Living by the sea has lots of advantages and the opportunity to enjoy water sports is one of them. This year has been amazing – I managed to try three different water sports in or around Tallinn, Estonia. From traditional wave surfing to kiteboarding, wakeboarding and standup paddle, or even kayaking – you have a wide variety of activities to choose from. Estonia is an amazing place where you can ski and snowboard during winter and then switch to water sports when the weather gets warmer – all of this within an hour’s drive from anywhere in Tallinn!
In this blog post, I will tell you in detail how to try different cool water sports and which companies can help you with this.
Surfing in Tallinn
Believe it or not, you can surf near Tallinn. Surely, it is not anything even close to what you would experience in Portugal, but still, you can give it a go and practice your first steps. Only 30 km from Tallinn lies a beach called Vääna-Jõesuu. The place is known as a surf spot for local wave riders. I didn’t know it was possible until I found a Facebook group called Lainesurf. They offer surfboard rent as well as beginner courses.
Reaching Vääna-Jõuesuu is not difficult by bus from the center of Tallinn or with a rental car (Bolt or Citybee). There is a large parking spot (parking fee applicable during summer months). If you don’t have a wetsuit, the school will provide you with one. Once you are ready to buy your first surfboard, consider getting a larger foam board (at least 8 feet long). The best prices I found were in Decathlon Latvia, they will deliver to Estonia for only 10€. The school uses the same brand boards, so they are pretty good.
The course begins with a short theory and a warm-up, followed by first steps in the water – getting to know the board and your position on it, reading the waves, and the baby steps to get you standing while riding. Even though the sea may be cold, having the right equipment (thick wetsuit, cap, gloves, and shoes) will keep you warm. With the right amount of wind, the waves are quite high and it becomes a lot of fun spending time in the water.
For an inexperienced rider like myself, it was a surprise what kind of muscles are needed for surfing. The day after the course I had pain in my upper and lower back, glutes, thighs, and shoulders. The waves and wind drain the energy out of you so this is actually a really good way to lose weight.
I still can’t forget the first time a wave dragged me towards the shore. The speed was amazing and overwhelming. Unlike kitesurfing, riding a surfboard is much easier and you are likely to learn it faster. I may be wrong but looks like it is easier for shorter riders. Keeping the balance is not a huge deal, as long as you keep the right posture. Also, learning with a larger surfboard is important as it gives you more stability and control.
Kitesurfing in Talinn
My first steps in kitesurfing were done at the beginning of the year when everything was covered in snow. It was the 3rd of July and I signed up for snowkite course (same as kitesurfing but on a snowboard). I had no previous knowledge of what a kite was except that it seemed cool. During the 3 hours initial course, I learned what a kite was, how to handle it, and even rode a few meters. After about a week I took another lesson on a frozen lake and finally mastered the riding. It was a thrilling experience!
When the summer finally arrived, I continued my lessons in the water. The difference was quite essential – getting your feet into the kiteboard straps while trying to keep the kite still was a challenge. Still, I was able to learn the basics and finally followed the kite on a tiny board. The feeling of being able to control this thing is very powerful.
To learn to kitesurf, you have many options in Tallinn today. Almost every beach has a dedicated kitesurfing school. Some of the most popular beaches in Tallinn are Kakumäe, Stroomi, Paljassaare, Pirita and Püünsi(Viimsi). The coolest thing about this sport is that you can catch winds from almost any direction. This means more riding days in the year.
Tallinn kitesurfing community is quite big and usually, there is no problem asking for help from fellow kiters when you need assistance with take-off or landing. A typical kitesurfing course will cost you around 330-350 euros and will include equipment and a wetsuit. Before taking a course, make sure the instructor is qualified (IKO certificate). This is extreme sports and you should always choose qualified instructors.
A few things to remember before buying second-hand equipment – make sure (or ask your instructor) if it is suitable for beginners. Lots of good used stuff can be found on the marketplace or in “Lohesurfi turg” FB group. I recommend buying a good warm wetsuit first and renting the needed equipment from your school until you are sure you want to keep doing this.
Kayaking in Tallinn
Kayaking in Tallin is another great way to spend an evening in Tallinn. This year I have participated in two kayaking trips and both of them were amazing. The company that organizes these trips is called “Rändajad”. One of the instructors is following the group at all times and has the necessary skills in case of emergency.
Their trips start in Pirita boat station. After proper safety instruction, you get your own kayak, a paddle, and a life jacket. The trips are in groups of 8-10. The first option is to paddle up the Pirita river up to where it is not passable anymore (2-3km) and back, enjoying the calm surroundings. You will be passing Pirita famous monastery.
The second trip was from Pirita to Haabneeme beach. This trip was on the open water, so the weather needs to be perfect for you to enjoy it fully. Luckily, the day we went on this trip, there was a fantastic sunset and really nice conditions. The waves were very smooth and calm. Staying so close to the water, you can feel the power and energy. Other boats passed by us as we crossed the bay. Doing this trip in the middle of the summer is one of the best ways to see the sunset in Tallinn.
Wakesurfing in Männiku
Männiku wake park has been around for a few years now. I visited it back when they just opened their doors. The park is located just outside of the city and can be reached by train, car or simply walking around 4-5km from the last bus stop. In case you are a total newbie, you will get some basic instructions and a wakeboard. The idea is quite simple – the cable drags you and all you have to do is stay above water.
In reality, it is a little more complicated than that. Important is to keep your shoulders relaxed. I did everything the wrong way and ended up with hurt arms for a couple of weeks. Judging by the number of people visiting the park, it must be very popular. There is also a beach and you can rent SUP (stand up paddle) boards.
SUP surfing in Tallinn
Last but not least – SUP surfing in Tallinn is by far the most popular way to spend an evening and watch the sunset on Tallinn beaches. Somehow, this kind of surfing is attracting more and more participants. Almost every surf club is offering SUP rentals and organizes group trips during the summer months. The reason why it’s so popular is because it’s so easy and anyone can do it. All you need to do is simply hold the balance and paddle. No need to be in good physical shape or have any other talents.
Also, SUPs are sold everywhere – from big grocery stores to construction material stores and of course on the internet. The prices start from 200€, which makes it very affordable. Rental prices are not too expensive either – you can get one for as low as 15-20€.
What is your favorite water sport in Tallinn Estonia?