Pro kiteboarder Paula Novotna joined photographer Laci Kobulsky on a kite trip to the archipelago of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. This is their story.
A lot of active kiteboarders have heard rumors or stories about paradise in Zanzibar, so when we had the chance to hop on the plane and explore this area together, we did not hesitate for a minute.
We were hosted by Dim - the man who pioneered kiteboarding in the region - at his Kite Centre Zanzibar and were pleasantly surprised by the rich offer of local activities and experiences.
We stayed around for a month, and during our travels, we created a short list of places and activities you should not miss during your visit.
There are a lot of things to do in the area. You can cruise, foil, ride some nice waves, or practice some freestyle.
The central spot for kiteboarding in Zanzibar is a beach called Paje, the place that enchanted Dim when he arrived here around ten years ago.
There are a lot of spots around the island that are great for kiteboarding, but Paje is a beautiful four-kilometer beach with constant winds.
It is easily the best place for setting up a kiteboarding base on the island. There are several schools located on the beach, and you can kite anywhere.
Before our arrival, we had heard rumors of massive and annoying tides that would make most of the beach disappear. While it is true, we saw it not as a problem but as a benefit.
Thanks to the tides, the spot is always changing and offers a lot of opportunities. In high tide, it's excellent for foiling or wave kitesurfing behind the reef.
During low tide, the water gets shallow and perfectly flat for freestyle. It's a five-minute hike on the beach to reach the spot, and that is not a problem at all.
The best to go out for freestyle is when the tide is going down, so you have the current against you. You can still freestyle when the tide goes up, but it is a bit harder.
You can go wave riding almost all the time, except at low tide because of the very shallow coral reef. That is why you should not ride waves one-and-a-half hours before or after low tide.
For foiling, and because you need deep water, we only went out at high tide or from mid tide to high tide. In this case, every day is different.
You also have the chance to do a downwinder on the waves, which is really good when the swell is there. The waves in summer can be up to six feet, but on average days, they reach around four to five feet.
For freestyle kiteboarding, there is a secret spot in Mangroves that is amazing, but it is only good for a couple of hours in a specific tide time. If you get the timing right, it is truly incredible.
We also went kiting around a large rock that can be found in the nearby waters. It is just amazing to kite in these beautiful sceneries. There are a few other spots around that we will explore next time.
After this trip, the duo continued to Kenya for another adventure. Paula Novotna loved the experience and plans to return to Zanzibar soon.
What are the best things to do in Zanzibar?
Zanzibar has a great nightlife. It is party time every single day, especially if you want to let your dancing spirit out! You can also travel to Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar City.
You will find wild monkeys that only live on Zanzibar Island. There are also people doing organized yoga and workouts in the morning and evening. Zanzibar and Paje offer a few excellent restaurants as well, where you can eat delicious food.
What did you expect, and what surprised you in Zanzibar?
I was expecting white sands, crystal-blue waters, lots of sun, and light winds as I heard from people that it could get windless. But - guess what - we had splendid winds for two weeks!
I think there was one day with no wind, but for the rest, I was stoked! So I was very much surprised. Summer months are a little bit rainy and windy. So, I was on the water every single day! Zanzibar is definitely a must-go destination, not only in wintertime but also in summertime.
How do we get there, and where should we stay?
You have to take a plane to Zanzibar, and there are quite a few direct flights. It is not that difficult and not that far from Europe. There are no vaccinations needed to travel from Europe, and the visa costs 50 dollars. You can get it at the airport on arrival.
What to pack for maximum fun and safety?
I'd say a kite, a board, mosquito spray, and a lot of smiles!
Who would you recommend Zanzibar to?
I would recommend it to couples, families, and groups of friends. It is a magic place. You can have a quiet holiday with your loved one or with your family.
But you can also have a lot of fun with your friends, in and out of the water. It is also one of the best places I've seen to learn to kitesurf.
How did you enjoy your free time, and how did the shooting go?
I had a blast, a really good time. We were filming a lot, but on the other hand, I was having a bit of a holiday. I was out foiling, wave riding, and freestyling all the time. I couldn't decide what to do or what to skip.
Then, I was so tired from all the kiting that I didn't even make it to many parties. I took my mum on this trip, and I believe she had a fantastic time.
She enjoyed the waves a lot! I was stoked to share this entire trip with photographer-filmmaker Laci Kobulsky. He had this whole idea of exploring Africa.
He was behind me with a camera almost all the time. Laci is a fun guy, good company, and always made sure everybody was having fun.
I met many people in Zanzibar who have been living there for some part of the year, and they are stressless and easygoing. I would like to thank everybody who welcomed me so nicely with open hands and heart. I'll be back!
Words by Laci Kobulsky and Paula Novotna