Beginners Guide to Kitesurfing: Getting Started

So you’ve heard about this awesome, not-so-new-anymore, sport that’s taking over the beaches and skies around the world called kitesurfing, or otherwise known as kiteboarding… and you’ve finally decided to see what the fuss is all about? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Kitesurfing Board Grab

But first let me just say this… kitesurfing is hands down one the most insane sports on this planet! I’ve tried many extreme sports and some not so extreme sports, and this is honestly the one I would choose to do every single day of my life. Now if only the wind would blow every day… well maybe in Cape Town;-) Anyway enough of that, you’re probably dying to know how to go about getting into kitesurfing.

Will I Be Able to Learn Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing Girl

Girls make great Kitesurfers!

Well the good news is that anybody can learn to kitesurf. From the age of 10 through to 85, Boys, Girls, Men and Woman are all enjoying this thrilling sport! In fact, as long as you are mobile, you can learn to kitesurf. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to be extraordinarily fit or strong, and girls make great kitesurfers too btw. Naturally you will get super fit and strong if you kitesurf regularly, but this is not a requirement to learn. The bad news is that you can’t just go out and buy a kite, head to the beach and figure it out on your own…

Learn to Kitesurf the Responsible Way

Unlike many sports that you can teach yourself through trial and error, kitesurfing is a sport that requires the supervision of a qualified kitesurfing instructor. This is in the best interest of your own safety and the safety of other innocent beach goers and kiteboarders. Besides, do you really want to risk ripping that sexy new kite you just bought because you don’t know how to set it up correctly or launch and land it safely? Investing in a few lessons with a kiteboarding instructor will be money well spent, as you’ll not only become a safer more responsible kitesurfer, but you’ll also learn much quicker.

Some of the critical things you need to learn before you attempt to kitesurf on your own are:

  • Safety, rules and regulations on and off the water
  • Weather conditions and how the wind window works
  • How to set up your kite correctly
  • How to launch, land and fly the kite safely

More on this in upcoming articles…

What Do I Need to Get Started

All you need to get started initially is a few lessons with an IKO qualified kitesurfing instructor. You will find a list of recommended kiteboarding shops and a list of recommended kiteboarding schools or instructors on this website.


Tail Grab – Well Almost…

So head on over to either of those pages and contact your nearest IKO certified Kitesurfing School to ask them about their lessons. The school will provide you with all the training equipment you need, so you really just need to come with your baggies / bikini, sunscreen and loads of excitement.

Once you’ve completed the course, or you’re in the final stages of your lessons, you can consider buying your own gear. If you can afford it, I highly recommend buying your gear as early on in the course as possible, so that you can practise on your new equipment while still under the supervision of your instructor.

To get started with your own gear, you will need at least one kite (your local shop will advise you on the different types of kites and the best size for your weight and local conditions), a kiteboard and a harness. The bar, lines and pump come with your kite in most cases.

How Much Does it Cost

Well, the truth is kitesurfing isn’t the cheapest sport to take up, but trust me when I say this, it will be well worth the investment, and the best decision you will ever make… ;-) A brand new rig will set you back in the region of R 18 000 ($ 2 600) depending on the gear you choose. But you don’t need to buy brand new equipment to get started. Your local kitesurfing shop should be able to set you up with second hand gear that could cost you as little as R 7 000 ($ 800 in the USA). The beauty of this route is that you minimize your start up risk, and by the time you are ready to upgrade, you already know you are addicted to kitesurfing and the investment will be well worthwhile. Also, you will have a better understanding of what equipment will suit your needs best.

Wow, that’s Expensive!

Not really… I know the equipment might sound quite expensive at first glance, but let me put things into perspective for you. If you’ve ever taken up any other kind of lifestyle sport such as scuba diving, skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, sailing and even deep sea fishing or angling, you’ll know that this isn’t a lot of money to spend on something that’s going to bring you so much pleasure and keep you fit and healthy at the same time.

Kitesurfing - Wave Riding

Wave Riding – Off the Lip!

Here are some numbers to get you thinking:

  • Scuba Diving will set you back roughly R 20 000+ for a full set of entry to midrange gear
  • Snowboarding: roughly R 8 000 – R 20 000+ for entry level gear, but largely dependent on where you are in the world
  • Deep Sea Fishing : R 10 000 – R 30 000 depending on your requirements

Now the real difference is that once you have the kiteboarding gear, you hardly have any other costs to go kitesurfing, apart from the petrol / Gas to get you to the beach and your sunscreen. In contrast, with scuba diving you still need to pay for your dives and cylinder fills each time you want to dive, and there may be extensive travel and accommodation costs involved if you don’t live near a great dive spot. With snowboarding, you will need to travel to a skiing region, pay over the top accommodation expenses and buy a not-so-cheap ski pass. And fishing? Well if you don’t own your own boat, then you have to pay for a fishing charter or hire a boat for the day. If you do own your own boat, then I’m sure I need not tell you what it costs to maintain that bad boy… ;-)

You see, not so bad after all? So do yourself a favour and book your first double lesson, and see if you like it, how much you love it! Your first double lesson will cost you roughly R 800, so you have nothing to lose, but R 800 perhaps… You won’t regret it.

