What are you looking for on your next vacation? Do sunshine, palm-fringed beaches, warm turquoise lagoons and relaxing by the pool sipping cocktails tickle your fancy? We all need that. But how about blustery wind conditions? Only a select few will appreciate this ingredient.
Windsurfers are constantly searching for the world’s most remote windswept bays. Why? While each rider will have their own answer, it all has something to do with the utter freedom that windsurfing offers, the neat tricks that can be performed in a wide variety of environments, from sheltered coves and lakes to monstrous offshore barreling waves.
A hybrid between sailing and surfing, windsurfing implies riding both the winds and the waves. Anyone can enjoy it wherever there are winds and a water surface, regardless of age and fitness level. But what is it that makes some destinations stand out from the rest? We’ve put together a list of the world’s sweetest windsurfing spots, so check them out and see for yourself!
10. Boracay, Philippines – one of Asia’s premier windsurfing spots
Best time: November to April
The small island of Boracay in the Philippines is renowned for its turquoise waters, palm-fringed beaches and laid-back atmosphere. But did you know that it also has some world-class windsurfing to offer?
Between December and April, wind speeds reach 30 miles per hour (50 km/h), offering outstanding slalom (speed windsurfing) conditions. This is precisely why the Boracay International Funboard Cup is held here each year, one of the biggest windsurfing competitions in the world.
Bulabog Beach is one of the leading windsurfing destinations in Asia. The beach is home to an inshore lagoon protected by a reef that keeps the choppy water at bay, which makes it perfect for beginners. Advanced windsurfers can go beyond the reef and charge the rolling waves.
9. Red Sea, Egypt – speed windsurfing on a historical backdrop
Best time: April to October
The Red Sea sees almost 300 days a year of windy conditions thanks to the surrounding mountains that deliver powerful gusts of wind, which become even stronger in the afternoon. Blessed with crystal-clear warm water and constant thermal winds, the farther north you go, the better the windsurfing conditions will get.
Hurghada, Egypt’s first windsurfing resort, is one of the best locations to learn windsurfing and kitesurfing on flat water. The old town on Egypt’s north coast sees stronger side-onshore winds between April and October and milder winds between November and March.
Thanks to its shallow water, MarsaAlam is a great spot for beginners. At the same time, the flat water and chop make it suitable for intermediate windsurfers too. With turquoise lagoons, flat water and reliable wind, Safaga and Soma Bay are also favorites.
8. Portugal – Europe’s answer to California
Best time: May to October
Portugal’s coastline is one of the windiest places in the world, with powerful trade winds blowing during summer months. Near Cascais, Guincho is Portugal’s windiest spot and a windsurfing paradise. Just north of the famous big wave surfing spot of Supertubos near Peniche, Baleal is a favorite among tricksters.
With over 300 days of sun per year and the warmest European climate, the Algarve coast is a great place to learn windsurfing. During summer months, Portugal’s south coast picks up the northerly Nortrada winds, which create top-notch kitesurfing and windsurfing conditions.
The warm and shallow waters between Albufeira and Sagres provide safe conditions for beginners, while the steady winds in the region offer something for experienced riders too. Mornings are best for windsurfing lessons, and advanced riders can take advantage of the strong winds in the afternoon to gain some serious speed.
7. Namibia – an untapped high-speed windsurfing paradise
Best time: September to March
When thinking of Namibia, the Etosha National Park and stunning wildlife are among the first things that come to mind. But for surfers and sailors, the Skeleton Coast is on top of their bucket list.
Luderitz is home to the annual Luderitz Speed Challenge, a month-long speed sailing event that sees the world’s fastest kitesurfers and windsurfers compete. This is the world’s premier speed sailing event, held against the stunning backdrop of the rugged Skeleton Coast.
Swakopmud is another famous windsurfing spot in Namibia, where riders can battle against the feisty Atlantic Ocean, with its choppy waters and strong winds. South of the picturesque coastal city of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay is an excellent spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and the only place in Namibia with surfing infrastructure – schools and rental shops. Please take note that the ocean is cold on the Namibian coast and therefore a wetsuit is required throughout the year.
6. Morocco – a must-go destination for wind lovers
Best time: all year
With over 2,200 miles (3,500 km) of coastline, warm waters, friendly Atlantic coastal climate and steady winds, Morocco offers an unparalleled year-round windsurfing experience.
The lively and laid-back ancient fortified town of Essaouira has been a go-to destination for windsurfers for decades. Best time to go is between April and October when intermediate windsurfers can take full advantage of the powerful winds blow from the Atlantic. Beginners will find good conditions between May and September on the flat water close to town.
