lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel

Cozumel's "blue Jell-O" water and variety of conditions make it an ideal spot for practicing the fast-growing sport of kiteboarding. Raul De Lille, Cozumel's resident watersport champion, speaks about the "endless possibilities" for kiters on the island.

Raul is a Cozumel born and raised world champion and Olympic windsurfer. In 1999, kiteboarding came along, so he "took the ride". In 2001, already one of Mexico's best kiteboarders, he became certified as a kiteboarding instructor. Now he has given up competition and enjoys focusing on training new kiteboard addicts. He is quickly becoming one of the most sought after coaches in the industry.

Cozumel, he says, is one of the best locations for kiteboarding. It beats the Mayan Riviera coast due to its geography. Being an island, you can find offshore, onshore and sideshore winds all within driving distance on any given day. This is where Raul’s "endless possibilities" come from.

He likes to kiteboard and teach in three main locations: the Country Club beach, the Lagoon or the Wave Ranch. The first two are towards the north of the island, on the west side. The Wave Ranch is on the Other Side. All offer white sand beaches with few passersby to disturb the concentration.

Raul has partnered with Lisa Evans and Nicole Ferroni, the owner-managers of Casa Viento in the Country Club Estates. Aptly named the "Windy House", Casa Viento is a kite compound with accommodations available in the main house or fully furnished private apartments.

He recommends his students stay there since "the hosts are nice - really open and friendly – and the prices are not at the high end". He adds that - most importantly - "within walking distance you can be kiteboarding".

You will need a day of dry kite practice before you will be ready to go into the water. Raul insists "kiteboarding is easy, anyone can learn it", but he goes on to warn that you should take lessons from a certified instructor, "it's like scuba-diving, you need rules and safety or you can get hurt".

Kiteboarding is an awesome new sport that kiters say changes your life. If you want to try it, the conditions don't get much better than in Cozumel.

Try something new. Just heed Raul's expert advice and take some lessons before you take on the wind. Or the wind could be taking you. To Cuba.