During our trip to Central America we found some great kite spots that we would like to share with you. Although Central America is a bit less known for kitesurfing than for example Brazil (see our article "Finding the 5 Best Kite Spots in Brazil"), kite surfers will still love some top kite spots here. Whether sea, lagoon or lake, the spots are varied and there is something for both shallow water lovers and wave fans. We were in Central America from December to February, which was a period of relatively good wind probability at most places.
Lake Nicaragua with the volcanic island of Ometepe is situated not far from the charming colonial city of Granada On the east coast of Ometepe Island at the beach "Playa Santa Cruz" you will find a challenging fresh water kite spot. The view while kiting is great. The island Ometepe consists of two volcanoes, while kiting you will surf between the two.
The kite beach is located directly on the main road opposite the kite school. When we visited Ometepe at the end of December, Lake Nicaragua had a lot more water than usual, so there was hardly any beach. The waves are relatively large and there is mostly on-shore or light side-onshore wind. Starting and landing the kite was not easy due to the small beach area and the trees, mangroves and power lines behind. The water was relatively choppy, but also offered a few sections with beautiful breaking waves.
Due to the rather challenging kite conditions the kite spot was not heavily frequented. Often there were no kitesurfers at all or up to a maximum of 5 kites in the water - although we were there between Christmas and New Year, a time in which many visitors were on the island of Ometepe.
On the beach there are some shady spots that offer a good view of the kitespot. The kite school across the street also offers a few drinks and snacks.
The most important information about Ometepe Island (Nicaragua):
Another kitespot in Nicaragua is on Little Corn Island - since we were not there ourselves, we cannot judge the kitespot, which is why it does not appear in this Best of List.
Instead of visiting Little Corn Island, we opted for a kite safari on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua (Bluefields, Sandy Bay etc.) - however, we cannot recommend the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua for kitesurfing. In December, there was almost no wind and there were hardly any kite launching areas (many trees, old fishing boats everywhere on the beach, power lines, etc. ) and there were no rescue possibilities.
The beach "Playa El Arenal" in Panama is located only a few kilometers from the small village of Pedasi and is also the starting point for boat trips to the island "Isla Iguana" A fantastic wide beach (at low tide) with great waves offers a perfect spot for kitesurfing. If the wind is strong, it is a perfect spot for advanced kitesurfers, as the waves break fantasticallly, with a bit less wind (10-12 kites) it is also great for beginners to learn. A real insider tip as the kitespot is not crowded at all.
We chose to enter the beach near the river delta, a little north (upwind) from the large parking lot and the boats. The long and at low tide also very wide sandy beach provides an optimal launching area for your kite. With little wind, the water at low tide is relatively flat. On the days with stronger winds, the spot is a pleasure for wave lovers - the waves are ideal for practicing jumps while kiting in the direction of the sea.
Right on the kite spot there is no kite school and no accommodation. We assume this is one reason why the spot is not crowded. In the area there was a small kite school which often came to the kite spot in the morning with 1-2 kite students. A real insider tip for kitesurfers!
At the parking lot there are small restaurants with drinks and food for a refreshment after an intense kite session.
Playa El Arenal (Pedasi) does not always have wind, i.e. check out Windguru a few days before, or alternatively visit the kite spot "Punte Chame" (3rd place).
Caution: We had spotted yellow-black water snakes on the beach and on the water. These are poisonous and you should be careful accordingly..
The most important information about Playa El Arenal (Panama):
The lake "Lake Arenal" is visually a beautiful idyllic kite spot with a wonderful view of the Arenal Volcano. At this spot, there is a very special community mix of wind and kite surfers, which we really liked. The wind community also had some very experienced windsurfers and kite surfers who have been spending their holidays at this great spot for years.
Lake Arenal offers a great area for kitesurfing with a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and the volcano Arenal. The fast changing, sometimes slightly foggy weather transforms the spot into a mystical place and the great rainbows compensate for the strong rain showers, which appear almost out of nowhere.
Despite being a lake, the water is usually very wavy. The weather was very changeable at the beginning of February, when we were there. Within a few minutes, a small storm could raise, which increased the wind strength by a few knots and often brought rain. In addition, there are very few takeoff and landing areas at the lake when the lake level is high (this was the case in February). Accordingly, this kitespot is more suitable for advanced kite surfers. Towards the end of February the weather should become more stable.
The easiest and probably safest option is to use the Tico Windsurf Center as the base for launching your kite. As the name suggests, there are many windsurfers, but also a few kitesurfers at this spot. The Tico Windsurf Center charges a small launching fee, in exchange you will receive valuable advice and you can use the infrastructure (parking, toilets, seating). Further, if you have a problem, a jetski is also available for rescue (an extra charge applies for this).
The most important information about Lake Arenal (Costa Rica):
Punta Chame is probably the most famous kitesurfing spot in Panama. This spot is located only 1.5 hours south-west of Panama City. The constant thermal wind and the shallow water at low-tide offer good conditions for beginners as well as for advanced kite surfers. Thus, a great kitespot near Panama City and at the same time the busiest kitespot in Central America.
