The Ultimate Kitesurf Travel and Holiday Guide
No matter if you organise your kitesurf travel by yourself or prefer to book a complete package, the possibilities for an exciting kiteboarding holiday are abundant: from downwinder adventures, private catamaran cruises, to exotic bungalows on remote islands, there are plenty of options to cater to every type of kitesurfer.
In this guide, we will explain why certain parts of your kitesurf trip are better planned ahead, describe the different travel styles, how to identify suitable packages for kitesurfers, flight booking, when to bring gear with you and when not, as well as other crucial things you need to consider when planning a kitesurf vacation. Read carefully to avoid frustration while on holidays and make each trip your ultimate kiteboarding experience.
Should I Plan? How in Debt?
It can be time-consuming and not everyone is a fan but for a satisfactory kitesurf holiday at least some form of planning is essential. You need to know when the wind is blowing, where the best kite spots are, where to rent gear, how to avoid the crowds and so on. No matter if you’re a kitesurfer who wants an all-inclusive experience, a spontaneous kitesurfer with no fixed itinerary, or someone who is a mix of both, you’ll want to plan some aspects of your trip in advance.
Failing to plan ahead will leave even the most spontaneous kitesurfers frustrated and exposed to unnecessary stress on their vacation. If you opt for complete improvisation, you might arrive somewhere that has overbooked accommodation or sky-high prices for last minute arrivals. Scammers can often sense unprepared newcomers and are more likely to rip you off. This travel style tends to work best during the area’s low tourism season or in destinations you already know very well.
Kitesurf Downwinders in Brazil
Kitesurf Conditions and Kiting Style
Never choose a kitesurf destination solely based on its popularity or fame. Obviously, if you’re a complete beginner, it doesn’t make sense to plan your kite holiday at a spot that only has head high waves. So, opt for spots that suit your interests, ability level, and have alternative activities to do just in case the wind drops.
It’s essential to research kiteboarding conditions before travelling. What are the wind conditions like during that season? How crowded will it be when you visit? Are you legally allowed to kitesurf there? Watch out, Many beaches forbid kitesurfing during summer! Is kitesurfing insurance required? What is the launch zone and water like? Is it safe for your ability level? …
Check up facts online, get in touch with local kitesurfers and schools, or speak with kitesurf tour operators (hosts) to see if your wished trip is a good fit for your ability, timeframe, and kitesurfing style.
Even if you book all-inclusive packages with reputable tour operators it’s always better to do your homework. It will enable you to make informed decisions about the right destination, holiday packages, gear, … or to organise your own travel. A good resource to start planning is this handy kitesurf conditions map.
Kitesurf Holiday and Travel Styles
There is no wrong way to travel (as long as there is kiting involved). Not so many years ago, it was unheard of to join a kitesurf safari or spend a week at a camp dedicated solely to kitesurfers. Today, there are many types of kitesurf trips to suit every interest.
You can choose between a variety of kiteboarding specific holidays and travel styles from cruises, tours, camps, or simply staying at a kitesurfer-friendly accommodation:
Kitesurf cruises are trips on sailboats or motor yachts where you’ll live, eat, and sleep on the water. Your boat will take you to remote islands and the best kite spots (often only accessible by boat) — where you won’t be inhibited by schlepping around gear or figuring out how to get to-and-from different locations. Kiteboarding cruises are one of the best ways to combine discovery, style, and comfort in one experience. You can either book individual cabins or the whole boat if you are a group or family.
Kite tours, safaris or road trips explore a region and hit a multitude of different kitesurf spots as well as other attractions. It’s a more adventurous and active type of kiteboarding vacation, where you mostly move around and stay at various accommodation options (from camping to hotels). Means of transport range from 4×4, buggies to horses and camels. A special adventure are downwinders, which allow you to travel through a region mostly on your kite.
Kite camps are packages that include accommodation (from resorts to simple hostels) and often include other kitesurfing related services such as gear rental, courses or coaching. They allow for a comfortable kitesurf holiday as you can kite at the local spot or venture out on day trips with the kite camp acting as a home base. Non-kiting travelers can do other activities while you are on the water making camps also suitable for families, couples and groups.
