The North Shore in Philippines

Monday, February 29, 2016
Pagudpud, Luzon, Philippines
It has been nicknamed the new Hawaii, this windy spot on the north coast of the main island of the Philippines, Luzon. When we first hear about it from fellow kite surfers the general remark is 'its no beginner spot', but we don't give it much attention, after all we are no beginners anymore. When we arrive on the 8th of March it has been raining and storming for 3 days and since the rains have passed the first kiters are out. The first 300 meters are reef lagune, then the edge of the reef and the wave break. The tide is moving in but it is still very shallow with rocks sticking out, the big wave sets are close to three meters and the wind gusts easily surpass 30 knots. OK, indeed not very beginner like. But I'm itchy and at the end of the afternoon I take out the smallest kite we have, the seven, pretty overpowered but still manageable, reminding me of the crazy downwinder in marocco/moulay bouzerktoun, but my skillset has improved ever since so after the first scary moments I start enjoying. 

The next two days the wind blows full power and the reef lagune in front of the resort is pretty much empty the whole day, so we go with a group to the nearby Bangui windmills where there is a river filled lagune right next to beach. It is a pretty cool spot, with the large windmills towering next to us, a bit intimidating at first when you hear the swoosh-swoosh when you launch your kite, but as in any place kite control is a necessity. We have a short session on the lagune as they have just opened it to the sea and it is draining fast, and continue on the sea. Because of the powerful stream of the lagune draining, it creates a flat water spot and with a more moderate wind we are enjoying our 9m and 11m very much. It is only quite a bit colder then the kite spots more to the south, so after two hours we need to warm up in the sun first before we continue. On the way back to the resort we enjoy wonderful empanadas at the best place in town, Angela's, and return just in time for a last session in the waves in front of the resort. 

Initially we reserved for a week our Tiki hut, planning to explore other spots in the area, but in the end we stay three weeks, which says a lot. First of all the other spots are not easy to reach, there is hardly any (kite) infrastructure and they have generally less wind. Second of all we start to really like this place. It takes some time, which is almost a general denominator here in the Philippines, but then we got the hang of it. Carolina is the bravest, going out in these conditions on overpowered kites, and with a few small hiccups like landing the kite on top of the windmeter of the kite station, is making an amazing progress with jumping in the shallow lagune, back rolls, crossing the intimidating wave break, riding tow side transitions, riding on days where the kite sizes vary from 3,5m to 5m, et cetera. Actually she is looking at kite instructor certification procedures as we speak.

But the resort is also special, partly because how it started. About 5 years ago it was a private retreat until kiters started showing up with their equipment, drawn by windy weather reports and google maps satellite pictures of big waves. The owner, Mon, got repeatedly asked about accommodation and food which was not there at the time. He decided to hire an architect and build a small scale resort with Tiki huts, Cabana's and Casita's, a nice open air restaurant/communal area and an attached kite school, right on the beach. He runs it almost in a philanthropic way and it has a real family atmosphere. We meet kiters from all over the world on the water and at the long dinner table, exchange stories and make wonderful new friends. 

In our three weeks, we only have four non-wind days, giving us time to explore the nearby bays and beaches on the scooter. We visit the Blue Lagoon, the impressive Saud beach and the waterfall. Leaving the place is not easy, we are going to miss all the people we've met and the fantastic dogs at the resort, Toby (nickname wetty, always in the water), ever playful Maui, neurotic Fluffy & moody Diablo, the sunset sessions, the great fresh seafood dinners, the coconuts, everything. But it is time to fly off: due to visa regulations and the high costs involved for a second extension, we decide last minute to take a cheap fight elsewhere, especially when we see that for almost nothing we have a four hour flight to Bali!