Kiteboarding in the Philippines is dominated by a North Easterly trade wind, known locally as the Amihan. The Amihan is a stready, consistent wind that blows from around November to April every year, and it is this wind that brings kiteboarders back to the Philippines year after year.
The opposite season, known as Habagat blows roughly July - September, and is characterised by gustier South Westerly typhoon winds. Kiteboarding is possible during this season, but the conditions are inconsistent and much less predictable.
There are unique micro-climates across the country, so conditions vary from spot to spot, but as a general rule of thumb, the Amihan wind starts earliest in the season and is at its strongest around the north and east coast of the country where there is greatest exposure to the incoming wind.
The wind slows as it passes over the east coast land mass, but then builds speed again as it blows over a large expanse of flat water towards Boracay, Seco, and Cuyo. Some of the best wind in the country can be found at spots around or downwind of Northern Panay and Southern Mindoro.
Between Boracay and Cuyo the wind continues to build up strength as it passes over the flat and empty Sulu Sea, so generally speaking if Boracay has 20 knot winds one day, Cuyo will be likely to have 22-24 knot winds a day or so later.
Northern mainland Palawan (Puerto Princesa, Coron, El Nido) sits in the lee of some large and particularly mountainous areas of land mass so the wind here is generally a little lighter than the wind around Boracay and Cuyo.
Further south around Mindanao, Cebu, and Bohol, the trade wind becomes a bit lighter and more irregular. Rain is also frequent in these parts during Amihan, particularly along the eastern coast and further south, which can in turn make the wind sometimes gusty.
During Amihan, the weather to the east and south (West Luzon, Samar, Leyte, Mindanao) can be very wet and overcast, whilst the north and west of the country (North Luzon, Mindoro, Palawan, Panay) tends to be sunny and dry. The weather in these parts is hot but cooled by the wind so generally comfortable. On Cuyo rain is extremely rare during the Amihan.
These patterns reverse during Habagat, so the south east will be dry and hot, whilst Palawan and the areas around Boracay will be hot, humid and wet.
The best waves in the Philippines are generally found along the eastern and northern coasts. Siargao in Mindanao is a popular and well known surf spot with some world famous surf breaks. The Amihan wind, however, gets very weak this far south, so the conditions for kiteboarding here are less consistent.
Spots around Daet further north also offer waves throughout the Amihan, although they tend to be a bit choppier than the clean breaks found around Siargao. The wind here is much stronger, but cloud cover and rain in the region can make the wind gusty.
Some of the country's biggest waves, however, can be found around the Philippines' northernmost point. Pagudpud has spots with big swell and is one the windiest spots in the country. During Amihan the weather is also pleasant and dry. The waves here are more suited to experienced wave riders, rather than beginners or intermediates.
Flat water spots depend more on the local topography, but long sand bars that calm the water without causing a wind shadow are good to look out for. On Cuyo, a long sand bar creates a windy lagoon that is both flat and deep, making this a favourite spot for serious freestylers.
Seasonal variations from year to year are largely caused by the cyclical oscillations of El Nino and La Nina. El Nino and La Nina are irregular global weather patterns caused by swings of ocean temperatures in the Pacific region.
These weather anomalies occur every two to seven years; each cycle varies in severity and can last anywhere from nine months to two years. An El Nino event typically reduces rainfall, increases water temperatures, and causes global trade winds to become lighter or shut down altogether, whilst La Nina events have the opposite effect.
The most recent El Nino event lasted from 2014–16, and was one of the strongest such events to occur in almost seventy years. The event peaked between November 2015 to January 2016 when the 3 month average tied with 1997-98 for the strongest values on record. As such, the 2015-16 season was an unusually light year for wind in the Philippines and other trade wind dependent spots across the globe.
Happily for kiteboarders though, La Nina started to blow in Autumn 2016, bringing with it a bumper crop of wind throughout the Philippines and worldwide!
Scientists have yet to agree when the next El Nino event is likely to take place, although there is speculation that it could be as early as Autumn 2017.
The Philippines has some incredible, world-class kiteboarding spots; in fact, with 7107 islands to choose from, we’ll probably never be able name them all! Our list is constantly expanding, but focuses mainly on spots that offer some kind of established kiteboarding infrastructure, or spots that are at least accessible through regular tour operators. If you think we’ve missed any, let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org
About: Although widely recognised as one of the best kiteboarding spots in Asia, Cuyo still receives relatively few visitors. As such, the tourist infrastructure is limited, and the island still retains its uniquely peaceful and community-centric charm.
Kiteboarding Conditions: Cuyo is perfectly positioned to receive the best of the Philippines' annual trade wind, the Amihan. This steady, consistent wind blows from November to March, with daily winds between 17 and 35 knots, and the sun shines nearly every day.
Cuyo is home to one of the Philippines' most expansive kiteboarding areas; a 7km stretch of flat, shallow water from the beach in the main town to the northern tip of the island, making it a perfect spot for beginners, freeriders, and kiters of any level hoping to progress rapidly.
There are waves spots dotted around the island, though it is the deep, extra-flat water area between Capusan Beach and the town port which makes Cuyo a favourite of pro-kiters and serious freestylers.
