Bonaire, Sint Eustatius & Saba
Lac Cai, or simply Cai, at the mouth of Lac Bay is Bonaire’s most famous wave spot. In a north-easterly blow it can get big, but cross-onshore port tack wind and a late-breaking wave make it better for jumping than riding. Launch over rocks and out through a channel to the shallow reef-break, being careful of the strong offshore current. Those hazards and a rip don’t endear Cai to less experienced wavesailors. Windsurfers could sail out of the bay from Sorobon, one of the Caribbean’s headline windsurfing resorts. Steady onshore wind over a vast swathe of dead flat, waist-deep water is perfect for learners, improvers and freestylers. Sorobon hosts the King of the Caribbean and Pro Kids Freestyle Championships, and many locals have progressed to the World Tour. Kiting is not permitted within the confines of Lac Bay, but is fine on open water 5 minutes down the coast at Baby Beach. The wind is usually bolt onshore, so getting out can be tricky, but the windswell if often over head-high. Just round the foot of the island, beyond the enormous flamingo sanctuary on the glistening salt beds at Oranje Pan, the former workers’ huts mark the cross-offshore point break at Red Slave. It needs a strong wind to work, but a decent swell will wrap waves round the point to line up bigger and cleaner than at Cai. Softer too, so better for first time wavesailors – although the launch is over rocks and urchins, and there’s some rip. Nearby Atlantis quickly became Bonaire’s most popular kite spot and is now home to the island’s kite school. They offer instruction and provide full rescue cover, so it’s safe to ride in the offshore winds. Atlantis is also home to the Kitebus – already a Bonaire institution with ice-cold drinks, snacks, shade and tunes. Just round the next headland Pink Beach, named after the crushed conch shells in the sand, also has super-flat water and plenty of space. On this west coast, being able to stay upwind is paramount; get into trouble and it’s next stop Curacao a few hours later. Launching is simple enough, although a high embankment disrupts the wind inshore. Donkey Beach is right next to the airport and the island’s capital of Kralendijk – home to the Bonaire International Sailing Regatta, including racing and freestyle windsurfing fleets. A thermal effect means the cross-offshore winds can be 10 knots stronger on this leeward coast, but it’s gusty here as it blows through town. Donkey gets busy at weekends but it’s a good cross-offshore launch to explore from, or cruise over to Klein Bonaire ('little Bonaire’) – a deserted island nestled just west. Either sail across or take a taxi boat from town. The wind is cross-shore and least gusty at No Name Beach. The coral reef here is among the world’s best conserved, so it’s bristling with popular dive sites – as always on Bonaire’s west side, keep your distance from dive-boats, buoys and snorkellers. The cliffs and hills on the mainland to the north don’t afford much sea access, but south-west of the island’s oldest town of Rincón is a small sandy beach at Tolo. Southerly winds light this place up for power freestyle on choppy water, usually best in the morning. It’s rarely sailed, so always launch in company – as you should up on the north coast at Playa Grandi. Cross-onshore winds produce some big, long waves at this remote hardcore spot. It can get mast-high in season, but shorebreak and currents are often too much to launch in. That and the rocks and urchins make it a very dangerous launch.
Kite and Windsurfing Guide