Just imagine this – It is 8AM in El Gouna and all your buddies are fast asleep after a big night out. For some random reason, you are awake and you have this itch that just can’t be scratched.You grab your kite, your board and your harness, and you head down for what you know is going to be a mind-blowing experience that your buddies drooling in bed are missing; you, my friend, are going kite-boarding!
Kite-boarding requires a certain level of dedication because the best winds are generally in the morning. Egypt has some of the best hot spots for kite-boarding worldwide across the Red Sea and even the Mediterranean. There are kite-boarding centres in every crack that you can think of, because we’re lucky enough to have strong winds, calm waters and fully certified kite centres – the important trio for a safe and exciting kite-boarding experience.
So let’s start with Kite Boarding 101. First of all, some people call it kite-surfing and others call it kite-boarding. It’s just a technicality related to the style of board, but let’s just call it kite-boarding for the sake of brevity. To kite-board you need a kite, the bar and lines, a board and a harness.
Kites come in all different sizes: a four metre-long kite is considered pretty small and a sixteen-meter size is pretty big. The size of the kite that you use depends on the wind conditions of the day, your weight and your skill level. You inflate your kite, attach all the lines to the kite that's part of the bar; strap yourself in with the harness and slide onto your board. That’s it, you’re off!
Now, if you're not that familiar with kite-boarding, we’d like to rectify some misconceptions of the kind of person you have to be to do it. Most people think that to try kite-boarding you require Arnie’s biceps, buns of steel, a chest stuffed full of steroids and legs the size of shawerma stands. This isn’t true. All you need is a little persistence for the first few days to get the hang of the kite and adjust your balance; and you’re set to go.
It might seem a bit strenuous at first as you overuse your muscles to compensate for a bad stance, but once that’s corrected, it becomes pretty easy on the body. It starts getting tricky and requires a bit more strength when you move into tricks, but until then, it’s an easy ride.
So let’s say you’re keen, you’re excited, you may or may not have buns of steel and you want to get going. Where do you go?
El Gouna: Lots of kite-surfing spots here, with quite a few right next to each other. The ones around the new marina are on Mangrove Beach: you’ve got Red Sea Zone, Kiteboarding Club El Gouna and this reviewer’s favourite, Kitepower. Kitepower is a bit packed on occasion, but it’s got excellent chill out places when there’s no wind. However, Red Sea Zone and Kiteboarding Club El Ghouna are more spacious if you’re trying to avoid crowds. There are a few other spots there as well including Kite Family on Zeytouna Beach and Kite People at the Mövenpick.
Hurghada: The town’s reliable winds and flat waters attract thousands of beginner and professional surfers to its shores every year. The area offers a host of surf clubs, including Pro Centre Tommy Friedl and Colona Water Sports, which offer equipment and lessons at competitive prices. There are three popular surfing bays, including Baby Bay, a downwind area offering plenty of space for flying kites, body-dragging and water-starting, extending far enough from the beach to allow 100-metre runs before getting into deeper water.
Zaafarana: There was an absolute gem of a kite spot here at Grand Zaafarana hotel, which we hear has recently closed. The spot was an Ibi & Friends kite centre. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning as to be honest, this spot has perfect wind conditions, a massive area to kite through and you’ll only ever find a maximum of ten people there. Just don’t expect much from the hotel, and it is recommended that you take your food and drinks with you.
Ras Sudr: Ras Sudr is well known for windsurfing, particularly Moon Beach; originally a great chill-out spot that’s been invaded by those pesky windsurfers. The place to go for kite-boarders is Soul Kite Centre, which is located in La Hacienda Hotel. Great conditions, a huge expanse of sea to play in and a very nice bunch at the kite centre make this a great spot for a weekend getaway.Now, in case you’re wondering whether to go kite-boarding today, tomorrow or the day after, it’s worth noting that you have to check wind conditions before heading there. There’s a bunch of good websites, including iPhone apps that are worth checking before you travel: Wind Finder, Wind Guru and Mucho Viento, which is more accurate than the others for Zaafarana for some reason.
And just a small note for any scuba divers out there; if it’s cold and you need to wear a wetsuit, kite-boarders wear their board shorts ABOVE their wet suit!
Suit up, brave the waves and enjoy your kite-boarding!