I followed Annie to Manila, where she had some business meetings, and then hopped down to the island of Boracay. It’s a small island with a beautiful beach on one side and a prime spot for learning kite boarding on the other.
I had some trepidation about kite boarding. I pictured myself being dragged helplessly along the beach, apologizing to tourists and sunbathers as they dove for cover. But sometimes it’s better to not over-think things and, shortly after checking into the Lazy Dog B&B, I signed up for four days of lessons with Timog Kite Boarding Center.
There were probably close to a dozen kite boarding centers along Bulabog Beach that all offered lessons. They charged similar prices and, as it turned out, often used the same instructors who acted like free-agents. So the kite boarding centers pretty much just provide the equipment and a place to chill along the beach.
I was afraid that kite boarding instructors would just be another incarnation of snow boarding instructors – apathetic and put out by the fact they had to spend their day teaching a noobie. But the instructor that Timog set me up with, Sarkon, was great. He’s got quite the life, splitting his time between instructing in Turkey and Boracay.
First, he had me get comfortable controlling a small kite. Then, after I was flying a normal sized kite, I practiced getting out of “bad” situations. A few times, I involuntarily took off like superman, flying through the air when the kite yanked me like a retracting lawnmower cord. Each time it happened, it was a little shocking. I mean, come on, I was flying through the air. But, in then end, I really wouldn’t travel that far and my reunion with the water wasn’t painful – more like jumping back into a pool.
Finally, with a board strapped to my feet, I focused on getting up and going. Here’s proof that, on day 4, I was ready to add “kite boarder” to my LinkedIn profile: yes, it's me in the video.
Once I had some familiarity with controlling the kite, the thing that was probably the most dangerous were other kite boarders. Every once in a while, someone’s kite would do an unintended nose dive and come slamming down in the water – THWACK! – a little closer to me than I liked. The kites have some weight to them and I don’t think it would feel good to have one crash on your head.
My advice: if you’ve had some interest in learning to kite board, but thought it was too dangerous, ignore those crazy YouTube videos you might have seen and sign up for some lessons. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that it isn’t so hard/painful. And is a lot of fun.
Later, Annie joined me in Boracay for the weekend and we roamed around the island checking out different beaches and snorkeling spots. During one sunset, we had an amazing time swimming in a cove that we had to ourselves. The beautiful beaches, plentiful options for activities, friendly people (though many want to sell you something), and reasonable prices (if you don’t stay on the White Beach side of the island) convinced us to give Boracay a thumbs up!