Kalpitiya boasts two wind seasons, making it one of the spots with the most kitesurfing days in a year. The many lagoons are perfect for beginning kiteboarders, whereas the nearby ocean and the several islands in the bay are better suited for intermediate and advanced kitesurfers that can ride upwind due to the offshore winds. Sri Lanka as a country plenty to explore for non-windy days, making it perfect for the ultimate vacation. Sri Lanka Kitesurfing: Kalpitiya should be on your list for your next kiteboarding trip!
Where is Kalpitiya?
Located about 4 hours and 170 kilometers (104 miles) away from Colombo, Kalpitiya grew from a small sleepy fishing village on the Puttalam Peninsula to a popular kitesurfing and diving destination.
Where are the Sri Lanka Kitesurfing: Kalpitiya Spots?
Main Site: Kalpitiya Lagoon
The main kitesurfing spot, this is the perfect place for beginners and experts alike. The sandbar and a smaller shallower section of the lagoon allow beginners to improve their skills. Experts can try new tricks in the strong afternoon winds.
Note that the area to launch your kite is on the dunes, and no kite resort starts directly from the resort’s location (except maybe Sri Lanka Kite on west-southwestern winds). You can reach the dunes either by boat if you are coming from one of the lagoon’s resorts, or by truck/motorbike/ scooter if you can from the beach. A boat is also quite useful since the wind is offshore, in case of rescue. Even if you are not part of a resort, fishermen and resort boats are at the ready to help, providing a small fee for the rescue (500-1,000LKR).
In Summer, the wind blows South/Southwest, whereas it comes from the North in Winter.
PROS: The lagoon is quite a large area and can accommodate ~40 kiters without feeling too crowded. Before 9:30 am, between 12 pm noon to 2 pm, and after 4:30 pm sometimes makes much less busy since most schools are away at these times. Don’t miss a sunset session (~6 – 6:30 pm all year long)!
CONS: The wind can be very gusty in the summer and more so towards the south end of the lagoon. The more significant dunes area tends to be full of lessons and beginners, which sometimes makes entry and exit somewhat tricky. The whole lagoon starts to be pretty cramped with over 50 kiters.
- Be respectful of local fishermen and their net. They usually come to the lagoon before 9 am and after 5 pm, though most of them fish at night. Fishing is the livelihood of most villagers, so it’s important to give them priority during these hours if you see them around.
- Depending on the state of the dunes, the north part might only be accessible by foot or 4-wheel drive.
Indian Ocean by Kalpitiya Lagoon
Choppy in the summer, better try your luck in the winter season for smoother water. You can spice your ride and almost jump from the calm Kalpitiya Lagoon just a few dunes away. The beach there is also a good landing spot for downwind from Donkey Point
PROS: You will be mostly by yourself but with safe side-on shore wind.
CONS: Choppy in the summer.
Downwinder: Donkey Point
Located near a small navy camp, Donkey Point usually features the best waves in the area and stable wind. The area is also a good starting point for a downwind up to the shores by the Kalpitiya Lagoon. Both Summer and Winter winds are side-onshore, but either way, can carry you far from the shore so make sure you have a safety boat or friends who know you’re here.
PROS: Stable wind and good waves
CONS: Suggest a safety boat for downwinder
Another spot with both access to the ocean and the lagoon, Dream Spot is reached within a 15-minute boat ride from Kalpitiya Lagoon. A few kite schools and resorts offer trips there as part of their packages. You can also leave from here for a 20 – 40 mn downwind to Ippantivu Island (Mini Vellai). The crossing might mean choppy water during the summer season.
PROS: Offers steadier wind than the Kalpitiya Lagoon
CONS: Access by boat or off-road vehicle only
Beginners’ Favorite: Kappalady Lagoon
A small lagoon about 30 minutes south of Kalpitiya, the flat water of Kappalady is perfect for beginners and those looking to improve their skills. The area is rather small and fits about 15 kiters maximum but offers more stable wind than Kalpitiya. Note that the launch area is reachable by foot only either by crossing in the shallow water area in the middle of the lagoon or by the North or South sides. Also be respectful of local instructors and their students.
PROS: Steady wind conditions, super flat and shallow water all across, perfect for beginners
CONS: A rather small site, crowded with 10 kites. An area is supposedly reserved for beginners, making it even smaller for kiters
Must-Do: Vellai Island & Paradise Island
A day trip to Vellai Island is a must-do while in Kalpitiya. The 2.5 km (1.5 miles) long bay is in Portugal Bay, about 1-hour boat ride North of Kalpitiya and is true to its name of Paradise. The steady offshore wind runs from May to September and means flat water conditions. A few sandbars allow for standing and help beginners and intermediate riders to improve their skills. The offshore wind however also means upwind riding skills are required. Unless a rescue boat is on standby to catch you, your kite or board back. A few fishermen huts and dunes are the only structures on the island, but overnight stay can be arranged.
