Kiteboarding on Cuyo

Cuyo-kite-map-copy-low-res

Conditions

Amihan

Every year between December and February Cuyo experiences a steady North Easterly trade wind. Locally this season is known as the Amihan and it is the most popular time for kiteboarding in the Philippines. On Cuyo during this period the wind routinely blows somewhere between 17 and 35 knots.

During the months either side of the Amihan (October, November, March and April), some good winds can be expected, although they are usually lighter and less predictable, typically blowing somewhere between 13 and 25 knots.

Amihan is Cuyo’s dry season so rain is extremely rare at this time of year. Temperatures are generally in the mid to late twenties and a cool sea breeze makes this season the most comfortable. The water temperature averages between 22 and 26 degrees, so kiters rarely wear wetsuits on Cuyo, although appropriate sun protection is essential.

Habagat

July through to September is referred to as Habagat. Habagat is Cuyo’s wet season, when gusty typhoon winds blow from the South West. Kiteboarding is also possible during this time, but the conditions are less suited to beginners or inexperienced kiters.

Habagat is Cuyo’s wet season so the climate is hot and humid with frequent heavy rains. Temperatures often reach the mid thirties around this time.

Flat Water

It is the deep, flat water area between Capusan Beach sandbar and the pier that keeps the pro-riders coming back to Cuyo year after year; perfect for big air & freestyle, the spot is ever popular with Cuyo’s kiting elite.  Even during Cuyo’s lowest tides, the spot benefits from deep water.

Please be aware that the wind here blows offshore, so the spot is not recommended for students or beginners.  Kiteboarders who find themselves unable to return upwind to Capusan Beach should proceed past the pier, where they will find an alternative shallow, sandy area for self-landing.

On the opposite side of Capusan Beach, there is also flat water, albeit with some slight chop.  A 7km stretch of perfect upwind kiting, with almost endless space, the area is often used during the race portion of competition tours; riders on this side of the sandbar typically run out of energy before they run out of space!  A steady, consistent, cross-onshore wind, combined with waist-deep shallow water, makes this area perfect for freeriders, beginners, students, and explorers...

Waves

During Amihan season there are reef break waves around both Capusan Beach and Quejano Beach.

The best waves at this time, however, are usually found between Cuyo and its neighbouring island Putic. Putic can also be used as the starting point for a beautiful 7km down-winder, which finishes on Capusan Beach in the main town.

During Habagat season, rolling ocean waves break directly onto the shore of Capusan Beach.

Tide

Tide times and heights on Cuyo vary greatly throughout the year, but as a general rule the highest tides during Amihan occur in the lead up to a full moon, and the lowest directly after a full moon. The tides are higher during January and February than during December.

Even at low tide, however, deep water areas can still be found around Capusan beach so kiting is nearly always possible on this side of the island. Kiteboarding at Quejano Beach requires a minimum water depth of 0.5-0.7m.

There are a number of places to find upcoming wind, weather and tide forecasts for Cuyo.  We've tried and tested them all, but the jury's still out as to which one's most reliable...

WindGuru

https://www.windguru.cz/208497

Wisuki

In addition to wind and weather forecasts, Wisuki is also a good source for Cuyo tide times.  Their app works well on Cuyo, and the Pro version includes informative tide graphs.

Wisuki Tide Forecasts: http://wisuki.com/tide/502/cuyo-islands Wisuki Upcoming Wind/Weather Forecast: http://wisuki.com/forecast/502/cuyo-islands

WindFinder

WindFinder Upcoming Wind/Weather Forecast: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/cuyo_airport

Locations

Capusan Beach by Ronald Chu Palay

Capusan Beach is the most popular kiteboarding spot on Cuyo, due its proximity to the main town centre, long sand bar, ample space, flat water, and combination of both shallow and deep waters.  The area is suited to both beginners and advanced kiteboarders alike.

