Asia

Pahang, Malaysia: Learning Kitesurfing at Balok Beach, Kuantan

**At the time of writing, we’re in the midst of Malaysia’s Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic; and because we cannot fly out of the country at the moment, many Malaysians are planning holidays within the country. It’s an unprecedented time to be a travel blogger, so I’m taking the opportunity to write more about my beloved country. And while we’re on our “Cuti-Cuti Malaysia”, don’t forget to adhere to all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. Read more about my Malaysian travels here.

Since finding out that you can actually learn how to do kitesurfing here in Malaysia; I’ve been wanting to give it a go. Always one for adventures and adventure sports, I thought it would be great to just try a hand at it and see how I’d like it. Well, I guess my timing has always been a little off — because recently, my hubby and sister decided to give kitesurfing a go… and hurray! I just happened to be pregnant. So to be fair, this post is not exactly my experience learning kitesurfing, it is theirs. I just tagged along to watch; and then decided to write a little bit about it, and how to go about learning kitesurfing in Malaysia.

Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing in Malaysia

Kitesurfing (or kiteboarding) is a combination of a few sports in one. It’s got a bit of surfing, a bit of wakeboarding, a bit of sailing, and then of course, the kiteflying. This action sport is a surface watersport that harnesses the power of the wind to move across the water on a surfboard, using a large controllable kite (that looks like a parachute).

In Malaysia, the places to learn and to practice kitesurfing lies on the east coast of peninsula Malaysia. The popular areas being Kuantan’s Balok and Cherating Beaches; and Tanjung Resang, Gorek Bay and Tioman Island in Johor. The best time to kitesurf in Malaysia is during the Monsoon season from November to March (where the waves are high and the winds are strong at about 15-30 knots); but if you’re a beginner, the off-Monsoon seasons from April to November are best for learning (with milder winds at 3-12 knots). Therefore, because neither of us have ever tried our hands (and feet) on kitesurfing; we headed down to Balok Beach to learn kitesurfing on a hot and windy weekday afternoon in August.

Balok Beach
No kitesurfing for me, but the pregnant lady can still chill on the beach.
Balok Beach
Nothing like battling the wind on the breezy Balok Beach.
Balok Beach
Lots of resorts, and even apartment buildings line the coast of Balok Beach.

Kuantan’s Balok Beach

Balok Beach is located about 15 kilometers (15-20 minutes drive) north of the Pahang state capital of Kuantan; on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. The beach is a popular venue for kitesurfing and windsurfing sports; where professional and amateur surfers from all over the world gather during the Monsoon season for challenges and competitions. It’s just mind-blowing to me… considering that I grew up in Kuantan and I never knew this (probably because I have a mom who would freak out at the word ‘action sports’)!

So to me, Balok Beach is just a sleepy beach area that I visit from time to time to eat seafood, Thai food, or the occasional keropok lekor (deep-fried fish sausage) snack. And it’s lined with international and boutique beach resorts for a quick weekend getaway — like the Swiss-Garden Beach Resort, the Adena Beach Resort, or the De Rhu Beach Resort. Oh, and I also recently found out that the Natural Batik Village is located at Balok; and it’s a good place to visit to learn about this Malaysian art-technique. You can even try your hand on batik painting!

Learn Kitesurfing
Learning the basics on how to set up the kite.
Learn Kitesurfing
It’s all about learning to manoeuvre the kite — from the beach first.
Learn Kitesurfing
Sister trying to get her footing to steady herself.
Learn Kitesurfing
And of course, sometimes you fall.
Learn Kitesurfing
Really wished I could join in the fun!

Learning Kitesurfing at Balok Beach

Now, back to kitesurfing. Like every sport, if you want to be good at it — it takes a lot of time and effort. But if you’re just curious to learn a little bit and try your hand at it; Balok is a convenient, easy-to-get-to and relatively safe place to learn the basics of kitesufing.

While researching on places to learn how to kitesurf in Balok, my sister came across a freelance instructor that was recommended on TripAdvisor — Leo. He was easy to get in touch with, and gave all the necessary instructions and information that was needed to take a lesson on kitesurfing. He was pretty flexible on our timings, and told us that lessons depend mainly on the wind that day. My sister booked a lesson for 2 (my hubby and her) for about 2 hours in the afternoon; and it costs about RM150 an hour per person. We then met him at the beach area near the Swiss-Garden Resort Residences.

I watched while the both of them had fun with the kites! They started with Level 1 by wearing the harness; setting up and letting go of the gigantic kites; and then finally using the handle to learn how to control and manoeuvre their own individual kites. They spent an hour standing by the beach while strapped onto a line to the kites; finding their balance, and then skidding, and even falling down from time to time! It looked pretty exciting and I really wished I could join in the fun.

Later in the afternoon, they went on to Level 2 that involved getting into the sea and controlling the kite in the water — dragging and surfing with their bodies in the sea. It looked quite tough and seemed like it needed alot of body strength; but my sister did mention that at this point of the learning process, it was still very much doable. All in all, they spent about 3 hours learning how to kitesurf (Level 1 and 2) in that one day; and ended it by watching Leo and his son kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing Balok
Battling the kite against the wind. Almost winning?
Kitesurfing Balok
Slowly getting into the water.
Kitesurfing Balok
And finally, after one afternoon of learning… rolling around in the sea!

The Kitesurfing Experience

My hubby and sister had a great time learning kitesurfing. At the end of the day, more time is definitely needed to actually learn the entire process — which is supposed to end with wonderfully gliding along the ocean on a surfboard while being guided by a kite. That process will probably start from Level 3 that consists of the waterstart. That involves getting up on the board in the water, properly working the kite, and riding and balancing on the board. And it requires another session of learning, at another time.

Leo is an attentive, knowledgable and experienced instructor; and I believe that both of them learned a lot from him in that first lesson of kitesurfing. There are of course, other places that run kitesurfing lessons from a centre in Balok. One of the other school that we discovered online was the Oxbold Extreme Sports Malaysia site. Prices are almost the same, but since advanced reservations (a few weeks before) was required, we decided to go with Leo instead for the flexibility of time. You can contact him at his number at 013-330 6882, via WhatsApp.

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