If you're looking for a super fun, laid back slant on your kiting life then you won't do much better than a visit to Barra Grande. No loud engines, sandy village streets and donkeys for transport, you'll find immense amounts of wind, superb bump and jump conditions at high tide, flat water at low tide, a lush flat water lagoon downwind, heaps of space and incredibly welcoming locals who know not only how to have a good time, but how to share all that they have with you.
CAPTION | Endless lagoons to play in / PHOTO | BGK
Situated close to the Delta de Parnaiba (the only open sea delta in the Americas and one of the three largest in the world in terms natural extension and beauty), Barra Grande (like all of the state of Piaui's) coastline provides incredible kiting conditions dotted within its shallow coast line and bays. Barra Grande's main spot is off the main beach with flat, warm, clear waters and a huge amount of space. As the tide gets higher the water can get choppier, but offers brilliant kickers for massive take-offs in the strong winds. At low tide the spot in front of BGK is the best and free of rocks with nice flat water. As the sun sets there's a great atmosphere in the Kite Camp bar with people overlooking the action as you kite for hours, boosting into the sunset.
Two kilometres downwind you'll find La Boca, an immense lagoon in the mangroves with a huge open area just beyond the sand dune at the end of Barra Grande beach and, as the wind blows over the dune, the flat water on the other side is absolutely sublime. For a special experience you can organise an eco-tour with a guide taking you SUPing through the twisty mangroves from the village to La Boca, while a donkey and cart transports your kite gear to the lagoon! Just remember to take water with you, as it's untouched down there - just you, your kite buddies and more than likely just a few locals.
Kite downwind through this lagoon, round a couple of sandbars and you'll reach Macapa, where the river meets the ocean, forming incredible lagoons that are ideal for freestyle. Once the tide passes low the conditions get better and better as the water fills in. There's also a restaurant and bar at this spot.
For the wave lover Arrombado beach is 20 miles away. Adventurous kiters could downwind there and will get a range of conditions along the way, from flat water, to chop, to waves. Alternatively you can drive there / organise transport of course.
CAPTION | Local rider Tico Azevedo at La Boca lagoon / PHOTO | Kiteworld
CAPTION | The beach at Barra Grande / PHOTO | BGK
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER:
In general all the kite spots are safe with the slightly cross-onshore wind blowing you back to shore. The locals call this place 'Piawaii' (Piaui / Hawaii) as from July through the end of January the wind literally blows strongly here every day. Choose the kite size and wind conditions you want by the time of day as it builds in strength throughout the day. Between September and December the wind increases a lot, easily topping 30 knots each day. Small kites are necessary all season, but especially in these times when it's common to see fives, sixes and sevens typically being used. Outside of this time you'll be on your eights to tens. July to February the air temperature is 35°C/95°F, dropping at night to a pleasant 24°C / 75°F. As the waters are shallow and beaten by the sun every day, the water temperature is of course hot, around 28°C/83°F.
Transfer services are available (speak to your accommodation provider). If you hire a car it will have to be for the whole period of your trip as there are no rental companies close by where you can return your car, however you can get everywhere in Barra Grande on foot or donkey (as there are no buggies on the beach here - keeping it peaceful). Although Barra Grande is a small traditional fishing village, it's got all the basics covered with mini markets, convenience stores, a pharmacy, medic, bakery and if you need more, Parnaiba is 40 miles away.
Barra Grande really is extremely safe, like some sort of tranquil refuge, you can sleep with your windows open and leave your belongings on the beach while you kite, however, like anywhere in the world exercise common sense, don't show off... but most of all, watch out for the animals on the road if you're driving out of the village, especially at night!
Brazilian Reais (R$) - £1 = R$4 / €1 = R$3 / US$ = R$2.5 Some hotels and restaurants accept US$ or Euros, but for the best exchange rates use your own Reais. You can use your card in most restaurants, but some accept cash only. The closest ATM is currently six kilometres away, but two are being built in the main square. Be aware though that many ATMs in Brazil don't accept all international cards. So withdraw at the airport (or when you get an opportunity) as you're best to get cash out when you can.
Barra Grande's pousadas are all a rustic hippy-chic style. The village features a mix of bungalows in small hotels, most being just 600 feet from the beach. Barra Grande Kite Camp is right on the beach and has a popular restaurant bar right on the main spot, but there are lots of other cosy, friendly places to stay, in particular at Vilarejo, a development of four beautiful bungalows set in a lush green garden. The owner, Jim, is an avid kiter and really opened our eyes to the potential of this place. But he's typical of the locals here, many of whom work in the capital city, Teresina, and then race the five hours back for most weekends of the year. It's a true oasis of fun.
Click HERE for accommodation options in Barra Grande or click on the tab above.
CAPTION | The bungalows set in lush green garden at Vilarejo / PHOTO | Kiteworld
CAPTION | A palafitta at BGK / PHOTO | BGK
There are several IKO certified schools, plus shops, rentals and repair. The North dealer is BGK and Cabrinha at Rota dos Ventos Hotel.
Contact your accommodation provider for school info.
Click HERE for shops and schools in Barra Grande or click on the tab above
FOOD AND DRINK:
There are mini markets where you can get your basics, fruit, breakfasts etc. but most people eat out every night in Barra Grande as the handful of local restaurants are excellent. You'll find everything from meats, pastas, pizzas and of course very fresh seafood. There isn't much nightlife - as most people are so tired from kiting all day every day and then grabbing some cold beers straight after. For more action a day/night out in Parnaiba will provide an authentic Brazilian eating, drinking and cultural experience.
The Delta de Parnaiba is stunning. There are lots of watersports on offer here, including ecological SUP/Kayak tours in the mangroves to find sea horses (local fishermen created an association that runs trips to see seahorses), yoga, or simply walk the beach at low tide to enjoy the nature... but the reality is that there really aren't many no wind days.
CAPTION | SUPing in the mangroves / PHOTO | Kiteworld
Teresina (THE) is five hours by car, Fortaleza (FOR) is six hours and Azul Linhas Aereas (Brazilian airline) have just announced that they will open a flight to Parnaiba (PHB) which is just an hour from Barra Grande. Buses leave the big cities in the northwest and from Fortaleza to Parnaiba and then there's a dedicated bus service to Barra Grande. Car rental is only really necessary to get to Barra Grande. For the time you spend there it will be parked up as all you'll need are your feet, a bike or donkey and cart.
A sample of some of the flat water action you will experience up north in Piaui!