CWA's storage area is located on Capusan Beach, minutes from the launching and landing area, and can be found through the first blue gate.  Most of our lessons take place on Capusan Beach as this is the most suitable area on the island for kiteboarders who are just starting out.

capusan-map

Quejano Beach (AKA Victoria Beach) on the east side of the island is another great kite spot, with a long beach, shallow water, breaking reef waves, and side-onshore wind.  The spot is overlooked by Anino Kite Resort.

Victoria/Quejano Beach by Ronald Chu Palay

Beautiful conditions can be found to the North of Cuyo, around Mt. Bombon and Putic Island.  Putic Island is home to wild monkeys and a handful of seasonal fishermen, while Mt. Bombon is home to the infamous, but notoriously hard to find "Super-Secret Kite Beach".

A Venturi Effect between the Putic Island and Mt. Bombon means the wind is generally a little stronger here than elsewhere on the island.  Cuyo's best waves are also usually found around here.  As the area is relatively difficult to get to, CWA arranges frequent day trips and overnight kite safaris.

The whole area between Mt Bombon and Capsuan Beach is suitable for kiting, due to excellent exposure to the North Easterly Amihan winds and a shallow lagoon which runs the entire length. CWA arranges frequent down-winders for those wishing to kite this stunning 7km stretch.

Equipment

Kite Gear

During the Amihan season, kiteboarders in the 70-85kg range should bring a 10m kite, as well as a 12-13m kite for light days, and a 7m kite for strong days.  Lighter / heavier kiteboarders should adjust their kite sizes accordingly.

Strong days are more likely during the peak of the Amihan winds (December, January and February) while lighter wind days are more common early and late in the season (October, November, March, April) so the timing of your trip may influence what sizes you choose to bring.

Accessories

The water temperature averages between 22 and 26 degrees, so kiters rarely wear wetsuits on Cuyo.  When the sky is overcast and the water high, however, temperatures can be cooler.  These days are relatively unusual, but when they do happen, a thin neoprene layer can be useful.

Decent sun protection is essential.

On Capusan Beach there are patches of large sea urchins at the edge of the reef, between the tip of the sandbar and the ferry marker, so some kiters may choose to wear booties.

Repairs

It is a well established fact that Jing does the best kite repairs on Cuyo, if not the whole of the Philippines, so most gear issues can usually be resolved on the island.  Replacement parts, however, are often in short supply so if you have space, bring spares!

   

2017 - 2018 Equipment Hire Rates

We have an assortment of equipment available, mostly from Airush's 2018 range.  Read on for more details about our current hire collection.

 Php / HourPhp / Full Day*
*Sunrise - Sunset
Kite, Board, Harness7503000
Kite5002000
Board2501000
Harness200800
Stand Up Paddleboard400N/A

Kites | 2018 Airush

The following kites are available to hire from CWA in assorted sizes; our smallest hire kite is 4m, and our largest is 17m (see our notes below to read more about our 17m offering...), so we should be able to cater to most conditions, abilities, and styles.  Please note, this list isn't exhaustive; we have various other kites and gear available to hire not listed here, so please get in touch if you are after something specific, info@cuyowatersports.com

Airush DNA 2018

Rider Level:  Students, beginners, intermediates, freeriders

Good For: Crashing and relaunching!

Our Review:  Part of Airush's progression range, the DNA is designed specifically for students, beginners, and intermediate riders.  A tough and rugged utilitarian kite, one of the DNA's great features is its ability to take a beating!  We love teaching with DNAs because they offer both generous and forgiving control, numerous thoughtful and effective safety features, and clearly labelled equipment for easy set up.

With excellent depowering, easy relauching, gentle lift and some surprisingly satisfying hangtime, DNAs are perfect for kiters who are still mastering their independent riding skills or just starting to perfect their first jumps. We have yet to find a kite company who cater so comprehensively to the world's emerging kiteboarders of tomorrow.

 Airush Lithium 2018

Rider Level:  Intermediates, freeriders, and intermediate freestylers

Good For: Freeriding, jumping, hooked-in freestyle

Our Review:  Perhaps Airush's most well known and universally loved kites, the Lithium is an Airush icon.

