Endless Wind & Waves
It’s hard to find a kite beach where you can stay directly at the kite spot and avoid driving. It’s even harder when you are looking for some cultural immersion, options for non-windy days, great internet connection, not too expensive places to eat and hopefully, awesome wind. This year, we had some friends going to Barbados, which offers it all, so we decided to join them!
Barbados is located further East in the Atlantic Ocean than other Caribbean islands, in the Antilles, and it is part of what it’s called the Windward Islands. It is one of the windiest islands in the Caribbean. This small island (around 430km2) has some of the finest white sand that I have seen and turquoise water, which is absolutely gorgeous. The population is around 277,000 residents (source by Wikipedia), mostly Afro-Caribbean. Surprisingly, the streets/cities are not as well developed/maintained as other Caribbean islands. That and the local culture charmed me. The residents speak English…which I thought would be easy for us. I found out very quickly that their accent, expressions, and alternative grammar are a real challenge to understand for the uninitiated. I almost gave up trying to make sense of it.
Kiting in Barbados
I didn’t know much about kiting there until I landed and arrived at our hotel. Basically, during our two-week trip, the wind was ON 24/7. It’s non-stop and around 15-25 knots every day. I am more of a freestyle/wake style rider and found out that I was on the wrong island for that. The swell and the waves are gigantic here, which is perfect for surfboard lovers. There are 3 beaches to kite at Silver Rock, Silver Sand and Long Beach. Long beach is more “beginner friendly” and it’s where the local schools teach. You won’t find flat water there but it is a very long beach so it’s more forgiving with a smaller-ish swell. On the other hand, Silver Rock is where the real action is happening. It’s an awesome spot to learn wave riding or watch the locals do incredible strapless tricks. The third beach, Silver Sands, is a narrow beach and the last rescue beach option for kiters before the open ocean. Even though it is all very serious ocean riding, I haven’t heard of sharks or other threats. The only animals I stumbled upon when riding were sea turtles 🙂 we can see their head popping up occasionally.
We were quite unlucky with the seaweeds. It seems that this year they were particularly heavy, mostly close to shore. I caught my lines a couple of times in those…and it took me a good hour to get everything back to riding condition. The crowd here is a bit older from other kite spots in the world and don’t be surprised to see a good crowd of windsurfers. The kite spot is away from all the major touristy areas in Barbados; that means nights are quiet and you won’t find a big kite party nightlife.
There are many kite schools that rent quality surfboards, twin tips, and kites.
What else should you know?
We stayed at Silver Point Hotel, which is directly on the kite beach spot. You don’t need a car if you stay there and can explore the island or go kiting to other beaches by taxi. It’s not the cheapest place to stay but it’s quiet, clean and friendly. As a bonus, we enjoyed some pool time every day with a pina colada at the bar! Of course, there are cheaper options if you don’t mind driving or a short walk to the beach. Silver Point is just perfect for a hassle-free vacation; make sure to have an ocean front room to hear the breeze and waves at night. It is deafening… in a good way.
Silver Point Hotel is a short 10USD taxi or 1USD bus ride to Oistins, which is the place to go for food/party on Friday and Saturday nights. They have a huge Fish Market where all the locals and tourists go. Great fish. It is inexpensive, and you will find the freshest on the island. Try the macaroni pie too.
While you are in Oistins, you might get struck mid-day by hunger. You don’t know Barbados unless you know “roti”. The fast, cheap, tasty and fulfilling wrap filled with beef/chicken and curry mashed potatoes. Chefette is the baseline for roti.
We also did a half-day trip to visit Bridgetown. We didn’t find much to do there, but it was a good change from the kiting life. It seems that there is a great chocolate factory to not miss there…but of course, we missed it.
Further NW from Silver Point Hotel is a beach to go to learn surfing (spot called Freights). One of my friends took a surfing lesson for $80USD and she had a blast. It is a popular beach for good wave surfing and SUP.
Annoyances and such
People advise to not walk alone on the streets or beaches at night. We didn’t have any issues. Also, don’t leave valuables unattended at the beach as they will disappear. There was at least one very determined and opportunistic thief at Long Beach during our stay.
Enjoy Barbados and don’t leave your surfboard at home (unless you plan on renting one)!
Closest Airport: Bridgetown
Where to stay: Silver Point Hotel
Where to kite:
Silver Rock kite beach: 13.048946, -59.513940
Long Beach kite beach: 13.059686, -59.499562. If you take a 10USD taxi to get there, bring a phone and taxi phone number to text/call a taxi to come back to Silver Rock.
Where to eat: Surfer’s Bay Beach Bar is pretty cool and has great food – my favorite (13.046981, -59.520754)
Groceries: Massy in Oistins is the place to go (13.064618, -59.545854). There are a few mini-marts within walking distance of Silver Point for some non-perishables (13.051882, -59.515545).
Serious fried chicken: Chicken Rita’s is within walking distance of Silver Point (13.049145, -59.522681). Don’t expect to be greeted with a smile though. Expect fried chicken (or fish), fries and beer/rum.
Local bar: There is a mini-mart/bar/restaurant around here called Buffy’s (13.053523, -59.509805). I recommend the ice-cold 4 beers for 5USD in the afternoon with the locals. Rum + ice + soda (that you mix yourself) is also popular. I am told that the rum from Guyana is the best deal.
Buses: There is a bus stop close to Silver Point: 13.053390, -59.514313. The busses are mid-size Toyota vans that circulate all the time. I never waited more than 5min. They go to Oistins and beyond. Expect loud music and little personal space. 1USD or 2BBD.
With all the GPS coordinates in here, I recommend downloading the Barbados map on your phone (google maps – offline maps – select the whole island) to find your way without data. Don’t expect street names to be identified.