Kiteboarding in Costa Rica, Bahia Salinas

Kiteboarding in Bahia Salinas, Costa Rica

The feeling of flying a huge 8 meter kite overhead and riding on a kiteboard through the water is amazing. I could only ride in stretches of about 50 ft at a time, but it felt so great after struggling all day to gain control of this huge kite and master the skills to get up and ride.

I first saw people kiteboarding in 2005 when I was in Brazil. I drove past a beach and saw over 35 kiteboarders in the water and knew from that moment that this was a sport I would love. Kiteboarding is a cross between snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and flying! Fast forward 5 years to September 2010, my chance finally came. My friend Jak started kiting and once I heard that he was doing this locally in Ocean City I was ready to join him.

Kiteboarding is one of those activities that you really need to have a buddy around to do it safely. Jak was totally into it and I had the opportunity to head to Ocean City Maryland and give it a shot. My first lesson went well and I was hooked! I almost should not have giving it a go, because now I am totally addicted.

When I started dreaming about this Latin American adventure I researched places along the way that I would be able to kiteboard. Its a very tricky sport because the winds, location and conditions have to be perfect.  Its not a sport where you can just pick any body of water and get out there and go. 

The first potential place was in El Salvador. I was not feeling that great in El Salvador and it was also a bit pricey so I gave it a pass.  I knew I would have better chances in a few weeks so was not that disapointed. The next place on the list was Bahia Salinas, Costa Rica which is where we were last week. This place is the epic center for kiteboarding in Central America. The bay of Salinas is really the perfect storm for kiteboarding and other wind sports. The wind comes over the mountains from the east and blows straight over this large shallow empty bay. It mostly blows side on shore which are the perfect conditions for kiteboarding success.

The first day we arrived the conditions were not good because the winds were around 40 MPH. Optimal wind speed for beginners is around 15 mph and 20-25 for advanced. In addition to being 40 MPH it was extremely gusty which makes it even harder to handle the large kites.

After a sitting out a day the next day winds settled down slightly and we had our shot to get on the water. Because it had been 6 months since my last and only lesson, to be safe I decided to get another day of lessons. This is not a sport you want to learn on your own!  We started with the basics of kite control and body drags. Body dragging is an exercise where you fly the kite in the water and use your body as a human rudder and try to tack back and forth to get upwind or back to where you started. After a couple hours of sucking down sea water I was ready to give it a shot with the kite board.

I was up and riding pretty much right away, but I was going straight down wind which is not really what you want to do. It is normal for beginners, but the ultimate goal is to be able to tack back and forth, like a sail boat, and stay in one spot or even come back up wind a bit. After 4 hours of lessons I was done for the day and would have to pick up again the next day.

The next day I was doing much better. Still not riding exactly upwind, but feeling much more confident and doing a decent job of not riding directly down wind.

It would have been very nice to get another couple of days under my belt, but that will have to wait until we reach Panama. The conditions there are said to be excellent, with constant side-onshore winds and warm water.

Check out how the video of our two days kiteboarding in Bahia Salinas, Costa Rica:

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7 Responses to Kiteboarding in Costa Rica, Bahia Salinas

  1. Peggy Gelernter says:

    I enjoyed our day trip to Bahia Salinas today very much! It is beautiful up there. Hope you have a great time kiteboarding!!! I am sad I won’t get to watch you in action. Unfortunately I was only able to escape my cube for only one week this time around:)

    This past week was one of the most amazing experiences I have had thanks to you :) I will miss you guys very much and look forward to our next encounter. Bolivia in April !?! :)

  2. jak says:

    you are killin’ me!!!!
    love it

  3. jak says:

    scotty never mentioned the scorpions!
    don’t forget – even the Dali Lama kills moquitos after he asks them to leave him alone a couple times — stomp them for getting near your wife!

  4. jak says:

    Tell debbie she is beautiful… i am just being a breeder wishing the joyful torment of parenthood on yall

  5. mark simpson says:

    Loved the kiteboarding video. I’m sitting in a snowdrenched office dreaming of the season to open up. You’re gonna love it riding up wind and then your first jump. I just started riding up wind last year and what a blast! It looks easier than it is, but once you get it, you get it.
    I know your mom and dad from the gym. Great people and in good shape.
    I’ll look foward to the next video. Best of luck!

    • admin says:

      Hi Mark,

      Great to hear from you! My folks told me about you. We gotta catch up this summer and go kiting! After this post we ended up back in Bahia Salinas and I got another chance to kite. After two more days I was finally riding a bit upwind. Still struggling, but able to hold position and not going directly down wind.

      Looking forward to meeting you when we return!


      • Mark says:

        Sounds good. What really helped me was leaning back after i got some board speed, and letting the kite out a bit. Then just point her up wind just a tad and let her fly! I was always wanting to pull the bar towards me. Wrong! Its kinda crazy to handle the kite and the board, but truly a unique experince. By the time u get back here, you’ll be an expert!
        Safe travels.

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