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These are not the cute little kites you grew up with! This one requires skill and strength. But don’t get discouraged just yet!
With the proper guidance, you’ll be practicing this extreme sport in no time! Kiteboarding is a watersport that uses wind power with a large kite to pull a rider across water, land, or snow. You can imagine the sport as windsurfing meets snowboarding.🏂🏻 I can tell you this much; it looks incredibly cool! From what I learned talking with the founders of Venture Holidays Aruba, locals and visitors agree: it IS cool! The sport is gaining popularity worldwide, with over 1.5 million kitesurfers practicing the sport today. Many visitors even travel to Aruba solely to do so! Let me tell you more about kiteboarding in Aruba and how you can start taking lessons asap!
When I was growing up, many moons ago, windsurfing was the main watersport practiced on the island. We would drive by the Fisherman’s Huts area on Palm Beach and watch the sails go by. Then one day, I started seeing these giant kites with people on (what looked like) snowboards. I thought, “Holy moly! That looks fun!”. Kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing, received a wider audience in the late 90s and has only gained popularity since. There are even freestyle, wave-riding, and racing competitions nowadays. 🏆
Venture Holidays Aruba founder Hendrick grew up on the island and was attracted to the water from a young age. His first adventures were boogie boarding in the rough waters of Andicuri and Dos Playa. Around 11, he started windsurfing at Fisherman’s Huts on Palm Beach, a beach that had created many watersport champions before him. As you can guess, kiteboarding was his next step. After finishing high school in Aruba, Hendrick, now an endorsed athlete, followed his passion, becoming a professional kiteboarder full-time. 🏄🏻♀️
While Hendrick was off winning championships, his co-founder Caroline was winning in her own right: working on her degree in Human Resources and Internal Communications. She then worked in a marketing and event company in France. She started her watersport adventures in 2013 in Cabarete, a famous kite spot in the Dominican Republic, which is also where she met Hendrick.
After representing Aruba in world championships and working on equipment development with industry-known brands for many years, Hendrick decided it was time to return home. He did not hang up his kite just yet! He planned to open up a kiteboarding school at the same place that played a crucial role in developing his professional career. That has always been his dream: to one day share his expertise, in a safe and professional manner. Even better, he got to do it with his girl Caroline by his side.
First, you don’t need to be a strong man or woman, boy, or girl, to start your kiteboarding journey. You can start as young as ten years old and up to 75 years young, depending on your weight, mobility, focus, and, most importantly, with the right equipment choice by your instructor. With the right kite and instructor, nearly everyone can learn to kitesurf. Basic swimming skills are, of course, necessary to practice any watersport.
Hendrick and Caroline recommend taking an introductory class and are sure you will get hooked on the sport. After that, they suggest taking 4-6 consecutive lessons for quicker progression and muscle memory. You will also get theoretical lessons on the sport during these sessions. Classes usually take place at the Fisherman’s Huts and move to Boca Grandi once students get more confident. The learning process is lots of fun! They say it’s like riding a bicycle; you’ll never forget once you learn! All you need to bring is your happy self and lots of sunscreen. Venture Holidays Aruba will provide all equipment.
According to experts Hendrick and Caroline, you can get to level 3 after 4-6 lessons. To achieve level 4, you’ll need to keep practicing on your own or with additional lessons. As with most sports, some students progress faster than others.
Just as you would go to a PADI-certified scuba diving instructor/school, it is recommended to go to an IKO certified Kiteboarding school. Hendrick got certified in 2013 in Cabarete, and Caroline in 2019, right here in Aruba. It is a 2-week training course with assistant training, followed by instructor training, CPR, and first aid.
Any extreme sport is risky, but by learning the sport with certified instructors, that risk drops significantly. Even if something does go wrong, they are better prepared to act appropriately. It can be the difference between life and death. You can check a company’s certification on the IKO website.
Aside from the Venture Holidays Aruba instructors having IKO certification, it is also essential that other kitesurfing schools in Aruba join them in getting certified. This is not only for the safety of their students but for others practicing the sport in the area. Regulation helps prevent accidents. As with all extreme sports, it is important and much more efficient if instructors teach students safe conduct from day 1. This also increases the comfort level for all who are in the water. You can download the IKO right-of-way rules here.
So, what do you think? Will you be joining Hendrick and Caroline in the water soon?
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