Windsurf and Kitesurf in Jamaica
About the island:
This is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean for scenery. The island has white-sand beaches, lush foliage, rivers, mountains and spectacular waterfalls. However, this is also one of the most troubled islands in the Caribbean. There is a lot of poverty as well as crime, racial tensions and political instability.
Major towns and cities include the capital Kingston, Portmore, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, and Montego Bay. The island lies in the hurricane belt and sometimes experiences significant storm damage.
The official language is English, but informally Jamaican Patois is more commonly spoken by a majority of the population.
About 91% of the population consists mainly of people of African descent. The rest of the population consists of European, Chinese, East Indian and multi-racial. The majority of the population are Christian but there is also another religion on the island called Rastafari.
Jamaica is also the homeland of Reggae with Bob Marley as a national hero and symbol.
Warning: Some areas of the island experience high levels of violent crime. Extra care should be taken if you decide to tour the island on your own, especially around Kingston area.
When to go:
The trade winds start to blow at the end of November (can be inconsistent!) and continue until the end of May averaging 12-20 knots. July and August is another windy season in Jamiaca. The winds blow 15-20 knots.
The wind is light in the morning, which is perfect for beginners. By early afternoon the wind builds and blows side on shore. It goes to its maximum by night. The water temperature will not require a wet suit.
Beaches to go:
The area where you can potentially windsurf or kitesurf on the island is located on the north coast.
Montego Bay is an interesting city to see. It also has some good night life. There are a few nice sandy beaches like Cornwall Beach, Doctors Cave Beach, and Walter Fletcher Beach. The first one is near all the major hotels in the area. We can also suggest the cove shared by Riu Hotel and Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort. This cove is very shallow and protected by a long stretch of coral reef.
Silver Sands gated community has one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. The community is located just a 30 min drive east of Montego Bay and consists of villas and cottages. Silver Sands offers villas of all sizes with a cook and house keeping included. Windsurfing and kitesurfing at Silver Sands is great for intermediate to advanced sailors. The wind often gets too strong and the water too choppy for all but intermediate and advanced sailors.
Ocho Rios is 1 1/2 hours east from Montego Bay. This city is a cruise ship capital. The bay accomodates many hotels and all inclusive resorts. The beaches are beautiful. Recommended area is Riu Hotel and Sandals Dunn's River Resort bay.
Negril is a resort town that is about an hour west from Montego Bay. It has a reputation for marijuana and nude sunbathing. Seven Mile Beach is a great beach in the area to try. Recent hurricanes destroyed the beach area around Sandal's Negril Resort.
Launches from Montego Bay can be tricky, but not that difficult if you have a little help; however, Negril's launches are great.
Beaches not to go:
Falmouth is a little town about 20 min drive from Montego Bay that clearly demonstrate the poverty level in Jamaica. The public beach down from Falmouth used to host the only windsurfing and kitesurfing school and rental on the island. However, they are out of buiness (at least at our last check in Dec. 2008). Also, the public beach is in a really bad condition.
Bring your own equipment because there is no professional gear rental available in Jamaica. The only rental shop used to be run by a local guy Brian in Falmouth; as of our last visit in November 2008 the shop did not exist at the location. (It is either out of business or provides inconsistent service.) If the hotel you booked, claims that they have a good windsurfing equipment; call directly to their water sports facilities and double check with the staff. Most probably they do not have any quality equipment. Most hotels only have beginner equipment and often, only a couple of worn out beginner sails and a few huge beginner boards.