Cuyo Island, Palawan is reputedly the best place for kitesurfing or kiteboarding in the Philippines, so I did not want to leave the island without giving this extreme water sport a try. Before departing by ferry to Puerto Princesa, I was able to squeeze in an exciting three-hour basic lesson on kitesurfing with local kiter Jing Tabangay at the top spot on the island, Capusan Beach.
According to Jing, Cuyo Island is the best spot to kitesurf in the Philippines, if not one of the best in the world, because its geographic isolation and low-lying topography encourages strong and consistent trade winds during the amihan season from October to June, and peaking between the months of December to February. Capusan Beach, in particular, is the perfect spot, because it stretches out into a sand bar that offers both onshore and offshore winds (i.e. wind blowing towards and away from the coastline). The sand bar also creates a broad sand flat of shallow water, ideal for kiteboarding, and choppy waves behind the sand bar for “kitesurfing”, which is essentially kiteboarding on waves. Another kitesurfing spot on Cuyo Island with onshore winds is Victoria Beach (Quijano Beach), where Anino Retreat (formerly Quijano Windsurfing Retreat) is located.
Professional Swedish windsurfers were reputedly the first ones to discover the island’s potential as a Mecca for water sports in the late 1980s, when they tried windsurfing in Cuyo Island based on weather reports. Kitesurfing and kiteboarding were introduced in the island in early 2000s. Since then, kiters have made the long journey to Cuyo just to confirm the rumors of its being one of the best kitesurfing spots on the planet. Foreign kiteboarders have claimed that Cuyo trumps other established kitesurfing destinations like Thailand, Vietnam and Egypt. Despite its perfect conditions for these types of water sports, however, tourism hasn’t picked up on the island due to its remoteness and the lack of political will by local government leaders. But things may change soon, now that Cuyo is linked to Puerto Princesa by 12-seater turboprop plane.
At Capusan Beach, Jing introduced to me the basics of kitesurfing on dry land. These exercises focused on kite control. It involved setting up and maneuvering a two-meter training kite attached to a body harness to trace a figure “8” or infinity symbol in the sky. After becoming comfortable with the training kite, we moved on to an actual nine-meter kite Jing uses to kitesurf, which was intimidating to handle because it was powerful enough to lift you up several feet off the ground. I had to lean back and allow my body weight to counterbalance and thereby properly control the kite. Jing had to hold onto me from behind as safety precaution. The maneuvers required a lot of upper body strength, explaining why Jing was so ripped! After all, he’s been kitesurfing for the past seven years.
I handed back the big kite to Jing, who then headed out to the sandbar to demonstrate his kitesurfing prowess. A steady gust of wind picked up the kite and he was pulled across the shallow water. Tugging the lines, the kite lifted him up, allowing him to perform tricks on his board. I snapped photos in rapid succession, capturing his gravity-defying moves. It was an exciting to watch him leap and turn, occasionally picking up the board underneath him in midair. I wanted to spend more time watching his kiteboarding stunts but it was time to leave Cuyo on the ferry, so I waved goodbye and rushed back to the homestay to pack my stuff last minute.
Jing Tabangay is only one of two local kiters who offer kitesurfing/kiteboarding lessons on Cuyo Island. For lessons, he charges USD 500 for a 15-hour full course across a number of days, inclusive of one-on-one training and rental equipment; or PHP 1,500 per hour for those who want to try the sport. Contact him at +63 9085157118 for bookings.
For more travel information, check out my travel guide of Cuyo Island.
Palawan is the nicest part of the Philippines, a safe place and one of the top two best places for kitesurfing based on the winds. The Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron corridor is a popular route, but if going that way, why not stop for some kitesurfing half way between El Nido and Coron, in Linapacan? The big ferry stops here on the way, the waters the clearest in the world, with excellent snorkeling. Tons of undeveloped beach islands to explore. On our small island it is easy to get to the other side, facing the open ocean. A choice therefore for beginners and advanced surfers alike. http://www.islandhoppinginthephilippines.com/palawan/patoyo-kitesurfing-eco-resort/
Wow, I’d like to review your kitesurfing resort in Linapacan! Thanks for sharing =)
welcome any time, with free crash space of course 🙂 Want to focus on making it an all natural retreat, enjoy paradise, no stress.
