsurfers the most popular sail sizes are 5.3 to 5.8 m2.

A good launch from which to explore the wave-sailing possibilities is the east corner of Park Boulevard Street, about 3 miles west of the airport. It offers beachfront street parking, a grassy rigging area and easy access to several clean breaks.

Isla Verde is another wide, sandy beach only 800 m further east of Punta Las Marías, right next to the International Airport. This area is more popular among kitesurfers than windsurfers.

Caballos, has a big wave break. It is located in the Puerto Rico just off the beach next to the San Juan Airport. The waves can be as high as double-mast even in the light wind. This area has a channel that allows you to get out from the swell. You should launch near the San Juan Plaza in the Isla Verde neighborhood.

TOP JANUARY KITESURFING DESTINATIONS

The Northwest Coast

Jobos is a famous beach for kiting and windsurfing in that area. It is about an hour drive from San Juan just after Arecibo. The reef forms a natural pool. It's very shallow at the beginning but it gets deeper. Further out the current is strong creating big waves. This beach is good for beginners and intermediate level sailors. Experts prefer the outer part of the area.

Shacks is another famous beach located in the town of Isabela west of Jobos. It is about an 80 minutes drive from San Juan. If you are planning to spend your entire vacation there then take a flight directly to Aguadilla's airport which is 5 minutes from Shacks beach.

Warm water all year around, head to mast high waves, no crowds and the best wind on the island. This is really the windiest spot in Puerto Rico. If you only had one sail, it would be a 5.0m2. Kiteboarders would sail every day with a 9.5 to 11.5m2 kites.

Conditions range from inviting to threatening and can change daily. Shacks can be an intermediate level sailors spot when the waves are small. However, it is mostly recommended for experts. The waves are hollow and pitch over a shallow sharp coral reef.

This area offers an incredible snorkeling and scuba-diving experience in the summer or flat-water days. You will find underwater caves that will take you across the reef.

Surfer's Beach is west of Shacks on the north side of the military base in Aguadilla. It has a flat, rocky bottom relatively smoother than the one at Shacks. However, the downwind shoreline has jagged rocks. This beach is very popular among surfers. It is recommended for advanced wind or kitesurfers only.

The South Coast:

Guanica known as a “friendly town” is located about 1 hour 45 minutes south west from San Juan or about 30 minutes west from Ponce. It is believed that Christopher Columbus landed here during his second voyage in 1493. The population of the town is 10,000 habitants.

Guanica’s beaches offer a variety of conditions that will please both beginners and advanced sailors. You can also sail or kite from here to Gilligan's Bay. It is a great spot with nice flat water and good steady wind but you can’t set-up kites here. If you want to kite here you'll probably need to launch from a boat.

The other alternative is Ballena Bay. This bay has very flat water with a good beach to rig and launch from. You'll need a boat to get there. The ferry at San Jacinto Restaurant will take you there or to Gilligan's Island for only $5 US per person. This spot is not for beginners due to the mangrove trees downwind. If you mess up you will land right into them.

La Parguera is a small town located about 2 hours drive south-west from San Juan (50 minutes west from Ponce). La Parguera is a huge area that features small mangrove islands with beatiful beaches, natural pools, sand cays spread over the shallow, clear water. The winds are a steady 15 to 20 knots just about every day. This area used to be only popular among local windsurfers and kiters but it has recently been discovered by tourists.

Here at the town’s marina you can rent a small open boat for the day. Pack a lunch, load the gear and head out to one of the little sandy cays. Cayo Enrique is the most popular and accessible.

La Parguera's area has great snorkeling and scuba diving as well as a unique wonder of the world: the bioluminescent bay. Here you have a chance to see glowing water during the night which is caused by millions of micro-organisms called dinoflagellates. It is definitely a must-see when there is no moon.

ST. MARTIN

When to go: The trade winds season extends from the beginning of December until the end of April. June and July is another windy season when the island gets tropical waves and stronger winds.

TOP JANUARY KITESURFING DESTINATIONS

Conditions:

St. Martin has a dry climate. It is sunny most of the time. The trade wind blows year round with an average of 12-13 knots. Average water temperature is 24°C (75°F). No wet suit is necessary.

The wind is generally more established in the early morning, weakens towards noon, then strengthens in the mid afternoon. There are a few islands in many of the bays; lovers of island to islands sailing will be enchanted with the landscape and will certainly see turtles. During the winter, often you can sail with dolphins and sometimes even whales.

Beaches to go:

Although St Martin has 39 beautiful white-sand beaches most windsurfers and kitesurfers go to a few beaches on the French part of the island.

French side:

Orient Bay is a long white powdery beach which provides different sailing conditions for everybody. Beginners can practice inside of the bay and sail to the island of Green Cay. However, Orient Bay could be a bit too choppy for the beginners. The advanced sailors will enjoy the swell of the Atlantic Ocean outside of the bay, as well as, island to island hopping. Ocean swells are easily reached offshore. Orient bay, is also called “the Pearl of the Caribbean” because of the beauty of the landscape which surrounds it. You will find many beach restaurants, on Orient bay. This is also the island's official nudist beach. It is not allowed to ride within 100 m of the swimming area.

