The lagoon at Phi Kite School north of Phan Rang fills and empties with the tide each day. Early in the morning when the tide is low fisherfolk, crabbers, and wading birds go out on the wet sands and in tide pools for their catch. The lagoon stretches about 300 meters out to the break water, where waves begin to gather and froth.
On a sunny day as the tide comes in the blue water reflects mottled patches of white sand, coral, and dark sea weed three feet beneath the flat surface–a kite boarder’s dream. Because the water is only waist deep, beginners can stand easily if the kite goes down. Nearing the edge of the breakwater, small lines of waves maybe a foot high roll into the flat water area, creating small ramps for jumping potential. Between slick areas the ramps gradually grow in size. Farther out the waves curl and crash between swells, beautiful for wave riding.
After a session on the water, the open air dining bar and lounge serves up cold drinks and hot food, or hot drinks and fruit plates with homemade muffins or cheesecake. Everything is made in house. Overnight stays are also an option, with new dorm accommodations or private suites. Hammocks hang between the trees by the beach, for napping or sleeping off an occasional late night party. At the full moon, Phi Kite School hosted a barbecue to a full house of kiters, and after the first wave had gone home a group of long-timers started pouring shots. The rising sun revealed a few revelers sleeping it off in the hammocks.
Rachel, who runs the kitchen, told us she saw a sea turtle on her last down-winder. This bit of information almost convinced Kallie to go out into deep water to play in the waves, hoping for a sea turtle encounter, but the wind was fierce and the waves were big, and caution prevailed over curiosity (this time). The other thing we were hoping to find was a GoPro camera that fell off somewhere when our kite mount broke. However, the lagoon is wide and we kited it thoroughly, and so we could just have easily been looking for a needle in a haystack. It did happen to be an extra, so we weren’t out of a filming option…but nonetheless.
However, like any kite spot the lagoon comes with some cautions as well. The coral though beautiful can be sharp, and foot protection is highly recommended. The winds can also get a bit gusty at times. And of course there’s the tide. When the tide falls in the middle of the day, the window for kiting may only be a couple hours, either early or late. Tide charts and apps are helpful for planning (Phi Kite School posts the daily tide charts on its website).
During our two weeks here, we mostly rode a 7m. The winds blew every day.When the storms came through, they were variable but kiteable–even through light rain. A special treat for us (from Michigan) was riding in board shorts and a T-shirt, and not putting on a wetsuit. Most days in Nov/Dec the water was warm enough and the air temps between 78-85 F. Ty, who is the general manager and married to Rachel, says three years ago this used to be “the secret spot.” Now it’s grown in popularity, home to three kite schools along the beach. One day when a bus came in I counted sixty kites spreading colorful fabric across the horizon. With what we’ve experienced, I have no doubt the lagoon north of Phan Rang will continue to grow in popularity.