The next step in progression from the DNA, the Lithium is great for beginners as well as freeriders and old-school freestylers, offering its riders a remarkably gratifying experience, somehow managing to balance lingering and stable hangtime with impressively swift and nimble manoeuvring.

Whilst not as infamous or trendy as its comparable cousins - the North Rebel is perhaps its closest counterpart - the Lithium boasts an army of dedicated devotees, and every year on Cuyo we witness some mind blowing and unexpected tricks thrown with this otherwise humble and unassuming kite.  It holds a well established spot as one of our long time favourites.

The 17m Lithium, in particular, deserves a special shout-out.  With a design modified to suit its extra large frame, this kite has been optimised for light wind; a well timed sneeze is enough to get this kite flying.  Contrary to expectations, though, this kite doesn't fly anything like a sluggish, weighty, behemoth - responsive, agile, and extremely lofty, this is a kite that has to be flown to be believed...which is lucky, because it's available for hire from CWA!

 Airush Union 2018

Rider Level:  Freeriders, and intermediate to advanced freestyle

Good For: Freeriding, wave riding, jumping, looping, hooked-in and unhooked freestyle

Our Review:  An all-embracing, all-rounder, the Union is cross-over kite created for the intermediate to advanced rider, successfully marrying freestyle speed and responsiveness with the key characteristics of Airush's award winning Wave kite and the freeride abilities of the Lithium.  In short, it's just a brilliant kite, all round.

Kiteboarding Lessons

Learn to Kiteboard with Cuyo Watersports Association

We love sharing our passion for kiteboarding and take pride in our students and their development.  With a large uncrowded and unpolluted, flat, shallow water area and steady onshore and cross-onshore winds, Cuyo is indisputably one of the best spots in Asia to learn kiteboarding.

All our courses put an emphasis on kite control, proper technique, and safe practice. We take our time and progression will be at a pace tailored to each student, suitable to their experience and natural ability.  Our goal is to produce kiteboarders who are skilled, safe, and love the sport like we do!

How long does it take to learn to kiteboard?

It typically takes around 16 hours for an absolute beginner to progress to riding independently.  All students learn differently though; some get there faster, and some take a little longer. How long it takes will depend on the conditions at the time, your natural ability, and any prior experience (either kiteboarding or another sport with transferable skills like snowboarding, surfing, or wakeboarding).

As a rough guide, students can expect the following at each stage of progression:

1 - 3 hours: Learn the basics of wind and weather, how to assess your conditions and set up and use your equipment. Flying a specialised, short line, small kite on the beach, students will begin to master the essentials of kite control.

4 - 9 hours: Progressing to a full size kite, students will continue to improve their kite control both on land and in water.  They will perfect all their self-rescue skills, and take their first steps towards board riding

10 - 16 hours: Students will refine their kite control and riding skills, aiming to master upwind riding, coming to a controlled stop, and changing direction. They should gain the confidence, knowledge, and ability necessary to begin practising independently.

17 hours to forever: Continue refining your skills and technique.  Start landing jumps, or perfecting your unhooked triple whim-wham backslap... Kiteboarders never finish learning to kiteboard!

How many hours will I do each day?

Again, this depends on the conditions at the time, as well as your own stamina and eagerness! Whilst it's possible to learn to kiteboard in as little as a couple of days, most people choose to do only two or three hours each day and will take one or two rest days along the way.  In this case, a full 16 hour beginner course usually takes around a week to ten days to complete. As always, our instructors will tailor the course to suit your requirements.

How much does it cost?

All lessons are PHP 1500 per hour (approximately USD $30, depending on current exchange rates).  Students may take as many or as few hours of tuition as needed.

Does the price include equipment?

Yes, it includes all your kiteboarding gear, as well as helmets, buoyancy aids, booties, and sun protective clothing if required.

Are your instructors qualified?

Yes! All our instructors are experienced and IKO qualified. IKO set the global benchmark for safe practice and teaching excellence in kiteboarding and CWA is proud to be the only fully IKO affiliated centre in the Philippines.