If you have time and like camping, an overnight should also be on your list. The wind is more stable than in the lagoon, so if the wind conditions are gusty in Kalpitiya, plan a day trip to Vellai. On the way there, ask for your boat to drop you at the sandbank about 5 km ( 3 miles) from Velai beach for an epic flat water downwinder.
PROS: Flat water, steady wind, sandbar, just perfect!
CONS: Go there before it gets too popular!
Also called Mini Vellai, this is one of the small islands further up Dutch Bay towards the ocean. The central bay is protected and offers flat water with offshore winds. An excellent and closer alternative to Vellai, a boat ride can reach the island in about 30 minutes. In the Summer, you can quickly do a downwind from the peninsula to Dream Point, but the water can be choppy.
The flat water spot is better kited in summer thanks to the offshore SSW wind. A favorite downwind is possible through Dutch Bay.
Dutch Bay Point
A winter season spot, Dutch Bay Point – aka Navy Point – this is comparable to Vella Island with flat water and offshore conditions but closer to Kalpitiya. You need a 4-wheel drive, a fisherman’s tractor or by boat to reach it. If you are there around the summer months, enjoy a downwind session to Vella, best reserved for advanced kitesurfers.
Gear Rental & Lessons
Plenty kite resorts and kite schools are around the Kalpitiya lagoon and along the ocean. Some of the more significant organizations are Kitesurfing Lanka, Sri Lanka Kite, De Silva Wind Resort, but there are many others. At the time of writing this blog post (September 2017), you could find the following schools: Valampuri Kite Resort (former Kiteboarding Sri Lanka), Surfpoint Sri Lanka, KiteWorldWide, AAA Kiteboarding, Ruuk Village, Rascals Kite Resort, Kitesurfing Sri Lanka, and Cocodance Kitesurfing. This list is not exhaustive as there seem to be new schools and new resorts popping up every other day.
Lessons are available in different languages, French, German, Dutch, English, Spanish, and more depending on the school you choose. Many employ Western instructors as well as local pros who grew up with the wind and know the local spots inside out.
If you are looking to windsurf, De Silva Resort is the only one providing windsurf rental equipment.
Rent or bring your gear?
That is the question! Well, our answer will be: bring your own! Of course, that means shuffling your heavy bags to Kalpitiya, but you will be free to go wherever you want whenever you want. Certainly renting provides the flexibility of getting different kite sizes depending on the wind. But you can still do it to complement your material, should the need arises.
One of the reasons we suggest bringing your gear is that the prices asked for the rental tend to be expensive. Moreover, the rental equipment we saw and tried did not seem to be the most recent or most performant models. Granted, it was in March, at the end of the season and most schools had already packed their gears. Note that we did not try all the kite schools and can’t comment on all of them.
If you have specific gear in mind, or a brand or a model, contact the kite stores to see whether they have what you want. Another benefit of bringing your equipment is that, as a beginner myself but not taking lessons; I could not rent any equipment since they usually require you either take classes with them or have an intermediate level. Being able to use Bruno’s gear allowed me to keep practicing and improving.
Each kite resort has a small shop where you can buy new and used gear – harness, rash guards, sometimes even a few boards or kites. Note that you may be able to get a good deal on North and Nobile kites which are manufactured in Sri Lanka. There is an actual kite shop in downtown Kalpitiya run by AAA Kiteboarding. You can find boards, kites, booties to swimming suits, shorts to sunscreen, and plenty things in-between, great stuff. Note that the store is open evenings only from 5 – 5:30 pm when the team returns from the lagoon.
In the case of an unlucky tear to your kite, check with Sri Lanka Kite. One of their staff provides kite repairs and might save your vacations.
When To Go
With two wind seasons to choose from, Kalpitiya makes it easy for you to plan your kitesurfing vacations.
- The Summer season runs from May to October with the wind usually blowing 15 to 25 knots every day, sometimes even with peaks at 30 knots. The wind often comes from the southwest. This summer 2017 has been inconsistent so far. Over a roughly 45-day period, we had about 5 days without wind, 10 days with light breeze, and quite gusty when windy. Local long-timers say it is somewhat unusual. Maybe we need to come next Summer again.
- The Winter season is from December through February, with steady afternoon winds averaging 15 to 20 knots most days.The wind comes from the north during this season and starts from around late morning. Many say the winter season is better than Summer because the wind is more consistent even if not as strong. More steady winds mean flatter water, making winter a great time for other activities such as diving, whale-watching, or dolphin-watching.
Did you kite in Kalpitiya? Did we miss a top kite spot? Have you a kite school to recommend? Let us know so we can update this post!
A Travel Guide to Kalpitiya, including how to get there and where to stay, as well as Top Things to Do around Kalpitiya, will be published shortly. Check back soon for the latest posts! Or sign-up to our newsletter to receive updated information about Kalpitiya, Kiteboarding, or from our round-the-world adventures!