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Bahamian Rhapsody: Kiteboarding in the Bahamas

Jan 9, 2009

Author: words by Denver Coon photos by Kim Kern

The Bahamas has always been at the top of my list of places I want to kite. With its crystal blue water, crazy nightlife and growing kiter population, it seems like the perfect place to start my summer. With a few quick calls, I have Liquid Force riders John Romais and Bobby Bosch and photographer Kim Kern on board for the trip. None of us know what to expect, but everyone is ready to explore and find the kiteboard world’s next gem.
    We start our trip by meeting at the Nassau airport in the Bahamas. Flying from Hawaii, it’s a long trip, but at the first sight of Nassau from the small twin-engine prop plane, I know it’s worth the miles. The island is enclosed by a barrier reef that creates picture-perfect lagoons around the island that never get deeper than 15 feet. There are various white-sand beaches scattering the coastline, and each one looks like the perfect place to kite. After grabbing my gear and heading outside the airport to wait for AJ from The KiteHouse, I start to talk with one of the locals. When I tell him I’m from Hawaii and a kiteboarder, he lights up and starts to tell me the great places to go. There is Señor Frogs for dancing and partying, the Atlantis hotel for gambling and laying out on the beach, and of course, the many kite spots, all of which I can’t wait to check out.


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    The first place AJ takes me is Coral Harbor, located on the south side of the island. There I meet a few of the local riders who are going big in the 25-knot wind. Everyone is super stoked to learn about wakestyle and the new tricks in the kiteboard world. After hanging with the Bahamas crew, I head back to meet up with John and Bobby, who proceed to rent the smallest car on the island. Looking at three kite bags and the car, it’s tough to tell which is bigger, but with a few feet of nylon straps, we have the most stylish car on the island. We pick up our photographer, who can’t help but laugh at our transport situation. Driving is a team effort in the Bahamas since the locals drive on the opposite side of the road. We have a few close calls and many perturbed locals but eventually get the hang of shouting “left lane!” on all right turns. Luckily, we survive the 15-minute drive to the Orange Tree Hill Inn located on the north side of the island. The hotel’s beach is a minute walk down the hill with a long strip of white sand and flat water, which allows for some of the island’s best sunsets.     
    It’s tough to sleep the first night knowing we might get to kite a new place in the morning, if the wind cooperates. However, we wake up to a picture-perfect day of sightseeing with the wind forecast to return in a few days, so we spend the first couple mornings driving around the island looking at the many kiteable lagoons. When we are ready to relax from all the driving, we head to Paradise Island, which contains luxurious hotels, one of the nicest beaches on the island and the Atlantis hotel’s casino. Like all good kiteboarders, when there is no wind we spend nights at the casino drinking and watching Bobby play craps. John and I are there to cheer when he is up and to keep him from selling his kites for one more throw of the dice when he is down.
    After waiting patiently for four days, we get our first kite session. Lucky for us, it’s right outside our hotel. Bobby and I sail our 16 m2 C kites, while John rides his 16 m2 bow-style LF Assault. It’s been a long time since all of us have ridden together, and to have flat, turquoise water below us makes it that much better. Kim swims out and exercises her trigger finger as the three of us sail by. Bobby throws solid S-bends and Front Mobes, while John and I practise our tricks to blind. Every trick we do seems better because of the surrounding scenery. As the wind dies down, we can’t do much more than toeside carve around the camera, but even then it still looks and feels great.
    That night we celebrate our session by going out to Señor Frogs for a “few” drinks. I had a nice Tantrum in our session, but on the dance floor John easily takes the award for the best moves of the day. We make it back to our hotel rooms, and a few hours later we’re back on the water for the trip’s last session. Though the wind lulls and the session is more running than kiting, it’s still perfect knowing you have your friends next to you and a postcard setting behind you.
    We plan to return during the windy season, between November and March, but until then we have wonderful pictures, memories of great nights out, and at least one superb session to keep us thinking about another world destination kiters have to enjoy the windy life.

Need to Know

Closest airport: Nassau International (NAS)
 
When to go: SSE in summer (averaging 12-15 knots); NNE in winter (15-20 knots). During winter cold fronts, winds increase to 25-30 knots. The average air-water temps range from 20°C in winter to 26°C-plus in summer.
 
Food and drink: Be sure to sample the conch fritters and/or conch chowder. Don’t forget to try the local flavoured rums (super cheap and tasty) and Kalik, the beer of the Bahamas. It’s surprisingly good.
 
Nightlife: The island’s nightlife breaks down into three basic categories: gambling, drinking and dancing. You can go to the big casinos (Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino, Atlantis Paradise Island Casino) to do all these things at once, but if you’re looking to drink, party and dance, downtown Nassau is fun.

Where to stay: Orange Hill Beach Inn (orangehill.com) is a nice, reasonably priced place to stay for kiters. If you have plenty of money to spend and want the best, try the mega-casino-hotel Atlantis on Paradise Island or Compass Point Hotel. Compass Point is the choice for romance; beautiful island-style coloured huts overlook gorgeous white-sand beaches and heavenly blue shallows.
 
Website: bahamas.com
 



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