A beach in Kampot overlooking Koh Tral (Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island) and Bokor Mountain has become an unlikely tourist attraction after a kitesurfer found the windswept coast a perfect spot for the extreme sport.
Dutch national Frank van Zoggel, a resident of Cambodia for the past 15 years, has travelled to many coasts around the world for kitesurfing. But the Kep Thmey beach, located 8km from the Kampot town, tops his list of ideal kitesurfing places in the Kingdom.
“The water here is shallow, and therefore safe. You can almost walk to the boat, which is 100m from shore. I’ve kited before at Koh Rong Sanloem and in Sihanoukville but Kampot takes the top spot for me,” says Zoggel.
It was for this reason that he started Cambodia Kiteboarding in 2009 – a service that offers tutorial lessons and kitesurfing opportunities for tourists seeking adrenaline-fuelled adventures in Kampot.
“A great sport awaits tourists just 160km from Phnom Penh. We have people flying from Singapore, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia.
“Tourists who have tried kitesurfing in the Philippines, Taiwan and other hotspots had nothing but praise for Kampot,” says Zoggel, who is also the sole kitesurfing instructor in the province.
Apart from the shallow waters and stunning view, Zoggel says many tourists comment on the beach’s accessibility.
In Vietnam, reaching destinations takes a lot of time and several journeys, Zoggel says, whereas surfers can easily fly to Phnom Penh and take a cab to Kampot.
A first-time visitor of the Kingdom, German tourists Hoger and his three friends have been in Kampot for 10 days, where they spent all their time kitesurfing.
“Kitesurfing demands hard work and intense training,” says Hoger who asked to be known by one name, as he takes a break before surfing once more.
Zoggel who first set foot in Cambodia in 1999, says: “My dad was an adviser to the government for the Ministry of Interior for maybe 12 years. He knew Kampot like the back of his hand and travelled around Cambodia several times. He loved Kampot and its mountain and rivers.
“So he bought some properties here and built a house,” says Zoggel.
He recounts: “I was a kid when my family lived in Phnom Penh in 1999. I went back and forth to Holland to finish school before returning here to settle permanently. I have been living in Cambodia for 15 years now.”
Apart from passing the Instructor Training Course for Kitesurfing in 2009, Zoggel also holds a degree in Sports Management, Leisure and Outdoor.
He’s been certified as an instructor by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (Padi) and the International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO).
“I think the best season for kitesurfing in Cambodia is from December to February. In Vietnam, surfing season is from November until March, similar to Thailand,” says Zoggel.
“From June to September – during the rainy season – is a good time as the wind comes almost every day during those months,” he says.
As enjoyable as it looks, Zoggel cautions that kitesurfing is an extreme sport which demands that its troupers learn the lessons first and equip themselves with the basic skills.
For that reason, the sport is limited to tourists aged nine to 65.
“Before kiting, customers should learn the basic lessons for two to three days. After that, they can buy their gear and try their hand at the sport.
“Customers will need an instructor who can explain everything about safety. Those interested in the sport but have no experience should book some lessons where they could learn the basics – safety regulations, setting up a kite, flying it and so on,” says Zoggel.
“It only takes several hours a day to learn. After that, they’d be surprised at how thrilling the sport is. They’d certainly want to learn more,” he says.
Classes with Zoggel cost $35 per hour while a private lesson costs $45. A two-hour tester course is also provided for those who still have doubts about the sport. It goes for $70.
Cambodia Kiteboarding can be found at Villa Vedici riverside resort in Kampot’s Kep Thmey beach.
For more information, visit Facebook page @cambodiakiteboarding or contact number: 089 392 068.