Morning guys, This is longer than my usual post but it’s a guest post about a topic I know next to nothing about. Kite boarding/kite surfing on Ambergris Caye. It arrived with 2700 words plus (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!) and is super interesting so…here it is, ALMOST in its entirety. How much editing can I do? This is a lady that has Kite Boarding Naked During a Full Moon on her “bucket list”.
I contacted her on Instagram because of these AMAZING photos.
Here’s her post:
“Tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free. This is where I long to be, La Isla Bonita” – Madonna
Not one of the five pro kiters we know suggested going to Belize to kiteboard. We already had our doubts about the reliability of wind there and this lack of endorsement certainly contributed to our concerns. But since this trip was for our 8 and 9 year old daughters’ spring break we put our selfish motives aside and chose Belize. To kiteboard AND because of the wide variety of activities that Belize offers.
My husband’s and my last two kite trips with friends to the Cayman Islands last winter and Turks and Caicos earlier this winter were filled with frustrating to non-existent wind. This time we would travel with low expectations and a positive mindset to explore the country in other ways, wind or not.
The first thing I felt upon landing from the bumpy, bouncy (good sign) short flight on Tropic Air from Belize City to Ambergris Caye was my hair wildly blowing in every direction (very good sign).
I organize and lead adventure camps with my company, Wellfit Institute, and am always looking for new destinations, but I was swamped with work preceding this trip so I handed over the planning reigns to my husband, Carter.
Upon landing, I still didn’t even know the name of where we were staying.
I had bought our daughters a 2m Cabrinha kite (it’s so cute) and a harness a month before the trip, envisioning this magical week of family bonding and teaching the girls how to kite. While we were bouncing our way among the clouds mid-flight to Ambergris Caye, the topic of the girls’ kite came up and Carter casually declared that he left it behind because “there’s no where to really safely launch and teach them”.
My cool, calm vacation-self disintegrated quickly. I immediately wondered what other executive decisions daddy made regarding the “plans”. I was disappointed that I invested in the girls’ gear and now we didn’t have it and that they were actually stoked to try it out.
I forced myself to snap out of the mad mommy vibe, I was in Belize, after all and practiced gratitude that the trip was planned without a lot of my time. As I write this, I must admit, it really wasn’t a great place for the girls to learn after all.
As the water taxi took us from the airport to the house we rented, I couldn’t help but notice that the quintessential docks dotting the eastern facing coastline along the barrier reef could pose a big challenge to beginners. Because we are self-sufficient advanced kiters, we can launch pretty much anywhere. This is key on Ambergris Caye.
I don’t know if that is why we never saw another kiter the entire nine days we were there, or Belize just isn’t on the radar for kiting yet?
At local beach bars we would ask where all the kiters were. Locals spoke about the few “local guys” (ex-pats) they knew who kited, but we never saw them.
We had arrived on Saturday, the day before my birthday, which was also the blood red full moon.
One of my badass bucket list items is to kite (naked) under a full moon. THIS just had to be the night. Kiting into my next year in the beautiful tropical island of Belize under an insanely huge pink moon. The only catch was we didn’t know the waters yet, what lurked below and how to best launch the kites from a dock with a thatched palapa, cleat anchors, lamps and other fun catchments like exposed nails and uneven planks of wood.
Let’s just say that I cut my toe…and it wasn’t to be.
Our first full day on the island, we decided to check out KiteExplorer in San Pedro. Carter had communicated with Audrius about the best places to kite and we were eager to get a ride to what we had seen was gorgeous in photos, the lagoon, the other side of the island.
Of course, we salivated over the reef but the boat traffic would make things tougher. There are also more waves, which I like, but taking my freestyle tricks to the next level would be much smoother in shallow flat water.
When traveling to other countries and setting up kite adventures, emails are a nice way to start, but it’s always best to meet people face to face to truly get the lay of the land. Audrious at KiteExplorer was teaching, but gave us the local scoop about how to get to the lagoon, where best to ride and any hazards, like heavy water taxi traffic areas and super shallow reefs.
Turned out that launching at KiteExplorer was an easier beach start and not as seaweed swampy thick as our rental home location, so we threw the kites up and rode around San Pedro area for the day because the boat captain had a “family situation” and couldn’t take us to the lagoon.
The next morning we decided to launch right from the dock of our rented home and that would be how we would spend the next five days.
No one likes a crowd but with kiting, it’s different. It’s actually fun to have other kiters in the water. I have mostly enjoyed other kiters we’ve met on trips; it’s a fun global community. I have to say it was a little strange to see no one else out there when the wind was so clean and consistent….yet at the same time, it felt like we were explorers, true adventurers, figuring it out all on our own and getting to know the glassy areas, the wavy spots and the shallow reefs.
