Best known and the most explored kitespot in this region is Bulabog beach in Boracay island just off the coast of Panay.
As the country’s top tourist destination, it offers excellent infrastructure and provides a big contrast to the rest of the Philippines. To top it up, you can reach many other amazing kitespots nearby if you wish to go for a short adventure.
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Kite season & wind
The Amihan is a steady, consistent wind that blows from around November to April, with January and February being the prime wind seasons. Most used kites 8m-12m, larger kites or a foil board is a good option for the occasional lighter wind days or morning sessions.
Averaging between 22-26 degrees, thin overlays are recommended to protect from the sun. On the overcast days, the water temperature can be cooler, so thin neoprene layer can be useful. On most of the beaches, patches of large sea urchins at the edge of the reef, shells and other sharp debris on the seabed can cause cuts so some kiters may choose to wear booties.
The local currency is Philippine pesos (PHP) and you will find cash points at the airport, ferry ports and in Caticlan or Boracay. However, the cash machines usually only give out 5,000-10,000PHP at the time and often run out of money at the end of the day. Try to get as much cash as posible and note that in the more remote areas you will not be able to get any, so be prepared in advance.
Most accommodation providers and kite schools will be able to take payments by PayPal, but cash would be the preference.
Offered in most accommodations bars and restaurant in Boracay. For longer stays and a stronger connection, or if travelling out of the beaten path we recommended getting a Local SIM card. You can get a free SIM card at the exit of Manila Airport (same hall as getting the transfer bus).
Airport & Transfers
If flying to Manila airport, you will have to take a bus between the terminals, at the peak season and daytime it could add a few hours to your journey. It is recommended to leave at least 6h gap between the flights to allow sufficient times.
Check your flight provider limits for the sports bags in details, especially if flying with Cebu Air from Manila to Caticlan. They only allow one piece of luggage of 32 kg, while for the flight to Manila airport from your original departure city you may have different rules.
Citizens of nearly every country can get a visa upon arrival in the Philippines. This will allow you to stay for up to 30 days (Visitors from Israel and Brazil get 59 days). Prerequisites are a passport valid for at least six more months.
You can have this visa extended to 59 days at one of the offices of the Bureau of Immigration for about 3,000Php.
For more information about visas and entry/exit formalities, check this page.
As in any tropical country, the general ‘stay hydrated and be wise in the sun’ is a must. Though temperatures are generally warm here, due to cool, strong winds and some rainy days and being in the water the whole time, take care and try not to catch a cold. Most medicines are available in the pharmacies in bigger towns.
What’s in the bag:
- Suncream – hard to get the good stuff.
- Wetsuit booties – sea urchins and coral are common at the beach in some locations.
- Neoprene leggings – to protect you from the sun and jellyfish (not that often).
- Earplugs – locals love their loud roosters and karaoke, if you are a light sleeper you will certainly want to have a few pairs of earplugs readily available.
- Rain jacket – due to humidity and overcasting outer clothing doesn’t dry very well, and especially if it’s raining it can get cold.
- Kite repair kit and spare fins – hard to get spare parts in the more remote areas.
- Flashlight – street lights are not operating everywhere and some additional light can come in handy.
- First aid kit – especially if you travel to remote areas.
- Warmer layers and seasickness tablets – for the longer trips with the ferries or smaller boats to the nearby islands.
KITESURFING IN BORACAY
Boracay is split into several stations, but the main action happens in Station 1 (main shopping mall and the centre of White beach) in the middle of the island, and kitesurfing and windsurfing designated beach at the east side of the island.
Bulabog beach (kite beach) offers a perfect sanctuary for watersports enthusiast away from the rest of the island crowds. Conditions for kitesurfing in Boracay are suitable for all levels. You will find many kite schools, beach bars and kitesurfer specific accommodation providers directly at the beach. Long U shaped bay and a consistent cross-on and on-shore wind provide perfect conditions for beginner kitesurfers and those wanting to improve their skills.
To add to the great set up for kitesurfers, the rest of the island offers great nightlife options, many restaurant and cafes to satisfy even the most peculiar tastes. The White beach on the west side of the island is the main tourist hub and can get extremely crowded, however, that’s where you will see the best sunsets and can pamper yourself with a slice of modern living if you wish so.
Nightlife: From sunset ‘happy hour’ drinks and nightclubs at the white beach to a more relaxed ‘foosball and drinks’ Wednesday nights at the Bulabog beach, you will find plenty of options every day.
MAIN KITE SPOT - BULABOG BEACH
Due to the offshore reef, this beach is very tidal and you need to be aware of the water movement to make sure you can enjoy most of your sessions.
At the low tide, the water depth is significantly reduced and expose the reef in the whole of the lagoon, therefore making it too dangerous and shallow to kitesurf. It is not recommended to kitesurf here at least 1,5H at each side of the low tide.
As the tide is rising the reef shelters the lagoon providing flat to slightly choppy water conditions perfect for all water sports enthusiasts. This is also the time when most of the kitesurfing lessons take place and more advanced riders are expected to ride further upwind from the beach.
