The Philippines and Filipinos are a friendly lot. Their numerous beaches have always been a popular destination with surfers. One big bonus being that locals speak English, unlike elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Wave and surf conditions vary from coast to coast, and the warm, tropical weather meets a laid-back lifestyle. Definitely head away from the dense, cramped cities and escape to outlying islands, of which there are over 7,000. Surf’s always up if you know where – and when – to go.
The monsoon trade winds, locally called “Amihan” and “Habagat,” determine the kitesurf season. “Amihan” is the wet season on the east and north coast, while “Habagat” is the wet season in the western and southern parts.
“Amihan” starts in November and goes to April, while “Habagat” blows in from May to October. Of course, expect exact dates to change depending on the province.
As kitesurfing has only picked up in the last five years, the infrastructure for kitesurfers can be hard to find. There are, however, a few spots with IKO-certified instructors, rental gear, accommodations and boats to charter for island-hopping. Here are a few we recommend for your first Philippine kitesurf experience:
Pagudpud Peninsula coast (Ilocos Norte)
Rustic and rural at the northernmost tip of the Philippines. The place to get away from crowds. Big wave breaks and conditions for more experienced kiteboarders and a few resorts on the beachfront. Try Kingfisher Beach in the north.
Bagasbas Beach (Bicol)
A small fishing town with quiet scenery; surfer zone since the 1980s. Join their annual international kite competitions.
Coron and Calamianes Islands (Palawan)
To the west of the country’s coast lies stunning scenery and seclusion. Lots of options: open water chop, mirror-flat, emerald water with nature’s beautiful backdrop. To help you navigate and island-hop with ease, there’s a solar-powered kite camp on a private island, set up just for kitesurfers.
Bulabog Beach (Boracay)
On of the most popular kitesurfing breaks in the Philippines. It offers hiring centers, bars, kite schools and a turquoise lagoon that receives cross-onshore NE monsoon winds.
Cuyo Islands (Palawan)
A total of eight islets that can be reached by boat. Try riding Victoria Beach, or the side onshore wind of Capusan Beach.
Puerto Princesa (Palawan)
When the “Amihan” is northerly, a side shore breeze of around 12 to 15 knots will get your kite up high from November to March/April.
You might find that travel for kitesurfing in the Philippines is, as they say, as much about the journey as the destination. Quite chaotic; mostly rugged and un-chartered; long waits in-between at humid airport hubs.
But you’ll meet friendly folk all along the way, learn to smile for no reason at all, and end your days watching your kites dry on a white sandy beach, with an ice-cold San Miguel in hand.
Words by Nyx Martinez, manager at 250K Kiteboarding Philippines