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When we think of South Africa, the images that typically come to mind are incredible wildlife roaming the grassy plains or the sparkling city of Cape Town. But only 90 minutes drive up the coast is a holiday haven with a beautiful blue lagoon.
In this edition of Destinations, we're visiting Langebaan, South Africa.
In South Africa's Western Cape, there are kite spots all along the coast. However, few locations bring the warm water and all level friendly conditions of Langebaan. This dreamy kite Destination is complete with a relaxed small town vibe along the lagoon beachfront. Langebaan is the perfect blend of kite trip and beach holiday. If you're looking for a family-friendly location where you can still get in some epic sessions, Langebaan is the place to go.
In this blog, we'll cover everything you need to know about kiteboarding in Langebaan. Scroll down past the kite spot guide to find out travel tips and advice for this beautiful holiday spot.
Similar to Cape Town, Langebaan's windy season is in their summer, from around November to March. This spot has the benefit of a Venturi effect, which means that even a weak forecast can deliver some great windy conditions. This spot can get fairly gusty, but the beautiful environment certainly makes up for it!
Wind can change throughout the day, with many kiters pumping up multiple kites or swapping out boards as the conditions change. Expect anything from light wind foiling conditions to thumping big air winds - anything from 6 to 36 knots! If you want to be sure to get a session in every day, your best bet is to bring a selection of kites and boards so you can adjust to the changing conditions.
In my visits to Langebaan, I've had anything from perfect 9m freestyle conditions to days where I've been struggling to hold onto a 6m kite. There have even been days where the wind hasn't stepped up enough to match any of the kites or boards I have in the car, so all there is to do is enjoy a relaxing day on the beach and watch the foilers enjoy the spot to themselves.
There are 2 main launch spots in Langebaan - Main Beach and Shark Bay.
Shark Bay is absolutely stunning with clear, shallow water that makes it heavenly for beginners and riders working on progression. This spot gets its name from the harmless sand shark... so don't worry! After parking in the lot on top of the hill, kiters will have to walk their gear down a winding path to the water's edge. The beach here is quite small and can get very crowded, so be cautious. For beginners, the pokey bushes and small beach can be daunting, but working with a licensed instructor will allow those that are still learning to navigate the area safely. On the water, expect nearly flat (but crowded) conditions close to the beach and semi-flat to slight chop further out and upwind where it's deeper and less crowded.Main Beach is right in the center of Langebaan village. While the water here is choppier, both the beach and the room available for kiting are significantly better. This is also a great beginner and lesson friendly spot, and one that's a favorite of the local foilers and pros, where everybody can find their own piece of water to play. Here, the water gets very deep as you ride away from the beach, and the current can be strong. Keep an eye on the tides so you know which way to chase your board if you lose it! There is usually a safety boat patrolling this spot to help you out if you run into trouble.
Shark Bay and Main Beach are only a 5-10 minute drive from each other, but the wind can blow very differently in each spot. If you arrive at one spot and it's not working, head over to the other one to check it out.
RIDING LEVEL & STYLE
What's really attractive about Langebaan is that it's a place where kiters of any level can ride, from those that are doing their first lessons (and this is definitely one of the best spots in South Africa to do them!) to advanced to pro level riders working on tricks and progression. These forgiving kite conditions are amazing for riders who are working on their progression.
If you saw our Cape Town episode of Destinations, you'll remember that Blouberg is Big Air and Wave heaven. What that spot can't offer, Langebaan sure does. This is Foiler paradise, especially early in the mornings or when the wind is light. The incoming tide makes for butter-flat water without a whitecap in sight! Foilers should be cautious in Shark Bay where the shallow spots and sandbars can get in the way... or use a short mast.
Freestylers in South Africa find some of the best training grounds in the province here in Langebaan. From Main Beach, you'll see a spot further downwind where the pros ride. Avoid this area if you're a beginner, as there's a wind shadow that can be difficult to navigate and get out of near the sandbags. If you're ready to send it, this is a great place to get into the rotation of riders to work on tricks.
When the wind really picks up in Langebaan, this place is Big Air heaven! You can push your Big Air level without having to worry about getting swallowed up by waves if you come down hard. For those looking for some swell, there are a couple of beaches with breaking waves further downwind of Main Beach, but this is a fairly small area and is often crowded with surfers and windsurfers.
WEATHER / TEMPERATURE
Cape Town and the surrounding areas are known to have 4 seasons in one day... so be prepared for anything and everything! Off the water, you may get hot, sunny beach conditions with a perfect breeze - or grey skies and chilly wind!
On the water, you'll be happy to know that a boardshorts and bikini session is possible here, especially at Shark Bay. It's not Caribbean warm though, so a spring suit is recommended either way. Main Beach is a bit cooler, so a spring suit could work, but most riders will use a 3/2 wetsuit.
At the moment, the facilities on the beach in Shark Bay and Main Beach are minimal. Main Beach has the benefit of being in the village and closer to amenities, but there are no purpose-built structures on the beach for kiters. At the time of writing this, there are some facilities under construction in Shark Bay next to the parking lot, so bathrooms and shops may be on the way. At the moment, it's truly like kiting in a nature reserve.
Next to Main Beach in Langebaan Center, there are plenty of kite shops and hotels and hostels designed for kiters. While it's a small town, you'll be able to purchase almost anything that you've forgotten or broken... or just that snazzy new harness you've been wanting to try. There's plenty of beachfront spots to chill and have a cold drink, and shops to keep your non-kiting friends and family occupied.