Between September and May, Dakhla becomes the best spot in the country for slalom and freestyle windsurfing, all thanks to the flat-water surface and consistent winds. Stronger winds usually blow in the afternoon, which is why lessons are usually held in the morning.
5. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands – Europe’s speed windsurfing hub
Best time: June to September
Did you know that Fuerteventura literally means “strong wind?” The second largest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is also the least developed. For water sports enthusiasts and adventure lovers, these two can be translated into uncrowded surfing spots!
Blessed with reliable trade winds that offer excellent conditions for slalom, Fuerteventura is home to the Windsurfing World Championships, held each year in July on Sotavento Beach. Throughout the year, this wide and long beach welcomes all water lovers to try and tame the winds.
Other excellent spots for windsurfing in Fuerteventura are found near Corralejo, to the north of the island, where Flag Beach and El Cotillo have plenty of surfing and windsurfing schools for beginners and advanced riders alike.
4. The Greek Islands – a windsurfing odyssey
Best time: mid-May to mid-October
What better way to have a taste of authentic Greece than by embarking on an island hopping adventure? Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, is one of Europe’s top windsurfing destinations, standing right in the line of the powerful Aegean winds called Meltemi, which create ideal sailing conditions during summer.
The nearby island of Paros benefits from the same Meltemi winds and has been hosting the Professional Windsurfers Association World Cup for several years.
Rhodes is a haven for beginners in the morning and a playground for freestylers and ‘windaholics’ in the afternoon when the winds pick up. North of Rhodes, Kos is another popular windsurfing destination, where the best conditions can be found at Kefalos Bay.
The picturesque fishing village of Vassiliki on Lefkada Island has plenty of windsurfing schools to choose from and is more suitable for beginners thanks to its softer winds coming from the Ionian Sea.
3. Tarifa, Spain – the wind capital of Europe
Best time: March to November
Windsurfing entered Spain in the 1980s and became an instant hit. On the south tip of Spain, Tarifa is exposed to strong winds passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, choppy water and some neat waves that are just begging to be ridden. Add to that the 300+ days of wind a year, year-round friendly climate, an impressive number of surfing schools and rental shops, and it’s no wonder Tarifa is considered the European capital of windsurfing.
At Tarifa, seven miles (11 km) of fine sand beaches await water sports lovers. Water temperatures average between 55°F (13°C) and 68°F (20°C), meaning that you will need a full wetsuit during autumn and winter. Here, Valdevaqueros Beach is ideal for intermediate and advanced windsurfers. To the west, Las Dunas is more suitable for beginners, especially in the morning when the winds are milder.
2. Lake Arenal, Costa Rica – the high-wind boardsailing capital of the world
Best time: December to May (the dry season)
Perhaps the best windsurfing spot in the whole of Central America and, without any doubt, the most thrilling, Lake Arenal sits at the foothills of the Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on the continent. Imagine sailing at phenomenal speeds on the backdrop of a pyrotechnic show as the volcano occasionally shoots ash and fire. How’s that for an adrenaline rush?
During the dry season in Costa Rica, winds average at around 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), a velocity only experienced riders can handle. Waves can get as high a 5ft (1.5 m), which makes this man-made lake an excellent place for high-speed windsurfing.
The safest place to practice windsurfing on Lake Arenal is towards the northern end of the lake, far from the hydroelectric dam at the south of the lake. However, the western end of the lake grabs all the attention, dubbed one of the world’s best windsurfing spots. Here, the combination of cool water temperatures and warm wind make for hardcore conditions, better suited for experienced windsurfers. So, if you’re into slalom and jumping, this is the place to be!
1. Maui, Hawaii – the windsurfing capital of the world
Best time: all year round.
There are two windsurfing seasons in Maui: the windy season (May through October) and the wavy season.
For many, Maui is the Mecca of windsurfing. With water temperatures above 80°F (26°C) throughout the year and strong, reliable trade winds hitting the shore between May and October, how can it not be?
On the north coast of the island, Ho’okipa Beach is perhaps the most photographed windsurfing destination in the world. Waves here can get as high as 20ft (6 m) during winter months. This is the best time of year for extreme windsurfing.
For beginners, Kanaha Beach is a deep bay with a sandy bottom, protected from chop by an offshore reef, just perfect for learning the basics.
A picturesque backdrop and consistent winds and waves are not all that Maui has to offer windsurfers. Perhaps the best attraction is the fact that you can sail alongside whales! Whale watching season is between December 15 and May 15 each year, but whales can sometimes arrive earlier and leave later. Please remember that you should stay at least 200ft (60 meters) away from them. Never sail towards a whale or you might face a fine and possibly even jail time.