by Matt Aiken
As the farthest most southern, most windward of the windward islands, what could be better and more irie for a winter kiteboarding vacation than Barbados? A long-time windsurfing destination also renowned for some of the best surfing in the Caribbean (surf demigod Kelly Slater is a regular visitor), Barbados has now developed a well-earned reputation as one of the windiest and waviest kiteboarding destinations in the Caribbean. Combine great waveriding and reliable wind, add in a dash of British colonialism, a healthy pinch of the irie island spirit, great hotels, restaurants and beach bars, and you have one of the best kitesurfing destinations in the world.
Best winds: January to March
Best surf: Winter (November to March)
Average kite size: 10-14 m2
Cost factor: Medium
The island: Barbados
Pushed way out into the southern Caribbean and part of the Lesser Antilles (along with Trinidad and Tobago), Barbados has clear access to the strongest eastern trade winds and is pounded by Atlantic swell. A small island 23 kilometres wide at its widest point and 34 kilometres long, Barbados is a beach-lined tropical gem comprised mainly of limestone coral. Relatively low-lying, the highest point of Barbados is Mount Hillaby at 336 metres.
The kiteboarding scene
While warm water and steady, reliable winds make Barbados an excellent option to learn to kite, big waves make it a challenging port-tack (left-foot-back) waveriding spot.
Most of the kiteboarding is done on the southeast coast, with clear access to the prevailing northeast and easterly trade winds.
Silver Rock Beach
Named after the looming silver rock, it is the main kiteboard launch in Barbados. A reasonably larger rigging area, wind can be a little fluky in side or sideoff conditions—thanks to the silver rock. Riders who end up downwind can come in at Silver Sands (home of Club Mistral/Skyriders), or in a worst-case scenario, farther downwind at Rescue Beach.
As the name implies, Long Beach is a long beach farther upwind of Silver Rock Beach. The long, crowd-free beach and a more mellow wave scene make it a better choice for beginners. Great opportunity for downwinders from Long Beach to Silver Rock, or farther to Rescue Beach.
• Drink Mount Gay rum.
• Friday night fish fry in Oistins.
• Surf or learn to surf.
• Get irie.
• Explore the island. It’s beautiful. Check out the north coast.
• Happy hour at Surfer’s Point Beach Bar (from 5 to 7 p.m.).
• Learn to ride waves and forget your freestyle ways.
• Fraternize with the locals.
• Rent a car. You need one to get the most out of the place.
• Return often.
• Drive on the right side of the road.
• Waste waves.
• Sleep in. The best wind can be in the morning.
• Be impatient. Things happen on island time—which is just right.
Where to stay
Schools and Shops
• deAction Beach Shop (briantalma.com)
Top places for food
Surfer’s Point Beach Bar: For happy hour, bar menu and nightly buffet. Different menu each night. Best to call ahead and make reservations.
Chicken Rita’s: You need to call ahead so Rita can catch the chickens. It’s that fresh!
Oistins fish market: Open every night for incredible fresh fish. Famous fish fry on Friday evenings.
There are numerous restaurants and bars to meet all budgets and tastes in nearby St. Lawrence Gap and Bridgetown.