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Kitesurfing The North Coast Of Scotland

Armed with a battered map and their kite kit, local Scarborough surfer turned kitesurfer and the Big Cheese at Tantrum Kitesurf’s centre in the UK, Mike Andrew, and a couple of other intrepid souls headed to the wildest coast of the UK with the mission to chase the wind and waves wherever they may find them…

The Concept

So the concept of the trip was a hardcore exploratory kiting trip, exploring the far north of Scotland. We looked at the map and after a bit of chat in the pub (where all best plans are made) decided that it could actually work. It’s always windy up there and I knew from my surfing days that the waves were incredible and there are all these little forgotten bays miles from anywhere and anyone.

Originally we had thought we would just chase the wind but in the end we found this fantastic place where we actually based ourselves, the Poor House. It was fantastically located. Within an hours drive east or west we had four or five really great spots, right on the doorstep.

Kitesurfing Scotland

The actual trip was a combination of lessons for the beginners and hardcore kiting and surfing for the more experienced.

The Spots

We found some awesome spots. Not for the faint hearted or those that miss their creature comforts. You don’t wander onto the beach and set up in comfort in the warmth and then toddle on out. It was all a bit tense at times in that we were miles from support and civilisation, exposed to the elements and the north coast can be RAW.

Torresdale was good, we had a great session at the lagoon there. It was really funny. We went out and it was heavy winds, I was a 10 and Lawrence was on his 11. I was very impressed, I saw Lawrence about 20 or 30 feet up, what I didn’t realise is that it was completely unintentional. I was tearing back and forth because for me it was fantastic, because finally I had some power and I looked over and thought, “Jesus, he’s doing well. I have got to up my game here.” But he just got lifted, afterwards I just saw him standing there for about 20 minutes. I went over and said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I am terrified, I want to go in and get my board, but I can’t land my kite.” So we brought his kite down and he was fine in the end. But we had to buy him a few beers for that.

Kitesurfing Beaches of Scotland

One of the high points especially for the guys coming from abroad was the first night we went to the local pub. We didn’t know there was some local celebration, I’m not sure whether it was a funeral or a birthday. But the whole locality were out, all 20 of them! I roped the Dutch guys into some traditional Scottish dance. Unfortunately I got caught up too, no matter how much I hid, I could not get away.


We had tons of waves. Torresdale was actually scarily big the whole time. and this is in the context of not having any swell. At the Kyle of Tongue, you have got waves on the beach, similar in a way to Tarifa, but perhaps just breaking out just a bit further, a bit more solid. But within that you have got a massive sandbank with a right hand point break that breaks for about 300 yards. You have waves just breaking for miles and miles and miles. You just kite straight out into it.


In the whole time we were there, we never saw another kite. The only kiters we saw were the people who joined us.

Balmichael has been kited before, although the local guy we met said he can’t remember when. But Balmichael is a very popular surfing beach. Apparently kiters have never ever been seen on the Kyle of Tongue before. No one has ever kited Torresdale before (as far as we know). So we were kiting places that, we think, we were the first on.

One place we had to visit was Torresdale. It has a good beach, a lagoon at the south end, one at the east end and another lagoon at the north end. But to get to the beach you had to either kite across a river or a lagoon or paddle across in a kayak, which we did. We also found a great beach where we could teach the beginners called Balmichael. You just drive up to the beach, go through a gate and you’re on the beach…perfect. It had a 180 degree direction reach and so can be kited in most conditions.

Enough Space?

The Kyle of Tongue I think was probably one of the best kiting destinations I have ever seen, absolutely amazing. A massive inlet, into what is almost a loch, but with access to the sea. About five miles long and between one and two miles wide. But most importantly, about halfway up there’s a massive spit about 500 metres long, straight out into the middle of it. Wind direction wise it was phenomenal because it works in anything…360 degrees!

The seaward facing side of the spit had waves, the landward facing side, which was only about 50 to 100 yards wide, was effectively a lagoon. So you could kite from the lagoon into the sea and then from this section around the top of the spit, and into the flat section.

During the fortnight the winds were not the most favourable. The prevailing wind is strong west and south west and we got strong north and north eastern. So it made life a bit more difficult but still, the conditions were fantastic. So, if we had that south westerly wind, it would just be mind blowing. Absolutely mind blowing.

Kitesurfers at Melness

So we spoke to the guy who lives at the Kyle of Tongue and he had never seen kites before. We actually had some locals run down with cameras, one of them was a really good photographer and took some really great pics. They were really excited. So, I think two or three of the places have never been kited before and there were half a dozen others, that in the right conditions, you could kite all day.

Not For Pansies

This is not a trip for the faint hearted, some of the guys struggled, they were fine on the lagoons and stuff, but as soon as they got into the proper sea…well, when you see the waves, and the winds biting and there are seals and slamming surf, you feel exposed.

Next Trip

The same sort of time, late summer, 2018. I’m thinking of doing a couple of weeks in the same format, just hop on and off, in the Inner and Outer Hebrides. So it is a case of, “Where is the wind? Let’s go there.”

