Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review of Sri Lanka's newest Kite Spot - Vayu Mannar

It is heaven! Check out the review

Kiteboarding Mannar: A New Sri Lanka Kiting Paradise Unveiled

While kiteboarding in Kalpitiya has increased in popularity, kitesurfing Sri Lanka is at its beginning with plenty spots waiting to be discovered. Well, search no more! Kiteboarding Mannar will make you feel like an explorer! And if you think the wind is strong in Kalpitiya, the conditions are even stronger in Mannar. Be prepared to be blown away – pun intended!

Where is Mannar?

Mannar Peninsula (sometimes referred as Mannar Island Sri Lanka) is in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, about 300 kilometers (around 190 miles) north of Colombo on the West coast facing India.
The spot is actually on the outskirts of Talaimannar, a little town the furthest west of Mannar.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Kite Spot and Vayu Resort
Mannar Kite Spot
This area is locally called Adam’s Bridge (or Rama’s Bridge), of what used to be 50-kilometer (30 miles) land connection to India. Legend said that you could cross the bridge by foot, that is until a cyclone destroyed it in the late 15th century. Nowadays, small islands and sandbanks are parcelled by shallow water sections. According to the famous Ramayana poem, the name Rama’s bridge comes from the belief that the army of Prince Rama built it when Hanuman tried to rescue his wife from the Demon King Ravana.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Adam’s Bridge from Sri Lanka to India.
Adam’s Bridge from Sri Lanka to India – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort

Mannar Kiteboarding Spots

Adam’s Bridge

The main spot lays in front of a long 16-kilometre (10-mile) sandbar and faces Adam’s Bridge. Imagine the perfect water: flat, warm, turquoise. The spot: smooth white sand. The wind: constant and strong. One word: Paradise!
The dunes offer two options: the ocean waves in the south part of the dunes, and the flat water north of it. There, away from the crowd, a busy day currently features about 15 kiteboarders on the water. Isn’t that a dream?
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Busy day kiteboarding in Mannar
Busy day kiteboarding in Mannar – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort
Small islands and sandbars close to the resort provide a good 300 meters (360 yards) of safety on the land side. But the wind there is offshore, requiring kiters to know how to get upwind or be pushed at sea. If that happens, a rescue boat is on site during the high season for a stress-free and safe riding experience. The boat is available from 9 am to 5 pm but these hours might vary though so enquire before getting on the water.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Time to try new trick - Safety boat on the ready
Time to try a new trick, safety boat at the ready! Photo courtesy of Kobus De Wet
The Adam’s Bridge spot is a summer-only area, as it faces the Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park. To avoid disrupting the birds, there is no kiting on that spot in the winter months. You can still kite on the ocean side which doesn’t have that restriction. However, the wind turns northward during this period which makes the ocean side complete offshore with no safety sandbars or boats!
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Cruising in Mannar kite spot
Cruising in Mannar kite spot – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort
The launch and landing areas vary according to the tides. At low tide, you can use the local truck to get your gear up to the water.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Gear Truck from Resort to Spot
Gear Truck from Resort to Spot – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort
Or just walk to the spot, a few minutes away from the resort.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Walking the short distance to the launch area
Walking the short distance to the launch area – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort

Other Mannar Kiteboarding Areas 

Go for a downwind around Mannar for new sensations. If you are interested in longer trips, for example to Jaffna, the local kite resort can organize downwinds over multi-days for you.

When to Go Kitesurfing in Mannar?

