So you thought I windsurf at the same beach for 2 months straight?!?
Hood River and Cape Town are destinations where you windsurf different spots every day depending on various factors like the wind, conditions you’re searching for, and for some the satisfaction of windsurfing places with names like “The Hatchery”, “The Wall” or “Big Bay”. Rigging, de-rigging, packing up the car, checking your IWindsurf apps, and hypothesizing various meteorological theories takes up a large chunk of your day at such destinations.
On the other hand, Isla Margarita and Brazil are destinations where you leave your sail rigged and launch from the same spot every day. Wake up, slip on your shorts, grab your harness, attach the sail and board. Before you know it you’re flying across the water. It’s obviously a more time efficient type of destination, however you lose windsurfing at a variety of beaches. At least that’s the case until you know what’s in the vicinity and are ready to make the journey there…and back.
Playa El Yaque on Isla Margarita has a few spots near-by that are worth checking out. Some are further than others, so if your up wind skills are not up to par, or more commonly your gas tank is empty after a great session, make sure you have at least one dollar (no joke!) on you to get you home with your gear.
Here’s a little guide of the spots – starting from the furthest up wind to the one furthest downwind:
Up wind, or sometimes called “the waves” is on the East end of El Yaque beach. It’s around 300m up wind of Club Nathalie Simon. When the forecast shows a period of 8 seconds or greater, or waves of 0.7m or greater it will probably be good there. You get small waves rolling in and breaking over a shallow sandy bottom. There is where you see some BIG moves, such as Gollito’s latest Shifty Shaka. Getting there is easy with one short tack up wind, and an easy jibe back downwind.
El Yaque Beach
El Yaque Beach is about 300m in length. Club Nathalie Simon – the only rental center with the latest equipment is at the downwind end of the beach. The conditions here can vary from small chop, to big steep chop, sometimes mixed with a rolling swell. It’s perfect for classic bump and jump windsurfing, or for me it’s great to practice landing my moves in more challenging conditions.
La Punta is never the same. Every year the winds blow the sand of the long nameless beach making it extend and change shape. Some years it’s just a simple point, but this year it’s a bit of a bay with a shallow sand bottom. I don’t recommend windsurfing here unless you have a short fin, less than 20cm. Here you can find dead flat water right behind the tip of the beach. Windsurfing out into the ocean from this spot you find clean rolling swell, which are a lot of fun when used as kickers. It’s about 2km downwind, so fairly easy to get to, but a bit of a trek back. If you’re good at going up wind, it should take under 15 minutes to get back to El Yaque. If not, don’t stress, as there are many boats rounding La Punta for when you need a ride back. Just wave one down, de-rig and load your gear into the boat with your friends. It should not cost more than 3000Bs, $3, for the entire boat
Manglillo is another flat water spot, it’s advantage over La Punta is that you can see the gusts on the water. At La Punta, looking for flying sand is the only tell-tale that a strong gust is on its way. Another advantage is that Manglillo is a larger spot, with a bigger flat area, so you can share with friends without getting in each other’s way. Other benefits include deeper water than La Punta, a great lunch spot, access to a small town where you can hitch a ride back, either by car or boat, and beautiful scenery. The downside is on the bottom there is some sea grass which can sting, and you’re 3km downwind of El Yaque. Easy to get to windsurfing downwind, but a longer trek up wind; just over 20 minutes.
Punta Carnero is a point that sticks out a further than the other spots I’ve mentioned until now. It’s a deep water spot, so it gets the wind swell hitting the beach, and on the really windy days it can get big enough to break and offer a bit of an onshore wave type of spot. It works best when the wind is over 25 knots and fairly consistent, allowing the swell to build up. We don’t go there often as it’s 4.5km downwind ride from El Yaque, and it would be a journey going back up wind after a day of windsurfing there. We normally arrange to go with somebody who has a pick up truck to give us a ride home after.
There are of course some other nooks and crannies we windsurf between “Upwind” and “Punta Carnero”, but the above list sums up the main options.
So if you decide on the easy-going Caribbean style windsurfing vacation with no rigging, packing or driving, make sure you put in the extra effort of cruising downwind and up wind to make the most of the variety of conditions available from El Yaque Beach.