Location and directions
Kalpitiya is an ultimate destination for all kite-boarders visiting Sri Lanka. It offers very good conditions for riders at each level. It is located in the North-West part of Sri Lanka, at the Puttalam peninsula.
The easiest way to get there is to arrange the airport pickup with your hotel or kite-school. It is around 3 hours drive and it costs on average 70 EUR.
There are not many alternative ways to get there, as it is not a usual tourist destination. Apart from kitesurfing there is not much to do there.
The windy season starts in May and lasts till October. During this time you can expect constant wind blowing at around 20 knots every day. The wind comes mainly from South-West. There is also a second season from December to March with big chances for 4-5 windy days per week.
The wind within the lagoon is very gusty. This is caused by the fact that it usually passes some land directly before it hits the lagoon. This may a bit annoying for people used to more stable winds. You can find more steady wind in other spots around Kalpitiya e.g. Magic Island or Donkey Point.
- Directly after full moon the wind usually quiets down for a day or two. Keep that in mind if you only plan a short visit.
The picture below presents the map of spots around Kalpitiya lagoon and locations of 3 most popular kite-schools.
The vast majority of kitesurfers stays within the Kalpitiya Lagoon. The water within the lagoon is flat-to-chop. It is chest-deep most of the time, so all beginners will feel safe there. However, it is deep enough for more advanced kiteboarders to practice their tricks.
The lagoon is quite big, so everyone will find enough space. During the busiest hours on the water you will see up to 30 kites, so there is enough territory for many more.
In the middle of the lagoon there is a tiny peninsula starting from the sand bank – the water behind it offers perfect flat water, which is ideal for all newschoolers. There are even 2 obstacles: a slider and a kicker, so you can practice your wake-style maneuvers.
Most kitesurfers start and end at the sandbank between the open ocean and the lagoon. This is because all kite-schools offer boat transfer there.
Open ocean – wave
You will very rarely see anyone kiting on the open ocean directly at the Kalpitiya Lagoon. The water there is choppy and not fun to ride. Therefore almost nobody ever tries.
If you are looking for some wave you can get to the Donkey Point by tuk-tuk (see #5 on the map above). It’s around 20 minutes drive from Kalpitiya. The spot is always literally empty – it seems there are no fans of wave riding in Kalpitiya. It offers waves from small to medium, 1-2.5 meters high. The wave height depends on the wind and tides.
There is supposed to be a better wave spot at the reef break. However, it is located 3 km from the shore, so it is not safe to go there on your own. Also, it only works during specifying tides conditions.
There are 3 most popular kite schools around Kalpitiya – see their locations on the map above. We stayed in the “Sri Lanka Kite”, so description of the other 2 comes from our observation and chats with fellow kitesurfers.
It seems to be the biggest one with best marketing – it’s your #1 Google result. It’s not located directly at the Lagoon, but they provide frequent boat transfer to the southern part of the sandbank. You can also kite directly at the base on the open ocean or just do a short downwinder to the lagoon. Theoretically you can also go upwind to the Donkey Point, but it’s not that close.
It offers many places to relax, also at the sandbank. From what we’ve heard some people complained about too heavy/loud parties and average food. It is also the most expensive one of all three.
Sri Lanka Kite
Its main advantage is the fact that it is located directly at the lagoon. You can launch and land your kite directly from the school, so no need for annoying boat transfer to the sandbank. There are friendly beach-boys always ready to assist.
You have to keep in mind that the wind at the eastern coast of the lagoon (i.e. where the school is) is very tricky and usually much weaker than on the rest of the lagoon. This makes launching/landing your kite harder but not impossible. For those who don’t feel comfortable with launching their kites in such conditions there is a boat transfer to the sandbank as well.
It’s the second most expensive school in the area and it seemed a bit overpriced for us. The food is average – too much pizza and burgers, too little seafood. Every second day there is a loud party, which lasts untill late night hours.
It’s the cheapest among all of kite schools. From what we’ve heard it has the best food as well. However, its location will force you to use boat transfer every day. Going upwind directly from the school to the lagoon is theoretically possible, but there is usually too little wind for that.
If not for the location it would be our number 1.
Kiting on the lagoon is fun, but it may get… boring. After several days on the same spot, going left-right-left and again, most people start thinking about introducing some variety. The first, natural idea is “let’s go somewhere else”. Most kite schools offer different trips for exploring the area nearby.
Interesting choice for a trip is a downwinder. Theoretically there are endless options for such trips: short/long distance, open ocean/lagoon, full/half day… However, we had troubles finding a school that would organize one for us. Most of them preferred to stay on the lagoon or go to the Magic Island for perfect flat water conditions.
An easy option accessible for anyone is to go by tuk-tuk to the Donkey Point and go downwind to the Kalpitiya Lagoon – up to 1 hour ride. Our kiteschool would charge 25EUR for such trip, the tuk-tuk would only cost 8$ (with returning the pump and extra gear to your school).
This is the most popular choice among kitesurfers in Kalpitiya. You hop-on a boat and go north for about 45 minutes. You finally arrive to a first island, where you start a short downwinder to your final destination. On your way you will pass flat water with interesting sea grass:
The final destination is an island with nothing on it except some little huts to protect you from the sun. You kite on the off-shore side of the island, where the water is completely flat and there is plenty of space for anyone to enjoy!
Usually there are up to 3 boats at one time, i.e. 10-12 kitesurfers. But with very little luck there can be only 1 boat – yours.
The wind on the Magic Island is much better than on the Kalpitiya Lagoon. It is stable and predictable, with 20+ knots on average. It’s perfect for learning new tricks e.g. kiteloops.
You will stay on the island for several hours, including lunch break. Then you will be taken back by boat and arrive to your hotel before sunset. Such full day trip costs 45 EUR.
Renting vs own gear
Many kiteboarders consider renting the kiting gear in Kalpitiya, especially if they want to travel across Sri Lanka before or after kiting. They are willing to pay more but feel more flexible. However, this will actually make you more dependent on the kite school and in result limit your possibilities.
The rental gear is often in bad shape and the selection is very limited. On the first day directly after full moon (less wind) we wanted to rent a 12m kite for 1 day – our kite school did not have any to rent!
Overall, we were very happy with our decision to drag our 2m long and 35kg heavy quiver across the entire Sri Lanka, so we could enjoy riding on our favorite gear in Kalpitiya.
Here is our short video presenting kitesurfing conditions in Kalpitiya:
More about Sri Lanka
Make sure to read our other postsa about Sri Lanka: