Best Place to Learn Windsurfing: Bonaire
By Candyce H. Stapen
Best Place to Learn Windsurfing
The epitome of Caribbean cool is to windsurf effortlessly, gliding over waves, jibing like a seagull. I’ve watched those buff guys with the rippling muscles and six pack ribs skim across the water. However, anytime I managed to stand upright on a board, even for five seconds, I wobbled, careening head-first into the drink.
That is until I tried Bonaire’s Lac Bay. This wide, calm bay on Bonaire’s southeastern coast is one of the best places to learn the sport. Why? Here, I didn’t fear flying off the board and drowning. That’s because much of the bay ranges in depth from about 2-4 ˝ feet. When I fell off, I just stood up.
Next, I could let go of my anxiety about being pushed out to sea. Typically, the wind always blows toward shore. And don’t worry about renting a board and ending up becalmed as breezes blow constantly across the turquoise water.
Two outfitters, Jibe City and Bonaire’s Windsurf Place, offer good instructors and a variety of sails and boards so you can match the equipment to your strength and weight.
At the Windsurf Place, I was lucky to have Constantino “Patoen” Saragoza, a former member of the Antilles Olympic windsurfer team, as an instructor. Patoen, also part-owner of the Windsurf Place, turned the intricate dance of limbs and wind into a few simple rules: keep your arm nearest the mast straight, tuck in your bottom, and balance with your feet.
Most teens and twentysomethings picked up the basics after 15-minutes or so, zipping confidently to the bay’s middle to practice turns and fast runs. Under Patoen’s patient instruction, after about 40-minutes I too skated with the breeze, laughing “Look at me. I’m windsurfing.”
Another bonus: Lac Bay abuts Sorobon beach, a swath of soft white sand, a rarity on rocky Bonaire.
Situated in the Caribbean 50 miles north of Venezuela, Bonaire is an autonomous part of the Netherlands Antilles. A dry, desert-like island with few beaches, Bonaire’s treasures lie under the sea. A paradise for divers and snorkelers, the island has more than 80 dive sites within a 15 minute boat ride of the coast. Also, novices and never-evers can test their skills by exploring the many fringe reefs that begin right off shore. No boat ride necessary.
To plan a trip, check out:
For more information on Candyce Stapen,
Click on www.gfvac.com
and www.tjgonline.com. Candyce is the president of the Travel Journalists Guild