KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - CUMBUCO
The first main kite spot 40 minutes north of Fortaleza airport is the fishing village of Cumbuco, with its golden beaches and conditions for every type of riding style and level. 2,800 hours of sunshine per year, you'll also be mixing it with more pro riders than anywhere else as it's such a consistent training location and a lot of fun off the water, too.
Find a super long season with mild air and ocean temperatures and strong, consistent southeast trade winds, cross or cross-onshore from the right that blow from June right the way through to February. Cumbuco is the most well known kiting spot in Brazil. The village has a six kilometre long, sandy beach to kitesurf from, so there is always plenty of space and there are pousadas and apartments spread along most of it. There's a small shorebreak just off the beach and then choppy water behind that and some sandbanks that create some small waves.
The infamous Cauipe Lagoon is six kilometres downwind of Cumbuco, and is easy to downwinder or buggy ride to and there's always a buggy to give you a lift back. The water in the lagoon is shallow and flat, there are no concrete buildings, just sand, coconut trees and a couple of beach restaurants.
Lots of PKRA riders head there through the season to perfect their skills. Cumbuco can be the start of constant downwinders stretching over hundreds of kilometres with sandy beaches and lagoons the whole way, and you can join guided trips allowing you to cover a lot of that distance on your board. Pecem port can be seen from Cumbuco downwind in the distance 35 kilometres away and can produce clean, peeling waves. From there the list goes on all the way to Barra Grande and beyond (check out the rest of this guide!). There really are so many spots!
Icarai beach is ten kilometres from Cumbuco. Here you can regularly find waves of up to two metres that break one hundred metres from the shore-line. The wave is very heavy but you will find sections and banks that have one hundred or even two hundred metre sections of clean, barrelling waves. There are always surfers out when its working, sometimes up to one hundred. The place to kite from is downwind of the Barrachas (beach bars) where there is more room to launch and land. Don't kite on a Sunday, the beach is packed with locals and the sea is full of surfers and swimmers.
Nine kilometres from Cumbuco is this great lagoon with butter flat water. It can only handle between four and five kites safely, but there is usually no one else there. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a 30 metre strip of sand that can break in during very high tides with big swells. The wind is steady and comes at an angle across the width of the lagoon. Don't bother trying on a Sunday, its packed with locals swimming and fishing.
Just five kilometres downwind from Cumbuco is a large freshwater lagoon fed by a small tributary river. Separated from the sea by 300 metres of beach, the wind blows onto the lagoon very consistently, allowing you to sail easily across its width. It can handle around 20 kites safely, but has been getting very busy, so hitting it in the early mornings (8am) is the key.
The port of Pecem can be seen from Cumbuco in the distance 35 kilometres away. The conditions can be very special indeed, with clean, peeling waves up to 1.5 metres in size when good swells are running and with cross-shore winds from the right. You kite 500 metres downwind from the roadway that juts two kilometres out to sea where there is a container ship dock. It sounds dodgy, but it's not. It's best at low-tide on the push (incoming tide).
70 kilometres downwind of Cumbuco, Paracuru is one of the best spots for waves in the northeast of Brazil. Five kilometres from Paracuru town, it is a little tricky to find, but if you ask people they will direct you. There is a Barraca right on the spot and you can base yourself here for the day. Three hundred metres offshore is a reef that at low tide creates very flat water with lovely waves of up to two metres. It's best at low-tide, or mid-tide, as the inside can be very choppy at high-tide when the reef does not protect the bay. Just watch out for the fishermens' fences four hundred metres downwind of the Barraca that go all the way out to the reef. Beyond the waves you're out in to the ocean where the swell can be very big.
This small fishing village is 130 kilometres from Fortaleza with a huge beach and shallow water for over four hundred metres. You can launch directly in front of the fabulous Rede Beach Resort where there are no rocks around, so this really is a great spot for beginners and intermediates kitesurfers with predominantly easterly, cross-shore winds. You can drive the length of the beach and literally pick your spot, choosing from flat water or small waves.
It's windy here from June through to January 99% of the days, averaging a respectable 20 knots coming in cross- to cross-onshore from the right and very stable. Believe all you hear. It's unreal! Windguru and Windfinder always show 15 ? 30 knots, but that only shows the trade winds that are reinforced by the thermals from the sand dunes, so it's always more. Daytime temperature sits around 29°C / 84°F, dropping to 23°C / 73°F at night. The water temperature sits at a comfy 27°C / 80°F for the majority of the year.
Most accommodation is just a short walk from the few central streets. Otherwise take a taxi for longer distances.
Currency: Brazilian Reais (R$) - £1 = R$4 / €1 = R$3 / US$ = R$2.5
Make sure you always have cash at hand. There are several ATM machines in the airport and you're best to withdraw while you're there as the two ATMs in Cumbuco don't accept Visa and are temperamental. While we were there we withdrew cash and did our main grocery shopping from Caucaia 30 minutes back up the road towards Fortaleza (we got a taxi). If you travel up the coast it's also difficult to find an ATM that will work with international cards, however you can often pay by card. While you don't need a hire car the whole time, you'd be missing out if you didn't take one up the coast for a few days on your trip. There are so many spots to ride!
Choose between hotels and guesthouses (pousadas), most of which are small and cosy. You can also rent an apartment or house if you're with a group or staying for a longer period. WINDTOWN is a small, trendy Beach Resort nestled within swaying palm trees and is directly on the beach, just 800 metres from the village centre, so close enough to easily get to, but far enough away to feel peaceful. Busiest periods are November and Christmas/New Year, so book well in advance for then. Best periods are September, first weekend in December and last weeks in January, when it's quieter and the wind is still good. Check out whats on offer in the video below:
There are over 30 restaurants serving local fish dishes to European and Asian cuisine, but it's not as cheap as it once was, but still cheaper than Europe. There are also three basic supermarkets for your essentials. There are a couple of lively clubs, too with a very eclectic mix of people. Thirty
kilometres back up the road, Fortaleza is a big city with a population of three million. Keep your wits about you, and join a group trip if you can, but you'll find plenty of entertainment there if you need more!
Cumbuco is the perfect place to relax or be active, with horse riding, sandboarding, buggy tours, yoga, mountain tours and partying.
From Fortaleza Pinto Martins (FOR) it's just a 30 kilometres to Cumbuco. Check with your accommodation for transfers.
ANOTHER DAY AT WINDTOWN:
Riders who have included Cumbuco as one of their Top Places to Ride are:Angela Peral, Jalou Langeree, Jo Wilson, Johara Sykes-Davies, Julie Simsar, Mallory De la Villemarqué, Kim Albrecht, Niccolo Porcella, Nick Jacobsen, Sam Light, Sigve Botnen, Sky Solbach, Youri Zoon