Published: 24th November, 2016
Mui Ne is a kitesurfer’s paradise, and competes with Boracay in The Philippines as the kite surfing capital of Southeast Asia, drawing wind- and kite-surfers from around the world due to its consistent cross onshore winds.
During peak season, you’ll see a flurry of activity along Mui Ne’s entire shoreline; on average it has 227 days a year with winds of more than 12 knots. Not surprising, there’s a stack of schools that offer lessons to beginners. The best time to head to Mui Ne for wind- and kite-surfing is October to the end of March. Peak time is December and January. Winds are not as strong outside these months and while schools endeavour to find an area of coast and time of day with ideal conditions, the monsoon does make for inconsistent wind and waves.
If you think kitesurfing requires a lot of strength, think again. The most important skills are coordination and the proper technique (as well as some level of being comfortable on the water). One school we spoke to has had students as young as six and as old as 76.
That said, it still is an extreme sport and the key is to get professional instruction at a reputable school. The IKO is to kitesurfing what PADI is to scuba diving. Of 20 or so shops in Mui Ne, we were told only five had officially certified teachers.
Beginners courses take eight to 12 hours. It can be physically and mentally fatiguing – there is a lot to learn, practise and absorb, but once you cover the fundamentals the learning curve skyrockets at the end. A good school would recommend you do it over two to three days.
The first two hours are spent on the beach: introduction to equipment, oceanology and lots of theory. Then you’re put on a two-line trainer kite to do exercises, practice kite control and self-rescue.
The next step is getting on the water with the instructor, practicing two hands, one hand and body dragging. The final achievement is being on the water independently, manoeuvring with one hand. If a school makes promises of you sailing alone through the air within a day, it’s a big red flag. Ensure they communicate a clear course plan for you and price.
Learning is not cheap. Expect to pay US$50-60 per hour of instruction. Enthusiasts say that once you are able to get up and travel a bit, you will be hooked for life.
Mui Ne Kitesurf School (MKS) is a professional, reputable school. We spoke to a student who had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the instruction. All teachers are IKO certified, with instruction available in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian or Vietnamese. A full beginner course will cost around US$400-500. Advanced and kids lessons are available as well. They rent surfboards and SUP, with lessons should you need them. Find the school on the beach at 42 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien; T: 128 601 3101; email@example.com; www.muinekitesurfschool.com; open daily 09:00-17:00.
Another popular school is Jibe’s Beach Club. Kitesurfing lessons are US$60 an hour. They also offer windsurfing, which, for beginners, can usually be done all year as only a little wind is needed. It is US$55/hour and a two-hour lesson should get you on the water independently, though instructors are usually happy to give you some extra teaching and practice time should you need it. Jibe’s Beach Club (which has a gear shop and rentals) is located at 90 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, Ham Tien, with a second location at Suoi Nuoc Beach 16 kilometres up the coast. T: (062) 3847 405; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.jibesbeachclub.com.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.