Kiteboarding in Punta Chame, Panama
As we enter the summer months on the pacific coast of Panama, the rain begins to subside and warm winds pick up. From mid December to early April, extreme sports enthusiasts from all over the world head to the pacific coast for kiteboarding season. Punta Chame offers miles of empty shoreline and consistent side- on shore winds blowing 15 – 30 plus knots daily. These conditions make Punta Chame one of the best kiteboarding experiences around. Throughout the month of January a growing group of kiteboarders from around the world set out to find sunny shores where the winds are still strong. Within the last few years Panama's shores have been gaining their attention.With Travis Pastrana’s Nitro City located at the tip of Punta Chame, kite boarding in Panama is earning it’s place in the action sports world. Kiteboarder Magazine named “Nitro City, Panama”, as a top kiting destination, in their 2013 Fall/Winter travel guide. Furthermore, with big names in Kiteboarding like Youri Zoon, Colleen Carroll, Kevin Jacobsen and Nick Langeree filming and talking about Panama, we can expect more and more kites to soar in the Punta Chame skies this year.
There are two main spots to kiteboard in Punta Chame: La Punta (The Point) and La Laguna (The Lagoon).
La Punta is a long open stretch spanning from Nitro City to the tip of Punta Chame. La Punta offers a safe environment for those learning to kiteboard. With few obstacles on shore and in the water, on a day with strong side-on shore winds you can ride for miles uninterrupted.
Experienced kiters say La Laguna is a great place to freestyle. The area is not recommended for beginners since there is not a lot of riding area. That being said, when you see someone who knows what they are doing ride the lagoon you will be amazed. Freestyle kiteboarding is the most visually enticing. The Lagoon is before Nitro City on the right hand side and can only be ridden during high tide. The bay is dry when the tide is low.
There are two kiteboarding schools on the point: Nitro City’s Kiteschool and Machete Kites. Neither place will rent equipment until you have taken a couple of lessons and have a good understanding of the basics. This lack of trust is with good reason; kiters with limited knowledge on how to launch, depower and fly a kite pose a threat to themselves, other kiters and beachgoers.
In the heart of the season, the point can get pretty busy. Much like surfing there are rules to be followed in order to ensure riders are safe and lines don’t get crossed. Learning the right of way, passing other riders and launching are important rules that are learnt from an instructor.
For a look into the professional world of kiteboarding check out the PKRA (Professional Kiteboard Riders Association) World Cup Tour from Feb 18 - 23 at Nitro City in Punta Chame. This is the first time the event will be held in Panama. The upcoming event has already brought some of the best riders in freestyle, wave riding, slalom and racing to the peninsula.