THE KITE SURFING VILLAGE
Kalpitiya is located in Puttalam district, North Western province of Sri Lanka. It is known for its serene beauty. It consists of 14 islands. It has a total area of 16.73 km2. The people of Kalpitiya are mostly fishermen. It is now developing as an attractive tourist destination. It is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. It provides nursing grounds for many species of fish and crustaceans. The coastal waters are also home to spinner, bottlenose and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and even the elusive dugong that are of great appeal to potential tourists.
Rich in natural beauty, Kalpitiya’s history is no less interesting. Records going far back reveal that the peninsula was associated with maritime trade. It was first colonised by the Portuguese in early 17th Century. The arrival of the Dutch eventually resulted in the ousting of the Portuguese from here and elsewhere in the island. Historical records show that during the Dutch period of the island’s colonial history, the northern end of the peninsula was used as a strategic base for a military garrison and naval outpost to monopolise trade supplies to the mainland. A well preserved Dutch-era fort occupied by the Sri Lanka Navy and a Dutch church remain today. Nearby at Talawila to the south, a vibrant annual festival keeps alive its Portuguese heritage, at the ancient St Anne’s church festival, when thousands of Catholic devotees descend upon the tiny village to celebrate St Anne’s Day on July 26.
Things are changing fast and firmly around the little fishing town of Kalpitiya. It used to be an area from where leaving for a larger city was big part of many people’s dreams. Who would have known then that this would become a place where dreams are created, grown and come true? A place where people from all over the world travel, meet and exchange values and laughs. Who would have known that the strong winds that kept the small fishing boats on land and the fisherman jobless were holding a secret all his time? Who would have known that in September 2016, the forgotten fishing town of Kalpitiya would be hosting its first international Kite
Well, did anyone then even know what kite surfing was? It is 9 am and some two three kites are already dancing in the sky above the sea and the Kalipitiya lagoon. The Mahindra’s are passing one by one, loaded with colourful gear and kite surfers, all smiles and excited. Boats are crossing from the lagoon side kite camps and they all meet on the sand bank where the four kite schools of the area are lined up; De Silva Wind Resort, Kite surfing Lanka, The Rascals Kite Resort and Sri Lanka Kite. Some guests are new to the spot. Some are even new to the sport. Others are returning for the second or third time.
‘When kiting was still just our hobby we used to kite here together on the weekends’, says Dilsiri (owner of Kite surfing Lanka). ‘We had it all for ourselves and the beach dogs used to chase behind us as if we were aliens! As kite surfing started to grow as a sport and the four camps started to set up their business, they always went hand in hand. Yes, we wanted to show people our spot, bring tourists to the area, but from the start it was very important for all of us to maintain the tranquility of this place’, says Mondy (owner of The Rascals Kite Resort).
‘In 2013, the four schools formed the Kalpitiya Wind sports Club in order to promote the sport and the area in a professional and sustainable manner. We have learned a lot from mistakes made at other beautiful kite surfing destinations around the world and we do not want to see the same repeat here’, says Fabio (owner of Sri Lanka Kite). The only way to avoid this is by working together and with clear goals up to date there are over 200 families from the village involved in the kite surfing scene. Drivers are picking and dropping guests at the airport. The best home chefs are cooking up delicious curries at the hotels. The boat owners are running daily island trips. Gardens are being raked, rooms are being cleaned. English is being exchanged here and there. Kites are being launched and landed and there are even some new born kiting talents who will be able to show off their skills at the International Kite boarding competition held early September.
Former Windsurfing Champion and owner of De Silva Wind Resort – Upul De Silva goes on to say ‘We are all proud of being able to host this competition. Only some years ago, the situation in the area was very different.We have all worked hard, whether it was serving drinks or doing laundry, answering emails or loading the boats. Soon we will be standing together watching our baby take her first steps’. The kite surfing competition is on September 10th 2016, is split into a race and a hang time event.
Kalpitiya is fast becoming a popular destination for the sport with ideal winds, water temperature and mixture of sea and lagoon enticing the freestyle and wave riders alike.