Thursday, December 8, 2016

learning to kitesurf in the Caribbean

It lies just a speedboat ride away from brash St Maarten, with its “gleaming white mega-yachts”, but the little Caribbean island of Anguilla is a far quieter, more sophisticated place where “A-listers hide in plain sight”. Its chief appeal lies in its “icing sugar” beaches, fine hotels and authentic local bars. But while most visitors come in search of indolence, it is now gaining popularity with more active types, too, says Matt Carroll in The Daily Telegraph: particularly lovers of kite surfing, paddle boarding and sailing, for which the local conditions – warm breezes and calm seas – are ideal. The last two are great ways to explore the island’s coastline, where the 30-odd palm fringed beaches are often more or less deserted; while kite surfing is a thrill even for complete beginners.

Dating back to the late 1970s, but popularised only in the last couple of decades, this involves strapping your feet to a board, and your torso to a large kite which propels you, “Supermanstyle”, across the water. The kite is controlled using a bar, and the secret is to handle this with the utmost delicacy, using small movements of your thumb and one finger. The learning process can be lengthy and exhausting – which makes it fortunate that there isn’t too much else to do on the island, with just one (admittedly fascinating) small museum. Located beside East End Pond (a shallow lake that’s a treat for birders), this documents the days of colonial rule, before the island became a British Overseas Territory, in 1980.

Among the island’s most luxurious hotels are the Four Seasons, the Zemi (which has a 300-year-old stilted wooden spa building imported from Thailand), and the Malliouhana, which feels more authentically Anguillan. But there are more affordable places to stay, including the laid-back Anguilla Great House and Lloyd’s b&b. Anguilla Watersports (+1 264 584 1204, www.anguillawatersports.com) offers private kitesurfing lessons from $150 per hour per person.

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