We booked the 8am Monday flight from Manchester, and arrived ahead of schedule shortly after 1am local time. After the usual wait for passport control and luggage we were swiftly onto the bus and whisked away 5 whole minutes down the road to the Riu Karamboa.
We checked into the hotel in double quick time, with plenty of daylight left for a cheeky arrival day session down at the beach.
Despite being only a 14 knot forecast the wind was blowing hard, so took to the water for a couple of hours. The wind was cross-offshore, quite gusty close in, cleaning and increasing a little further out, with some solid 6 ft waves rolling in with acres of room in between - not at all like the mushy wind chop we frequently encounter at home! It was great fun to get in amongst it in a rash vest and shorts after the long winter at home.
The following morning was spent on a 4x4 tour of the south of the island, visiting some picturesque deserted beaches, dropping by the capital of Sal Rei and ending up at the awesome beach bar 'Morabeza'
A great place to have a beer and also to kite from, with its adjoining kite centre. After having a drink here its was time to catch the 4x4 back to the hotel, ready to get back out on the water for a session.
The winds generally came in well above forecast in the week I was there, a 14 knot forecast was frequently 20+ mid afternoon, yet the day with the strongest forecast ended up actually having the lightest winds of the whole week. High tide is best to avoid as the surf dumps and gets reflected by the beach coupled with the gusty winds close in; mid to low tide brings the most comfortable surf conditions.
After dark a bonfire was lit and we were treated to a tribal drum and dance display with some fire eating thrown in!
The awesome daytime setting just gets better at night, watching the sun go down chilling with a beer or two, overlooking the ocean.
Big sets of twelve to fifteen waves at a time came rolling through, which were easily double overhead in size. I opted to take on the smaller ones, but Thomas and the boys from SurfVista tackled the big ones with relish.
It was great being out there, but a big step up from what I'd been used to during the rest of the week - I could hit a couple of timid turns on them, but preferred the more manageable smaller waves on which I had more confidence. Seemed silly to risk a good holiday on them, when there's no hospital on the island, should anything go wrong!
It was a great holiday in general, the wind was nailed on pretty much every day, there was never more than half a dozen people on the water and there was surf every day. Whilst the wakestyle conditions I was hoping for weren't there, it was a welcome change and very enjoyable to explore a side of the sport I've only really dabbled with in the past.