Will I get a qualification after I finish?

Yes, all students get an IKO qualification upon finishing their course. The level awarded will reflect the skills you have mastered during the course.

I can already kiteboard independently - What's next?

Once you've mastered kiteboarding independently, you may wish to progress to the next level by taking an advanced lesson.  CWA uses two-way bluetooth headsets which allow you to ride with your instructor and receive one on one real-time feedback and adjustments to your technique - In our experience, this is the best way for experienced riders to progress rapidly.

Do I need to book in advance?

No, but it helps us to plan ahead if we know you're coming.  If you wish to take lessons with CWA, please drop us a line at info@cuyowatersports.com, detailing your expected arrival and departure dates, any prior experience, and anything else you think might be relevant! After you arrive on Cuyo an instructor will assess your needs schedule your lessons accordingly.

Any more questions?

Please get in touch! info@cuyowatersports.com

Once you’ve mastered kiteboarding independently, you may wish to progress to the next level by taking an advanced lesson.  

Whether you want to improve your technique, start landing jumps, or perfect your unhooked triple whim-wham backslap, our instructors will tailor a course to suit.

Intermediate & Advanced Progression

At CWA we use two-way bluetooth headsets which allow you to ride with your instructor and receive one on one real-time feedback and adjustments – In our experience, this is the best way for experienced riders to progress rapidly.

How much do lessons cost?

All lessons are PHP 1500 per hour (approximately USD $30, depending on current exchange rates).  Students may take as many or as few hours of tuition as needed.

Does the price include equipment?

Yes, it includes all your kiteboarding gear, as well as helmets, buoyancy aids, booties, and sun protective clothing if required.

Are your instructors qualified?

Yes! All our instructors are experienced and IKO qualified. IKO set the global benchmark for safe practice and teaching excellence in kiteboarding and CWA is proud to be the only fully IKO affiliated centre in the Philippines.

Will I get a qualification after I finish?

Yes, all students get an IKO qualification upon finishing their course. The level awarded will reflect the skills you have mastered during the course.

Do I need to book in advance?

No, but it helps us to plan ahead if we know you’re coming.  If you wish to take lessons with CWA, please drop us a line at info@cuyowatersports.com, detailing your expected arrival and departure dates, any prior experience, and anything else you think might be relevant! After you arrive on Cuyo an instructor will assess your needs schedule your lessons accordingly.

Daytrips

Cuyo Island Downwinder, by Cuyo Watersports Association

Cuyo Island Downwinder

CWA arranges frequent downwinders for kiteboarders wishing to kite the stunning 7km route between Mt. Bombon and Capusan Beach.

The trip departs from the CWA store at a time nominated to suit the day's wind and tide forecast.  From here, participants will be driven to the start of a rugged 20 minute walking trail which leads to the launching area, a beach on the northern side of Mt. Bombon.

In the stretch between Mt. Bombon and Capusan Beach, riders will experience Cuyo's most beautiful kite spots, with big waves, small waves, shallow water, blue water (if they choose), abundant nature and pristine scenery throughout.

Itinerary

  • Meet at CWA Store (on Capusan Beach through the first blue gate)
  • 15 Minute safety briefing
  • 20 Minute motorbike trip to Mt. Bombon (bike and driver included)
  • 20 Minute walking trail to Super Secret Kite Beach
  • Set up kites and launch (assistance provided)
  • Downwind kiting to Capusan Beach (approx 7km)
  • Remaining belongings returned to CWA Store for collection
PHP500 Per Person

Super Secret Kite Beach

Much like Machu Pichu or Atlantis, the location of Super Secret Kite Beach was a closely guarded secret for many generations.  So well hidden was the beach, many believed it to be nothing but the subject of ancient mythology and folk lore.

Over the years, kiteboarding explorers told tales of seeing the beach from the water, and many expeditions were sent over land to investigate, but meeting only impenetrable vegetation and un-passable rocky outcrops, none ever found it....

...Until now!

