Kitesurfing / Kiteboarding is the hottest and fastest-growing water sport the world has seen in decades. Growing out of relative obscurity just over a decade ago, this sexy hybrid of wind-surfing and kite-flying quickly caught the attention of thrill-seekers everywhere.
Many aficionados would argue that the Southeast Asian region, with its countless miles of tropical beaches and reliable winds, is the best place to “shred the waves”. Here, a short list of some of the best kiteboarding sites in the region…
BORACAY ISLAND, PHILIPPINES
Boracay is best known for White Beach, a 3-mile strip of powdered sugary sand that just might be Southeast Asia’s finest beach. But the island is also an activities hub, and the activity it’s most famous for is kitesurfing. In the high season, dozens of parabolic kites create a technicolor explosion in the skies over Bulabog Beach, where the action is concentrated.
Between November and February your problem in Boracay is more likely to be too much wind than not enough wind. But beginners take heart: Kitesurfing is learnable in heavy winds, provided the water is relatively flat and shallow enough to stand up in. Five or six serious kitesurfing schools offer relatively cheap lessons and plenty of top-of-the-line equipment for hire. If you go to Boracay in-season committed to learn, you will learn
MUI NE, VIETNAM
Mui Ne is a long sandy beach 210m northeast of Ho Chi Minh city that stretches for about 15km between the town of Phan Tiet and the village of Mui Nei. The best season for kiteboarding here is from November to April with strong winds often topping out at 25 knots and above, but the good news is that there is wind year-round.
What’s more, Mui Ne is ideal for beginners and students as the water is very shallow, the wind blows onshore and there are no rocks, reefs or dangerous marine life nearby.
NUSA DUA, BALI, INDONESIA
There are several good kiteboarding spots in Bali and each with its own character – some spots are more suitable for beginners than others. In Bali the dry season from May to October brings the most consistent wind, which blows from 10 to 17 knots, with July, August and September being the windiest months.
During this period, the most popular kiteboarding spot is Nusa Dua, and the favourable conditions here are mostly onshore winds in a reef-protected lagoon with flat to choppy water, while the outside reefs offer world-class waves. Late in the dry season, southern winds can give you side-shore wind for epic wave riding conditions.
HUA HIN, THAILAND
Just three hours’ drive south of Bangkok, Hua Hin has arguably the best kiteboarding conditions in all of Asia with miles and miles of empty beaches fronted by shallow waters, with safe and reliable onshore wind from November to May.
BALOK BEACH, KUANTAN, MALAYSIA
This long, hard-packed beach lies 15km north of Kuantan on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, and is the premier site for kiteboarding in the country. Long considered a paradise for windsurfers, the shallow sand-bottomed waters of Balok Bay is now the ideal place to learn kiteboarding.
As it’s just two and half hours’ drive from capital city Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s close-knit community of kiteboarders make the trip to Balok on most weekends from June to September when the winds are reliable.
KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
From November to May, this tourist island becomes a magnet for backpackers and other visitors keen to try their hand at kiteboarding. The school here is well-stocked with the latest gear, and the instructors apply the latest teaching methods to get students up on the water as quickly and safely as possible. . On a windy day, this spot is considered the best in the region because the shallow sandy bay with an outlying reef protects the inner bay and keeps the water as flat as glass, which is perfect for learning.