Luxurious Magazine’s Senior Reporter, Sabi Phagura, ventures to the island in the Indian Ocean with Planet Kitesurf Holidays to try out the popular wind-powered watersport for herself.
Kitesurfing is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the world. In fact, it will feature for the first time ever at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Most people who have never done it believe that having a lot of strength is essential, and it’s quite easy to be put off this aquatic sport when you see videos of pros performing jaw-dropping jumps and flips with excellent precision.
I mean how are you supposed to compete with that? But there’s a joke amid the windsurfing community: “What’s the difference between a kitesurf beginner and a pro?” The answer: “One week”. Obviously it’s not that simple, but with a bit of effort and a good coach, you can be kitesurfing within a few sessions. And with lessons with kitesurfing professional Jérôme Bonieux, owner of the Specialised Kiteboarding school in Pointe d’Esny, I was in good hands.
“Contrary to popular belief, kiteboarding is not that hard and you don’t need a lot of strength”, said Jerome who developed a passion for the sport at age 14, 17 years ago. “Once you have figured out the technique, it’s easy. Virtually anyone can do it – men, women or children. And once people get a taste for it, most want to do more and more of it. All you need to do is be able to swim and be comfortable in the water.”
Safety is paramount here and training begins on the sand where you learn how to rig the kite and operate the safety systems. Kite and wind theory is the basic knowledge your kitesurfing lessons will cover. This is where you learn about where the wind comes from, the direction of it in relation to the beach, and why the ‘wind window’ is the perfect condition to kite in. It’s easy to get tense when using your hands for steering, but if you relax, it will work like magic. Once I managed to get my head around this, I felt I was gliding with the kite.
With patience, most people will be able to get on a board in a meter depth of water by session two. And although I made it to the water, I only managed to stay upright on the board for a mere few seconds. Had the wind conditions been more favourable (my excuse), I’m sure I would have mastered it long enough to pose for a picture. Still, this was a success in such a short space of time thanks to Jerome’s patience and expert teaching methods.
Sadly, the weather really wasn’t on our side during our short stay, but it’s entirely possible to cover how to body drag upwind, power stokes, water start with assistance, water start solo (the fun bit), and master the self-rescue technique and riding downward, in as a little as a week. It wasn’t hard to see during my crash course why the sport is gaining popularity and has so many fans. It’s one sure way of getting your adrenalin fix at this little paradise at the Preskil Island Resort Mauritius.
If kitesurfing isn’t your bag, there’s a whole host of other watersports you can get throw yourself into. Scuba, windsurfing and paddleboard holidays can all be organised by luxury ocean sports tour operator, Planet Travel Holidays. They’re able to offer expert advice on where and when to go according to your skill level, cater for specific needs and budget as well as recommend the best hotels and centres while organising all your lessons, rental, flights and transfers. And as the saying goes, we ‘enjoyed the journey as much as the destination’ with Air Mauritius’ lounge and flight. It kick-started the build-up to what was to come ahead.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the water at Preskil Island Resort. From jumping in the turquoise clear water for a leisurely swim and snorkelling to paddle boarding and a relaxing trip aboard a catamaran, it’s enough to keep the fussiest of people content. And a boat trip to Ile aux Aigrettes, a nature reserve just 850 metres off the south coast of Mauritius, is an opportunity not to be missed.
A popular visitor’s attraction – for both tourists and Mauritians – the islet covers 27 hectares and functions as a nature reserve (declared in 1965) and a scientific research station. Here, you can spot a large number of extremely rare or endangered species of plants and animals, including the pink pigeon, giant tortoises and ebony trees.
During our guided tour with Melanie, we had the pleasure of meeting ‘Daddy’, one of 25 tortoises who eat and spread the plant seeds and thereby help the forest to rejuvenate naturally. It wouldn’t be far wrong to describe Daddy as the ‘king of the forest’ who, weighing in at 200 kilos, is over 110 years old.
Melanie told us how the other male tortoises wouldn’t dare square up to him or indeed attempt to flirt with any of the 12 females present here in his presence. Despite his exceptionally large frame though, he looked pretty tame to us and was content with a massage under his chin.