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.
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.
Mannar Kiteboarding Spots
The main spot lays in front of a long 16-kilometer (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?
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.
The Adam’s Bridge spot is a summer-only area, as it faces the Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park. To avoid disrupting the animals during the birding season, there is no kiting on that spot in the winter months.
In winter, you can still kite on the ocean side, also called the south side of the island, which doesn’t have that restriction. However, the wind turns northward during this period which makes the ocean side complete offshore. The local Vayu Resort will provide gear rental, rescue boat, kiteboarding lessons and instructors for January and February 2018, covering most of the winter kitesurfing months.
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.
Or just walk to the spot, a few minutes away from the 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.
During both seasons, the wind tends to be lighter in the morning and grows stronger in the afternoon.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
If you break something, you can purchase a repair kit from the store, or check with the repair shop at the kiteschool.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
However, our good friend Kobus De Wet did so we teamed up with him. He shared his insights on actually Mannar kiteboarding, which we compiled in addition to our own experience about this new Sri Lanka kitesurfing spot. Kobus is an IKO instructor traveling to meet and teach new people around the world, so we trust him to know a thing or two about Kiteboarding! Besides Sri Lanka, he has traveled to Kenya and Zanzibar for teaching kitesurfing. His home spot is Cape Town where he spends the South African summers at his own kiteschool Kiting Buddies. Thanks Kobus for sharing your own experience!
A review of Mannar accommodation, Vayu Resort, who has kindly shared some of their photos with us, as well as Top Things To Do around Mannar will be published shortly. Sign-up for our newsletter to receive these updated travel tips about Mannar, kiteboarding, or from our round-the-world adventures directly in your mailbox.