If you’re a kiteboarder, the allure of finding that perfect spot where the wind is steady, the water warm, and the beach sandy can become a bit of an obsession. After all, ripping it in a bikini or board shorts – and leaving the thick wetsuit at home – is a fairly intoxicating concept, is it not?
And the idea of a few cold beers after your session is done, while the tropical sun sinks into the horizon isn’t so bad either. I know, I know…you’re searching for airfare right now, aren’t you?
I’m lucky enough to call a place like that home. And it is every bit as epic as you imagine it to be. Yes, we ride year-round. Yes, we get in our share of sunset sessions with friends. Yes, we have been known to have more than a few beach parties that last late into the night. Kiteboarding is, in fact, the reason I moved to this idyllic tropical locale all those years ago. And it hasn’t disappointed.
But there is one thing that has the potential to put a damper on the chill kiteboarding lifestyle we all so adore.
Not all of them, of course. For the most part, visitors to our little slice of paradise are really fantastic, and are welcomed with open arms. After all, we are blessed with a very epic spot to ride so why not share the love with everyone? Sharing is caring.
Yet despite the 99% of cool guests that make their way to our local kite beach, there’s always the one.
You know. The one who has locals (and even other visitors) shaking their head and casting a wary eye so as to stay as far away as possible from them on the water and off. Unfortunately, on a kite beach as teeny, tiny as ours, you end up not usually getting as far away as you’d like.
But people, come on! It isn’t that hard to avoid being “the one.” There’s no secret formula to being a kiteboarding tourist that locals welcome with open arms. It’s actually pretty easy.
Just follow some basic advice, and you’ll have the locals offering you a cold one. If you’re really chill, you might even be invited to a secret beach party.
Beach Bragging = No
One surefire way to quickly get yourself shunned by the local kiteboarding population is to arrive and immediately start touting your amazing abilities. Before you even unpack your gear. Swagger also fits in this category. Just don’t do it.
I get it, maybe you’re nervous and you talk a lot when you get nervous (I do). But honestly, nobody is going to be impressed with tall tales of your global travels to other epic kite spots, the sick tricks you can land, or namedropping the pros you claim to know. No, following them on Instagram does NOT make you mates. Besides, we live in kiteboarding paradise, remember? The pros come here often. We know them, too.
So skip the pre-ride preening. If you’re amazing, we’ll see it when you’re on the water. Arrive with a small dose of humility, familiarize yourself with the beach vibe, ask questions about wind conditions and beach customs. Then, pump up your kite and ride. After all, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
Then, when you come off the water, you’re far more likely to find a receptive group of kiters ready to welcome you to the fold and compare notes on tricks, other epic places to visit and the like.
Unless you’re just an insufferable jerk in general, in which case we’ll still probably shun you despite your talent. And pray to God you don’t decide to move here.
Get To Know The Lay Of The Land
Every kite spot has its own quirks. The time to discover things like which way to run your lines, which spots to avoid for launching/landing, and where to enter and exit the water is BEFORE you actually do any of these things.
This isn’t hard to figure out, by the way. The locals here (and I expect most places) are generally happy to answer questions, especially if it improves their chances of not being harmed by an uninformed newcomer. The locals are not purposely hiding critical information in an attempt to embarrass or shame you. I pinky swear promise!
Just be humble and ask a few questions before you get going. We know you’re gung-ho to get out on the water, but a few minutes orienting yourself to the lay of the land will save you – and likely others – from a potential kitetastrophe.
Don’t Be A Danger To Others On The Beach
Okay. You’re almost ready to gooooooo. Whoop! Whoop! But wait. Before you send your kite skyward in all its powerful glory, just a couple more things. For everyone’s sake, please refrain from:
- Launching your kite then stand idly in the middle of the beach chit-chatting with your buddy/significant other or searching for your misplaced board. There’s time for idle banter after your session. And if you aren’t sure where your board is? You probably shouldn’t have launched in the first place. Standing in the middle of a crowded beach with your kite darting to and fro scares the shit out of the rest of us, especially when it does not appear you actually know how to control it. To summarize (in case you’ve forgotten), the protocol is LAUNCH >> ENTER WATER >> RIDE.
- Attempting to conduct your own kite lesson for your buddy/significant other, especially in the middle of the beach. Aside from this being incredibly unsafe (unless you are an experienced kiteboarding instructor…which is usually not the case), you are obstructing the safe flow of kiters trying to launch and land their kites. It probably is also a very bad idea for the person you are trying to teach. There’s a reason professional kiteboarding instructors exist. If you’re too cheap or have too much machismo to sign up for an actual, proper lesson, then for the love of all that is good in this world at least take your dangerous experiment somewhere far, far away from the reasonable, responsible grown-up kiters.
- Dilly-dallying at the main entry/exit point. As noted above, the protocol is LAUNCH >> ENTER WATER >> RIDE. Unless you’re having some sort of safety issue that needs resolving, there are other, better places to idly hang out. Like a nearby beach bar. Or your hotel room. Or the airport.
Observe Basic Safety Rules
Alrighty! You’ve safely launched your kite, went straight into the water with no unnecessary delays, and are now feeling the salty splash of water on your sun-drenched skin. Life is effin’ perfect, is it not?
Just one thing. You know all those pesky right-of-way rules you learned way back in the day when you were taking your first lessons? Newsflash…the rules still apply, even when you’re on a kitesurfing vacation. Some of the biggies…
- Starboard tack (right hand/shoulder leading) = right-of-way
- Port tack (left hand/shoulder leading) = give way
- And my personal fave…if you’re doing a water start, why not wait until the riders whizzing by you downwind are well past your kite’s reach before you decide to dip your kite onto their lines and/or head?
Yes, of course, kitetastrophes occasionally happen. To all of us. But many could be avoided by following basic safety etiquette and common-sense. Doing otherwise simply invites those of us on the beach to add your kite description to the list of “must be avoided at all costs.” And we probably aren’t going to offer you a cold one from our coolers, either.
And that’s it. Four simple tips that, when followed, will put you squarely in the “tourists we love to see on the beach” category.
Welcome to paradise.
Got questions? Want to know more about island life? Thinking about making a big life change (whether that includes gray hair or not)? I’d love to hear from you. Check out this post or send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.