Restaurant Meal: AUD$25 – 30
Accommodation: Motel $120, unit $150, villa $200, 3 bed house $250 per night
The long downwinders and waist deep, warm, flat aqua-blue waters that you'll find here are like the kiting conditions you see in your dreams. A five hour flight off mainland Australia, this group of 27 palm tree covered islands in the Indian Ocean have no resorts, there's nothing really to buy; just incredible kitesurfing and a whacky ex-pat Australian culture. Perfect for beginner and advanced riders wanting 15 - 20 knot winds morning, noon and night. There's no wonder that The Cocos Islands are growing in reputation for blissful kiteboarding and if you're lucky you can kite with the turtles, reef sharks and manta rays.
Cocos kite beach is located at the south end of West Island and is suited to small groups of roughly 15 kiters. The trade winds blow cross-on-shore and, although the lagoon is tidal, there are only a few days in the season where the tide is too low or too high to launch. These times occur only sporadically over the windy season. The water in the lagoon is deep in areas, but generally really flat as it's protected by small palm islands. A support boat is always at hand for the beginners, gear breakdowns and for kiting adventures in and around the lagoon. There are certain places and times that kitesurfing is prohibited, so speak to a kitesurfing local or ZKT before kiting away from the kite beach area.
If you think your riding could do with a professional tune-up bear in mind that riders such as Tom Hebert frequent the islands to run specialised advanced freestyle progression camps with Zephyr Kite Tours, too.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
The 15 - 20 knot southeasterly trade winds start to blow from July and continue through to October/November. On average you can kite 80 – 90% of the time in the Cocos. Ten or 12 metre kites are the best sizes to bring and, if you manage to explore behind the small islands, or head downwind, you will always find butter-smooth, shallow water. The air temperature is lovely at 26 - 28°C / 78 – 82°F all day and night. All you need are a few pairs of boardies for the water and some T-shirts for the evenings or around the small town.
Zephyr kite tours offer shared accommodation for singles, couples and small groups in large shared houses with transport, flights etc. included. Accommodation isn't cheap, so sharing makes it affordable. Make sure to book your accommodation with your flights. Excess baggage to the islands is limited and last minute bookings may result in no accommodation.
ZEPHYR KITE TOURS are the only school and tour operator on the Cocos offering membership, lessons and kiting between mid-July to mid-October. Instructors teach all levels and there's a great stock of new and used North equipment. An inflatable zodiac is onhand for water rescues, guided downwinders and lagoon crossings. For their tenth anniversary this year, Zephyr will be running special events throughout the season to celebrate.
ZEPHYR KITE TOURS
+61 (0) 400 800 838
Take the ferry to Direction Island and be rewarded with the most picture perfect beach in the world. The snorkelling is amazing and there are guided kayak tours. ZKT offer stand-up paddleboarding, too. You can even have a champagne lunch, do a bit of fishing or just relax in a Malay pondok. There is also excellent scuba diving and golf available (the course crosses the airport runway), and a tour of Home Island will show you some Coco culture and history of the Cocos-Malay people; eat the food and sail to their pondoks on the other islands. Hangout with the locals at night and get involved with their social nights and games.
West Island is 15 kilometres long with its main settlement town lying at the centre. There are limited facilities on the island, but it has the basics, like mains power and running water. Internet is slow and the public phones only let you call out. The five hour flight from Perth will land you in the town centre and you'll probably be able to walk off the plane to your residence. A car is recommended to get to kite beach and you can leave your gear there from day to day. If you have an accident Australia is a long way away, so make sure you get travel insurance that covers the Cocos Islands and kitesurfing injuries.
Australian Dollar (AUD$) £1 = AUD$1.8 / €1 = AUD$1.5 / $1 = AUD$1
FOOD AND DRINK
There is a supermarket, pub, cafe, restaurant and a hospital, but what won't run dry is the booze. The Cocos are duty-free and the drinks flow cheaply and freely. Most accommodations have their own BBQ and cooking facilities. The Cocos-Malays often cook traditional meals on Home Island or on West Island once a week.
The Cocos Islands airport (CCK) is located in the settlement area and Virginblue fly from Perth three times a week.
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