Kite accommodations are the basic necessity of each travelling kitesurfer. They can range from tents, bungalows, hostels to luxurious resorts. What makes them suitable for kitesurfers is the proximity to a kitesurf spot, kite gear storage facilities, the host and other guests being kitesurfers and so on. As with camps a comfortable resort or similar which offers also other activities is ideal if travelling with non-kiters.
A design hotel for kitesurfers at Papaya Playa in Mexico.
Booking a Full Package vs. an Accommodation Only
If you have limited vacation time, you won’t want to spend it figuring out logistics like transportation, accommodation, and when kite spots are likely to work. The good thing about holiday packages, especially those created specifically for kitesurfers, is that they often involve local expertise and account for all travel logistics – including gear storage, safety, and kite spot recommendations.
Be aware that ordinary holiday packages despite being tempting with (last-minute) discounts, tend to be too one-size-fits-all and will most likely leave you feeling trapped and frustrated. If you do opt for a package, its best to choose one that is crafted with kitesurfers in mind. This is the best option for those who want a low-stress holiday where the only decision they need to make is what kite to use.
But be careful as not all kitesurf tour operators are the same. Some work more en masse and might bring you on crowded touristy locations. More boutique providers rather cater to a small number of guests and can bring you to more “secret” spots, often resulting in a more pleasant and authentic holiday experience. To ensure good quality and appropriate pricing it’s always important to check their reputation by reading independent reviews and comparing services between similar providers.
If you’re on the other hand the type of kitesurfer, who follows the wind wherever it may blow – planning as you go – it’s best to pre book an accommodation only at some of the world’s renowned kitesurfing destinations. The closer to a quality kiteboarding spot the better, as long as it is not overcrowded. This will give you some comfort and stability as well as access to local expertise so you can craft your days as you like.
Variety of kitesurf adventures
Kite Courses and Coaching
Kitesurfing is a beautiful sport but it also comes with dangers when people ride without proper training and mastery of their equipment. Beginners should thus always make a course with a certified kite instructor and depending on your talent a 3-6 day course during your vacation should be enough to get you up and riding more or less independently.
But taking advanced courses or specialised coaching while on holidays is also a great way to progress in the sport, improve your riding and learn some fancy tricks that you can show of back home.
Kitesurfers who didn’t book a package and want coaching or lessons need to factor where the best and most accessible kitesurf school will be. The ideal school will only offer lessons from accredited kiteboarding instructors and use quality gear. Try to book your lessons in advance to benefit from discounts and to secure availability of the best gear. Don’t forget to check for no-wind-policies to protect you in case of no wind, same goes for gear rental.
Kite Gear: Rent vs. Bring
Whether you should bring your own gear or rent while you’re on your trip depends on your budget, overall plans, and kite quiver. If you are only planning to kitesurf for a few days out of a long trip, it doesn’t make sense to schlep around your gear the entire time. Kite gear can be easily damaged in transit and traveling with your gear can be expensive. When you bring your own, you risk having the wrong kite for the conditions. However, the benefits of bringing your own kite gear includes the freedom to kite at more remote spots and the ability to kitesurf even if shops are closed.
Renting, however, gives you a chance to try out new equipment, tailor your set-up to the conditions, and may be an affordable option for those who only want to kitesurf for a few days. Many kite holiday packages include gear rental – making it the most affordable option for those who’ve yet to splurge on their own.
Choosing a Flight
With so many flight comparison websites available (think Kayak, Momondo, and Skyscanner), there’s no reason to book your flight with a travel agent. Many travel agents have an incentive to book your flight with a specific airline – even though that airline may not be the best option. And while budget airlines often seem cheaper at first glance, the price of adding your gear may make your flight more expensive than a full-service airline that includes baggage and meals. Some airlines allow sporting equipment to be considered as their baggage allowance, so make the effort of combing through the terms and conditions before you pay for your gear as an add-on.
To find the cheapest flight, set up a price alert on the Skyscanner App where you’ll receive a notification every time the price of a flight increases or drops. As a general rule, flights tend to be cheapest in shoulder tourism seasons and ideally should be booked at least three months in advance.