Windsurfing Destinations

Sites and tastes differ. For some travelers, a good place to sleep or eat would be more important than the quality of rentals. Others would value beach facilities, or safe landing. Advance beginners would love to have flat water... the list can go on. Simply put, there is no such thing as an ideal windsurfing place.

Here I tried selecting several attributes for ranking familiar sites on the scale from 1 to 5 (5 is the best). Please note that this is personal information gathered over many of years, therefore some ratings may have changed over years (like rentals, quality of service, etc.)

Rating Guide

   
Water and air temperature Rank as 5 if only a sun guard shirt is required all year around; 1 if a 5mm wet suite is a minimum requirement at the best time of the year.
Entry and bottom quality Important for those who don't water start yet. Clean sandy bottom with waist-deep water across the entire bay would rank 5, while a large stone dam along a deep water would rank 1.
Space for getting back Important for those who aren't pros yet. A long sandy beach with on-shore winds and little shore break would rank 5. A 7-meter landing spot with fenced private properties up and down the shore would rank 1.
Motorized rescue How difficult would be to call for a rescue motor boat? Help directly from the surf station would rank 5; no help at all would rank 1. This one could be also scored as (n/a) in some environments (like at Lac Bay, where there is always on-shore wind and the lagoon is only waist-deep).
Rentals Rental quality, variety and availability. Rank 5 if you can always pick a right board and sail. 1 is for a limited choice from few old sailboards and rigs.
Consistent winds Nothing is worse than waiting for good wind while you are on a short vacation. Wind direction and degree of gusts should play important role in this ranking. This ranking is rather subjective. Best is 5, worst is 1.
Flat water plaining conditions  Lac Bay in Bonaire would score 5, while an open ocean with no reef protection would score 1. Very important for beginners!
Beach facilities This is about shower, washrooms, lockers, beach chairs and shadow (or umbrellas). If everything is available within 50m then the site scores 5; no facilities whatsoever score 1.
Environment How friendly is the area (other than the beach)? Natives; cleanness (is tap water drinkable?), safety, emergency medical help, groceries, restaurants, drugs pushers, etc., etc. Best is 5, worst is 1.
Rental proximity to the water Fully assembled gear right on the beach would rank 5, while rental surfboard attached to the car roof would score 1.
Club-like environment This was something rather unique I found in 2010 at the Russian surf school in Hurghada (North.wind.ru). The entire environment felt like a club. There was a small rest area where guests and instructors can take a break watching video, having drinks and talking windsurfing (or whatever). There was active chat on the web site; several new pictures published every day; news bulletin appeared once a week. The place was simple, yet nice and welcoming!
So, the 2010 version of North Wind ranks 5, and open beach with no-one around would rank 1.
Instruction In my opinion, instruction should be a bit more than just paid lessons. A great teacher is dedicated; he won't stop helping his students once the paid time is up. An instructor, who would give extremely good lessons, would rank only 4. The same instructor watching after his students all the time, would score 5 (and most likely will be rewarded with good tips as well!).
Beach food Reasonably priced food and drinks within 50m ranks 5; none would rank 1.

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Bonaire (Lac Bay, Jibe City)

Water and air temperature 5 stars Always warm – forget about your wet suite!
Entry and bottom quality 5 stars Large waist-deep bay with fine sand bottom – perfect for learning water start
Getting back 5 stars Easy for any level. there is no way to be blown away
Motorized rescue n/a There is no way to be blown away, or to a bad place
Rentals 5 stars Great selection, new equipment every year
Winds 5 stars Strong and steady all year round, except for the hurricane season (Sep-Nov). Hurricanes never reach Bonaire, but they occasionally weaken trade winds (lull for a few days in a row).
Flat water 5 stars Flat water – ideal to learn plaining
Beach facilities 5 stars Everything you may need is there. Plenty of chairs and places to sit and relax at Jibe City
Environment 5 stars The island itself is a great place to relax. You won't find large all-inclusive resorts on this island. Typically, people stay in small private hotels, or rent a condo. Tap water is drinkable, the environment is clean and safe. You won't see any traffic police. In fact I've seen a policeman only once – at the regatta parade. Renting a car is almost a must. Driving there is very easy, roads are narrow, but they are open and non-congested. Parking is not a problem.
Be ware of sand flies and mosquitoes; depending on your skin sensitivity, it may be a real problem. To be on the safe side, I would recommend accommodation with mosquito screens. Use Off products after the sunset.
It's a terrific place for diving and snorkeling. You can get to many diving spots on your car. There are many public beaches, but I haven't seen a single one with showers and washrooms. If you like swimming in a deep water, you'd better off staying at a beach-front resort or condo. There is little night life. Bonaire is a place for divers and windsurfers, who are exhausted in the end of the day and go to bed early:-)
Rentals proximity to the water 5 stars Right on the beach
Club-like environment 3 stars Rest area shared by windsurfers, their friends and cafe patrons
Instruction n/a I didn't take lessons there
Beach food 5 stars Very good and reasonably priced