Langebaan is notorious for boards going missing. The incoming and outgoing tides can reach up to 8 knots which can really screw with your apparent wind. If it's blowing 20 knots, the apparent wind can be anywhere from 12 to 28 knots depending on the tides. If you lose your board, don't take your eyes off of it or you may never see it again! Luckily, Main Beach usually has a patrol boat around to help out and other riders are often around to pick up a stray board if they see one.
The other thing to watch out for is the crowds. In peak season, the beach and water can get very full very quickly. For the riders in the process of learning, that can mean kite tangles and mayhem on the beach. At Shark Bay, this can prove dangerous as there are more obstacles on and near the beach that can be hazardous. Stay aware of what's happening around you, and take the extra time to make sure your kite is in the correct position before launching. Don't hesitate to ask for help or connect with one of the local schools for a supervised session while you get comfortable on this spot.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORTATION & SAFETY
Head over to our Cape Town blog to find out information on travel to Cape Town, visa and passport requirements, and general tips on getting around the area.
You'll definitely need a rental car for this spot, unless you've managed to organize hotel or hostel accommodation near the beach that includes transfers. The convenience of a rental car really opens up your options when it comes to exploring kite spots and taking advantage of all of the exciting activities this area has to offer. There is free parking all around Langebaan, but at peak times it can be very difficult to find a parking spot.
Langebaan is much safer than Cape Town when it comes to home and vehicle security, but it's recommended to avoid leaving valuables in the car regardless. Be sure to keep a key pouch or use a water key to keep your rental car and belongings secure while you're on the water. Avoid leaving belongings unattended on the beach.
If you've got a rental car, you can stay anywhere in and around the Langebaan area and still be no more than 10 minutes drive to the beach. There's some beautiful vacations homes on the hill close to Shark Bay, the perfectly appointed Windtown (kite hotel and resort) on the main beach road in Langebaan, and several other hostels and guesthouses close to Main Beach. You can even stay downwind in Mykonos, where there's a big resort, marina, and casino.
Check your favorite hotel booking site, AirBNB, or with one of the local vacation rental and holiday home companies to book your spot.
If you're staying in Cape Town or Blouberg, this spot makes for a great day trip. You can come in the morning, kite all day, and be back in time for a sundown session at Pakalolo's Beach Bar on Kite Beach.
FOOD & BEV
For those staying in Langebaan in a holiday rental, try to get one with a braai space! That's the South African version of a barbecue. You can't go wrong with some delicious grilled food at home with your friends. There are several groceries stores in town that will provide you with anything you need to prepare food at home.
Some personal favourites in the Langebaan area...
Breakfast & Cafe: Ginja Beanz
Kiters Hangout: Breeze Windtown
Cocktails & Drinks: Marc's Beach Bar (near Mykonos)
You can't go all the way to South Africa without seeing some of the sights! Whether you're on the ocean or journeying, this is an excellent kite holiday if you're traveling with family or a group of non-kiters. Whether you're experiencing incredible South African wildlife or just relaxing by the beach, you'll find plenty of options in the area.
Here's some of my favourite Langebaan no-wind day activities...
West Coast National Park: Langebaan borders this incredible nature reserve where springbok, gemsbok, ostriches, and more wildlife roam freely. You have to pay a fee to drive into the park, but it's easy to spend several hours in this spot. There's a beautiful picnic spot in Kraalbaai (on the other side of Shark Bay) where you can go for a swim. If you continue deeper into the reserve, the wild, rocky beachfront at Tsaarbank is a great place to use one of the public grills. Wherever you go, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!
Shopping in the village: In Langebaan, there are dozens of shops from art galleries to sports equipment to clothing boutiques and more. It's a great place to wander around and enjoy the laid back waterfront lifestyle.
Kayaking, SUPing, and surfing: If it's not windy, you can rent a kayak or SUP from one of the many boardsports shops on the main drag to go paddle around Main Beach and explore this spot from the water. There's also a wave that breaks downwind of Main Beach, which is great for beginner surfers. This spot can get larger swell, so those that want to enjoy some warm water surfing in the Cape Town area should keep an eye on the swell forecast.
Mykonos Casino: Looking to get away from the hot sun, or just a place to bring the kids for some indoor entertainment? While the casino at Mykonos is small, it has all of the basics and even an arcade for the kids. There's mini golf outside, and lots of water activities available from the marina. You can book a sunset cruise, charter a boat, rent a jet-ski, and more.
Game Drives: There are a handful of game reserves in this area where you can see big game, including the Thali Thali reserve and Buffelsfontein. You can do horseback game rides or jump on a big open air vehicle to go see some of the big beasts that South Africa is famous for.
The road back to Cape Town: Don't miss some of the local farmstalls and markets (try Weskus Padstal or Vygevallei) along the highway where you can sample local specialties and pick up some delicious pies! There's also the Darling Brewery (a short detour) and a couple wine farms that you can visit on the way back to the windy beaches of Cape Town. Along the coast are some more beautiful towns like Yzerfontein and Melkbos which have gorgeous views and waterfront dining.
A trip to South Africa isn't complete without some sessions in Langebaan. It feels like a completely different world than what you'd experience in Cape Town, Blouberg, and Kite Beach, and this is an experience the traveling kiter cannot miss!
If you have any questions about this kite spot including gear recommendations for kiteboarding in South Africa, send us a message here or reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram. If you have any of your own tips and experiences to share, let us know!
We look forward to sharing the next Destination with you...
Duotone Kites USA team rider and a MACkite team rider. Originally from Canada, she now calls the entire world her home, playground, and her workplace. She goes where the wind blows - so if you see her at a kite beach somewhere in the world, say hello! Her primary goal is to share her love of kiteboarding and travel and all the lessons learned along the way with the world.
Facebook: Crystal Veness
Written and produced by Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic and Crystal Veness