Windsurfing and Kiting gear and lessons are available.

Pinel Island lies in Orient Bay and can be reached by a ferry ride off the northeast coast. Ferries, costing US$6 per passenger, run from Cul de Sac to Pinel daily. Pinel is often called St Martins best kept secret and has always been popular with locals. The island has no residents (except wild goats), phones, or electricity.

You will find white-sand beaches, reefs with great snorkeling, and waters ideal for wind or kite surfing.

Coconut Grove Beach (Le Galion) is just a little south of Orient Bay. This is one of the best spots for beginners and intermediates because of the flat water and easy launching. Rentals and lessons are available as well. There is a big field next to the windsurfing school located here to lay out, launch, and land your kites.

Dutch side:

Dawn Beach a little further south on the east side of the island, is noted for its underwater life, with some of the island's most beautiful reefs immediately offshore. There is plenty of wave action for everyone; even for the serious surfer. Not recommended for beginners.

Maho Bay Beach is near the airport. Head there if you don't mind the planes taking off and landing nearby. This is one of the island's busiest beaches.

Simpson Bay Beach is west of Philipsburg before you reach the airport. It is 2km-long (1 1/4-mile) white sand beach. There are no changing rooms or other facilities.

TOBAGO
TOBAGO

When to go: Tobago is a great place for a windsurfing or kitesurfing holiday. The winds are normally east to north east from October to May, averaging 12 to 20 knots. During spring they switch east to south east, about 8 to 15 knots until the rainy season in July. There is always the occasional exceptional day in between. November to January have the most constantly strong winds. The best intermediate and beginner conditions are in August to December, as low tide makes water conditions very smooth in the lagoon. June usually produces the strongest winds averaging 25 knots.

A word of caution: February is normally the Carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago. If you plan to visit the country at this time make sure you book your flight and accommodation 4-6 months in advance.

Conditions:

TOP JANUARY KITESURFING DESTINATIONS

Constant and consistent trade winds blow almost all the year round. The sailing location is breathtakingly beautiful! At a low tide the water is flat, and crystal clear blue. There is no need to use a wetsuit in the warm Tobago waters, so don’t bother to bring it. The place is ideal for beginner to advanced sailors. The shallow waters of Tobago are perfect for practicing at any level. Windsurfers watch out for your fin since some areas are seriously shallow.

You can sail upwind to a small sandy island, or go out to the edge of the reef - you'll be amazed at how far away it really is. However, don't try to cross; it is only possible to pass the reef at a high tide in a few specific channels. Outside lurks big and gnarly surf conditions. That may sound inviting, but fast, powerful waves that break on to dry reef is a totally different matter to having fun at your local beach break. Especially when the surf is so far offshore that you are totally on your own if anything goes wrong. The rescue boat may not be able to get over the reef or handle the surf. Kiters looking for wave sailing should talk with the locals at the board shop to get some pointers (they will also look-out for you if you need to be rescued, at a cost). There is some great wave sailing for the experienced.

The BOARDS Test Team is a frequent guest at the local beaches.

Best beaches for windsurfing or kitesurfing:

The best beach to windsurf or kitesurf from is Pigeon Point beach. Off shore of Pigeon Point is Buccoo Bay where you will actually sail. The offshore Bucco reef has created an ideal tropical lagoon set up.

At Pigeon Point you have to pay a nominal fee of TT$10 (US$1.60) every day to enter the area. Once you are there you can enjoy the choice of beaches, bars and eateries. Facilities also include crafts shops, a diving concession, paddleboat rentals, changing rooms, showers and picnic tables.

This bay has one of the little wanders of the Caribbean: the Nylon Pool. The Nylon Pool with its crystal-clear waters and a white-sand-bottom is about 2 km offshore where you can enjoy a dip in water only 1 m (3 ft) deep. You will not want to leave this place once you reach it. It is absolutely spectacular!

If the swell is big then head to Mt Irvine Bay. You will be treated to some seriously hollow wave action that breaks over a shallow sand and reef bottom. An area call the Bone Yard, can have some huge, sweet, wave action but take caution; as this is one of the fastest moving waves you will ever see. Some locals have tow-in surfed this wave; make sure you get the low-down before hitting the water.

Tobago Plantations Beach has quite a consistent side onshore wind and a moderate surf (~1m/3ft). This beach offers some good kiting. Due to the wind direction (on-shore), be careful when launching and landing; as some of the trees can sneek- up on your kite.

There are other windsurfing and kiting spots on the island but they may take a bit of hunting down and may only be for the experienced sailors. If you are prepared to do a little searching, then you may discover a virgin beach where it would feel like no human has ever been!

You can still feel like Robinson Crusoe in a solitary cove on this island. This feeling will last only until Saturday, when the Trinidadians fly over for a weekend on the beach.