KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - CAPE HATTERAS
If you were able to custom design a kiteboarding location from scratch, you couldn't come up with a much better set-up. Hatteras Island, 40 miles off the US mainland, has heaps of locations for flat water and surf kiteboarding. The unique bend in Hatteras island, combined with consistent, clean winds and open access to the water make this place difficult to beat. Imagine shallow water to the horizon in every direction on the sound side - that's the Pamlico Sound with flat water riding areas that are waist-deep seven miles out and up to 60 miles north and south. Drop your kite and stand up, or just take a rest - the thousands of newly qualified riders prove that this is without doubt one of the best places to learn. Want waves? Simply hop over the island strip to the coast. The whole area is home to some of the finest downwinders you could hope for.
PHOTO: Bryan Elkus
The Outer Banks has above-average wind conditions in the US and blows pretty-much all year long. Mix in the choice of kiting terrain and this is one of the most ideal and progressive kiting environments in the world. Suitable from rank beginner to pro level flat water and surf kiteboarding. With well over 140 miles of coastline and nearly unlimited access to the water, there are hundreds of quality kiteboarding spots to check out. No currents in the flat water and the surf kiting is world class with a variety of wave heights, sand bottom and you have a massive swell window that accepts waves from any direction, except due west.
Surrounding both the Waves Village Kiteboarding Resort and Real's Waterman's Retreat are miles and miles of shallow water, that not only heats up quickly, but has a hard sandy bottom with few shells. Even before beginners can stand up on their board they can stand in the water and usually sit down on the bottom with their head above water while they slip into their foot straps. Over 70 consecutive miles of oceanside coastline and dozens of miles of clean sound side launching/landing areas create an almost incalculable number of routes for downwinders, which are the fastest way to progress. Marsh areas and small islands in the sound provide a natural obstacle course for more experienced kiters and also create 'slicks' that are completely flat and wave free. You'll never have to fight off a crowd here due to the massive amount of open space to play with.
Due to the bend in the island, no matter what direction the wind is from, you can find side-shore conditions, both in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. Cape Hatteras also sits well away from the mainland and any large buildings or cities. This means all wind directions provide steady, stable wind flow with consistent wind speeds.
Some of the most sought after spots to look out for include Canadian Hole north of Buxton on Hatteras Island, Pea Island (from Waves Village to New Inlet), Planet of the Apes and Nags Head at Windmill Point and Jockey's Ridge. On the oceanside check out S-curves just north of Rodanthe as well as oceanside around the Buxton and Cape Hatteras lighthouse area. S-curves and Rodanthe in particular provide some of the best waves on the east coast.
The winds here are remarkable. Because the Outer Banks / Hatteras Island runs mostly straight north - south and the wind mostly blows from the southwest (during summer months) and northeast (during winter months), it allows kiteboarders to ride on nearly any day, oceanside or sound side, as it's possible to ride all directions here somewhere. The best time of year for all round riding is the spring and fall/autumn, although the winter and summer are also excellent. Wind stats show that you can kite here on average 20 days a month, 12 months a year, with June and July being the most consistent with an average of 29 ridable days per month!
Learning can be done all year, however summer is usually more popular when a wetsuit isn't necessary. March - May and October - December you might need anything from boardshorts to a 4/3, in winter you'll need a 5/3 full suit with boots and gloves, but there will be days when a thinner suit will be fine. Bring your entire quiver of kites. In the same week you could use all of them, but you'll get most use out of your eight or nine. Fall/autumn and spring are typically the best times for waves.
Cape Hatteras is only 25 miles from the Gulfstream current with water temps roughly 18°C / 65°F in the spring, 29°C / 85°F in the summer, 18°C / 65°F in the fall and 10°C / 50°F in the winter. This warm water tempers the winter months and keeps the area very mild compared to locations just to the north or the south. Air temps are tropical in the summer, reaching the mid-high 90s (35 C) in July and August with wider swings in the fall, winter and spring. Best to bring layers and a wind shell to have the temp swings covered.
Norfolk, VA (ORF / KORF) is roughly 90 minutes drive from the Outer Banks and the Nags Head area. Add another 30 minutes to make it further south to Hatteras. Other options slightly further away are Newport News, Virginia (PHF) or Raleigh, NC (RDU).
If you're staying in Waves Village you're in the centre of the 'tri-village' area of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo. Nags Head is 30 minutes north and Avon is about 20 minutes south by car or 90 minutes by kite! It's best to rent a car so you have mobility up and down the island to find the perfect combination of wind angle, surf, etc. The island is about 70 miles long, all one highway, and you could be sessionning the entire area during one trip. You can rent 4WD - get an off-road driving permit and find private sessions every day. There is some distance in between towns and travelling from town to town on Hatteras Island can take some time, but usually about 15 minutes between each.
Cape Hatteras has 70 miles of accommodations from campgrounds, to simple beach motels to luxury waterfront condos, to 12 bedroom beach mansions. Hatteras Realty have large vacation properties for rent directly on the waterfront with pools and hot tubs! Check their range at: www.hatterasrealty.com. Each area's community is very laid back and friendly and things only get more relaxed the further south you head towards Cape Hatteras.
Geographically, where you stay should be based on where you want to ride and who you want to hang out with. Check with Real and Kitty Hawk to get the full low down and get a riding map from them when you get there as you don't to miss out!
There are grocery stores and restaurants littered along the whole area. You can eat simple at home or out, or go huge in or out, it just depends on what mood you are in and what your budget allows. We would recommend Oceana's and Ketsch 55 in Avon, Boardwok, Goodwinds, and Atlantic Coast Cafe in Rodanthe as well Waves Market for a lunchtime burrito!
With as little as 5mph of wind you can go hang-gliding, which is incredibly popular here (it's where the Wright brothers chose for their first flight). There's also jet-skiing, SUP, kayak-hire and sailing. Cape Hatteras lighthouse and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge provide some fun afternoons out... if you can pull yourself away from the beach. For the kids there's kids camps and more - it's an incredible place to get away from video games. There's also fishing, surfing, go-carting, movie theatres, heaps of shopping opportunities and spas. Waves Village also has a huge inflatable outdoor movie screen for evening showings. If you're a kid, big or small, this place rocks!
Check out the action available in Cape Hatteras:
Riders who have included North Carolina as one of their Top Places to Ride are: Dimitri Maramenides