Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, involves using a power kite to pull a rider through the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard (which is like a wakeboard).
The quickest and safest way to learn how to kitesurf is to take lessons from a qualified instructor. Some instructors are freelance but the majority work for kitesurfing schools.
With proper instruction the majority of people are able to master the basics and kitesurf independently with around three days of instruction although some learn quicker than this and some not so quickly.
There are no specific requirements for anyone who wants to learn to kitesurf except a basic level of physical fitness - it's a sport that is open to almost all. The sport does not require any particular physical strength, and children as young as six can learn to kitesurf.
Some experience with other board sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding can slightly increase learning progress but the main skill required is the ability to precisely control a power kite which most people need to learn from scratch.
The International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) is the main certifying body for kitesurfing instructors although there are other certifying authorities including the British Kite Sports Association (BKSA) and the Federacion Andaluza de Vela (FAV).
In Cape Town the South-Easter blows from October until March/April. Langebaan, which is about 90 minutes' drive north from Cape Town is a great place to learn. At Shark Bay, the lagoon is warm and shallow. The sharks are harmless sand sharks. For wave riding go to Blouberg or Dolphin Beach, 15 minutes north of Cape Town.
The best time for kitesurfing in Mauritius is from June until October. Le Morne in the south part of the island offers the best kitesurfing for beginners and for experienced riders.
Kite Surfing is now widely practised across Europe. There are many popular destinations offering have good conditions at varying times of year. Significant European kitesurfing destinations include:
Tarifa in Spain is the most famous kitesurfing destination in Europe. It experiences unique meteorological conditions due to the Venturi effect caused by the choke point between Gibraltar and the Rif Mountains of Morocco which amplifies wind speeds in the Strait of Gibraltar, meaning Tarifa experiences significantly stronger wind than locations only a few miles away to either side.
Tarifa has an 11km stretch of unbroken white sand beach without any hazards in the water. The sand dunes and mountains behind the beach generate thermal winds that mean kitesurfing is often possible at spots such as Valdevaqueros even when the prevailing wind is not strong enough in other locations.
Tarifa's southerly location and oceanic climate means the weather is slightly cooler than much of the Spanish coast in summer and noticeably warmer in winter. This means the kitesurfing is possible year round, with an unusually high chance of wind and sun on any given day. High season is in July and August when on windy days you can see over 2,000 kites in the sky at Playa de Los Lances.
The Canary Islands of Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife have good conditions with strong consistent ocean winds. Their climate is favourable due to their southerly location and they are popular spots for kitesurfing camps.
Wissant is a nominated kitesurfing beach near Calais, France. It benefits from 2km of shallow, hazard free sandy beach. The prevailing Southwesterly wind from the English Channel (La Manche) is cross onshore, meaning conditions here are often ideal for kitesurfing.
- Camber Sands
Camber Sands in Romney Marsh is England's busiest kitesurfing destination. Located just an hour and a half from London it has 2 miles of shallow sandy beach and the prevailing wind is cross on shore. There are some hazards, however, including groynes, shipwrecks and fairly extreme tides so it's wise to check conditions and speak to a local before kitesurfing independently here. If the wind is offshore Greatstone beach just 6 miles round the corner is usually ideal. Between the two locations all wind directions except Northeast are viable for kitesurfing.
The northern Caribbean beaches of Brazil have strong consistent trade winds and are now very popular for Kitesurfing. Popular spots include Cumbuco and Jericoacoara . Further south other good locations in Brazil include Cabo Frio, Busios and Florianopolis .
Noosa in Queensland is one of the best kite surfing destinations in the world! With strong Northerly winds throughout summer, it is almost guaranteed every day! Visit Noosa Kite Surfing [dead link] for more information. Perth in Western Australia has also numerous spots with constant South Westerly winds in summer. Good spots are Woodman Point, Safety Bay in the south and Lancelin 100 km North of Perth.