Kitesurfing - also known as kiteboarding - has been around in its present format since approximately 1997, and it didn't take long for Mauritius to gain a reputation as one of the best kitesurfing locations in the world.

Although many Mauritian bays and beaches vie for the title of Best Kitesurfing Location, it seems to be universally agreed that Le Morne - located on the island's south-western coast - is the hands down winner. What makes a place good for kitesurfing is a combination of factors including speed and direction of wind, depth of water, height of wave and how popular the beach is with swimmers, snorkelers and sailors.

In Le Morne, for instance, winds can blow for up to an unprecedented 11 months every year, which makes it ideal for almost-all-year-round play, but beginner and intermediary level kitesurfers should also be aware that Le Morne is known for strong and unexpected currents and unpredictable thermal winds.

Other popular kiteboarding spots on the island include the south-east coast's Belle Mare and La Colombiere - perfect for beginners - as well as Bain Boeuf on the northern coast and Cape Malheureux, which caters mainly to intermediary and experienced kitesurfers.

The area surrounding the tiny islet of Ile aux Cerfs and the surf off Trou-aux-Biches are further locations that come highly recommended, but beginners should again be on their guard as the prevailing conditions at these spots - especially the trade winds, currents and thermals - can sometimes be difficult to read.

Mauritius also has its fair share of kiteboarding schools, and visitors to the island can treat themselves to a lesson or two to learn crails, mutes and just how a tail grab goes to an indy before launching themselves out onto the water.

A typical kitesurfing school will offer accredited courses taught by IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) qualified instructors, and these courses, which are graded from beginner through expert, can also lead to the students themselves becoming IKO certified kitesurfers.

The island is also known for hosting international kitesurfing competitions, including the world-class Mauritius Kitesurf Event at Le Morne that was inaugurated in 2006, and more and more competitions are sure to play out just beyond the island's golden shores in future.

Mauritius may be a kitesurfing mecca but the sport is not without its inherent dangers, and surfers of all levels should always ensure that they put safety first.

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