Kiteboarding in La Ventana, Baja California (Mexico) is a great option for kiters looking to escape the cold. The water is warm, most of the launch spots are safe for beginners, and the community of seasonal “locals” is warm and welcoming.
What Makes La Ventana Kiteboarding So Great?
Located on the Sea of Cortez, La Ventana offers a variety of kiting conditions. On a windy day, you are within minutes walk or drive to great foiling, twin tipping (not flat water though, sorry!) or waves spots. Or, if you have a car, and it is advisable to have one, you can drive for 20+ minutes to the only flat water spot in the area–Choco Lake. Don’t want to drive or walk? There are also plenty of accommodation options (Baja Joe’s, Palapas Ventana, Casa Verde, and many others) where you rig right outside your room.
La Ventana is a very friendly spot for beginners and kiters working on new skills. The “catcher’s mitt” shape of the bay gives beginners a security net for learning, and the winds typically blow side-on from the north or northeast. The winds are consistent–typically coming in around 11am and lasting until about 5pm. You’re kiting thermals in La Ventana, so there is a definite shut-off time for the wind if there isn’t an El Norte coming through.
There are a lot of kiteboarders in La Ventana, specifically in December and January, but there are enough spots to spread out so the beaches don’t feel crowded.
Popular Kite Launches in La Ventana
The wind is usually cleaner the farther north you start. The spots aren’t really marked, so make sure you ask the locals for exact directions.
- Rasta Beach – Named after the a Rasta colored house at the entry to the beach road, this spot has some of the smoothest wind in the bay and is typically stronger wind here than the southern spots. There is less chop here as well, so you can stay and play or use Rasta as a starting point for a downwinder to Playa or Joe’s.
- Playa Central – A major hub for launching and relaxing post-session. This spot is choppier than the northern spots, but it’s convenient. Playa Central lets kiters store their gear in the school gear room, so it’s a great spot if you don’t want to be lugging your gear to and from the beach every day. “The Campground” is located right above Playa Central and is slightly less crowded with beginners clogging up the beach launch.
- Baja Joe’s – Another major launch spot, Baja’s Joe’s tends to be a little more crowded than Playa Central. Again, lots of great vibe there and an excellent place for post-session relaxing and margarita-ing.
- South Beach – This is the closest wave spot in the catcher’s mitt. If you’re looking for waves without doing a downwinder from Rasta, South Beach is where you want to be.
- The Bufador (the Boof) – The Boof is a bit of a drive, but it’s THE wave spot in LV. Not only is the spot beautiful for non-wind days, but it’s one of the few places that works on a N, NW and the rare WNW or SW winds.
When is the Best Time to Go to La Ventana?
La Ventana kiteboarding season lasts from mid-November through the beginning of April. Most of the tourists come down in December and January, which is supposed to be the strongest wind. Prices for accommodations, restaurants and other tourist services are slightly higher during those months. You can check the current wind forecast or follow the MasViento Facebook page–which tends to be the most accurate forecasts for La Ventana.
What are the Winds Like? What Size Kites?
The wind is usually strong in La Ventana, but this has been a particularly light season. I was advised to leave my 12, at home, but thankfully disregarded the advice. A 165 pound kiter on a twintip will need a 10m or 12m staple kite–or even a 15m kite if they want to get on the water sooner in the day. I’m a 130 pound woman, and I have used my 7m kite four times in two months. My 9m and 12m are my staple kites, unless I’m foiling. If you’re a big kiter, you’re going to want to bring a 14m or 15m and 17m if you want to be sure to be able to kite. If you want to buy new gear before your trip, especially if your gear is older and not very reliable, Green Hat has some great deals on clearance kites and control bars. There are kite shops in La Ventana, but they have limited selection and you may pay more than buying from your local retailer.
That said, La Ventana does get “El Norte” winds which come in, blow all night and day, and cause fantastic waves in the bay. It’s the only time that you’ll get waves outside of South Beach or the Boof, and you’ll want to break out your little kite for those days. I used my 7m kite during the last El Norte winds.
NOTE: Again, most wind apps aren’t accurate for La Ventana as they don’t account for the thermal effect. For accurate reading, iKitesurf has the closest for the apps, and there is a Facebook Page called Masviento, which is run by a seasonal local. It’s the most accurate reading.
How Do You Get There?
From Newark EWR: direct flights from Newark EWR to San José del Cabo SJD are available on United. You can also fly to La Paz LAP, which is closer to La Ventana, but there are no direct flights.
From JFK and EWR: direct flights to San Jose del Cabo SJD are also available on United. No direct flights are available to La Paz. La Paz requires a stop in Mexico City, but you will arrive about 2 hours closer (by car) than flying into SJD.
From Logan: No direct flights to SJD. Most flights go through EWR or JFK on the way to SJD.
It’s about a 45 minute shuttle ride from the La Paz airport, and about 3 hours from Cabo. If you’re paying $80 one-way from La Paz, someone is making too much money off you. I recommend checking the La Ventana Kiteboarding Facebook Group for people looking to carpool from the different airports.
What Else is there to do in La Ventana?
