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“Caribbean Riders Kite School Varadero, Quality instruction & equipment, great winds, plenty of fun.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of CaribbeanRiders KiteSchool

CaribbeanRiders KiteSchool
Autopista Sur; Sector Punta Hicacos, Varadero, Cuba
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Ranked #3 of 15 activities in Varadero
Type: Water sports
Attraction Details
Hearst,Ontario
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Caribbean Riders Kite School Varadero, Quality instruction & equipment, great winds, plenty of fun.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2012

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.
Thank You

Johnny

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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27 reviews from our community

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  • English first
  • Polish first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Port Hope, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Great Guys”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2012

Pretty much what can be said has been said already in the other reviews previous to mine.

A couple of things I can add are more to the future of the Caribbean Rider school; first Charlie just received a kite sponsorship therefore prices will be going up. So if you are thinking about lessons when you go, now is the time before the price goes up (April 2012). I defy anyone to find a better deal of $35 an hour for lessons on good working kite equipment with a capable instructor.

Secondly, Charlie is a couple of weeks from launching a new website with some great deals like downwinders, accommodations, lessons etc. They have 2 locations that enables a 20 km downwind run with a vehicle to repeat.

If you are thinking of lessons (Sirenis La Salina) location is excellent, shallow and no rocks. The area within the lessons take place is public access, so the one thing that you have to contend with is people walking the beach and they tend to stop in the wrong spot to watch. Other than that, best spot I have kite boarded in next to the OBX.

Cheers

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Caribean Riders Kiteschool, Hey Oakley”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2012

So there I was in varadero very excited to have the wind blowing 15 to 20 knots and walking up the beach looking to meet the person flying the kite I noticed in the sky. Not expecting much I walked towards the fellows on the beach who looked like local riders. It was Darien, Darien, not brothers and Charlie and his dad Aptly named Papa. They were staff at Caribean Riders kiteschool. After talking with them for a bit I realized that these guys were genuine and nice with a very extensive knowledge of everything kite. Although I didnt get lessons with them, they launched and dropped my kite for me and gave me riding tips for the whole week. i rode every day and they were there from morning till night, not like other schools that show up whenever. These guys speak very good English , Russian, French and Italian. Theyre equipment is in great shape with a mixture of Cabrinha, North and several others. Importing kites there can be very difficult so if you have something that is still in great condition Charlie may make you an offer. Although I didnt get lessons with them they launched and dropped my kite all week, six days in a row. One time out on the water my kite back winded and ended up inside out and one of the guys kited over to me and fixed my kite so I didnt have to swim back. One morning Charlie took myself and another rider on a downwinder where we were driven upwind to another beach and just kited back. After the whole week of riding and the downwinder and even bringing a part for my kite, these guys wouldnt even take a small tip I offered. Charlie is the MAN in Cuba, he has won many a contest there and I have personally witnessed kiteloops with blind landings and the first 1440 i have ever seen. They are located beside the sirenis and the iberostar on a large deep beach with a sand base in the water.

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Caribbean Riders Kite School - professional, courteous, terrific”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2012

"Charlie and Darren" - THANK YOU...our two boys had just and outstanding experience over four hours attempting to learn kite surfing on Veradero. It is obvious that this takes some time...likely up to six hours to truly be able to get your feet landed on the board and up with a kite...BUT the learning experience was truly something that our teenagers embraced...and the instructors were just superb. We'll be sure to plan better next time and get the lads a couple of hours each day to allow them to progress in their learning. A must do if you have a passion for surfing with a kite !

Visited March 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quebec
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“At last some real action in Varadero !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2012

This was my third trip to Varadero and I had faced very frustating hotel regulation with regards to nautic sports in "windy" conditions in the past... I am a long time windsurfer and was never really too kean on bringning my own gear in previous trips since I was travelling with friends that were not riders. Each time I verified beforehand that the hotel offered windsurfing gear in acceptable working conditions which usually proved to be true :-) (bring your harness and rope though) However as soon as the wind gets above say 20 km/h, or the waves above 1-2 feet, they close the watersport rental !!! All Hotels in Varadero are the same (because the nautic sports are provided by an external Cuban cie and not managed by the hotels).
This time I was travelling with my young family and I had tried to figure If I could rent gear on the island from more professional shop but my web search were unsucessfull and neither the contact to the hotel or travel agents. Once at the hotel the same story repeated... The wind picked up in the first days and I was not able to get the hotel gear out since the nautic gear guys did not show up given the water conditions... VERY FRUSTRATING... It is so rare that you can have your kids and wife in pleasant conditions while you could practice your favorite sports...
I then noticed these guys hanging out with kites right by our hotel (the Sirenis la Salina). I though at first they were Cubain just riding for themselves but someone told me they could probably have more info on where to get windsurfing gear from a local...

I went to chat with them and saw they were a kite school ! OH! Why not give it a try then? That would be fun! And indeed it was! I have been riding windsurfing along with Kite riders for some years now and never really though I would make the switch considering I am still having fun in windsurf and that I do not want to spend the money getting equipped on a second similar sport. However I discovered with these guys the added possibility of Kite surfing, two of which appears very important to me:
1- Easy to bring your gear in airplane for trip to south (You buy a Golf bag shaped Kite bag and the airline will carry it for free! Just one bag to carry !)
2- It seams easier to teach novice than windsurfing which is very frustrating at first (multiple falling in the water and pulling the sail out) You can practise a lot of stuff on the beach first which makes the transition to the water very smooth. And for Canadian, we can even enyoy a smoother transition by riding in the snow before going on the water.

With a family of four If I want to keep riding, I better set them to like a water sport and it seams that kite is a better match than windsurf.

Hence the guys were very helpful. I first spent two hours in the late after noon and was ready to try in the water (I had experience with flying two rope kites and doing wakeboarding). The next day I was ready for real riding but my wife wanted to try so I had her doing the lesson instead. We could have done it in parallel (they had enough gear) but I wanted to support her learning and help with the english. Hence I was not able to finish the lesson (we were leaving the same day) but got my wife sufficiently interested to continue. The kids even asked to try and the guys were pretty open to let them fly the trainer kite. They liked it and the oldest one (7 yrs old) even told me this is what she wanted for her birthday present !

Hence a great experience for me, fair price too (I did not even bother trying to bargin them considering the equivalent would have been more expensive in Qc.). They were also not too strict on the time spent with the kids flying the trainer kite. My wife played with the kite for half an hour in the morning and was not successful due to gusty wind so the guys refused to be paid because she did not have a good time then. Lukily the wind got better in the afternoon and she was able to get a different opinion of the sport :-)

The gear offered appeared quite decent (4 kite + a trainer) and the lesson were methodic covering all aspects from technical terms to setting the gear setted up. Maybe one suggestion for improvement is that we found them to be a little too technical on the body/arm position at first. They could address these issues once the person has had fun with simple movement of the kite.

So thanks guys and good luck with your endeavour. Maybe next time I finish the lesson if I am not already a rider ;-)

Visited February 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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