Like in Kalpitiya, there are two windy seasons for kitesurfing Mannar: Summer, and Winter. The winds blow strongly all year long, but Fall and Spring might not be as reliable.
  • Summer: The best season for kiting runs from May to October for, where the south-west winds are usually blowing around an average 20 knots.
  • Winter: You can catch the winter season from mid-December to end of February, with winds also in the 20-knot average but with a Northeast direction. Remember that, at that time, kiting the Northern side of the spot is prohibited due to the migratory birds residing in the nearby sanctuary.
In both seasons, the wind tends to be lighter in the morning and grows stronger in the afternoon.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Wind patterns
Wind patterns over the dunes
As an indication, an adult male of around 70 kgs might want to take a 9m2 kite. And as a rule (though as with everything with the wind, this is no guarantee of course!), the wind will generally be stronger and more stable than in Kalpitiya, so make sure to bring your smaller kites as well.  
Our friend Kobus used his 10m2 North Rebel and a 136cm twintip and reported he was overpowered all the time…just the way he likes it! During his three-day stay, the wind blew consistently, and so strong he mentioned seeing the sand blasting across the beach every day, reminded him of Cape Town. On our end, the wind did blow the two days out of the three we visited Mannar, but it was out of the season (end of September), so still pretty good and telling! Obviously keep in mind that this spot is like any other kite spot: the wind is never guaranteed. Days without wind in the middle of the season can occur anytime.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Ready to have some fun
Ready to have some fun – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort

Mannar Water Conditions & Beach Settings

Just like Vella Island for those familiar with the famous Kalpitiya kite spot, Mannar features insanely flat spots! The nice shallow sections make learning to kitesurf more accessible for the student.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Mannar Paradise: Turquoise water and white sand beach
Mannar Paradise: Turquoise water and white sand beach
The incredible turquoise water is also warm, stretching along white sand beaches, gentle rolling dunes that create these flat conditions. That’s paradise for you!
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. We did say the water was turquoise.
We did say the water was turquoise…
The only thing we were not thrilled about is that the beach on the ocean side was very littered. Not from any local trash but all from plastic debris drifting from afar and landing in the giant net that the sandbars provide. But this is not just the case for Mannar as it is the same in Kalpitiya, and across India and Indonesia in general. If you stay on the flat north side, you will see none of it – and that’s where all the action is happening!
Note that the owners of the new kite resort are very engaged in sustainable tourism. They pioneered projects around Kalpitiya to use reusable bottles and reduce plastic garbage. Their goal is to apply the same effort in Mannar.

Mannar Kiteboarding Lessons & Gear Rental

If you don’t bring your own gear, are looking to learn kiteboarding or want to learn new tricks, you can check the local Kiteschool at the Vayu Kite Resort. Kite sizes available range from 5 to 14m2, board sizes from 131 to 160. Vests, helmets, harnesses and shoes are available for rent as well. The Vayu Kiteschool has around 6 IKO instructors, which provide teaching in French, German, English and Flemish.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Learning to Kitesurf in Mannar
Learning to Kitesurf in Mannar – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort
If you break something, you can purchase a repair kit from the store, or check with the repair shop at the kiteschool.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Practice makes perfect! Time to go on the water
Practice makes perfect! Time to go on the water – Photo courtesy of Kobus De Wet

How to Go to Mannar Sri Lanka?

  • By Private Car with Driver: The most convenient way to reach Mannar is by a private car. Organize a pick-up directly from the airport in Negombo for the faster transfer. Note that the airport is in Negombo, one hour north of Colombo.
    Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Mannar Sri Lanka
    Mannar Sri Lanka
  • By Train:
    • There is a train station right in Talaimannar, with two trains running daily from Colombo. Trains in Sri Lanka are efficient, mostly on time and extremely affordable. Check out the Sri Railway website for more information
    • Tip: Check out the exact name of the desired start and end train stations on Google Maps first. Then do your query on the Sri Lankan railway website!

  • By Tuk-Tuk:
    • Not your regular means of transportation, and only if you are already around in the northern part of Sri Lanka. We rented ours from Kalpitiya and drove up to Mannar.
    • Note that, while this was fun, tuk-tuks are quite hard to drive! Moreover, the low-speed limit and the high number of police check-points almost double the time it would take by car.
    • Overall, we don’t recommend tuk-tuk for a long distance trip.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Going to Mannar with our tuktuk
Going to Mannar with our tuk-tuk
  • By Bus: 
      • Buses regularly run between major cities, and at least once a day between smaller destinations. Mannar is an important destination so catching a bus should be easy.
      • You might have to overnight in Anuradhapura depending on the time you leave Colombo or Negombo. From there, take a bus to Talaimannar, and arrange a pick-up or take a taxi to the spot.
  • By Plane:
    • There is no regular flight from the international airport in Negombo to Jaffna, the nearest airport to Mannar
    • An airline Cinnamon Air connects to Jaffna but via charter only for the time being.

