Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka: Top Kitesurfing Destination with Activities for Whole Family


I was looking to combine a usual a kitesurfing vacation with ‘something more’, when Sri Lanka came to my attention. I was particularly interested in the northwest region of the country, the well-known kitesurfing destination of Kalpitiya.

Kitesurf in front of Club Mango

Some kitesurfers, especially from Northern Europe and Russia, have already discovered this area’s kite spots, but little is known of the hidden treasures that this area offers for the whole family, in terms of activities and cultural environment, besides the strict kite practice.

First things first: how good is this place for kitesurfing? Well, very good indeed:  rich variety of conditions, riding possibilities it offers and easy accessibility of the spots make Kalpitiya an amazing destination for kiters of all levels. 

The wind comes in mainly two seasons: the winter and the summer. The geographical position of Kalpitiya, which is located in front of the channel dividing Sri Lanka and India, presses the wind force between the two pieces of land, increasing its speed due to a sort of Venturi Effect. Due to these conditions, the regularity and consistency of the windy seasons is amazing.


Sri Lanka Kitesurf Kalpitiya


The two main seasons for kitesurfing follow the monsoon influence (even though due to the geographical characteristics of Kalpitiya the rain is quite scarce here):

Winter season: from mid of December to the mid of March the wind comes from the north, it is steady, not gusty with an average speed between 16 and 25 knots; it creates ideal conditions to learn for beginners;
-         Summer season: from mid of May to the end of September the wind comes from the south and its intensity is way stronger, on average from 18 to 30 knots. Even though it’s a gustier wind, the big lagoon of Kalpitiya still remains a great option for a safe and fun spot in these conditions.

Kitesurf in front of Club Mango
 
Kalpitiya is surrounded by many small lagoons, which form due sea tides, and are often a better option than the main lagoon: cleaner water and no crowds. In fact, there are several possibilities for kitesurfing fans, including several down winder paths along the coast or from the close islands. It is easy to organize a ride there with the help of the local fishermen who are very willing to provide the service for an agreed upon fee.

Kite safari is also a good option: while travelling from Kalpitiya to the north, you can reach Adam’s Bridge, where you will discover untouched new spots of crystal clear waters and amazing conditions.


Kitesurf in front of Club Mango


For kitesurfers it is clear: Kalpitiya is quite a unique place to practice kitesurfing and just for that alone it would be worth a trip. However, many kitesurfers also travel with their families and prefer places where all the family members can enjoy their vacation.

Kalpitiya happens to be one of these places, ideal for a full vacation. It has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing - both natural and cultural. 

Nature here is impressive. For example, sea life is amazing: you can try one of the dolphin excursions with local boats and find your boat floating in the ocean surrounded by swarms of these beautiful creatures. In the winter season, whale watching is also possible and could be quite spectacular.

Dolphins in Kalpitiya


In the proximity of Kalpitiya, about half an hour drive, the Wilpattu National Park offers an experience of the Sri Lankan wildlife. Take a safari tour and watch elephants, leopards, multicolored birds and other kinds of wild animals in their natural habitat.

Wilpattu National Park


Sri Lanka is a country of rich history and culture, and not far from Kalpitiya (about 2 hour drive), the old capital Anuradhapura unveils its majestic Buddhist temples and buildings, noticeable is the world’s biggest stupa – Buddhist temple - (Jetavanaramaya) made of over 90 million baked bricks.

Jetavanaramaya


Sri Lanka is also known for holistic and natural treatments and healing procedures: Ayurvedic massages, therapies, meditation, and yoga are a must try while spending time on the island.


When it comes to accommodation, there are quite a few small hotels and lodges around Kalpitiya.

We tried Club Mango, a recently-opened resort located in the most strategic position on the peninsula, set directly on a flat water lagoon next to an open sea. It was very easy to access flat water lagoons and open wavy sea from Club Mango, so the resort made an ideal base for our kite vacation.


