I have asked some questions on kite holiday options around North America/Caribbean and received some excellent replies. So, I would like to return the favor and give my views about the kiting options around SEA (and places that are easy to reach from Singapore). I know the question has come up several times before and everyone has different perspectives of what they like, so maybe putting in my perspective on things will perhaps help someone else to arrange a great holiday.
*Kite level is beginner but because I am on the heavy side I prefer the wind to be a bit stronger (above 12kts is ok, above 18kts is ideal).
*Cost options (accommodation/food/entertainment)
-<US 80 /day cheap
-US80-US150 /day medium
->US 150 expensive
*Preference is to stay on the beach as close to launch spot as possible.
*4 most important criteria for a great holiday:
(ii)Be able to roll out of bed and have my kite in the air in less than 20 minÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (no driving to the beach and/or lugging equipment for miles every day).
(iii)Nice kite vibes in terms of other people both on the water and the beach and also chill out evenings
(iv)Environment - Clean water, clean beaches, (somewhat) unspoiled surroundings (!! Hi, I am paying for this holiday is this too much to ask?)
(I will give a rating out of 10 for each place - this will probably get me into trouble with some but remember it is just my personal opinion)
SINGAPORE AND SUROUNDINGS :
(Wind is generally 10-15 kts and I have never seen it stronger than 20kts,)
Singapore (6 - not really a holiday option) :
Yes it is possible to kite in Singapore. Best spot is Changi beach. Only time that it works is Jan-Feb (March if you are lucky). Check out http://ulfp.com/ulfp/mod_page/view.asp?ID=1&COLS=3
for additional info and wind. For forecast select the windfinder link and select Indonesia - this is mainly a map of Java and Bali but there is a mini map insert of Singapore and Bintan on the Indonesia map. The kite spot is right underneath the Changi flight path and if someone in the control tower sees you, the police may show up and tell you to stop. On a good day there are normally 5-10 kites on the water and a handful of windsurfers. Generally the police donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother too much. Some people also kite during the summer monsoon (Jul-Aug) at East Coast Park but not advisable over weekends (beach crowd). Kite gear is well priced but you need to order in advance as most dealers do not carry a lot of stock Ã¢â‚¬â€œ PM me if you need contact details
Indonesia - Bintan (7 - great spot but not enough wind):
Works at the same time as Changi. Mana Mana is a great spot for a getaway weekend if you are in Singapore. 1 hour ferry ride from Singapore. Visa on arrival US$10 unless you are a Dutch or Belgian citizen.. Excellent flat water spot at high tide in the bay next to Mana Mana (5 min walk or you can kite there from Mana Mana). Sometimes a bit of waves but nothing spectacular. Accomodation at Mana Mana is basic but nice Ã¢â‚¬â€œ average cost. Good kite vibes. Possible to rent equipment at Mana Mana. There is another spot on the south of Bintan (Trikora), 1 hour drive Ã¢â‚¬â€œ only been there once and there was no wind, also no real accommodation option. Works July-Aug.
Malaysia -JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bay (5):
2 hour drive from Singapore. Some huts to stay in but you would need to have steel wool as chest hair to go for this option. Best done as a day trip. Water and sand can best be described as muddy. Same season as Singapore. Not so great because of the mud. No overnight stay so no real kite vibe to talk of.
Malaysia - Kuantan (5):
Conditions are similar than JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bay. 5 hour drive from Singapore about 2.5 hours from KL I guess). Excellent accommodation options compared to JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bay but nothing that I would describe as tranquil. Hyatt is the best place to stay but expensive and a 15 min. drive to get to the kite beach. Value for money for hotels and quality of service are generally 1 or 2 notches down in Malaysia compared to the rest of Asia. No real kite vibe, could be different when monsoon madness is on (1 week in Jan or Feb). Visa on arrival issued free of charge when entering Malaysia.
Thailand - Hua Hin (7)
Good option in April/May when there is not much wind in the rest of SEA. Wind is still light though Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 12-15 kts for about 2-3 hours in the afternoon. No wind if it is cloudy/rainy. Make sure you wear kite pants or wet suit Ã¢â‚¬â€œ lots of jelly fish and I have seen some people with very nasty scars. Hua hin beach is very crowded with tourists, horses and jet skiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. Some Euro tourist (who obviously did not know better) on a jet ski decided to cruise 20m down wind from me to get a better look at what kiting looks like close up on the water! There are some good empty beaches 30 min. drive south of Hua Hin that is worth exploring. Sam Roi Yod (sp?) beach is basically empty and because of a small island just off-shore the water is a lot less choppy. Overall cost is cheap and food is fantastic if you stick to the local stuff. For single guys donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect the same nightlife as most other tourist places in Thailand. Good places to stay at on the beach but no storage facilities at the main kite spot. Kite vibes are good with lots of friendly fellow kiters including the crowd that come down from Bangkok on weekends. Only 1 (expensive) kite shop and not well stocked, so best advised to bring your own backup spares.
Australia - Perth (8.5):
Works Oct-March I think but lots of info on the exact details on the web. The wind HOWLS is probably the best way to describe it. Lots of empty beaches to explore but I mainly checked out the areas around Perth (Woodmans point in the South to Pinaroo point in the north). Found Pinaroo point to be the nicest, Woodies could be good as well I guess but the fishermen throwing in some leftover bait into the water made me a bit nervous. Other spots in between have waves which I did not feel quite ready for yet at the time (probably still the case). Wind is generally side on-shore so waves are very sloppy. Only downside of Pinaroo point is that it can get very choppy. Kite vibes are average from a kite holiday perspective as there is not really anywhere specific (?) where kiters chill out afterwards. Other kiters are generally a friendly bunch but you do need to watch out for the <5% agro people (that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like foreigners on their turf or donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like kites I guess). Make sure you check the kite doÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ts on the web first. Accommodation is expensive. Around the Perth area you would need a car to get to the kite spots. Further north there are spots on the beach I believe but you need to be into camping to take advantage of these. Certainly a place I will visit again when my skills are up.
Philippines Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Boracay (8.0) :
Works Nov-April but Jan/Feb is the best. Accommodation is cheap and kite vibes are excellent. Limited accommodation at the kite beach, 10 min tuk tuk ride or 40 min. walk to the kite spot. Facilities for storing equipment available. Ocean Republic is highly recommended - excellent kite vibes. If you are into the more hip crowd and the peanut gallery some of the other kite centers may be better for you. The launch can be a bit hairy as the beach is quite narrow and there are trees and overhead cables directly behind the beach. The water is shallow so at low tide or for lessons it is possible to walk the kite into the water before launching for better safety. Good scuba options (not sure if this only applies to the early season when we were there). A bit of a mission to get to Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it is about the same distance from Singapore as Hong Kong but the travel time is about 10 hours (plane, taxi, plane, taxi, boat). Together with Vietnam Boracay is supposed to be the only place in SEA that gets Ã¢â‚¬Å“realÃ¢â‚¬