Facilities: In Cuyo town there are a number of small pensions, hotels and guesthouses. Most offer pretty basic rooms but are close to the main kite spot at Capusan Beach. Anino Retreat is a tranquil resort is located on the opposite side of the island, overlooking Victoria Kite Beach. There is little in the way of nightlife, restaurants or other activities on Cuyo. There are no ATMs and cards are not accepted anywhere so bring cash!
Getting There: Cuyo is connected by ferry to Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Coron and Manila, and by air to Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, and Boracay
Cuyo Watersports Association: www.cuyokiteboarding.com (you're already here, hurray!)
About: The Calamianes Islands, commonly known as Coron, lie in the very North of Palawan, a region famed for its world class diving and exquisite scenery. The islands are picturesque, but with less crowds than its more popular, infamous neighbour, El Nido.
Kiteboarding Conditions: Amihan (December - February) is dry season here, so the weather is usually pleasant and sunny during the kiteboarding season. The wind, however, is lighter and less reliable than nearby Cuyo. The kitespots are only accessible by boat charter, so all inclusive kite camps are a popular choice for visiting kiterboarders without any prior local knowledge of the area.
Facilities: 250k Kiteboarding is the only outfit for kitesurfers in the area. They cater to beginners and advanced kiters alike in their private island kite camp.
Getting There: Coron's main airport, Busuanga, is well connected to most major cities in the Philippines.
250k Kiteboarding: www.kiteboarding-philippines.com
Patoyo Kitesurfing Eco Nature Camp: www.islandhoppinginthephilippines.com/palawan/patoyo-kitesurfing-eco-resort/
About: Bagasbas is a home to a long sandy beach close to city of Daet which has developed a strong following of dedicated kiteboarders who return year after year.
Kiteboarding Conditions: Kiteboarders are drawn to this region for its combination of strong wind and big waves; building up size during the windy season and breaking over sand rather than reef, Bagasbases' waves make this spot a go to destination for serious wave riders. The weather here during Amihan, however, is often cool, overcast, and rainy, and this in turn can make the wind at times gusty and inconsistent.
Mikes Kites: www.mikes-kites.com
Western Visayas & Romblon
Freedom Kitesurfing (Boat Charter): www.freedom-kitesurfing.com/seco_island
About: Boracay is the Philippines’ most well known tourist attraction and is a popular kite spot. The island is well suited to tourists who like having the comforts of home, a vibrant party scene, and a wide range of activities to choose from; it is perhaps less suited to travellers looking for a culturally enriching, authentic Filipino experience.
Kiteboarding Conditions: With kiteboarding spots on both sides of the island, kiteboarding is possible during both Amihan and Habagat, although Amihan offers significantly better conditions. During Amihan, Boracay offers some of the best wind in the Philippines, with steady wind routinely blowing around 20 - 30 knots.
Due to its popularity, however, the kite area can get crowded - particularly during peak season (December, January, February). As such, it is less ideal for students or inexperienced kiters who require a lot of space to safely crash, practice, and progress.
Facilities: Boracay has a wide range of accommodation, bars, restaurants, activities, and entertainment.
Getting There: Boracay has two airports in close proximity, Caticlan and Kalibo. Both are well connected to most major airports in the Philippines, and Kalibo is connected to a number of international destinations including China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia
Ocean Republic: www.ocean-republic.com Green Yard Kitesurfing: www.ilovekite.com Funboard Centre: www.windsurfasia.com Borakite: www.borakite.net Bolabog Beach Kiteboarding: www.boracaykites.com Gypsea Kite Kulture: gypseakiteboracay.com Habagat Kiteboarding Center: www.kiteboracay.com Isla Kitesurfing: www.islakitesurfing.com Hangin Kite Center: www.hanginkite.com Freestyle Boracay: www.freestyle-boracay.com Mango Riders Beach Club: www.mangoriders.com Jeepney Hostel and Kite Resort: www.jeepneyhostelboracay.com Pro Kite Club: www.prokite.club Timog Kiteboarding Centre: www.timogkiteboarding.com.ph Kite Centre at Banana Bay: www.kitecenter-boracay.com Freedom Kitesurfing: www.freedom-kitesurfing.com/
Getting There: Hagnaya Port is a 4-5 hour bus or mini van journey from Cebu. Buses / Mini Vans depart from Cebu's North Bus Terminal. The ferry from Hagnaya Port to Bantayan Island takes around an hour. The last ferry departs at 5.30
Seabreeze Kite Club: www.seabreezekiteclub.com/bantayan-philippines/
All info kindly provided by our friends at Seabreeze Kite Club
About: Siargao is a popular and well known surf spot with some world famous surf breaks, the most infamous being Cloud Nine, a regular on the pro-surf tour circuit. The surf season peaks around September, October, and November when the weather is sunny and dry. The island itself offers everything you might expect from a spot filled with dedicated surfers - chilled vibes, chilled people, and chilled beers.
Kiteboarding Conditions: Siargao is perhaps best described as a surf spot where you can sometimes kiteboard, rather than a dedicated kiteboarding spot. When the conditions line up, the kiting here can be fantastic (especially for keen wave riders) but the island is too far south to receive decent Amihan winds so the wind is usually lighter and the conditions are less predictable. It should also be noted that the Amihan season in this part of the country is also wet season, opposite to weather in Cuyo, Boracay, Mainland Palawan, and Ilocos Norte.
Have we missed any? Included any incorrect information? Have you kited any of these spots and want to add your opinion? Get in touch! email@example.com