What do you do when your students have to reschedule their lessons and the forecast looks rubbish anyway?
You say yes to your better half’s question asking if you fancy some winter sun. These are our trip notes from Sal, Cape Verde.
This is how it all started on a gloomy Saturday morning in February. We checked the forecast for other kite spots within 6-7 hours and in the same sort of time zone.
– food and drinks (alcohol too) all-inclusive preferably
– spots for beginners and spots with waves
All of the above directed us to Sal, Cape Verde. A last-minute deal with Tui and we started packing for our flight in less than 24 hours.
It’s an easy journey from Manchester directly to Sal, transfer to and from the hotel also included. We had some extra weight (a mere 60kgs of kiting gear and 10kgs women’s shoes) so decided to book that in advance. Important to mention that it takes 7 days to sort out your visa online (also included in price). We had to pay for it again upon arrival – 25 euros a head, and there was a bit of extra queuing.
We stayed at the RIU Palace Hotel, right next to Ponta Preta. This spot is home to the WKO wave world championship.
Drinks and food are available round the clock and you know you’ve come to the right place when you check out the free minibar. They, however only replace drinks every 2 days!
Hearty breakfast and you feel the wind already. In fact, it never stopped during our stay which combined with it not being tidal meant we had the luxury of asking ourselves ‘When do we want to kite today?’
Temperatures were unseasonably low in the early 20s so a 5/3 wetsuit helps if you plan on kiting longer sessions, but my better half survived the week with a shortie.
Who should kite here?
Beginner + Intermediate + Advanced (wave)
Not butter flat, but great for improving any levels.
Cross off shore, bit gusty and you have to make sure to check if the safety boat is being manned. When the swell kicks in you can get 3m waves here in which case Santa Maria or Kite beach would be a better choice for beginners.
We kited with Inês Correia’s school. They teach from a boat and provide back up should you get into difficulties.
World-class waves, but not for a beginner. We only had 2 sessions here, the first one on a twin-tip, just checking the spot out.
We spoke to the local school at Kite Beach – there seem to be no special rules – but they forgot to mention that there are huge rocks submerged in line with their building. Watch out for them!
It can get quite busy, too. Go early, or go late to avoid traffic on the water.
The second time we booked a wave lesson with 2-time world champion Inês Correia. If wave riding is something you’d like to try, it is worth having a lesson or two to help you through the initial bumps. Her prices are very competitive and the lesson is tailored to your needs.
We didn’t kite here on this trip, but it’s probably a good spot for both beginners and advanced riders once you get behind the 1-1.5m shore break.
All schools have a shop here, it’s easy to rent all sorts of equipment or book further lessons.
Cross-on, cross shore winds
Taxi rides are between 5 and 7 euros. You’ll find taxis at your hotel and in the town centres. At Kite Beach, you can negotiate a lift back to your hotel with a local pick-up driver.
If you book your lessons with Inês, they’ll pick you up from your hotel.
Although it seems to be always windy on the islands of Cape Verde, according to statistics on Windfinder the main season is between October and June. Out of season, you’ll still get 50% chance of wind, which is better than most places.
Can I bring my kids?
Yes, the hotels have kids-friendly pools and activities throughout the day. Watersport lessons are available on Santa Maria beach.
Yes, if you like sitting by the pool and sipping your drinks. There are things to see on the island, but you will get through them in a day or two.
Would we go back?
Absolutely. We would probably take 5/3 wetsuits, though.
When did we go?
We travelled in early February 2018.