If you need a break from kiting, or the wind is forcing you to take a break, La Ventana has a lot to offer for outdoor activities. There are tons of mountain biking trails, snorkeling spots and other non-wind sport options. Deep sea fishing, swimming with Whale Sharks and general area touring are all very popular here. If you’re looking to explore the outer areas, you can drive to the Pacific side and visit Todos Santos and surf Cerritos. Or, you can head down the coast to Los Barilles, another surf spot and bigger city.
If you’re up for a nice day trip, the Bay of Dreams (previously known as Bay of the Dead) is a beautiful spot. There is a hotel there–supposedly built by Americans pre-2008 and now owned by the Mexican cartel–that has great food. They’ll also give you a cooler for transporting your beer and wine restaurant purchases to the beach if you’re up for sunbathing before lunch or dinner. It’s a nice option because there is amazing snorkeling just steps from the beach.
Restaurant and Bar Recommendations
There is always a party for something in La Ventana, so fun is never hard to find. There are some lesser obvious spots that you should know about:
- “El Pastor” – Known by the seasonal locals at El Pastor, this place is actually called Taqueria Paty’s and is located by the La Ventana Hostel. El Pastor refers to the way the meat is cooked, on a rotating grill like a Kebap in Europe, and the Tacos El Pastor are amazing. $
- Mariscos El Cone – This is probably the best (and most expensive) seafood in La Ventana. A typical family style dinner will cost each person about $25. Pretty spendy for LV. $$$$
- Marlin Azul – Great food that isn’t crazy expensive. Everything on the menu is good and the vibe is pretty chill. $$$
- “Hot Dog Stands” – These little stands are littered all over LV. They sell really tasty, inexpensive hot dogs rated on a Level 1, 2, and 3. One level per “meat” on the dog. This is a great Baja experience that shouldn’t be missed. Although they have actual locations, I can’t really tell you where they because there are no street signs and the local landmarks are something you won’t know until you’re here. Ask a seasonal local, they’ll tell you how to get there. $
How Much Does it Cost to Go to La Ventana?
Roundtrip airfare from JFK to Cabo (SJD) in December costs about $450 USD, and the cheapest car you can rent from Cabo for a week is about $250 USD.
Accommodations range from the economy bunk room option at the local hostel for $20 a night (they also have nice private rooms for approximately $60/night) and goes up to $200+ a night at the local “health and wellness” resort – Casa Tara. Palapas Ventana has charming casitas and a launch beach out front, but it’s on the more expensive end of the range. If you can, rent a house, even for a week, and your costs will go down, and there are several properties for rent on AirBnB.
Groceries are cheaper than the states by a long shot, but the options are very limited. Oscaritos and its sister grocery store, Star Market, offer the widest range of products in La Ventana. Most of the seasonal locals drive to La Paz for grocery shopping at Walmart and Sorianos.
Here’s a quick pricing guide to the everyday Mexican vacation staples in La Ventana:
- Tacos: $2-3 USD
- Beer: $2 USD
- Non-Happy Hour Margaritas: $4 USD
- Nice dinner: $10-25 per person
Insider Tips for La Ventana
- Bring cash!!!!!!! There is one working cash machine in La Ventana, and when I say “working,” I’m being kind. The ATM is located in OXXO, but there isn’t always cash in it, especially in the busy months. Most Mexican’s get paid on the 1st and 15th, so you’ll want to avoid wasting a trip to the OXXO around those days. There won’t be cash, period.
- Inconsistent Internet Service. Internet service is poor in the entire town, so if you’re planning to mix a little remote work with pleasure while you’re in La Ventana, be warned. It’s especially bad in the evening when everyone’s off the water and checking email, Facebook, or watching Netflix, and it’s even worse during December and January during peak tourist times. Plan on working late nights and very early mornings if you need decent service.
- Bring Bug Spray. It’s warm in the winter here, and there are a lot of mosquitos when there’s no wind.
- Rent a Car. As I said above, it’s really handy to have a car in LV. The place isn’t big, but you definitely have more options if you have a car. Day trips for no-wind days and not paying for an expensive shuttle to and from the airport (it cost me $80 USD for a one-way trip from La Paz!) are more than enough reasons to rent a car.
- Subscribe to the “La Ventana View” Emails. This is THE source for local events, house rentals, lost and found postings, etc. It comes out every other day, so if there’s something happening in LV, it’s in The View.
- Join the LV Facebook Group. This is a super active group, with posting about carpooling, caravaning, gear for sale and gear wanted. Any questions you have about anything related to LV will be answered by locals, so take advantage of this resource.
- Bring a Wetsuit and Warm Clothes for the Evenings. Although significantly warmer than home in the Northeast, the water in LV can get chilly. You’ll probably feel great in a shorty the first couple days as you thaw out, but then you’re going to need at least a 2/2 or 3/2 shorty or full wetsuit. The nights get chilly, so make sure to pack a light jacket and jeans.
- Security. You’re physically safe in La Ventana, but your stuff is at constant risk. Don’t leave anything in your car when you’re out, and lock your doors. The less desirable locals–although it is thought these are people coming from La Paz–have figured out the value of a kite now, so things go missing.
La Ventana is a great escape from the cold northeast winters. It’s a haul to get here, but you’re going to leave with some new friends and some great experiences, as well as a ton of progression in your kiting!