Getting to Bonaire (BON) is a bit difficult. Major US airlines fly weekly direct flights from Athlanta, Newark and Houston, but seat sales are rare. For Europeans, KLM and Arkefly provide direct service from Amsterdam. There are also connecting options via Curacao, and the connection is very nice – just extra 15 minute flight. BON airport is small and quick. It took us only 17 minutes to get from the apartment to the boarding gate (including check-in and security for a flight to Curacao). For up to date information about flight options, check Info Bonaire.

Summary: The best windsurfing destination in the warm Caribbean, albeit pricey.

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Cabarete (Vela surf station)

Water and air temperature 4 stars Always warm – no need for a wet suite
Entry and bottom quality 5 stars Nice sand beach and shortly after deep water
Getting back 5 stars The wind is always side-shore
Motorized rescue

n/a

There is no way one can be blown away
Rentals 4 stars A couple of rentals shops at the beach – all good equipment (although through 2003-2010 windsurfing was on decline because of kite surfing – fewer facilities and less choice of equipment). I used Vela.
Winds 4 stars Consistent in non-hurricane season (Jan-Aug)
Flat water 3 stars Flat water in spring and summer, a bit choppy in the fall-winter season, the off-shore reef provide some protection.
Beach facilities 3 stars Beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, washroom and shower at the rentals
Environment 3 stars On weekends the beach is crowded by locals (the environment is friendly and safe). Outside of the beach area the environment is quite poor.
There is some night life and plenty of all sorts of night services around. Good restaurants and bars albeit with European pricing.
Rentals proximity to water   5 stars On the beach
Club-like environment            1 star None
Instruction 3 stars     Available, but quality is a hit and miss
Beach food 4 stars Good beach food, reasonably priced

Getting there: Puerto Plata airport is 20 min away by a taxi ride.

Accommodation and environment – the only all-inclusive resort about 10 minute walk by the beach (Viva Wyndham Tangerine). I would strongly recommend the newer part (Palace building). Very nice massage in the hotel spa. There are many other places to stay in Cabarete -- small hotel rooms and condos for rent.

Summary

With many direct flights and plenty of cheap accommodation, this is one of the best budget windsurfing destinations in the Caribbean.

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Maui (Kanaha beach)

Water and air temperature 5 stars Warm – no need for a wet suite
Entry and bottom quality 5 stars Deep bay with fine sand bottom, protected by the off-shore reef
Getting back 5 stars The wind is always side-shore
Motorized rescue

3 stars

The Coast Guard is known to help people if needed.
Rentals 3 stars Plenty of choice but all away from the beach. They install a roof rack on your car. So you have to rig on the beach.
Winds 4 stars Consistent outside of the storm season
Flat water 4 stars Flat water in spring and summer, a bit choppy in the fall-winter season
Beach facilities 2 stars Washrooms and change rooms available but no beach chairs, shelter, tables or bars around the windsurfing beach.
Environment 4 stars Good assortment of tourist points and hikes in the national park. Plenty of accommodation choices – from pricey hotels to modest bed and breakfast places. Food and restaurants like anywhere in the US
Rentals proximity to the water 1 star No rentals shops at the beach.
Club-like environment 1 star None
Instruction 3 stars  Expensive, and not sure if I liked it
Beach food 1 star None

Summary: Great windsurfing destination with few downsides. Best if you are planning to combine windsurfing with other vacation activities.