I would say stay away from kitesurfing there. Conditions are nice but kitesurfing locals don’t want you there. Owner of Cuyo Watersports Association came to my house with a machete willing to kill me. Only reason was because I wanted to have a kitesurgfing school with other locals (I had permits). I came to him and I said I want to be friends and didn’t do anything to make him angry. Yet, he said he will kill me and my friends. From what Police says it wasn’t the first time he did that. Listen for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDCNpMxRROQ
Hi Martin, I’m sorry to hear about your horrible experience in Cuyo. This is disheartening to hear. I hope you were able to report this to the local police. And that the local government will investigate the incident, as this will negatively affect the tourism potential of the island.
Unfortunetelly not really. Local court told me that I should forgive him as it is Catholic thing to do. Police wasn’t that useful as well. They said he did the same thing on German tourists last year. Yet, he still walk free with no consequences. I decided to leave the place as he was threatening my customers and other foreigners.
I don’t want be dragged into an online slanging match, but Martin’s story misses so many important facts and contains so many lies, that in defence of the beautiful community he is trying to destroy, the truth should be stated:
Martin was contacted out of the blue by a guy called Trevor, who offered him an opportunity to invest in a kite school on one of the world’s best kite spots. Martin jumped at the opportunity, bought several thousand dollars worth of equipment and flew out immediately.
He entered the country on a tourist visa, which as the name indicates, gives permission to visit but not to work.
Upon arrival on the island, he discovered not only that the kite school that he had just bought into did not in fact exist, but that there were actually two other locally run and well established kite schools already operating on his spot! He nevertheless handed USD $25,000 over to his new business partner, Trevor.
At this point, it was assumed that Martin was just a bit foolish and naïve. Many people tried to explain to him that you can’t just rock up one day to a famous kite spot and declare you have a kite school; especially not on a tourist visa and with no local or national authorisation to work or run a business in the area.
Nevertheless, everyone was very nice to Martin, because as noted, it was assumed he was just a bit of an idiot.
This changed, however, when Martin and Trevor began a sustained and deliberate assault against the other kite schools. They began spreading offensive and false rumours. They unsucessfully tried to bribe government officials. They undercut prices at every opportunity and tried to poach students whenever there was a chance.
Contrary to his well publicised version of events, in was in fact Martin and Trevor who first attempted to threaten and intimidate the locals and foreigners on the island; behaviour which was unacceptable for this protective and self-governed, peaceful community. Needless to say, Trevor and Martin made many, many enemies during their short time on the island.
Martin disregarded repeated warnings that it was illegal for him to teach on the island, and continued to do so anyway. Eventually he was reported for visa infringement and told that if he taught again he would be arrested.
At this point, Trevor fled the country and no-one, including Martin, was able to get hold of him again. Days later, Martin sold all his equipment and also quietly left the island.
Presumably, returning home so soon after starting out on his big adventure must have been a humiliating experience for Martin, because he has since gone to great lengths to destroy the island’s reputation by spreading dramatic and fictitious lies across the internet, in an elaborate and kind of crazy social media rampage.
Martin has been very open about his own personal wealth and success, so his attempt to damage the tourism industry of a small, rural island with few job opportunities beyond fishing, for no reason other than his own hurt pride, stupidity, bitterness, and jealousy, is shameful.
Hi Whistler, thank you for taking the time to recount the other side of the story. I hope the local community and visiting kitesurfers will move forward from this incident and work together more harmoniously from now on. Looking forward to revisiting Cuyo again!
Very funny. Fortunetelly people are not as dum as you think. It’s not fiction as you can clearly here Jing introducing himself on the video. There are also comments from other foreigners with similar experiences from Cuyo. I don’t know where did you take those numbers from, as the are, like you said “out of the blue”.
I agree on one thing, it is shameful and stupid to intimidate foreigners (they did it not only to my, but also my customers) and instead of handling the matter to authorities, coming to my house with machete and making threats like that, calling us “fuc…. foreigners” and at the same time aspiring to be tourism destination.
I hope that the issue would never happen again, I really love Cuyo and the place is very nice, my mother is from there and if ever the incident is true, it is really sad to know that the locals seem not to accept foreigners that would help boost the tourism of the island. Only a few know Cuyo Island and having foreigners who want to help the tourism and let Cuyo Island be known is a very good sight to see. I hope the people would accept others and be able to work with them for a better future for the Island. I really love Cuyo and I really want to learn kitesurfing, I hope that a legit kitesurfing school would be around the island like what you may have planned. I hope that Cuyo won’t be affected by the issue, but learn from it. Thank You for visiting the island and your videos were awesome, thank you for your intentions. Salamat
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I also wish the best for Cuyo and its fledgling tourism industry.