The Grenadines are a chain of 32 unspoiled Caribbean islands stretching 48 miles between St Vincent and Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. Of the 32 islands, only nine are inhabited and open to the public, the most populated being Bequia, Union Island and Mustique. With a natural beauty synonymous with tropical islands of your wildest dreams, not to mention near perfect conditions, they are the ideal destination for both sailing and kitesurfing, with many choosing to combine the two for the ultimate on-water experience. Sailing Wildside, a kitesurfing charter boat in the Eastern Caribbean, has shared their playground with countless clients over the past few years. Here are their absolute favorite kitesurfing locations in the Grenadines, all conveniently located within a short day sail of one another.
When to Go
The kitesurfing season starts with the Christmas winds in December, which typically blow an average of 20 to 25 knots. Trade winds continue until July. Hurricane season kicks off on the 1st June and continues through to November. During this time, it’s possible to continue sailing and kiting in the Grenadines; however, you must monitor the weather closely. Following the end of Hurricane Season, the climate becomes slightly cooler and even more perfect (if that’s even possible), but the winds are lighter until the Christmas winds roll in again.
1. Clifton, Union Island
Located on the east side of Union Island, Clifton offers kitesurfers shallow, clear turquoise water in a lagoon type location. Protected by an outer reef, complete with a bar made entirely of conch shells, Clifton is blessed with constant clean, undisturbed tradewinds from the east. It is also home to the popular JP Pro Centre, found on the eastern tip of the island.
Clifton is suitable for advanced kitesurfers, with the main hazard being the yachts that are anchored downwind of the launch area. Wrapping your kite around the mast of a yacht can be an expensive mistake due to the sensitive electronics mounted on the masts, and should be avoided at all costs.
Kite setup and launch is from the beach only, where the popular kitesurfing school, JP Pro, is located. While the launch area is small, it is professionally run with an emphasis on safety. There is a 15 ec ($5.50 USD) fee for each kiter, which includes the use the facilities including a compressor for pumping up kites and a 50% discount off rescue service and the retrieval of kites from masts. Kitesurfers can also rent top quality gear, and spare parts and repair kits are for sale if needed.
Clifton is the principal village, not only of Union Island but also of the Grenadines. It’s a very popular kitesurfing location and has a distinct Caribbean kite surfer vibe. Every full moon, Jeremy of the JP Pro Center, hosts a full moon party where he puts on a show, jumping over a fire all lit up with led lights.
Happy Island is a human-made island of conch shells. It’s claim to fame was thanks to Jeremy Tronet, a pro kitesurfer who jumped over the entire island (on YouTube). It is the perfect place to kick back with a rum punch while watching the local boys put on a kitesurfing show.
2. Frigate, Union Island
Also located on Union Island, Frigate is on the south side, some 39 nautical miles north of the island of Grenada’s main port. Known for its glassy clear water and offshore winds, Frigate is a personal favorite of the Sailing Wildside team, for good reason. The location is protected by the narrow spit of Frigate Island, with offshore winds creating not only the perfect place for beginners and professionals alike, but it’s also a calm and protected anchorage for visiting yachts.
The kite set up and launch area is very small and can become crowded when all the kite students and instructors arrive. For this reason, Sailing Wildside’s preferred launch method is from the boat. While remains of an abandoned marina project are picturesque and add to the character of the area, they can be a hazard when getting too close or attempting to jump over them. Kite lessons are supported by inflatable dinghies which kiters also have to stay clear of, however, the bay is enormous, and there is plenty of room for everyone.
The best time to kite is before 9 am when the kite school arrives, around midday when they leave for lunch and after 5 pm when the lessons are over for the day. Kitesurfing at Frigate can also be exhilarating during a full moon.
There are no facilities at Frigate, although the village of Ashton is very close and local busses are available. A free shuttle to one of the best restaurants on the island (Sparrows, we recommend his smoked marlin) can also be arranged, complete with cocktails & coconut palms. Frigate Island, now linked to Union Island with two suspension bridges, is being reverted back to a nature reserve with walking tracks and bird-watching platforms. It is also a beautiful and accessible area for exploring the reefs by SUP or snorkelling. There is also no ambient light, making the stargazing amazing on a clear night.
3. Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
Salt Whistle Bay is another of Wildside’s personal favourites. Located on the northeastern side of Mayreau, five nautical miles from Union Island, this picturesque, long sandy beach with cross onshore wind is postcard perfect. Salt Whistle Bay is the most photographed bay in the area with many kite brand product launch videos and photoshoots done here, inspiring kitesurfers from all over the planet. Unfortunately, kitesurfing in the bay is prohibited and dangerous as it is a popular anchorage.