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Oahu (Kailua beach)

Water and air temperature 5 stars Warm – no need for a wet suite
Entry and bottom quality 5 stars Deep wide bay with fine sand bottom, protected by the off-shore reef and island
Getting back 5 stars Not a problem - the wind is side-shore
Motorized rescue

3 stars

The Coast Guard is known to help people if needed.
Rentals 3 stars Reasonably good selection
Winds 4 stars Consistent outside of the storm season
Flat water 4 stars Flat water in spring and summer, a bit choppy in the fall-winter season
Beach facilities 2 stars Washrooms and change rooms available but no beach chairs, shelter, tables or bars around the windsurfing beach.
Environment 4 stars Plenty of accommodation choices – from pricey hotels to modest bed and breakfast places. Food and restaurants like anywhere in the US. Assortment of tourist points like Pearl Harbor Memorial, the Pineapple Farm, etc. You can learn surfing at Waikiki beach.
Rentals proximity to the water 1 star No rentals shops at the beach (the closest is 200m away). Depending on the day of the week, they may, or may not deliver the sailboard to the beach (something to do with their local by-laws). In a bad day you'd have to haul the equipment to the beach crossing a busy intersection on foot.
Club-like environment 1 star None
Instruction 3 stars     Expensive, and quality could be better
Beach food 1 star None

Summary

Great windsurfing destination with few downsides. Ideal if you are planning to combine windsurfing with other vacation activities.

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Majorca (Pollentia Club Resort)

Water and air temperature 3 stars Depending on the season you may need a wet suite
Entry and bottom quality 4 stars Deep water with mostly sandy beach
Getting back 2 stars Offshore wind may be a challenge for beginners
Motorized rescue

3 stars

The shop can arrange rescue
Rentals 4 stars Not a very big selection, but enough.
Winds 3 stars Variable.
Flat water 4 stars Flat water with off-shore wind
Beach facilities 2 stars Washrooms and change rooms are in the hotel. Beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach for hotel patrons. The beach itself may be dirty with sea weed (even though they clean it)
Environment 4 stars This is an old tourist destination, well developed with may activities. The hotel is good by the European standards but not as nice as some equally-priced places in the Caribbean. Food and restaurants like anywhere Europe – plenty of choice.
Rentals proximity to the water 3 stars The hotel rental shop is across the road from the beach.
Club-like environment 1 star None
Instruction   n/a               Didn't take lessons there 
Beach food 1 star None

Summary

This place isn't the best windsurfing destination. There are other windsurfing spots in Majorca, perhaps I picked a wrong one.

Kos (Robinson Club Resort)

Water and air temperature 3 stars Depending on the season you may need a wet suite
Entry and bottom quality 4 stars Deep water with mostly sand beach
Getting back 2 stars Off-shore wind may be a challenge
Motorized rescue

5 stars

They watch really well, and come to rescue quickly
Rentals 5 stars Good board and sails selection,
Winds 4 stars  
Flat water 3 stars Only near the shore
Beach facilities 5 stars Everything you need is right there!
Environment 4 stars It's Greece - relaxed and friendly, but they want your money!
Rentals proximity to the water 5 stars All equipment is right on the beach
Club-like environment 3 stars  
Instruction   n/a Didn't take lessons there
Beach food 4 stars Good!

In my travel experience, Robinson Club is the only resort with real windsurfing equipment provided at no extra cost. The hotel staff speaks both English and German, but all group lessons are in German. Those who like ruins can rent a car (at the hotel) and explore the island of Kos.

Summary

Good hotel, great food, but may be a bit expensive in high season. Perfect windsurfing destination for Europeans who speak German.

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Corpus Christi, Texas (Worldwinds)

Water and air temperature 4 stars Depending on the season you may need a wet suite. In the summer time, it gets very hot
Entry and bottom quality 3 stars Sandy knee-deep water for 50m, then waist-deep muddy bottom with occasional sharp shells
Getting back 3 stars Off-shore wind may be a challenge for beginners, but they still can walk back
Motorized rescue

1 star

None
Rentals 5 stars Great board and sails selection,
Winds 4 stars  
Flat water 5 stars  
Beach facilities 2 stars There is a washroom and rainwater shower. No food, beach chairs or umbrellas.
Environment 5 stars Relaxed and friendly
Rentals proximity to the water 4 stars All equipment is about 30m from the water, plus you'll have to drag for another 50m though the shallow part
Club-like environment 2 stars  
Instruction   n/a Didn't take lessons from Worldwinds
Beach food 1 star Only few snacks at the rental shop

Summary

Worldwinds is a great place for a flat water windsurfing. Not much else to do out there if your spouse does not like windsurfing. It's hot, windy and swimming in the muddy intercostal waters isn't much fun. 

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