Club MangoWe also didn’t expect this level of a hotel for a very reasonable price and quality ratio. Club Mango really stands out from other hotels by the beach with its upscale accommodation and vast premises to chill out, practice yoga or just enjoy a fresh cocktail with a lagoon view. The hotel’s restaurant is by far the best you can find in the area, offering fresh fish dishes in a Sri Lankan/international fusion style. At Club Mango, you can practice kitesurfing, enjoy local organized tours and spoil yourself with great food and holistic treatments.



Holistic treatments

All summed up, Kalpitiya is an exotic local Sri Lankan destination, still unexplored by mass tourism, which is continuously developing. Back in the day it used to be only visited by adventurous backpackers. Nowadays, it growing as a touristic destination that offers great conditions for kitesurfing and a lot of possibilities for a adventurous and relaxing vacation for the whole family.
 


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Alaçati: kitesurfing in Turkey’s Jet-Set holiday escape


For long one of the Mediterranean windsurfing hot destinations: the area offers great conditions for kite aficionados and spots for almost every wind condition.


Turkey represents for sure an intriguing destination for kitesurfing lovers. Especially the Aegean coast offers countless spots and great conditions during the summer period, when Meltemi, the seasonal trade wind, blows practically every day.


Alaçati kitesurfing


Alaçati’s area offers also a plus of historical background and glamour, which would be unfair not to mention. A little stone house village, just few years ago, this little gem in the Aegean coast of Turkey has become the favorite vacation retreat for the richest living in big cities as Istanbul and Ankara. Famous Turkish actors, soap opera starlets and anchormen love to spend here their vacations and this increased tendency is transforming the once sleepy fishermen village in the most fancy vacation spot of the country.


The proximity to Ephesus and other archeological sites adds a plus of historical interest to a kitesurfing vacation: a bad wind day could be easily turned in an impressive tour of one of the best preserved Greek/Roman archeological site in all the East Mediterranean area.


Alaçati has always been considered a sort of Mecca for windsurfers of all Europe and there is a very good reason: the geographical disposition of the coastline hills around the village has great effect on the wind intensity. In fact, both for the north summer wind (Meltemi) and the south occasional wind, the bay and the surrounding cliffs have the capability of creating a Venturi effect which sensibly grows the wind intensity. 




The area can offer countless places where unwrap the kite and have a nice session, but the most known are represented in the image above:

1. the flat water spot at the bottom south east of the bay (1) perfect with the main north wind direction. The entrance is not big and can get crowded by kite-school lessons due to the nice sandy bottom, but when riding upwind 100 meters there is plenty of space and great conditions.


  


2. the flat water spot at the north end of the bay (2), closer to the village and in front of the marina, which offers an amazing shallow water bay, fantastic for any rider style.

 3. the wave spot in Pirlanta beach (3), which offers its best in strongest wind days.


 
Talking with a local kite instructor, Kerem, of advancekiting.com, I found out that the real wind speed can be up to 5 knots more of the web forcasted wind intensity due to the already mentioned Venturi effect. In fact in the main spot for north western wind (1), the average real wind speed is above 20 knots during all summer season, while the main forecast websites show 15/18 knots of average.
I could experiment myself the effect: being there in one of the worst weeks of the season with only 10/12 knots of maximum forecast, I had every day at least 15/16 knots of real wind and great kiting conditions. The confirm came from a group of friends which were staying in the same period in the close Island of Chios, which is interested by the exact same wind as Alaçati: while I was enjoying my kite session, they were drinking mojitos on the Greek beach.



For beginners the spot (1) and (2) are the ideal playground to learn, with shallow water and sandy bottom. Here it is not difficult to find a kite school and on average the teaching quality good. For my sessions I was supported by the team of advancekiting.com, which turn out to be one of the most professional in the area and for sure very welcoming and easygoing. 
The launch area of the spots aren't very spacious as they have rocks at the entrance so these guys' help in launching and landing the kite was precious.

Probably with a good wind day, long downwinds might also be organized along the coast north of Alaçati, and that’s something local schools should probably try to promote.


After kiting the village has a great nightlife in its narrow stone streets, full of restaurants which offer the best of Turkish local food and fancy lounge bars with loud music and elegant cocktails.


 All in all a great place to start the discover of Turkish Aegean coast. C.U soon Alaçati!