I can name at least five friends who have quit their careers to go kiteboarding and moved to Brazil. Some of these guys were formerly making in excess of $100,000 per year, so either the girls are smoking hot, or they are kiteboarding Brazil cause the place is super windy!
I've heard that both statements are true. No suprise then that in recent years, Brazil has gained recognition as one of the world's premiere destinations for wind-powered sports.
The place really has it all: low cost of living, great weather, strong wind, good-looking people, variety and a long season. Brazil is a massive country so it is possible to find all conditions, but the country is most famous for its ultra-flat-water lagoons. Between May and February, Brazil is heaven for kitesurfers and windsurfers.
Here's the 8 spots at the top.
Some of the big names spots can get crowded at times, but if you're down for some alone time, there are endless places to ride. Every athlete has a different definition of the perfect place to ride, so it is impossible to please everyone.
This town is one of the most popular in northeastern Brazil. The main riding areas can be crowded at times due to its location only 40 minutes from the Fortaleza airport. The advantages of a larger town are more options for nightlife and non-kiting activities. However, the influx of tourists to this area has driven the prices up. While often not a favorite place to ride, after being in more remote areas, it's nice to come hang out here for a few days to refresh your social skills.
Lagoa do Cauipe
This place is like center court at Wimbledon. Do not ride here at peak hours unless you're very skilled and non-claustrophobic. Located a short drive from Cumbuco, this place is a breeding ground of talent.
At times, there are 35-40 kites jammed into a confined area and just as many others waiting on the shoreline. There is a full-on scene here with places to hang out and get food. Blissful. If you ever have to guess where a magazine picture was taken in Brazil - guess here. If you're just learning, come be amazed by the depth of talent at this spot.
For many riders, this is a favorite place to spend time. It is much smaller than Cumbuco and therefore cheaper. The lagoon is great and most of the time, it is uncrowded. At times, there are heaps of riders, but it is possible to have this place to yourself.
The vibe on the water is less intense than other main lagoons so if you're looking for kitesurfing trips that offer a more relaxing experience than Lagoa do Cauipe, check this place out.
The main riding spot here is on the ocean - no lagoons. On higher tide, the water gets choppy and this place becomes average. At low tide, the water is smooth to flat and much more enjoyable for freestyle riders.
There are some small waves out on the outside, but it is nothing special. More like bump and jump conditions. Watch out for fishing stakes protruding from the water. It would be nasty to land on one of those. The town center is about a 10-minute drive from the riding spot and is excellent. The massive church in the middle of the town is a beautiful landmark.
This flat-water spot located near Rio De Janeiro is one of the sickest freestyle places outside of the northeastern region of Brazil. The lake is waist deep and even when the wind is totally cranking; the water is slick as butter.
Many top-level kiters train here to avoid the crowds around the main Rio beaches. A beautiful place, this is a must-visit. A well kept secret spot that is off the beaten kitesurfing travel path - for now.
Barra da Tijuca
This incredibly long stretch of beach is located in Rio. The beach is over 18 kilometers long and is a madhouse on hot summer weekends. This is fashion central for all the beautiful people living in Rio. It can be compared to Miami's South Beach. If you're after a hot date, you may want to hang out in this area on a summer afternoon.
There is plenty of space to launch and land kites here but crowds can be a problem at times. Always remember that you're a part of the crowd too. The rider that you're agitated by is probably equally annoyed by you. Many of the national kiteboarding championships are held here.
This is a wave riding spot on the Florianopolis Peninsula. When it's breaking properly, it has been compared to Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa. There are plenty of waves around so you'll be able to surf without unmanageable crowds. There are barrels here for paddle surfing and even while surfing with a kite.
Brazil is a rapidly developing country that is soon to be in the forefront of the world's athletic focus. With the World Cup heading here in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, look for Brazil to continue as a kiteboarding hotspot. Quit your job and join my friends down there.