This spot offers at low-tide fantastic shallow water and at mid- and high-tide, it gets a bit wavy. In the morning approximately from 8 to 10am and in the afternoon approximately from 3pm the thermal winds set in, which create optimal kite conditions. At certain days, the wind is strong enough all day long, but at the end of February this was hardly the case – it was only enough for the Foil-Kites during the day.
The kite beach is very wide at low tide, however, at high tide it disappears completely at certain places. At the western end of Punta Chame there is some beach left, which together with the shallow water is enough to start and land the kites. In addition, the kite schools offer a lawn on which the kites can be launched.
In general, the kitespot is very well visited, especially in the evenings. On weekends, there is usually a lot more going on as local kitesurfers from Panama City arrive for the weekend. In the early morning, however, early risers may find a quiet kitespot (if the wind is already strong enough).
Advanced kitesurfers can also kite across the bay to Isla Taborcillo in the middle of the Bahia de Charme or do a downwinder safari with start in the north near Panama City and end in Punta Chame.
Caution: In the shallow water there are stingrays and it happens that kiters are stung. Consider wearing water shoes and slide your feet slowly through the sand when moving in shallow water..
The most important information about Punta Chame (Panama):
Another potential kitespot in Panama would be the San Blas Islands. At the time of our trip, unfortunately, it was not allowed to kite on the San Blas Islands and there was a risk that the kiteboarding material would be confiscated. It may be that this situation is changing and another beautiful kitespot in Panama will be available.
In the north-east of Costa Rica and near the border with Nicaragua, this beautiful kitespot is nestled in a bay with a small uninhabited island in the middle. The panorama while kiting is great. On the opposite side of the bay you can see Nicaragua with its mountain range and a small reef on the right completes the picture.
The kitespot is located south-west of the city of La Cruz in the bay "Bahia de Salinas" on the beach "Playa Copal". The city of La Cruz is elevated and offers a great view on the bay. A visit of the city is worthwhile especially during sunset to enjoy the great view on the kitespot and the beautiful bay.
The beach "Playa Copal" is an about 1km long and relatively wide and coarse-grained sandy beach (with shells, etc.), which offers plenty of space for launching and landing of the kite, especially at low-tide. The water is very shallow at low tide and a pleasure for shallow water lovers. With mid and high tide, the water is more or less wavy depending on the wind. Since the wind comes over land, it is a bit gusty, so it is worth observing the wind for a few minutes before choosing the optimal kite size.
Experienced kiters can kite all the way to the uninhabited island in the middle of the bay, which is about 2km from the beach, and take a little break there or use the stronger wind section in front of the island to practice jumps. For beginners, the long kite beach with no obstacles and the shallow water at low tide offer ideal conditions for practicing kitesurfing.
Caution: In shallow water there are stingrays and it happens that kiters are stung. Consider wearing water shoes and slide your feet slowly through the sand when moving in shallow water. In other parts of the bay there are also occasionally crocodiles, so it is recommended to kite only on the official kite beach.
The most important information about Bahia de Salinas (Costa Rica):
The probably most beautiful kitespot we have visited on our trip through Central America is the island of San Andres - due to the offshore coral reef on the west side of the island, this spot offers beautiful shallow-water kite conditions. The water is crystal clear and enchants you with the many beautiful shades of blue. In the shallow water you can see the corals below, you can explore the mangrove landscape and some of the knee-deep sandbanks invite you to linger.
The island of San Andres is located about 200 kilometers west of Nicaragua and can be reached by plane from both Colombia and Panama. We take the liberty to list San Andres here, although the island is geographically part of the Caribbean and politically part of Colombia. The island is definitely worth a visit on a kiteboarding tour through Central America because of its geographical proximity..
On San Andres Island there are three kitespots, each of which has a kite school. One is located in the north on the eastern part of the beach "Playa del Centro", two are located in the west of the island, in the „Cocoplum Bay“ at Chamey Nautica and in the „Rocky Cay Bay“.
On the beach "Playa del Centro" the wind is mostly onshore, which makes it rather hard to enter the water with the kite. There are also many boats, jetskis and tourists on this beach. The kite school takes the kite students by boat or jetski to an area that is located about 100m from the beach.
At the two spots on the west coast, the wind is side-shore or side-onshore. At Chamey Nautica, there is a small launching pad for the kites, which is well suited for experienced kitersurfers. Kite students are driven by boat or jetski to a spot located about 200m north (upwind) from the base. Chamey Nautica charges a small launching fee for using their spot and infrastructure.
The "Rocky Cay Bay" offers a wide sandy beach. However, as the beach is visited by many tourists, it is not very easy to find enough space to safely launch your kite there.
As an experienced kitesurfer you should definitely do a downwinder from the Playa del Centro to Chamey Nautica or Rocky Cay Bay. Ideally, you start early in the morning (before 7am), so that you have enough space to start your kite at the beach "Playa del Centro" and that you can also stop at the beautiful little islands "Acuario" and "Haines Cay" before the tourist boats arrive there.
Our preferred kitespot on San Andres Island was at Chamey Nautica, as there are hardly any tourists in the water in this area. This kitespot with the crystal clear shallow water and many standing areas, the view on the Acuario and Haines Cay as well as the beautiful different shades of blue are simply unbeatable. In addition, after a few meters of upwind kiting, you will reach the beautiful mangrove landscape - simply enchanting this spot!
The most important information about San Andres (Colombia):