When windsurfing morphed into kitesurfing, international and domestic travel opened up for this elite group of sportspeople. The equipment was more compact, as well as extremely light in comparisons to the bulkier and heavier windsurfing equipment.
It was around this time that so many more spots were discovered that were kitesurf friendly, and were open and accessible to kitesurfing.
One such place that revealed itself was Mauritius. The Indian Island holiday paradise was first publicised as a surfing destination in the surf movie, The Forgotten Island Of Santosha. Still, surfer/kitesurf athletes soon discovered the wind on Mauritius.
This beautiful island was colonised by the Dutch, the French and the English, before gaining independence in 1968. Since then, it has grown into one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. The straightforward premise of luxury resorts fringing onto beautiful tropical beaches and a year-round summer appealed to many European countries looking for a break from the fierce Northern Hemisphere winters.
Combined with the close location to South Africa, and South African wishing to escape their winters, the holiday resorts flourished.
These resorts soon discovered that the visitors needed to be kept entertained in the waters on which their resorts fronted. They soon realised that there was potential for both surfers, in a few locations, as well as for kitesurfers.Â Â Â
The southeast Trade Winds prevail throughout most of the year, and this wind wreaks some havoc on the east coast but turns into a steady but manageable offshore wind on the east coast. It also provides a very strong crosswind across the south coast.
On the southwestern corner of the island, at a location known as the Le Morne Peninsula, the island forms almost a right angle, and those southeast trades reveal some of the best kitesurfing locations in the world. This offshore wind blows hard and fast, and kitesurfers have the run of the lagoon within the outside the reef where they can learn, train and work on their techniques.Â Â
Some of the best kitesurfers in the whole world congregate on this corner of the island. They come with their quivers of boards, to experience the world-famous speed-runs and open space within the outside reef. There are many European kitesurfers, with French, British, as well as German and Dutch athletes.
There are also many South Africans who take the short-5-hour flight across the enjoy the incomparable conditions that make kitesurfing in Mauritius so famous. Many kitesurfers opt for the excellent five-start accommodation options along the shoreline of the peninsula. Still, many of the more seasoned kitesurfers find Airbnb options and bed and breakfast options, as well as the possibility of hiring a house on the peninsula and making their own way to the public beach at Le Morne.Â Â
The peninsula occupies the southwest corner of the island, and the peninsulaâ€™s highlight is a massive monolithic rock, the Le Morne Brabant Mountain. Coming in at 556 metres, Brabant is a popular climbing spot, and the lagoons and the outside reefs can be studied and mapped out from the top. It is a World Heritage Site, and the views from the top are quite magnificent. The resorts and hotels block off some of the southeast wind, providing pockets of windless areas at each resort. The kitesurfers, however, arenâ€™t looking for windless conditions.
As a destination, Le Morne cannot be beaten for kitesurfing. With the southeast trade winds and the ease of the lagoon, the corner is crowded with kitesurfers of different skill levels, and there are usually hundreds of kiteboards stacked up and scattered around the public car park. There are also the Rui resorts, both Rui Le Morne and Rui Creole are kitesurf friendly resorts with their beaches fronting on to the lagoon that finds the best kite conditions.
There are some kite schools in the area, and the hotels and resorts can advise or can supply teachers and equipment, for those who wish to learn the sport, and there is probably no better place to learn. However, if you want to get a head start in kitesurfing then contact S2AS Kitesurf Lessons in Poole, Dorset
Beyond the shelter of the inside lagoon, there is the One Eyes Reef. This is a long, fast, and relatively dangerous piece of coral reef, with excellent waves breaking over it, and with the perfect wind conditions for experienced and competitive kitesurfers.
It is a fast reef, and it peels over for a few hundred meters before the reef gets broken up by a reef pass, and this is where you will find the typical surfers. They ride the last section of the reef as it peels towards the channel.
The kitesurfers come screaming down the line at full speed, really laying into it, before pulling out as the wave approaches the channel.
The waves are known to get big out at the One Eyes Reef, and if a kitesurfer has an accident, there is no way over the reef to come in. Rescue is the only option, and theyâ€™re far from inexpensive.
Apart from accidents on the One-Eye Reef, there is another phenomenon that the kitesurfers have to be aware of. When they are kitesurfing over the reef, they are far from shore, and the only way in is a long ride through the gaps and over the reef. Sometimes, with absolutely no warning, the ever consistent southeast trade suddenly drops, and all the kitesurfers outside of the lagoon become instantly becalmed. This is dangerous as they can get dragged over the reef, so the rescue craft head on out.
They grab the kiteboards and haul the kiteboarders onboard. With their kitesurfing done for the day, these guys can look forward to an expensive bill for the rescue operations.Â
There are other spots to go kitesurfing in Mauritius, but Le Morne is by far the best venue on the whole island. A veritable kitesurferâ€™s Mecca. When you see it for the first time, itâ€™ll blow your mind away, and you will realise that all the hype and talk is totally justified. As a kitesurfing destination, it canâ€™t be beaten.
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