Windsurfing is up there with the best sports ever! The exhilaration you feel being one with your board and the ocean while you fly across the surf, your focus on your body is amazingly addictive. But what do you do when you want to take your sport to the next level or just go somewhere different? Where are the top destinations to improve your game or help get your friends and family hooked? Let’s take a look at some of the best places to windsurf in the world.
Columbia Gorge, Washington
On the west coast of America is the world-famous Columbia River Gorge in Washington State. The Gorge is one of the finest examples of a location whose challenge comes from the changeable nature of the environment on an hourly, daily and seasonal basis. It has the cachet of being one of the biggest attractions for windsurfers around the globe. The Hook area is sheltered and provides some respite from the strongest of the winds for easier going.
At Columbia Gorge the best time of year is from June to September where the warm winds are most reliable. Temperatures here average around 70 degrees so wetsuits are optional.
In this location there are many opportunities to rent boards – surely the most problematic issue with our sport; transporting your own 30 kg board and accessories is often impractical. The community is strong here, too and there is a good selection of schools offering training and their expertise.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Most windsurfers are in the sport for the pure enjoyment but nothing gives you confidence in choosing a new location more than an endorsement! In this instance it’s the Professional Windsurfing Association holding a leg of the World Championship at Sotavento Beach at Fuerteventura. In July the beach is packed with competition entrants, their entourage and all of the PWA’s representatives but the rest of the year is fair game for the public to go wild.
Fuerteventura suits windsurfers of all abilities which is a great attraction for families and groups who can have a mixed level of skills and experience. No-one will feel left out here! The location of this island off the west coast of Africa means that windsurfing conditions are good nearly all year round.
Islands are very popular with windsurfers as they typically combine the best conditions alongside some spectacular scenery and essential amenities. In Maui, the second largest island in the archipelago you are offered a number of beaches that all have their pros and cons depending on your ability and what you want to get out of your trip here.
Experienced windsurfers can test their mettle at Hookipa Beach – a destination known for its trying conditions and the venue of two extreme competitions. Novice windsurfers are quickly wooed by Kihei and Lahaina. Maui’s north shore is also home to Kanaha Beach Park where the US Windsurfing Nationals were held in 2006. Noobs can also head for quieter paddle boarding locations where there will be less wind.
Rental stores, training schools and ample car parking abound helping cement Maui as a go-to place for any serious or amateur windsurfer.
Just 15 miles off the Venezuelan coast lies Aruba, one of the Lesser Antilles islands. If you like warmth and jaw-dropping scenery then this could be your windsurfing paradise. The water temperature is often in the high 70s and the reliable breeze rarely drops below 20 knots. The most famous windsurfing beach, Boca Grandi, is a destination that’s on all professional windsurfers’ itineraries. July marks the 30th anniversary of the Aruba Hi-Winds Windsurfing Championship. There’s little wonder that such a famous competition began here; demanding waves command the best performances from competitors and the public alike.
Only a stone’s throw away, beginners and families just starting out will enjoy the flat-water locations and wide stretches of shallows ideal to build up confidence and coordination. The waist-deep water is a beautiful, clear blue. Aruba has good access to accredited training schools, facilities, accommodation and rental stores – a bonus and a benefit to Aruba’s continuing appeal.
Boracay Island, The Philippines
From November to early April, the weather here is gorgeous. A reliable, crisp warm breeze coupled with smooth waters make for excellent windsurfing conditions. The Philippines comprise over 7,000 islands but not all are publicly accessible or suitable for our sport. Boracay is probabl y the most well-known windsurfing destination in this island group. Situated some 200 miles south of the capital, Manila, with boat transport from Panay Island, Boracay is host to its International Funboard Cup and is a regular leg in the Asian Windsurfing Tour. The west of the island has White Beach, the main touristy area complete with hotels, bars and rental shops.
Onshore wind speeds vary from 12 to 25 knots and the island is great for windsurfers of any ability – the inshore lagoon is only a few feet deep and sheltered, making for ideal novice conditions. Out on the Sibuyan Sea, breaking waves and stronger currents test the skills and excite the more advanced windsurfer.
For consistent conditions and terrific scenery, Rhosneigr is arguably the best windsurfing coast in the British Isles. Access to any of the three beaches Cymyran, Pwll Cwch and Traeth Llydan are Green Coast certified for meeting the most stringently low pollution levels. As the high tide rolls in, the waves are at their strongest and are fantastic for intermediate and advanced windsurfers.
The Welsh weather tends to be wetter and cooler than most of the destinations in this guide so it’s advisable to wear a wetsuit with high-rated insulation. Accommodation is great with options for hotel stays, RV parks or camping. Equipment and accessory requirements are well-catered for with ample shopping facilities. Board rental is flexible here, you can hire a board by the hour or by the day.
Beach access is straightforward by road even though there is a local airport. Rhosneigr is one of those hidden gems in the windsurfing community – it never gets particularly overcrowded which means you get to experience the best of the UK’s windsurfing scene without a lot of competition for the waves!
Image sources: Travoto, Pixabay, Wiki commons