Flat-Water Feast for the East
Author: Tom James with Matt and Keegan Myers
Published: Dec/Jan 2006 issue of Kiteboarding Magazine, www.kiteboardingmag.com
What’s so special about La Parguera? I mean really, could it be any different from the rest of the Caribbean, where you ride over clear, sandy waters right out your front door all day, then drink margaritas to a steel-drum band banging out the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” all night?
Well, actually, yes. This small fishing town, whose only previous draw was the eerie nighttime glow from the nearby bioluminescent bay, now lays claim to being the Caribbean’s greatest flat-water kiteboarding spot, not to mention the sport’s best adventure. At La Parguera, there is not a beach. In fact, the riding spot is a couple of miles offshore from any civilization.
To ride La Parguera you have to earn it. You load up a boat and slowly motor through the mangrove tunnels until you pop out in an all-water, boat-based world. You motor another mile or so upwind to the shallow sandbar/mangrove line that gives the bay its butter-smooth complexion, pump up, and from that point on it’s a wake-style riders paradise. Warm, flat, shallow water with hair-dryer consistent wind is the payoff. By the end of the day it’s likely your boat driver will have caught a mahi-mahi for your dinner. You’ll down a few fish tacos and a few Medallas and call it a night. Day after day, ad nauseum. We’d call that special.
If you fly into San Juan, you will need to hire a private taxi ($140) to take you across the island. The other option is to use the underground local method named “La Lina” or “The Line” by calling Melvin (who speaks some English) at 787-317-2606. This method is cheaper ($40), but only runs before 1:00pm and can be packed full with other passengers.
Flying into Mayaguez is the easiest method, and is only a half hour $40 taxi ride to La Parguera.
The best idea is to reserve a rental car on line before your arrival. This way you can travel at your own pace and check out the island.
Getting a boat in La Parguera
To get out to the riding location, you need to rent a small boat. Stop by Johnnys Boat Rentals located at the town center and ask for Gina, she can get you a guide to show you the riding location for about $10-20.
What to do at night
For a quick and inexpensive dinner, stop by Guacataco for a good Mexican meal. There are quite a few seafood restaurants to choose from, but be sure to eat at least once at La Jamaca located on the back mountain. Later in the evening, there are a few bars in the town center that stay open past midnight where you can play pool and meet the locals. Get ready to hear all the reggatone you could ask for, and to see some funny characters getting down on the dance floor. Don’t be shy as everyone is friendly and excited to have you visiting.
Best time of year.
By far the best season is late winter/early spring (March-May). The summer (June-August) also gets very windy and can blow for weeks straight.
Typical wind conditions
The trades blow from the East and are amplified by a thermal effect created by the inland desert. You can expect 15-20mph winds from 11:00 to 1:00, with the wind increasing to 25-30mph in the afternoon. The wind in La Parguera is so steady you will swear you are riding behind a fan.
The water is incredibly warm at about 70 degrees. You will never be the slight bit chilly, so no need to bring any type of wetsuit.
Do not forget a good pair of booties for walking around on the reef. You do not need to wear them while riding, but it is a good idea to have them on while rigging and launching your kite in case you step on a sea urchin or shell. Also prepare to rig your kite in the water, it may seem confusing at first but once the locals show you the routine you will never want to deal with a sandy kite again.