Kiteboarding in Turks and Caicos: Making Exhilarating Memories
December 06, 2022
First-hand account by kiteboarding expert Valerie Vine from tckiteboarding.com.
What makes a vacation truly amazing? The answer may be in balancing the happiness of your “experiencing self” and “remembering self”. The primary goal of the experiencing self is increasing the number and duration of pleasurable moments during your vacation: think relaxing on the beach, getting a massage and a glass of champagne at sunset. The primary goal for remembering self would be doing something epic that teaches you a new skill or makes a fantastic story, allowing you to maximise “the peak” of your vacation and making your subsequent memory of it more colourful, intense and happy. This is often the reason people make seemingly arduous itineraries for their holidays such as hiking up a mountain, logging their accommodation (a tent) on their back. Basically, if you want to make your holiday unforgettable you need to make some unique and intense memories!
The great thing is that here in Turks and Caicos you can do both. You can relax on one of the island’s beautiful beaches, splashing in the turquoise water and you can also learn a new skill and try something you never thought you could, creating unforgettable memories. I am talking about kiteboarding: imagine yourself gliding through calm turquoise water, pulled gently by the wind, surrounded by the luxury villas and the most Instagrammable hotel in the world and you will have the right picture.
Perhaps you don’t think it is for you? I remember first seeing kiteboarding, it was in Christchurch, England. I was having lunch at a restaurant, drinking wine and enjoying the view of the sea. Gazing over the coastline I was mesmerised by the incredible athletes displaying marvels of multitasking: handling the kite, the board and their body at the same time. The water looked dark and uninviting and everyone was in a wetsuit. It definitely looked like an “extreme sport”. I thought to myself: “This is awesome, but certainly not something I could ever do!”.
Fast forward several years and life’s strange turn brought me to Turks and Caicos. Sitting at The Shore Club, surrounded by the elegant, contemporary Caribbean architecture, sipping a Rum Old Fashioned, I was again presented with an opportunity to try kiteboarding. Although this time the scene that unfolded was spectacular: turquoise, calm water, shallow for miles, with sporadic kites moving peacefully across the bay. This view was very different to that in England a few years ago and it encouraged this cautious desk sitter to gather her courage and give it a try.
Certainly, having never done any board sports before, it was challenging, but my instructor was patient, even during a tantrum or two. Learning kite control and combining that with board control took some effort – there are many things to keep in mind at the same time. But here lies the beauty of it: you cannot be learning kiteboarding while at the same time thinking about an irritating work email or the breakdown of communication with your sister, what your ex is doing right now or the sense of humour failure your boss had last week. You are in a complete state of “flow”, so immersed in the present moment that two to three hours seem to pass in twenty minutes and in the end you get to tell yourself: “I just can’t believe I can do this now!”
While the sport does not demand a high level of athleticism it is a great workout for your core and a fantastic way to be out at sea, being powered by the warm Caribbean breeze. For some it can be a solitary sport which allows for plenty of time to enjoy the shimmering turquoise water and splendid views, but there is also a great community of kiters practising tricks and socialising on the beach. There is something for both the lone wolf and the social butterfly.
My own experience proved life-changing and two years after flying the kite for the first time I left my job in finance and moved to the island to run a kiteboarding school and give others the amazing opportunity to discover this wonderful sport and to break stereotypes.
Long Bay is perfect for learning: the water is warm, clear, shallow and turquoise for miles; the seabed is perfectly soft, white sand; the beach is long with plenty of space to launch and land safely. It is never crowded, but there are always experienced kiters around to help you feel safe on the beach and in the water. The conditions are so awesome that this is probably the only place in the world where students have a good chance of getting up on the board on their first lesson, which usually lasts 3 hours, and be comfortable riding after 9-12 hours of lessons, spread over 3-5 days. On your first lesson you can expect to spend the first 20-30 minutes on the beach, learning kite set up and safety and after that it’s into the turquoise water to learn kite control. Typically students spend the last 30 minutes of their first lesson trying to get on the board for their first rides.
In Turks and Caicos we are lucky to have one of the longest kiteboarding seasons in the world, with steady, 14-22 knots trade winds blowing almost ten months of the year from November to August. Long Bay is where all new kiters start their journey and for those with more experience there are many options including kite safaris around Providenciales and even trips to nearby islands.
Kiteboarding has been the single most exciting thing I have ever learnt and I invite you to try it as well. You never know how it can change your life and at the end of your vacation you can say: “I can’t believe I can do this now!” and have some epic memories and photos.
The Shore Club is the only resort set on famed Long Bay Beach. Stay where you play!