Sept 18, 2014
Author: words John Bryja / Photo Clark Merritt
It doesn't get much better than Solo Sports camp at Punta San Carlos, Baja. Merritt photo
I have always been pretty simple when it comes to my kite bucket list. It’s generally one destination long, and usually moderately attainable. Time and finances being the two biggest hurdles, I intentionally keep unobtainable destinations halfway around the plant mentally off my list. I simply don’t have that much time and money. Depending on where you live, many of the spots can be done with friends for under $500 each. I recently scratched Punta San Carlos off my list—or permanently added it to my revisit often list. It can be done as a low cost drive in camping trip with friends, or as an all-inclusive, lightning-strike fly in destination. Check out the Punta San Carlos feature on p. 76 of this issue.
Here is a quick look at the places I have visited in the first 15 years of SBC Kiteboard magazine that belong on every kiteboarder’s bucket list. It reads like a definitive list of attainable kiteboarding destinations you should try to get to at least once in your life.
- Cape Hatteras, NC. It was the first place I thought of when it was time to learn to kiteboard. It is possibly the world’s No. 1 kiteboarding playground, and is easy to get to from the East Coast.
- Maui, HI. Visited the first time as a kiteboarder in 2000. I crashed my two-line kite directly in front of Elliot Leboe, forcing him way downwind. That was when going upwind was not easy.... Needless to say, he wasn’t happy. Lou Wainman jumped my lines like they weren’t there.
- Hood River, OR. It is the epicenter of the North American windsports industry, and it was just a matter of time before visiting. Conditions alone make the Gorge one of the strangest and most fun places to kite in the world. The Hood River sandbar is an added bonus.
- South Padre Island, TX. It’s a smaller and warmer version of Cape Hatteras. I enjoyed a windy tradeshow there with the rest of the kite industry: small, fun surf on the ocean side and butter flats in the bay. Awesome Mexican food put it over the top.
- Nitinat Lake, Vancouver Island. If you have a chance to get to Nitinat, it is an amazing camping destination. Camping amongst the massive old-growth trees and the steadiest thermal wind on the planet is unlike anywhere else.
- Silver Rock, Barbados. On my list for the longest time, and I finally talked my wife into going there for our honeymoon. Staying at the Silver Rock Resort is the best way to enjoy this surf destination. Dinner at Joseph’s and oceanside lounging beds kept by wife happy, and I enjoyed a great week of kiting in the surf. I have been back several times since.
- Cabarete, Dominican Republic. I have been going as long as I have been kiteboarding. It’s a short flight, and the town of Cabarete has a happening nightlife and lots of great European restaurants. Best season is June and July, and flights can be crazy cheap. I have scored all-inclusive trips for less than a flight, and used the money I saved to eat at great restaurants every night.
- San Francisco Bay, CA. Not the kind of destination most people think of traveling to for kiteboarding; there is something really special about riding from Alcatraz and up to the Golden Gate Bridge for a kite race.
- Beauduc, South of France. A bit out of left field, France has always been on my travel list, but I didn’t ever think I would go on a kitesurfing trip there. When F-One invited me to their importer meeting to check out their new offices in Montpellier, I jumped at the chance. The food and kiteboarding were so good that the rest of France is now on my kiteboarding bucket list too.
- Punta San Carlos, Baja, California, Mexico. The most recent of my bucket list adventures, and arguably one of the best on the conditions front. It’s an odyssey to get there from the East Coast, but worth the time commitment. I am going back.
Reflecting back on my bucket list accomplishments, I am most impressed at the diversity of the riding conditions and the unique cultural experience of each location. Balancing the money and time commitment has always been the biggest challenge to traveling, but realizing that a little extra time or a little extra money spent can make up for a lack of the other has always been the key to scoring great trips.