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Arguably Bonaire is the best place in the world to learn windsurfing; it’s a windsurfing paradise for beginners!

Even dogs learn to windsurf on Bonaire!Bonaire has been known for decades as the premier place to learn windsurfing in calm, clear, and shallow Lac Bay.  The island has been producing home-grown windsurfing pros for years now, with our team always placing high in pro competitions around the world. But everyone must start somewhere, and it’s easy for beginners to learn windsurfing while vacationing on Bonaire.

On Bonaire, four-year-olds are naturals as they skim across the water, and it’s not unusual to see an octogenarian or two plying the trades as well.  Of course, there’s every age in between represented, too!  Even dogs catch on quickly!

Thinking about learning to windsurf?

If you’ve thought of trying windsurfing, but didn’t know much about the sport, then Bonaire is the perfect place to remedy that.  It’s not as difficult as it looks. We couldn’t say it better than this:

Windsurfing is an exhilarating sport, that you can pick up and start learning whatever your age or ability. With expert tuition, the basics will quickly become second nature and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t start years ago.



Windsurfing is a form of sailing. You stand on a board, holding a sail (which is attached to the board) and are powered across the water by the wind. You steer by adjusting the position of the sail and moving your feet.

It’s not the same as kiteboarding, although many sailors master both.

Top tips to get you on a board.

It’s easiest to get your initial tips from a qualified windsurfing instructor.

Anyone can learn windsurfing in the shallow waters of Bonaire's Lac Bay.If you’re keen to get a head start, understanding basic wind direction is an important skill to learn and will point you in the right direction, quite literally!  If you plan to try the sport during Bonaire’s busy winter season, be sure to book your lessons in advance.

Don’t be afraid of falling in.

The water in Lac Bay is calm, clear, and mostly chest-deep.  If you fall in, just climb back on your board, pull up your sail, and try again.

Know the windsurfing jargon.

Any time a new sport is attempted, there is always terminology consistent with the sport that must be mastered. Windsurfing is no different, and it might feel like you are learning a new language. Fear not! You’ll soon be throwing these terms around like a pro!  Of course, your instructor will explain anything you don’t understand.

  • Deck – the top surface of the board
  • Nose – the front of the board
  • Tail – the back of the board
  • Rail – the edge of the board
  • Mast – This is the upright post which the sail is attached to, it supports the front edge of the sail
  • Boom – is the bar attached to the sail–it’s basically the part of the rig that you hold onto, you could say it’s the handlebars
  • Rig – this refers to the windsurf set up i.e. the sail, mast and boom
  • Daggerboard – is the large retractable fin in the middle of the board. It provides the board with greater stability and sideways resistance
  • Fin – found on the bottom of the board, they provide stability and keep the board going in a straight line
  • Uphaul – a rope that allows you to pull the sail out of the water
  • Harness – a piece of equipment which goes around your waist and is then attached to the rig
  • Battens – flexible rods that provide strength and shape to the sail
  • Offshore – when the wind is blowing directly off the land or shore
  • Onshore – when the wind is blowing onto the land or shore
  • Jibe – a manoeuver that turns the nose of the board away from the wind
  • Tack – turning the board with the nose through the wind
  • Butterfly rescue – when you lay the sail flat on the board and paddle the board and sail back to shore

Four common beginner mistakes.

Kids excel at windsurfing when they start learning at an early age.Gear gazing

One of the big rules of windsurfing is that where you look is where you’ll go–if you’re looking down at your feet or the water, the likelihood is that the rest of you will follow soon enough.

Don’t stick your butt out

Not only do you look funny, research has found that lower back strain is one of the most common windsurfing injuries. Getting your stance right will not only improve your windsurfing and make you look good, but it will also help to prevent injury which means you can windsurf even more.

Loving your equipment a bit too much

Pulling the rig (sail) too close to your body will affect the way it catches the wind and will cause you to overbalance, ultimately resulting in a big splash. Remember to always keep your front arm extended to help keep the rig away from your body.

Not keeping your weight over the centerline

The centerline is the most stable part of the board. If you stand too far forward or backward, or too close to the rails (the edges) you’ll tip the board and again…. splash!

Read the entire article: A beginner’s guide to windsurfing.

Love Bonaire’s tropical waters?

You might also like to try:

Diving on Bonaire
Snorkeling on Bonaire
Kayaking on Bonaire
Kiteboarding on Bonaire

(Source:  Nielson)


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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, a certified bird guide, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 

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