When the tide is getting closet to the high point small kickers appear in the lagoon and waves start to roll at the reef. This time is perfect for wave riders, getting out with hydrofoil or boost some jumps from those ramps. It’s worth noting that this is not the time for less advanced riders. The water gets deep very quickly and the current becomes quite strong, dropping you downwind very quickly if you get your kite into the water. To top it up the beach area gets reduced to almost nothing, and with the palm trees being so close to the beach it can be tricky to land your kite and may even need a deep water packdown and a swim to the beach to make sure your equipment stays intact.
Most of the kite schools offer gear storage and beach assistant service to make your holidays hassle free and provide you with the assurance that there always be someone at the beach to catch your kite.
Hazards & Rules
Lots of people come kitesurfing in Boracay throughout the season. There is plenty of space for all kiters so long as riders are courteous to each other and adhere to rights of way on the water.
– With the shallower water, the reef gets exposed and becomes a collision hazard. For beginner kitesurfer, it is recommended to wear long surf leggings and booties to reduce the risk of getting cuts from the reef.
– If riding the waves at the reef, caution should be taken when the tide is still rising. The reef is relatively high and can be still exposed in some areas of the lagoon costing you a fin or two.
– As a spoken rule upwind kite line setup is expected at this beach, due to the small beach space for the launch and palm trees and electric poles being very close to the launch areas. Extreme caution should be taken when launching a kite at this beach, self-launch or land is not recommended.
– To kite in high tide excellent knowledge of deep water pack down is essential, as there is no room to make mistakes when landing and launching your kite in the small beach space.
How to get there
If you are flying from outside of the Philippines, you have an option to fly to Kalibo International airport and then take a 2,5h transfer to the Caticlan Jetty port. Or you can fly to Manila International airport and then change for the short flight to Caticlan airport and then take a very short ride to Caticlan Jetty port.
Once in the Caticlan Jetty port, you will need to get multiple receipts (boat ticket and pay for an environmental and terminal fee separately) costing a total or 200PHP per person. It is highly recommended to consult with your accommodation provider for organising a transfer for you as it will make your life much easier. Alternatively, you can buy a transfer from one of the official companies at the Caticlan airport. If you are choosing to do it all your self, make sure that you have enough cash at the entry point to pay for the fees, tip the porters at the boat carrying your bags (20PHP per bag) and pay for the tricycle driver to your accommodation (300-400 PHP).
After rehabilitation of this island in November 2018, you now will have to prove your booking for certified accommodation provider upon arriving at the Caticlan Jetty port.
DAY TRIP TO UNION BEACH
If you find Bulabog beach too crowded or just want to venture out and explore other beaches, you can head over to the Panay island and explore Union beach. Just of the runway of the Caticlan airport and only 5km away from Caticlan Jetty port you can find a few modern kitesurfing houses of Mango riders and Freestyle Academy.
Union beach is exactly parallel to the Bulabog beach, therefore, experiencing the same wind, with even fewer obstacles on the way. It is also quite common to kitesurf downwind here, however, the crossing over between the island has some wind shadows and at some parts accelerated winds so a local kitesurfer guide is a must.
This bay provides flat water conditions at the low tide, and just as in Bulabog beach, the choppy to wavy water appears with the rising tide.
There are only two kite houses operating there, so its a very high chance that you will only share this beach with few other kitesurfers. If you want to come here just for a days kite, we offer to organise a larger group of people to share the travel costs and contact resorts in advance to make sure they can organise some refreshment for you. Otherwise, we recommend bringing some food and drinks with you as the nearest shops are in Caticlan 5km away.
How to get there
If you are staying in Boracay, you will have to get a tricycle to the Boracay Jetty port (~300PHP total), crossover to Caticlan with the boat (200PHP per person+ tips for porters handling your kite gear) and get another tricycle to the Blue Orange Villa and Bahari Kite Resort (~400-500PHP total).
TRIP TO MINDORO CAMP
If you fancy experiencing the real Philippines but relatively close to Boracay, you should consider at least a 3 day trip to Mindoro kite camp.
The Amansinaya Resort is about 30 min tricycle drive from Bulalacao ferry port in Mindoro and general offer at least a few knots of wind more than Boracay.
Hidden within its own little jungle, this resort offers a full board kitesurfing escape. You can expect to kitesurf every day, and if the wind is not playing ball there will be other activities offered for you like sup tours, hikes and other exploring trips around the camp. When the wind is there than a multitude of organised downwinders are organised almost daily and a group dinner and a beach fire usually follows after a long day in the water.
You will be surrounded by a bunch of likeminded people, have many adventures, have food prepared for you by an in-house chef and experience tranquillity and quality time in nature without contact to the rest of the world.
How to get there
Fast Cat ferry runs twice a day from Caticlan to Bulalacao. The ferry is very clean and modern offering very good facilities, especially for the tourist class. We recommend taking the early morning ferry as in that case you will have all day in the camp as you will arrive just in time for breakfast. Additionally, we offer to take some extra layers with your and some sea sickness tablets, as you may need them for the ferry journey.