Salt Whistle Bay bay is fringed by a sandy beach overshadowed by coconut palms and is the epitome of the Caribbean, with its distinctive colours and vibe. There are several bars offering tropical cocktails in the afternoon sun, evening lobster BBQ’s, souvenirs and markets, while still maintaining that unspoiled laid back local ambience. A short walk up the hill will lead to a historic old stone church with the most impressive views over Tobago Cays Marine Park.
With a cross onshore wind and reef a couple of hundred meters out, the conditions often create waves, which are always great for kickers. The kite setup and launch area in Mayreau is ideal, with an attractive grassy area and a reasonable amount of room, although care must be taken as coconut palms surround it. Kiters need to be very careful when sailing downwind, as there is sand coloured rock right at the water’s edge.
Further up the beach, kiters will find another area which is also suitable for launching from and perfect for kiters who have not yet mastered their upwind skills. The downside is the thick bushes immediately behind the beach, which make it very difficult to retrieve your crashed kite without damaging it. Also from the upwind spot, there’s a shallow sandy area which could be suitable for practising beginners. There is one shallow reef in the middle of the area; however, it is easy to see, and competent kiters can get over it with no problem.
4. Tobago Cays Marine Park
The Tobago Cays Marine Park is comprised of five small uninhabited cays, and one larger island used for BBQ’s, located only two nautical miles from Mayreau. The area is stunningly beautiful, with pure white sand, crystal clear turquoise waters, plentiful coral reefs, and a rich array of sea life.
In the afternoon, after a morning of kitesurfing, we recommend re-anchoring in the anchorage off Petit Bateau for comfort and convenience. The sea is flatter, and the local lobster BBQ is a must. Enjoy lobster and rum punch with your feet in the sand or take the opportunity to explore the island and the local wildlife, including iguana & manicou. Tobago Cays is famous for what is below the water as much as what is above. Turtles, stingrays, lobster, small reef sharks and even the occasional sea snake can be seen while snorkelling on the barrier reef and off the beaches and shores, a truly memorable way to end your time in this iconic cay.
The breathtaking shades of blue are more than enough inspiration to kite in this area, even if the conditions are not always perfect. According to Steve, despite the often choppy waters, it’s one of those places that kiters have to experience, a novelty of sorts due to its undeniable beauty. The ultimate conditions for kitesurfing in the area are when the winds are light, creating a phenomenal location for foiling, another sport Steve and Monika can share with their guests.
There is a designated kitesurfing area in the northern section of the marine park, just behind the protective barrier reef. In this area, boats can anchor and launch directly from their transom, however, boat launching is reserved only for very competent riders. We have developed our own safe and foolproof launch and recovery method onboard Groovy, derived from years of practice. While other boats also offer this opportunity, many are not as safe. The real hazard in Tobago Cays is the reef itself, which is easy to see and must be avoided at all costs, to protect both the kiter and the reef. The marine park has an abundance of turtles, but they are very rarely seen in the kiting area, due to the lack of seagrass.
5. Mopion Island
Morpion is a tiny spit of sand near Petit St Vincent (PSV). This uninhabited slice of paradise is almost too cliche to be true. Fine white sand complete with one loan parasol, surrounded by glass-clear water and a fish-filled reef. Mopion is a very short sail to the private island of PSV, where you can arrive just in time for sunset cocktails. The Jean-Michel Cousteau Dive Center, located on PSV, is, without a doubt, the best and most professional dive centre in the Grenadines.
Again, conditions at this unique destination can be choppy. However, if the weather is right, it can be absolutely idyllic. It is possible to launch kites from the island if there are no other visitors, but we recommend launching from your boat and using Mopion as your finish point. The Grenadines offers kiters the unique opportunity to explore various locations and conditions, all within proximity of one another. Whether it’s checking out reef breaks in Mustique, the waves of Palm Island or the flat waters of Frigate, inexperienced or pro, you will not be disappointed with the array of kitesurfing locations on offer. The freedom and exhilaration of skimming across the brilliant shades of blue are only enhanced when you combine the sport with sailing, enabling you to launch directly from your boat almost anywhere you please. Combining the two sports opens up a whole raft of options for the dedicated kiter. What better way to experience the thrill and excitement of kiting combined with the tranquillity of living aboard a luxury catamaran, than with Sailing Wildside.
Steve and Monika met while kitesurfing in Greece. They have since spent the past nine years sailing, kiting and exploring the globe together. With a passion for all things oceanic, the couple decided to create a business that not only combined their passion for sailing and kiting but a business that allowed others to experience the ultimate freedom and beauty of living on the water. Sailing Wildside is a unique sailing and kitesurfing charter business offering visitors a chance to experience a whole new way of life aboard their 43-foot catamaran named Groovy. For more information visit www.sailingwildside.com or email [email protected] and follow Sailing Wildside on Facebook and Instagram.