Check out extreme sports at the Skate Shack on Amwaj Island
Time Out Bahrain staff
If extreme sports are your thing then Amwaj is probably the best place on the island (apart from the BIC). On windy Friday and Saturday afternoons daredevils can be found taking to the water on their kite surfs and it really can be quite a sight. We spoke to Ryan Hughes, manager and extreme sports advisor at Skate Shack, to get the low down.
Where’s the best place to kitesurf on Amwaj and what’s the best time of year? The best place to kitesurf in Amwaj is on the north of the islands near Tala island. It has the biggest space to safely set up and launch our kites. The wind generally comes from the north and northwest and is an onshore wind. This means that if anyone has any problem with their equipment they won’t need a rescue boat and won’t get blown out to sea. The kite surf season runs from November to July, usually, though there are usually a few windy days through the summer also.
Are lessons available, if so where and from who? There are no full-time trainers in Bahrain, though there are about 5 qualified instructors including myself. We usually teach in our free time, depending on the wind. I usually try to put people in contact with an instructor before they buy equipment from my shop as it’s potentially a dangerous sport and needs the proper training.
Is it possible to hire equipment or do you have to have your own gear? There is no equipment for hire for the reason above though the instructors have their own equipment that they use for teaching. The benefit of having your own new equipment is that the fabrics and lines of kites fatigue in the sun and wind. Usually people hold on to their equipment for 2 or 3 years then sell it to get new equipment. As kitesurfing is a relatively new sport, the technology has been improving and changing continuously.
Approximately how many people take part in the sport and what’s the age range? We have approximately 30 kite surfers in Bahrain and we also have some fellow kite surfers from Saudi Arabia who visit occasionally. Our ages range from about 20-50yrs.
Are there any competitions or displays non-surfers can come along to? We have not done any competitions so far but we have talked about it. Most just like to have fun with their friends. Freeride. We have done a group kitesurf from Amwaj to Jaradah which was a lot of fun. Many people come to the beach and watch us kitesurf. Spectators are always welcome at the beach. For safety reasons we urge spectators to park their cars on the road and not on the beach. The kitesurfers are all friendly and easy to approach.
What’s great about kitesurfing and is Amwaj a good spot? Kitesurfing is a sport which allows you to clear your mind and forget about the everyday things. Like any boardsport, you can learn cool tricks and express yourself and your style. The best thing however is the ability to jump as high as a house and land as soft as a feather. It’s not a physically demanding sport as the kite does most of the work but at first can be very tiring. The sessions can last for approximately 4 hours. Kitesurfing gives you balance and strengthens the core muscles including legs and back.
Amwaj is a great place to kitesurf because the amwaj management and security have always welcomed kitesurfers which we are always grateful for. The security do a great job keeping the beach safe. Amwaj has unobstructed wind and a seawall which makes the water very smooth. Experienced riders venture out of the sea wall and ride the rough water.
The conditions in Bahrain and Amwaj are some of the best in the Gulf mainly because of the relatively constant winds and the flat water, though it’s also to do with the kitesurfers themselves, looking after each other, beginners and other people on the beach to ensure safety and a nice community.
Also do you know anything about other watersports in Amwaj? Along with kitesurfing, Amwaj is a great place for wake boarding, waterskiing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding ‘SUP’ and kayaking. Amwaj is a very safe place to cycle, jog and rollerblade and I’ve seen over the years, more people taking up these sports.
There is a surf-ski kayak club at the Amwaj Marina, surf-ski is a racing style of kayak which requires a lot of balance but they are fast once you get it right. Amwaj certainly has the outdoors lifestyle.