Interested in joining us on an epic adventure through the best kitesurfing this wild coast has to offer, we’ll be promoting this mainly through our Facebook group so  Join us HERE >> and if we get enough interest we’ll make it happen

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Portugal Kitesurfing Trip Review

Kitesurfing Holidays one of the many undiscovered beches of Portugal
Kitesurfing Holidays one of the many undiscovered beaches of Portugal

As a destination for your kitesurfing holidays, Portugal is definitely divided into 2 distinct areas each with its own conditions and things to offer. The South coast offers flatter water, lagoons and better conditions for beginners. During the summer this isn’t really suitable for kitesurfing in many areas due to the offshore winds and multitude of sunbathers. There are spots on the S coast where kitesurfing is possible in the summer. We found one in Cabanas de Tavira in the beautiful Ria Formosa, a natural reserve in the eastern Algarve where we found the school Eolis and its super friendly owner Sandra. This looked like a great spot to kitesurf…as long as you had a big kite, the beach was the emptiest we’d seen on the S coast and the ferry over the river to get to the beach just made the whole experience much more interesting.

The most famous spot on the S coast in the summer months is the lagoon at Alvor and rightly so. While we were there we scored some awesome days on this lagoon. Its a fair old walk to get to but is well worth it, huge, windy, empty and with sandbanks acting as wave breaks ensuring that you can find some really flat patches. On the day we were there there were maybe 10 other kiters on the water. This lagoon is shallow enough to be perfect to learn in and deep enough to practice all the moves you want without fear of landing on the sand…oh and the wind seems to blow stronger here than at any point up or down the coast. In the winter we we’re told that this coast is great with the wind blowing cross on, and pretty much every beach being accessible for kitesurfing…which gave us just one more excuse to go back!

Kitesurfing in Carrapateira

The West coast is a different beast altogether. The first thing that strikes you when you hit the West coast of Portugal is the scenery. Its dramatic to say the least. Huge cliffs dropping down into crystal clear blue ocean, with beautiful, golden sanded, coves nestled in between the shoulders of the cliff face. Perfect swell and white capping waves complete the scene. What also strikes you is the fact that there is almost no one else around. The entire coast seems forgotten. We were there in June and it felt more like November given the amount of people there were. Literally you could walk onto beaches that are km’s long and straight out of a post card and see only one or 2 other souls.

Picturesque it may be but those waves are mean. Even in June (the flat season!) we looked at many of the breaks and gulped. The waves are beautiful but they are powerful, with large rips and the rocky shoreline making this coastline all the more treacherous. Most spots here are definitely for experts only, and I can’t imagine what this coast is like in the winter when the real swell comes through. That said we did find some places that would be great for your kitesurfing holidays. Carrapateira is one such place, a huge open beach surrounded by cliffs but long enough to give you a good reach without coming to close to the cliffs. The waves here are truly world class, with line after line of swell rolling in relentlessly. If I had to describe this coast in one word the word I would choose is wild. Its almost as if it’s been forgotten about by the world, by tourism and certainly by kitesurfers.

Kitesurfing Holidays - The Wild West Coast

The really great thing about Portugal is that this massive range of conditions are so accessible. Start the day in Alvaro on the lagoon and fancy a bit of wave riding or surfing tin the afternoon, no problems all the beaches we visited are within 1 hours drive of you and Portugal’s road network is really good.

The south coast offers something else that the West coast has next to none of…nightlife. This is the Algarve and if partying all night and waking up to a full English breakfast is your thing then this is a great place for you. For the more tranquil is does manage to maintain an air of dignity that was lost on the Costa del Sol and many other English holiday resorts long ago. The tourism here seems less frantic and less inclined to cause chaos than in Fuengirola or Marbella. Despite the fact that I usually hate English style resort towns I actually found myself liking the Algarve. Lagos is a beautiful town, with colonial architecture and a laid back, stress free feel. There are plenty of smaller towns up and down the coast that provide the ability to get away from it all without the stress normally associated with a holiday June we managed to find parking every time.

The prices are cheap (apart from fuel) with a fish dinner costing around 7 €, and that’s not just 1 fish but 3!! Accommodation seems very reasonable too, we ended up paying about 50 € a night for a really nice self catered flat in the middle of Lagos. As a race the Portuguese seem to have developed a refined sophisticated air that you wouldn’t expect from the normally fiery Latino blood. They are generally very friendly but in a much more reserved way than you would find in Spain or Brazil for example. English is also the second language here (a fact we discovered of spending the first 2 days trying to speak Spanish!) so communication is generally easy, and people will genuinely take the time and be patient if they can’t understand, which makes communication fun, rather than a stress.

After just a few days spent in Portugal I fell in love with the place, both as a tourist and as a destination for future kitesurfing holidays. The whole country has a laid back feeling which is difficult not to become infected by. I would need to see it in winter and in the height of summer before I could truly pass judgement but that just gives me some perfect excuses to go back!