Non-Kiting Activities Around Mannar

I could have called this section “For non-windy days”! However, these are so rare in Mannar! You will most likely want a break from the insane conditions than face an actual day with no wind. The kite spot is somewhat remote and isolated, which we personally loved. So we just chilled the day without wind. But in case you still have the energy to spare, try one of these things to do around Mannar:
  • Active activities include borrowing SUP (watch for these fins!) and bikes.
  • For more relaxing ones, go for yoga time or massage.
  • Nature buffs will enjoy bird watching or explore one of the nearby wildlife parks like Wilpattu National Park.
  • If you are more into history, visit the ancient cities of Anuradhapura or Sigiriya, one of the many top Sri Lanka sightseeing sites.
  • Rent a scooter or bike and discover fishing villages and natural Palmira Palms forests around Tailamannar.
Sri. Lanka Wilpattu National Park. Leopard Laying on Tree Branch
Leopard Laying on Tree Branch in Wilpattu National Park

Where to Stay in Mannar?

A few Mannar accommodations are in and around Tailamannar, but none with the perfect location than Vayu Resort. The brand new resort is built with kitesurfing in mind. Vayu Resort is indeed right on the spot and offers all the amenities for the perfect Mannar kiteboarding vacation.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. View of Vayu Resort by Adam's Bridge Kiteboarding Spot
Sunset over the Vayu Resort and Adam’s Bridge Kiteboarding Spot – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort

Mannar Travel Tips

  • Take high SPF sunscreens, believe me, the sun is incredibly intense! A scarf or mask to protect your nose and mouth would be a good idea as well.
  • Bring all your equipment. On some days you can cruise on your 15m2 while on others you will be holding onto your 6m2. So to avoid disappointment take them all! You can also check with the resort shop to check what equipment is available for rent. You may want to reserve in advance if you want a specific size or model.
  • Consider booties to protect against the occasional sharp seashells.
  • Add a First Aid kit. If booties are not your things, make sure you have supplies to care for small little cuts. You won’t be kiting over any reef, but will probably step into a sharp little shell when you least expect it. Trust me, it happened to us, with seconds of ditching the shoes…
  • Prepare for a long day ride from Colombo as the 300-kilometer (190 miles) trip takes about 7 hours by private car. Break it with a visit to the Wilpattu National Park and search for elephants and leopards. Or check the ancient cities along the road.
  • Share a taxi to keep the costs down.
  • Fill your water bottle before you head out to go kiting! You will have so much fun on the water that you won’t realize that you are dehydrating in the sun. So drink plenty of water.
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Meeting with the locals, Sri Lanka style
Meeting with the locals, Sri Lanka style – Photo courtesy of Vayu Resort
As lovely as this kite destination was, we, unfortunately, did not kite ourselves this incredible place. To start with, we visited at the end of the season, the resort officially closed. On the top of that, Bruno injured himself by having too much kiteboarding in Kalpitiya.

This post was originally posted on Ze Wandering Frogs
Sri. Lanka Mannar Kiteboarding. Kobus De Wet.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Taking Kite Coaching to the next level

Kitesurfing, Coaching & The Catamaran! from Kitesurfing Lanka on Vimeo.

Kitesurfing Lanka and Vayu Resort Mannar specialize in Kite Coaching Catamaran Trips!

What a journey it has been - Kalpitiya to Mannar

What an amazing journey this blog has seen. From a student of kitesurfing to get hooked, start a business and now a brand new camp in new locations! Sri Lanka IS a kitesurfers paradise and probably the best in the world. . 2017 saw Leo and take bold steps to start Catamaran Trips where we had coaching clinics run by Zac Andrews. This was well received. We also venture to the Adams Bridge again - 6 years after being the first to kite on it, we start a new camp called Vayu - Vayu incidentally means God of Wind and the location is epic! Check the clip out of the Vayu Mannar. Leo and I know the future is even more exciting. Visit us.
Vayu Kite School & Resort: Mannar Island, Sri Lanka from Kitesurfing Lanka on Vimeo.