Posts Tagged ‘Kitesurfing’

Round-the-World Honeymoon Pt.3: Curaçao (23-28 May)

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

After another stopover in Panama, our next destination was Curaçao. This former Dutch colony was really an amazing spot for our honeymoon. Tropical climate with sunshine every day, but due to the trade winds there is always a breeze which means that it felt much less hot than for example in Cuba. Our hotel, the Scuba Lodge, was also an excellent choice, for many reasons: firstly, it was a very nice hotel, located right next to the ocean, with a nice infinity pool overlooking the water, and an outdoor restaurant with sandy floor. Sencondly, the hotel is located in the Pietermaai district of Willemstad (the “capital” / only city on Curaçao). Described by the receptionist as the “up and coming” neighborhood, there were many nice cafes and restaurants around, but without the resort-y and tourist-y vibe of Mambo Beach. The fact that Pietermaai still has a bunch of houses that are empty and deteriorating only adds to the charm.

The last big advantage of the Scuba Lodge was – as the name implies – the fact that there is a dive shop on site, which was very useful for us since Curaçao also has amazing diving. Curaçao sits on a very steep reef, only a few meters out from shore there is a massive drop. This means that in contrast to all other spots we have dived so far, on Curaçao you typically don’t take a boat out, rather, you drive to a dive site and then simply walk in.

We went diving on three days. Sunday, we went to Marie Pampoen carpile and Boka Simon. Carpile is an interesting dive site since there is a lot of scrap metal wreckage in the water, dumped there a long time ago by island inhabitants when it was not prohibited yet. Over the course of the years, nature has run its course, and today, the wreckage is overgrown with coral and makes for an impressive underwater experience. Monday, we did the “dolphin encounter” at Shipwreck Point. The Dolphins are not wild, they belong to the local acquirium and live in a lagoon that is connected to the ocean (so at least as close to their natural habitat as it gets). Our “encounter” was in the open ocean though, a trainer had brought the Dolphins out and they were swimming in between the divers, eyeing us curiously and plying with the reef. On our last day of diving, Tuesday, we went to Director’s Bay (an extremely beautiful coral reef there) and then Tugboat, which features a wreck of a small tugboat. This last dive was really amazing, firstly we dived to the wreck with an incredible amount of fish that were using it as a hiding place. Thereafter, we went under an abandoned ferry that is moored there and through the pillars of the pier that it is docked through. The lack of light there really made for an enchanted or mystical experience, in the pure blue, with the pillars of the pier looking like some kind of forest.

On our last full day, we did another outdoor activity, and took a kitesurfing refresher course. More than three years after either of us had touched a kite, we definitely had to start with the basics again. Fortunately, Curaçao was an ideal spot for this. Kiting on the coast is quite dangerous here, but our course took place on an inland lagoon, with no other kite surfer in sight. The steady trade winds made for perfect conditions. However, there is only so far you can get in a few hours, so we really thought we would have to find some more time to do this again at some point, hopefully before another three years go by.

Another thing worth mentioning was the food: for one thing we enjoyed being able to eat salad again without fearing food poisoning (didn’t seem advisable in Cuba). Also, the Dutch heritage combined with the Carribean location meant that a lot of things we enjoy are part of the cuisine: fish and seafood, but also nice bread and cheese. 

Overall, we really loved it on Curaçao, and decided that this is one of the few places that we could potentially prioritize coming back to over exploring new places. A few pictures follow.

Period Break in Boracay

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

After completing the final exams for P1 last week, almost all INSEAD students headed off to different destinations for the four-day period break before our classes started again at the beginning of this week. I know of at least seven different group trips that were organized, plus more individual travel arrangements. As one student put it: “the only ones staying in Singapore are married couples, Singaporeans or those who are receive visitors over the period break”. Whereas others travelled to Sri Lanka, India, Hong Kong, Japan, Cambodia, or Lao, I joined a group of people going to Boracay island in the Philippines.

The island is renowned as one of South East Asia’s best beach spots, and is the major tourist destination in the Philippines. As such, I was initially a bit worried that it would have a package tourist feel to it like for example Phuket, but it turned out that this was  not the case. In fact, Boracay has a very relaxed atmosphere, and the beaches are really stunning. The island is shaped like a bone, with a narrow part in the middle, and wider ends in the north and south. The middle part has two beaches on either side: In the west, White Beach is the amazingly beautiful and stretches over some three kilometers. Along the beach, there are numerous restaurants and bars, and the beach is in fact more busy after sunset than during the day. On the east side, Bulabog Beach is above all populated by kitesurfers. The beach itself is not very beautiful, but shallow water, steady on-shore wind and a reef off the coast which breaks the waves before they can reach the shore make the spot perfect to kitesurf.

Initially I had not made up my mind what to do during my time on the island, but once I got there on Thursday morning (after a seven-hour journey with a transfer in Cebu), I decided to give kitesurfing a shot… and I loved it! I did a three-day course, and by the end of the third day, I managed to ride a few meters on the board. It really takes some time to learn all the necessary skills: maintaining control over the kite, steering the kite in a way so that it exerts force on you in the right direction, getting up on the board, and balancing your weight on the board in the right way. Despite the fact that it took so long to even ride a few meters (and even that far from consistently!) I did not get frustrated at all, because I could feel that I was constantly improving in my efforts. Of course I was far from what some of the more experienced kitesurfers where practicing on the water just next to me, including some really amazing, long jumps (my instructor told me that he had won a contest recently with a 9.7 second jump!).

Apart from kitesurfing, I enjoyed the beaches of the island and the truly amazing scenery. In addition, we went out for dinner or drinks to some really nice restaurants and bars.

When we had to leave on Sunday, I really didn’t want to leave yet… I could have stayed there easily for a few more weeks, going kitesurfing everyday and living the good life…

Some pictures from the trip:

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