Staying Safe

capusan-map

Hazards

On Capusan Beach there are patches of large sea urchins at the edge of the reef, between the tip of the sandbar and the ferry marker. Kiters should try to avoid this area, especially at low tide. Shells and other sharp debris on the seabed can also cause injuries, so some kiters may choose to wear booties.

Quijano/Victoria Beach also has some sea urchins, although they are regularly removed by the team from Anino Retreat.

There are small sharks around Cuyo, but large predatory sharks are unheard of.  Stonefish are known to exist in the area, but are extremely rare.

During Amihan the wind blows offshore between Capusan Beach and the pier. Inexperienced kiters should stay on the opposite side where the wind blows onshore or cross onshore. Kiters who find themselves unable to return upwind to Capusan Beach should proceed downwind beyond the pier, where they will find a flat, shallow area, with space for a self landing or self rescue.

Emergencies

The risk of injury and accident for those engaging in an inherently hazardous sport like kiteboarding is universal.

Kiters on Cuyo should be aware that as with the rest of the Philippines, medical resources on the island are limited. Cuyo has a hospital, several pharmacies and an airstrip for medical evacuations. Nevertheless, visitors are advised to bring ample supplies of any medicine or treatment they might require while on Cuyo, and to invest in a comprehensive medical insurance package before they travel.

There is a Coastguard service available to assist in emergency situations on the water.  They are stationed on Capusan Beach behind the market.

Travel Insurance

Medical Treatment and procedures available on Cuyo are extremely limited.  Anyone experiencing serious illness or injury whilst on Cuyo will almost certainly need to travel to the mainland for proper treatment.  For this reason, we strongly recommend all foreign visitors to Cuyo, especially kiteboarders, obtain suitable travel insurance before they arrive.

Travel insurance to the rescue!

Staying Safe

Your ability to safely and completely depower and drop your kite and otherwise manage in an emergency will weigh heavily on your technique, preparation, prior practice and the reliability of your gear.

Please refer to Cuyo's Kiteboarding Code of Conduct for tips on keeping yourself and other beach users safe.

Kiteboarding Safely

Many kiting accidents can be avoided if kiters are informed of safety procedures and exercise reasonable care. Kiteboarding can be hazardous to riders and to bystanders, particularly if practiced without adequate training, safety gear, observation of safe kiteboarding practices and appropriate caution.

Riders must accept that even if these guidelines are followed, that accidents, injury and even death may occur in the sport of kiteboarding.

Kites can produce powerful force with little or no warning. Sudden wind gusts, improper line attachment, mishandling, etc., can result in dragging and/or lofting, possibly with no time to effectively react. A kiter may not always be able to just let go or kill the power of the kite, as many accidents have established.

Your ability to safely and completely depower and drop your kite and otherwise manage in an emergency will weigh heavily on your technique, preparation, prior practice and the reliability of your gear.

Cuyo Kiteboarding Code of Conduct

The following guidelines have been created to improve beach safety for kiteboarders and other beach users; to minimize the potential of complaints and create an environment that will be conducive to providing continued access for kiters to existing kiteboarding locations around Cuyo.

  1. Proactively assist other kiteboarders

  2. Get adequate training

  3. Kiteboard within your limits

  4. Always use a kite leash and quick release

  5. Launch, ride and land well away from bystanders, beginner kiteboarders and other water crafts

  6. Obey Right-of-Way rules for other kiteboarders and water craft

  1. Be aware of the weather

  1. Beware of sharp objects or stinging animals

  1. Conserve space on the beach

  1. Keep the beach and ocean clean

  1. Any form of teaching is strictly prohibited unless authorized

  1. Have fun and smile!

  1. Proactively assist other kiteboarders

    • Offer to assist other riders with launching and landing using visual and audible communications such as tapping the top of the head to indicate that you require assistance with landing a kite and the universal “thumbs-up” to indicate you are ready for your kite to be launched. NEVER release a kite for launch until you receive an unequivocal thumbs-up signal from the kiter.

