Are you ready for Christmas?
We have 18 people coming to stay for 5 days! With my family – that’s 22. Ouch… I think I will need an extreme sports holiday to get over the Christmas one!
So. Where would be a nice to place to go? Not skiing, not yet, it’s a bit early in the season and no point in running a risk on dodgy snow. Pressure is on from all members of the family to go somewhere where you can kite and windsurf…
Why not Costa Rica? November through to March, the Northern hemisphere’s coldest time, is the best time to be there … sounds ideal doesn’t it? It’s the dry season and the temperature can be anywhere between 85-100 degrees Fahrenheit (30-38 degrees Celsius). Hot.
The first place to catch our eye is Bahia Salinas, in the top northeast corner of Costa Rica, across the bay from Nicaragua. It has good flat water with side-shore winds. The seasonal trade winds come in this season and the winds cycle through a 5 knot range throughout the day.
Costa Rica prides itself on its wind. It is even confident enough to say that they can guarantee side on-shore wind … 20+ knots, nearly every day. Plus long safe beaches and most importantly of all – no crowds, lovely warm water, friendly people and beautiful weather. The howling monkeys add a certain tropical splendour to the whole ambience.
Playa Copal in Bahía Salinas is emerging as one of the country’s top kiteboarding destinations following reports of epic wind conditions which started to filter back through the bush telegraph. A scorching 90°F and 20-knot wind can almost be relied on over the winter period and it is not unusual for you to have back-to-back perfect 24-hr conditions for your entire stay.
It is suggested that the most useful kites for this area will be a 12 m2 and 9 m2. A 7 m will be occasionally used, but it will be the 9 m2 which will steal the day.
Playa Papaturro is another beach in the bay of Bahia Salinas. The north pacific coast in the Guanacaste province is the sunniest and driest side of Costa Rica with beautiful and isolated beaches where, having exhausted yourself kitesurfing, you can chill out in the turquoise waters, snorkelling. There is a half mile of reef with completely flat water great for kiting, just keep your eyes open for giant turtles and pelicans who will be going about their legitimate business. Never fear, there should be enough room for all of you!
Playa Papaturro has a 2km beach without shore-break waves and the water is only choppy when there are more than 20 knot winds. The wind is always side shore which makes it very safe and user-friendly for kitesurfers. And as far as windy days per year go? It has to be one of the best places in the world…
And then there are the warm waves of Playa Hermosa where Billabong held their World Surfing Championships in August 2009. It is important to know that there are two Playa Hermosa beaches in Costa Rica – one is in the Guanacaste province and the other is in Puntarenas.
The Puntarenas beach is one of the best surfing havens in the country, but it is for experienced surfers and kiters as the currents are very strong and are not ideal for swimming. With world class waves, Playa Hermosa holds the International Quicksilver Surf Championships every year in August that literally brings hundreds of expert surfers here from all over the globe.
Playa Heromosa in Guanacaste Province, on the other hand, is one of the best maintained beaches in the country and offers visitors crystal clear blue waters and gorgeous scenery, with a 2 km long grey sand beach, encircled by tropical forests and ridges of volcanic rock. It has warm water temperatures and ideal weather conditions all year long and is an ideal spot to take a holiday.
The following video is silent I’m afraid, but its a great video to show you what kitesurfing is like at Bahia Salinas.
Nor is kitesurfing restricted to the ocean in Costa Rica. They also have the fabulous Lake Arenal located in the Tilaran Mountains which boasts 4 volcanos and stunning jungle.
The Lake offers some world class kitesurfing as well as windsurfing.
Seasonal consistent winds of 20 knots make it an excellent place to learn how to kitesurf with intermediate and advanced kiters being able to take advantage of 30 knot winds and more during much of the year.
I suppose a word of warning should be made to all wanabe kitesurfers: there is no point in taking up kitesurfing if you are not in good physical condition and if you are not completely comfortable in water.