A desert of sand, flooded by fresh water and brushed with constant trade winds; the Lencois Maranhenses have long been my dream to KiteSurf. This was the perfect time to experience it, and after landing in Atins after my 400km Kitesurfering Iron Macho expedition, I had 2 weeks to go all-in on KiteSurfing this paradise on earth located at the edge of the world!
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Paradise on Earth for Kitesurfers
I had the chance to visit the Lençóis Maranhenses back in 2011, and have ever since referred to it as one of the most beautiful natural marvels in the world. Saying that even after having been to 99% of the countries of the world is definitely a great title to receive. The weird thing is that so few people have heard about it. It’s definitely undervalued and once it picks up into the tourism radar, it will be to late to sample it in its current raw state! The sooner you visit, the better the experience it will be…
The Lençóis Maranhenses are actually a desert of sand of about 70 km long and 30 km wide that is filled with small lagoons of rainwater which is dumped each year during the rainy season around July. At the time, I had visited it during the best month and had taken a small panoramic flight to enjoy the scenery to it’s fullest (The picture can be seen at the beginning of this article). I actually recommend to everyone visiting the Lençóis to take the panoramic flight, as it is the only way to really understand how beautiful it is.
KiteSurfing in Atins
Atins is the first town on the east side of the Lencois, and is actually a mission to get to by land. People wanting to reach Atins by land will need to go by road to Barreirinhas and then connect to Atins by boat going down stream the Preguicas river for about an hour ride. Just the boat journey alone is worth the trip, with breathtaking views of mangroves, tropical forest mixed with sand dunes along the river. Of course, it is much more enjoyable to reach Atins by KiteSurfing the coast as I had done with Iron Macho Challenge – The “Iron Man of the Seas” – 400 km KiteSurfing Expedition across 3 Brazilian States. On our fifth day, we did the 70 km stretch from Tutoia to Atins in one day. But you would need the proper set up too do it this way…
Atins town is actually as raw as it gets. The town is primarily centered around KiteSurfing, but infrastructure is still very basic. All roads are made of fluffy soft sand, and between 10am and 3pm is so hot that it is almost impossible to walk around. I actually melted a pair of Havaianas while trying to do so. Services are also basic, with no cellular phone reception, and very few shops. No pharmacies for example, so don’t fall sick!
One thing I loved about Atins is that it is set onto a Cashew tree plantation. And as I was there during cashew season, every time I would make my way to the beach to KiteSurf I would collect a dozen cashew fruit to snack on its tasty sweet juice to stack up on some natural energy for my surf session.
Ever since i started KiteSurfing 8 years ago, I had dreamed of coming back to the Lencois to KiteSurf in them. And here I was this year, with the chance to stay after my 400 km iron macho expedition that took me from Jericoacoara to Atins in 5 days!
Atins was the perfect place to base myself to explore and KiteSurf the Lencois. It is set on the mouth of the Preguicas River connecting with the Ocean. This mixture of fresh water and salt water, along with the different tides creates an ever changing playground for KiteSurfing, which I had the chance to enjoy every day for 2 weeks in October 2020. I can’t think of a better place to KiteSurf in the world, with hot and shallow waters, good winds, sand bars, waves, etc… It has it all!
KiteSurfing the Lencois Maranhenses
When I was not KiteSurfing in the bay of Atins or in the river mouth for it’s cool waves, we organized downwinds with other friends to explore the coast of the Lencois Maranhenses. 40 km of flat ocean stretch, small waves, pools of water formation all the way down, and the beauty of massive sand dunes. I can’t think of a better place in the world for Downwinds! I actually did the stretch 3 times in my two weeks.
The only drawback is that the wind is already a little weaker in Atins compared to Piaui and Ceara State, and surprisingly, the wind is actually weaker on the coast of the Lencois than in the bay of Atins. But with a bigger 12m kite, you should be fine.
The reward after accomplishing these 40 km downwinds is to get inside the crystal blue lagoons and surf it’s flat waters. The wind is a little Gusty, but the overall experience to be in this unique place is breathtaking!
This should definitely be in every kitesurfer’s to do list.