In recent years, kitesurfing has become one of the world's fastest growing watersports. Popular with both men and women, the kit is light and easy to transport, making it a perfect sport to travel with. Learning in a hot climate is far more appealing that braving the UK's icy waters, and there are countless kitesurf schools and all-inclusive camps around the globe. But if you're starting from scratch, which locations are best for beginners?
Many of the "world's best" kitesurfing spots are too challenging for first-timers. The same goes for surfing, skiing and many other outdoor sports – Jaws in Maui, for example, may be one of the world's "best" big wave surf breaks, but sending a first-timer into the water here would be suicide!
For beginner kitesurfers, the best locations tend to feature the following:
- Calm water with minimal waves and hazards
- Shallow areas you can stand in safely
- Constant breeze of at least 10 knots
- Less crowded spots with no obvious hazards
- Warm waters that help you feel relaxed
My top five kitesurf spots for beginners
Dakhla Bay, Western Sahara - Morocco
Almost 900 miles south of Marrakesh, this huge lagoon sits right by the Atlantic but is protected from the ocean by a spit of land. Several kitesurf camps cluster at the lagoon's northern end but, to avoid the crowds, head south to Heliophora Riders Camp. The winds here are so consistent that it's rare to find a day you can't kitesurf and, although the water is a cool 18-19°C, the sun beats down all year. Waist-deep water makes this a superb beginners' spot – at low tide, you can kitesurf far from the shore and still stand up.
When to go: Any month of the year. Even in the least reliable months (December and January) there's a sixty per cent chance that the wind will blow 13-knots or more.
Le Morne, Mauritius
An island off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius is famous for its powdery-white beaches and beautiful blue waters. It's also home to one of the world's best kitesurf spots. In the island's southwest corner, Le Morne has a shallow lagoon for beginners, with more advanced waves nearby at Manawa and One-eye. There's a choice of professional kitesurf schools and, with the water temperature ranging from 23 to 29°C, you can ditch the wetsuit.
When to go: It's possible to kitesurf here all year but May to October is best, when the wind blows 13-24 knots.
Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
Around 170-miles north of Colombo's international airport, the Kalpitiya Peninsula has some of the best beginner kitesurfing conditions in South Asia, with warm waters and consistent winds. A sandy peninsula shelters the Puttalam Lagoon from the Indian Ocean, giving ideal conditions for learners.Once you've learnt the basics, you can join downwind trips to camp on the lagoon islands. The average water temperature here is 26°C, so look forward to long sessions on the water and, if you're travelling with more advanced kitesurfers, there are waves on the other side of the peninsula.
When to go: Kalpitiya has two windy seasons. The first is May to September/October, when the southwest monsoon means regular 20-knot winds. The second is December to March, when the northwest monsoon brings afternoon winds of 17-20 knots.
Cabarete, Dominican Republic
A fishing village turned international watersports hub with luxury hotels, Cabarete is the kitesurf capital of the Dominican Republic. The north coast beaches are protected by a reef, which sits around 600-metres off the beach. This creates a fantastic flat-water speed strip, with several different beaches to launch off. The officially named Kite Beach is the most popular, and warm waters (25 to 28°C) mean you can stay out for hours and progress faster. If you're looking for inspiration, head to the local wave spots to see pros honing their skills, ready for the international competitions that are hosted here each year.
When to go: The trade winds blow year round here but the most reliable breezes arrive in summer (December/January to March/April) and autumn (June to mid-September). For beginners, it's best to avoid the winter waves.
Soma Bay, Egypt
Surrounded by the Red Sea, the luxury resort of Soma Bay sits on a peninsula, just 28-miles south of Hurghada Airport. Protected by sand banks, the calm, waist-deep waters provide ideal learning conditions, with bath-tub temperatures that reach 28°C in the windiest months of July and August. Soft, white sands also make the learning process easier, as there's no need to worry about stubbing your toes on rocks. Winds tend to build throughout the day, with some of the best conditions in the Abu Soma area, on the south side of the lagoon.
When to go: It's windy here for 12 months of the year, with the strongest and most consistent breezes averaging 22 knots between May and October.
Where else to kitesurf?
From St Lucia and The Grenadines to Thailand and Dubai, there are countless places to kitesurf across the globe. Just remember to check the conditions at each place before you book – I had lessons at Tarifa in Spain (too crowded) and Camber Sands in the UK (too cold!) before I finally learnt at Dakhla Bay. Here, the combination of shallow waters, great wind and fantastic instructors meant that I went from zero to hero in a week. I'd definitely recommend it.