Yes, I have some healing scabs to prove it.
We decided to let go of the efforts to get to the other side and explore the coastline by kite. Talk about wild and free. Riding more than sixty miles in and out of the reef, along the coast dotted with private homes, thatched docks and piers, exclusive resorts, palm trees and the clearest blue-green waters imaginable with spotted eagle and southern rays, loggerhead and green sea turtles, bright orange starfish, sea fans and coral heads for more than five hours still has me daydreaming. It sounds cheesy, but I can close my eyes, a week later and be/see/feel the calm and peace of the sea.
That is adventure.
Letting go of the longing to get to the other side, I was able to totally embrace this adventure! How lucky we were to go exploring on our own self-guided kitesurfari along the coast of Amberris Caye!
After 4 hours riding north, close to Mexico, we decided to head back. I was grateful that we could rely on the wind so much that we were getting around by kite alone. I was also wishing I brought lip balm and water to drink.
There is a lot less boat traffic the further north we rode up the coast because there are very few places to stay. We had ridden past the final resort on the coast and encountered only a few kayakers, snorkel and fishing boats along the reef.
You could tell it was an anomaly for many of the tourists to see kiters whizzing by them. Many waved, some pointed and everyone stared. People are curious and excited about the beauty of the kite.
Kiting is an intimate way to connect with nature. Harnessing the wind, feeling the water, activating all the senses and coordinating mind and body. I love how ecologically low impact kiting is as a sport and as a mode of transportation!
But I was still determined to get to the other side of the caye. Finally, Paul at Sailsports – another outfit on Ambergris – (for some bucks) had his boat captain take us over…
I’m guessing it wasn’t quite a full lesson price, but pretty close. Alex, the 22 year-old Belizean captain was sweet. He had been kiting for 4 years and really just did teach beginning students as an apprentice teacher. We were just happy to get the ride to the lagoon.
The water, as promised was knee to waste high, buttery smooth and free of noise -pollution from boats. Admittedly, the wind was less clean on this side, but still well worth the efforts to get there. I loved launching from a narrow spit of a sandbar and checking out all the tiny islands dotting the lagoon.
I saw everything I could have wanted and the beauty and wind of the island far exceeded any expectations and wishes I had. I was more than satisfied.
After six straight days of kiting in a row, we had a mainland adventure planned with the girls for our last full day. Our sitter Anna (and travel blogger) was heading back to NYC to prepare for her next string of adventures (check out her awesome blog The Legendary Adventures of Anna).
My body needed the break and I actually looked forward to a day off (never thought I’d hear myself say that).
Ambergris Caye, as a whole, is no longer as “wild and free” as Madonna forever memorialized in La Isla Bonita, but there is still a lot that is wild. What lies just beneath the surface, the vast waters and winds create a playground where even humans can be free. Connecting with nature in this most powerful way is what motivates us to protect and preserve wild places. People have always gone to Belize for adventure. I hope they continue to do so with the intention to tread lightly, to consider more human powered pursuits that don’t require motors. Kitesurfing in Belize is on my radar…and perhaps now yours, as well.
A few humble recommendations for Belize:
1. Beginners, pre-plan and book lessons with kite schools KiteExplorer or Sail Sports Belize in advance. Don’t wait until you’re there. Expect to pay up front; that is the only way you’ll be guaranteed a lesson before the walk ups. Ask specifically what their “no wind” cancellation or rescheduling policies are. Do your own research and read reviews about these schools. I cannot endorse the schools as I did not take any lessons with them personally.
2. If you are just learning, it may be a little more expensive than some beginner beach locations because boat support will likely be necessary on Ambergris Caye.
3. For advanced riders, be comfortable with self-launching and landing as there may not (were not in our case) be other riders around to assist.
4. Have an adventurous spirit and be comfortable knowing how to self-rescue and ride in deep water on the Caribbean side.
5. Take your own kite tour up and down the island. You can hire the schools to assist you on downwinders, but I prefer to be self-sufficient (and get the workout kiting upwind first)!
6. The reef is beautiful to ride but be aware that the depth varies greatly. Keep your eye out for shallow areas and know the tides!
By: Jill Wheeler, M.A., LPC, Therapist, Life Coach, Leadership Consultant, Writer, Yoga/SUPyoga Instructor, Adventurer, Athlete, lululemon and Bronwen Jewelry Ambassador and Owner of the Wellfit Institute. Connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.