It was my 1st time in the Caribbean last March and I was looking forward to a week in Cuba with the family and I wasn't sure what to expect, I was hoping to see some kite surfing but didn't really get my hopes up. On my 1st day on the beach, I really enjoyed watching a couple of kites flying around and really got to see how they used the kites and handled the waves.
On my second day I decided to go talk to the young instructor right next to my hotel, I had watched him the day earlier dragging himself and a student in the water. I wasn't too sure about his methods considering the tight spaces and being so close to sunbathers and I was disappointed to see his English was very limited. Just when I was about to reconsider taking lessons, along comes Darien kite surfing right up to us to talk. His English was good, we talked a bit after and that's when he explained to me that he worked for another kite school further down the beach which we could not see.
I'm glad I walked further to take lessons from the guys at "Caribbean Riders". They have a good selection of kites, impressive even, considering their situation.
They're proud guys who care and offer quality instructions, I learnt to inflate, rig and handle the kite safely on the ground amongst many passerby’s, and around the wind window, also water rescues of the kite and the board. I was confident with the techniques that was used compared to what I had watched the day before at the other school, safety here was more prevalent with more instructors watching.
It was a treat, I had never really seen anyone else handle a kite besides a couple of my friends who like myself, learned how to snow kite by themselves. Besides snowkiting only a couple of times per years on windy winter weekends, I had no water kite surfing or wakeboarding experience and I only snowboard a couple of time a year. For me it was just a question of putting it all together and learning to handle the kite so as not to sink plus driving the surfboard in the waves.
Lots of things going on for a first timer, it's important to learn how to fly the kite.
I suggest buying a small 2m kite for under $150 and practise with the kids before taking lessons.
Caribbean Riders can even repair kites, having seen firsthand a student nose a 12m too hard in the water and watch it tear in half. The next morning kite & student are back on the water, no extra charge.
I found it real pleasant dealing with them and I felt undercharged even, during three days, the time was always rounded down in my favour.
If there is one downside besides having to keep your mouth closed when falling in salt water is the narrow range of beach they are allowed to work with between hotels.
Before you master kiting upwind, you'll have to land and walk back upwind to start over while keeping your kite away from passersby, which I found was more tiring.
A small price to pay for the convenience of walking distance from major hotels.
Gentlemen, I appreciate the fact that you sit out there in the sun and wind while waiting for the next person to ask you "How much?"
Rarely can a guy like me have a chance to take kite surfing lessons, the best part is your beautiful beaches and steady winds, we could almost call Varadero beach a kite surf destination.
Darien, Carlo and Charlie, you are a good example that all kite surf schools are not the same.
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