Return visitors to the East Cape of Baja know that the ocean setting and warm winds make for some incredible water sports. From snorkeling and scuba diving to jet skiing and windsurfing, Los Cabos is a coveted destination for adventurers and curiosity-seekers alike.
For wind-sport enthusiasts, the East Cape has become a mecca, thanks to the power of the El Norte winds. This is especially true in winter when the conditions are ripe for some of the world’s best kitesurfing.
That’s not to say that summer kitesurfing doesn’t exist. On the contrary! At their peak, sea breezes reach a comfortable 10 to 12 mph, which is perfect for beginners or those looking to hone their kitesurfing skills.
Despite what one might think at first glance, you don’t need to be a superior athlete to be a good kiteboarder. While strength and fitness can help, kitesurfing in Los Cabos is about persistence and muscle memory as you learn to get the feel for the wind and the waves. In fact, at Costa Palmas Resort, the instructors have given lessons to a wide range of guests—both young and old.
It makes sense when you think of kitesurfing as 25% board riding and 75% kite flying. In fact, the most essential prerequisites for kitesurfing in Los Cabos are probably swimming competency and the ability to hear and follow directions.
In recent years, kitesurfing in Los Cabos has gained popularity, thanks to the growing demand for adventure-focused tourism. While some kitesurfing enthusiasts bring their own gear, most visitors to the area—whether beginner, intermediate or advanced—rent it locally from companies that provide instruction.
If you’re new to the sport, there are kitesurfing courses that provide professional instruction and all the gear you’ll need. Prices tend to run between $200 and $250, depending on the experience level of the student and whether you’ll receive instruction and practice for days or weeks.
An introductory lesson typically includes land-based instruction, with a focus on wind theory, kite control, and safety. For intermediates, you’ll hone your board-riding skills and kite control with the assistance of radio helmets, safety equipment, and down-wind assistance. Advanced riders who are familiar with kitesurfing in Los Cabos will be offered helpful tips to help master their skills. Communication is provided through a two-way radio helmet with an instructor riding alongside you.
Lucky enough to be staying at Costa Palmas? The Aventura Team offers full-service programs for all levels of riders. As with other lessons, you’ll start with instruction on the beach at Costa Palmas to get a sense of the kite’s power. Then you’ll add in the board to get a full feel of the experience. After a few practice runs, the team will take you up the beach to Los Barriles. It is arguably the most popular kiteboarding town in Baja.
For beginners, a couple of days is usually all it takes to get you up and riding. With a bit more practice, even new riders are typically self-sufficient in a matter of weeks.
Kitesurfing vs. Windsurfing
You may hear windsurfing and kitesurfing referred to as sailboarding and kiteboarding, respectively. While these broad terms are used interchangeably by some, “surfing” is generally reserved for the water-based version of each sport. Sailboarding and kiteboarding on land, for example, use various forms of skateboards.
Although the two sports are similar, windsurfing and kitesurfing in Los Cabos have noticeable differences. Kitesurfing takes longer to learn initially but is generally less physically taxing. In addition, a couple of weeks of kitesurfing will get an intermediate rider to about the same speed and technique that an advanced windsurfer would get to.
With a bigger wind window to work with than windsurfing, kitesurfing in Los Cabos doesn’t require as much effort to move and requires less arm work. However, more wind does make it harder to relaunch the kite and you can be involuntarily lofted into the air. Kitesurfing also requires a minimum clearance of 100 feet for launch and landing. However, you’d be ill-advised to try either sport without any instructor or partner.
Where and When to go Kitesurfing in Los Cabos
Anytime is a good time to learn kitesurfing in Los Cabos, but the best months tend to be October-March. Typically, the winter temps stay in the 70s and 80s and the water is in the 70s.
There are multiple places to kitesurf in the East Cape, but Los Barriles—nestled between La Paz and Los Cabos—offers a big sandy shore for launching and landing, as well as a great shore break to practice your moves. Like Costa Palmas, some resorts start with private on-property instruction before shifting to the public beach at Los Barriles.
Due to its location at the narrow point of the Baja, the Pacific Ocean influences the wind and waves at Los Barriles more favorably than in other locations.
In January, Los Barriles plays host to the annual Lord of the Wind kitesurfing competition. With ideal conditions providing winds up to 30 mpg, the East Cape town has drawn some of the best competitors in the sport since 2010. In 2016, the annual event became the North American IKA Kite Foil Championships, awarding over $22,000 in prize money and crowns to both a Lord and Lady of the Wind.
Today, the competition has expanded into a full-on festival, with concerts, parties, and fiestas in Los Barriles. There are also Lord of the Wind Showdown-affiliated events in La Ventana, another destination known for kitesurfing in Los Cabos.
A Few Things for Beginners to Consider
The East Cape now has multiple kitesurfing-instruction businesses to choose from.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to a full package, consider a shorter “curiosity” class. In about two hours, you’ll get a taste of the basics: kite handling, safety, terminology, and weather conditions. The cost of equipment is included in the lesson.
For those eager for full instruction, there are multi-day classes that immerse you in the experience of kitesurfing in Los Cabos. Individual instruction allows experts to tailor the lessons to your experiences, needs, and goals.
There are also group kitesurfing camps. They are perfect for larger families or clubs looking to try something new while creating a fun shared memory.