About two weeks ago now, I took a vacation down to Costa Rica to mainly kiteboard, but also do some other tourist stuff. The kiteboarding was really good and the trip was a blast. It was maybe the best kiting vacation I’ve gone on.
The location was Playa Copal on Bahia Salinas along the NW coast of Costa Rica. I think this is the most well known spot for kiting in Central America and for good reason! I flew into Liberia on Saturday night and had a shuttle reserved to pick me up from the airport and take me to the Kitehouse resort, which is about a little over an hour ride. On the way, the driver in broken english tried to explain to me that he was taking me somewhere and I had no idea what he was talking about. I just repeated go to the Kitehouse, which he agreed and said yes, but he still wasn’t getting across what he wanted to. Finally, as we got closer to the destination we came up on a large gathering of people off the side of the road that looked like some sort of festival. The driver pointed and said “Rodeo! I bring you back here after you drop off bags to meet Ryan.” Ahhhh, now I got it. Everyone from the Kitehouse was already at the rodeo and they had arranged for me to get dropped off there to join them. AWESOME!! The rodeo was a ton of fun and there was a disco afterwords and street food vendors and plenty of cold cervezas.
The next morning after a long day of traveling and late night of disco was a little rough, but it didn’t matter. The wind was up and blowing hard! This is pretty much everyday at Playa Copal during the dry season. In fact, there are some days it just blows too hard to even kite. The first three days I was there kinda went like this; wake up in the morning, get ready, walk down to the beach and kite for a couple hours. Then, we would take a break for lunch, reapply sun block and head out for another couple hours of kiting. After all the kiting and sun it would be time for cervezas and hanging out with the other kiters and instructors to talk about the day. We’d go out for dinner and then continue telling stories and cervezas until it was time for bed. Of course the stories got taller and the jumps got bigger as the night went on. Haha!
I was really happy with the kiting conditions at Playa Copal. I had heard some reviews that it was too gusty, but I didn’t think it was bad at all. The gusts weren’t the type of gusts that would yank you around, they were more of a ramp up in wind speed for a period of time. This actually made for good times to try to boost high. My first day I was pretty lit up on my 7m Ocean Rodeo Prodigy, especially in the morning session, so the wind had to be blowing 30 to 35 knots. Day 2 was a little less in the morning, but still a solid 25 to 30 knots and I was well powered with my 7m. In the afternoon, I switched to my 10m Ocean Rodeo Razor, which I was really lit up on, probably in the 25 knot range. This is when I started trying to boost high. Day 3 was all 10m wind for me and I actually got my highest jump of the trip in the morning. According to my WOO, I was up 23 ft! It feels higher though when you are up there!
Bahia Salinas is a massive bay with mountains all around it and it is a very scenic area. There is a little island out in the middle that was really fun to kite out to. The water got shallow and turquois blue right in front of the island. It also had some rock pilings along the upwind side of the island that made for flat water. I would use the flat water area to pick up speed and edge hard as I headed out to load and pop off the first small wave I encountered. That was pretty sweet. There was also a reef more towards the eastern side of the bay that provided some flat water too when the tide was low. The tide was huge there, maybe the most I’ve ever seen. In the late morning till noon there was maybe 30 ft of beach and waist deep water out 100 yards from the beach. By early evening, there was zero beach and the reef was completely covered except for one tall rock. Water temperature I think was in the 60’s, maybe upper 60’s in the shallow areas at low tide. With the strong wind, you could get chilled without a wetsuit, even though air temp was 80 and the sun was so intense. My impact vest gave me just enough warmth that I never got too cold.
After 3 days straight of hard kiting I was tired and sore, so when the wind decided lighten up to a breeze, I wasn’t too disappointed. I wanted to do some other things around the area anyways. On day 4 we decided to go on an ATV tour around a mountain range. It was a little pricey and only lasted 2 hours, but I’m really glad we did it. We saw the most wildlife on the tour, learned about the life of the ranchers and had fun driving around the ATV’s. On my 5th day we woke up early and drove quite a ways inland to the base of a volcano, where we did a bunch of fun activities. It was like an all day adventure package. First we went horseback riding which wasn’t anything special, but I hadn’t rode a horse in so long I had forgotten what it was like. Then, they took us to a river where went white water tubing, which was actually really awesome. It was more fun than I expected, there were a lot of rapids and they weren’t lame at all. Then it was on to lunch with a nice buffet of Costa Rican foods. After lunch, it was the zip line and canopy tour. It was exactly what you would expect, kinda fun, but an experience to be had. At one point we got to repel down into a canyon and then rock climb back up and out. I think the rock climbing was my favorite part.
I know this was a long post, but I hope it was enjoyable and gives a good idea of a kiting vacation in Costa Rica. Overall, I would highly recommend it. If anyone has specific questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Here is a short video that I hope gives a feel for kiting at Playa Copal. If the video isn’t showing up, click on Kiting Costa Rica Vid2.