      Whether you are starting out or are almost a pro, your help may avoid serious injury and/or property damage.
  2. Get adequate training

    • Kiteboarders, particularly beginners, should seek adequate, quality professional instruction. Beginners must avoid crowded areas; particularly as kite control is still being developed. Beginners should body drag out at least 60m from shore prior to water starting. Build your skill and experience carefully in side shore or side onshore winds less than 25 knots.

  3. Kiteboard within your limits

    • Know your equipment’s limitations as well as your own. If you aren't 100% healthy or in doubt, DON’T GO OUT!

    • Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    • Always maintain an energy reserve while kiteboarding you may need it to help yourself or someone else.

  4. Always use a kite leash and quick release

    • Make sure you have proper safety equipment, such as a tested, well maintained kite leash securely attached to your harness, and ideally, a quality, well-fitting helmet and impact vest.

    • Regularly test and maintain your chicken loop or kite depowering quick release.

  5. Launch, ride and land well away from bystanders, beginner kiteboarders and other water crafts

    • Give way to the public on the beach and in the water at ALL TIMES. Be courteous and polite to bystanders; complaints have frequently led to bans and restrictions on kiteboarding and continue to do so.

    • NEVER launch, ride or land upwind of nearby bystanders, and while it may not always be possible, work to keep a minimum 100m buffer zone from beginner kiteboarders (especially when being taught) and fishermen out on the water, they depend on catching fish for their livelihood and do not want to be disturbed.

  6. Obey Right-of-Way rules for other kiteboarders and water craft

    • Never force your right-of-way over other craft when on the water. Wind shadows and wake chop can cause you to lose control of your kite and end up in the path of other watercraft. Regulations require that no matter who has designated right of way, all watercraft must avoid potential collisions in all circumstances.

    • When two riders are on opposite tacks and there is a need to alter course to avoid collision, the port tack rider (left shoulder forward) shall alter course and/or kite position in order to keep clear of the starboard tack rider (right shoulder forward) who should maintain the same course and speed.

    • When two or more riders are on the same tack with kite lines overlapped, the upwind rider(s) shall keep their kite high and the downwind rider(s) keep their kite low.

    • A rider shall not jump if there is any danger of possible collision with another rider.

    • When wave riding, the first rider on the face of a wave has right of way. This may override the starboard tack rule.

    • Kiteboarders exiting the water have right-of-way over kiteboarders entering the water; they may have a problem with their kite or could be injured and require an immediate landing.

    • Always give way to kiteboarders who are body dragging or not riding in the water.

  7. Be aware of the weather

    • Is the forecast and current weather acceptable, free of pending storm clouds and excessive gusty winds? Lightning can strike well ahead of approaching storm fronts. Static electricity in the air is a clear sign of an impending lightning strike. Get out of the water well ahead of storm fronts.

    • Are seas and wind condition within your experience, ability and appropriate for your gear? New kiters should practice in lighter, side or side onshore winds.

  8. Beware of sharp objects or stinging animals

    • The sea bed on the north / north eastern side of Capusan beach may contain sharp object such as glass or tin cans which can cut your feet if not protected.

    • There are large sea urchins from the end of the sand bar on the far North Western side of Capusan beach to the marker out on the reef, avoid this area if possible, especially at low tide.

  9. Conserve space on the beach

    • Roll up your lines when your kite is on the beach and don’t leave your kite on the beach for extended periods.

    • Dont stand on the beach (chatting) with your kite over the water or above your head.

  10. Keep the beach and ocean clean

    • Please help keep our beach and ocean clean, take your rubbish with you or dispose it in the bins provided. If you see glass on the beach, pick it up, it could be your kite/foot that lands on it when you come back.

  11. Any form of teaching is strictly prohibited unless authorized

    • Cuyo’s kiteboarding instructors are experienced and professional and know what to do in an emergency should anything go wrong. If you are not an experienced instructor you are endangering Cuyo’s reputation as a safe, fun place to kiteboard.

    • Cuyo is committed to preserving its community and improving the lives of its inhabitants. All lessons are to be taught by individuals with all necessary permits and rights to work.

  12. Have fun and smile!