In coming articles we will break the kitesurfing course down into its individual modules, which will give you a better idea of what to expect and we will also be bringing you plenty of gear reviews and helpful advice and tips about kitesurfing.

Also, if you’re curious about how kiteboarding started, who invented the first inflatable kite, and where the sport is headed in the future, check out at our history of kiteboarding article, and definitely watch the video.

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  1. VERY COOL!!!!

  2. I’ve never really been interested in kitesurfing, but after reading your article you really got me all interested and excited and wanting to learn :-)

  3. Abdullah says:

    awesome website bro, after speaking to you yesterday and seeing all the cool info here, I’m extremely interested. thanks.

    • Hey Abdullah, good to see you here and glad you like the website. Stay tuned for more great tips and advice on learning to kitesurf… ;-)
      BTW: You should definitely take the next step and get some lessons with a qualified instructor. Not only will it be fun, but you will get a good idea of what it’s all about. I highly recommend either Ocean2Air or Kitesports depending on which location is more convenient for you. You can find their contact details here:
      If you have any questions or concerns, let me know.

  4. I live in Orlando Florida do you know any good schools in either cocoa beach or sattelight beach or any surrounding beaches?

    • Hey Bonny,

      Thanks for your comment. We are happy to assist you and will get back to you shortly with recommendations for your area.

    • Hi Bonny,

      Our apologies for the delayed response. We did our best to try and get you some reliable information on schools in the Cocoa Beach area, however our attempts were unfortunately unsuccessful. Our network of trusted schools weren’t able to recommend anyone in your area. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any reputable schools there, it just means we don’t know them… yet…

      Were you able to find any schools yourself, and get lessons from them? If so, please let us know how it went, so we know whether to recommend them to others in the future.


  5. Recently had a 4 hr lesson with kite sports and they were fantastic. Was able to get up and riding a little. They are really good instructors that come highly recommended!

    • Thanks for the feedback Dave! We are delighted to hear you enjoyed your lesson with Kitesports. I am sure this will help others who are looking for lessons in Durban and surrounds. Keep at it mate, this sport rocks!

  6. Martinus says:


    I am going down to Port Alfred, close to PE. Any instructors in that area? Or should I go to cannon rocks?


    • Hi Martinus,

      Unfortunately we don’t know the Port Alfred area very well, however Cannon Rocks is definitely a good choice from what we hear. You might want to get in touch with Michelle Smith for expert advice. She’s an instructor and comes from Cannon Rocks. You’ll find more about her here: along with a link to her Facebook page from which you can contact her.

      I hope this helps.

  7. Martinus says:


    Thank you I will get in touch

  8. Very nice article, I am so glad that I found this. You’ve taught me a lot with your guide. Thanks for the useful guide.

  9. Well done! Beginners should look for kites that offer more control and stability. Continue posting informative post! Thumbs up!

    • Martinus JvR says:

      I bought the DNA 2013 model to begin with, I think it is a good kite to use as a beginner?

      • Hi Martinus,

        I haven’t flown the DNA 2013, so can’t really comment, but I’m sure it will be perfectly fine for you, and yes, it does appear to be suitable for beginners.

        Wishing you all the best, and good winds…


        • Martinus JvR says:

          Hi Brendon

          Yes, December is my first kite holiday down at Port Alfred, total beginner. I will give it a go there and at bushman’s river as well. Tried the kite once before at Sodwana, couldn’t manage a launch because did not have any tension in my outside lines, still do not know the reason. Loads of excitement but also frustration to get over the starting line.


          • Well I wish you all the best, and a great kitesurfing holiday. Just please make sure that you take a few lessons with a qualified instructor if you haven’t already. This will reduce your chance of hurting yourself or damaging your new gear.

  10. Very detailed safety rules!!! I’m pretty sure they will be helpful for everyone who’ve just started with #kitesurfing! Thanks!

  11. Magdalena says:

    you really inspired me and I want to try it!!! :):):)

  12. Would you recommend starting with a trainer kite or do you think trainer kites are not necessary?

    • Hi Jared,

      Yes, I would recommend starting with a trainer kite, but you don’t need to buy one yourself. Since most importantly of all, you need to take a few lessons with an instructor, he will provide you with an appropriate trainer kite for the early stages of your lessons.

      You will very quickly progress from the trainer kite, which is why I don’t think you need to invest in your own one. Rather save the money for your first real kite.

      I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best.