Fly away: 5 long-distance kiteboard downwinders

What better way to explore than by using wind power to ride your kiteboard 100 kilometers in a day?
Desert dunes and high winds in Brazil. © Julian Schlosser/TAKA Productions
By Aaron Sales

While most kiteboarding sessions begin and finish in the same location, downwinders are an adventure. Pick the perfect spot to go from point A to point B and you're rewarded with constantly changing scenery and conditions, making each trip unique. Here's some spots to put on the list.

Brazil- Cumbuco to Ceará
Distance: 300km Season: April - January

Fine white sand and unlimited shoulder-high waves make the coastline between Cumbuco and Ceara a top pick for kiteboarders looking dial in their high-wind wave kiting. Kite from fishing village to fishing village, taking breaks for fresh food and cold caipirinhas. This multi-day adventure is ideal to have a support crew to follow you in a dune buggy with your essentials. Need someone to set up a dune buggy and arrange beach-side crashpads? Try Club Ventos.

A beautiful place to blast around. © Julian Schlosser/TAKA Productions

Dakhla, Morocco
Distance: 45km Season: Year round (strongest winds in July/ August)

Dakhla is a 45-kilometer long sandy blue lagoon located in the very south of the Moroccan Sahara desert. This downwinder from Dakhla to Duna Blanca is ideal on a twin-tip since the water is shallow and can be butter smooth at low tide. Riding the shoreline from end to end is easily done in a day but make sure you are an accomplished kiter since the wind is offshore and there is no boat support. Want to see what African kiteboarding paradise looks like? Check out the Flickr page.

Maui to Molokai, Hawaii
90km Season: June - August

This epic downwinder begins at Lanes Beach. After crossing a large 10k bay, you reach the North West shore of Maui, which is one of the most remote sections on the island. Now you’re committed to the 15-kilometer crossing on the Molokai channel known for huge wind swell, powerful currents, and humpback whale migration. Once you reach Molokai’s undeveloped coastline, land at Kaunakakai and an hour-long ferry back to Maui is available. Boat support is highly recommended on this trip.

Cruise past legendary launches such as Kite Beach. © Cabrinha

The Gorge, USA: Stevenson to Rufus
Distance: 100+ km Season: June - September

The Columbia River Gorge, famous for its strong, predictable winds that travel through a river canyon for over 100km is surrounded by picturesque mountains on the west end of The Gorge and eventually funnels into a warm desert-like setting. It’s this temperature change that sucks the air through the high canyon walls and produces daily winds in excess of 30 knots, making it perfect for a full day, long distance downwinder.

Begin the voyage from Stevenson and travel 17 miles through a remote mountainous corridor to Hood River, America’s birthplace of kiteboarding. Continue riding east where the landscape transitions from forest to dry desert hills. This downwinder can be done all at once on a perfect wind day or may be more fun if broken into chunks.

Surf river swell on your way downwind in the Gorge © Richard Hallman

Alaska: Harding Ice Field
Distance: 65km
Season: March - April

Traveling across the snow using kite power is fast becoming the travel mode of choice for winter adventures. The Harding Ice Field in Alaska’s Kenai Mountains offers incredible terrain. The plateau runs lengthwise for over 60km and is surrounded by mountain peaks in every direction. This allows riders to ride the flats to cover distance quickly and play on the edge of the mountains for cruising up, down, and across the alpine terrain.

With a one-hour flight from Anchorage, AK, you and your crew are dropped off on the west end of Harding ice field. This can be a 1-3 day downwinder depending on wind, skill level and whether your crew wants to go for long distance speed or simply enjoy being in the mountains.

Writer Aaron Sales finds a new way to shred snow. © Aaron Sales
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