Five new sports to try on your travels

Kitesurfing, Lagos, Portugal

Combining elements of wakeboarding, windsurfing and paragliding, kitesurfing is an extreme sport that is growing in popularity internationally. Utilising a controllable power kite, surfers are propelled across the ocean’s surface like a skipping pebble. While it takes years of practice to become a pro, even beginners can find themselves able to grab some air.

The Algarve is fast-becoming the kitesurfing capital of Europe, with thrill seekers drawn to the relatively unexplored beaches and 2-4 foot swells during the summer months. While bigger waves can be found in central Portugal, the Atlantic breeze makes this the Algarve a fantastic location for kitesurfing. The Lagos municipality is particularly popular thanks to its alluring mix of picturesque fishing villages, tranquil bars and cafes, plentiful accommodation and, crucially, strong winds in summer. Lagos has also won awards for its commitment to sustainable tourism and is fast developing a reputation for laid-back hospitality and welcoming atmosphere.

Baseball, Boston, USA

Baseball is the great American pastime and a sport best enjoyed on a hot day, watered-down beer in one hand, hot dog in the other. Perhaps the spiritual home of the game is Boston, home to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. Formed in 1901, the Sox have played at Fenway since 1912 and though modernisation has taken place, it still maintains a sense of old worldly charm.

Bostonians are serious about their sports and watching the Sox can sometimes be likened to a religious experience. Though some may complain about baseballs slow speed, watching in an arena like Fenway brings the sport to life. With 162 games per regular season there are plenty of opportunities to watch one of America’s leading franchises at work.

Kabaddi, Chennai, India

Kabaddi is the national sport of Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the state sport of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, home of Chennai. In this city Kabaddi is referred to as “the game of the masses” and is played, and watched, with equal fervour.

The game itself is chaotic, with two teams taking it in turns to send a ‘raider’ into their opponents half in an effort to tag a rival, before returning to their territory. While doing this the raider must hold their breath, chant “kabaddi, kabaddi…” and avoid being tackled by the opposing team. Chaotic, anarchic and fun, the sport is deeply engrained in Chennai and has grown in popularity since the launch of the Pro Kabaddi League in 2015.

Chennai is well known for its plethora of beaches and temples, not least Kapaleeshwarar, a temple of Shiva that features a remarkably ornate façade dating back to the 16th century.

Pelota, Basque Country, France & Spain

The origins of Pelota date back to the Napoleonic period and, somewhat similarly to squash, involves two players propelling a small ball towards a wall, albeit with their hands, or in some areas a wooden bat/handbasket, rather than a racket. Across the Basque Country the sport is venerated with clubs found in almost every village. For big matches the entire community is known to turn out to cheer on their very-local heroes.

Known for their hospitality, the Basques are a welcoming people. Lost looking foreign spectators can expect to have the game explained to them, whether through English or a multitude of hand gestures, by other spectators. Don’t be surprised if this leads to drinks and pinxto – traditional Basque tapas – when the match finishes!

Paddleboarding, Honolulu, USA

While Paddleboarding can be traced back to the Sandwich Islands, its modern home is surf-mad Hawaii and Ala Moana Beach, in particular. While there are swells to attract veterans surfers, in more shallow waters even the most novice paddle boarders will find much to enjoy. With a plethora of paddleboard rental options, no equipment is needed, and an abundance of schools and instructors mean that getting up on the waves is possible for anyone, regardless of age or fitness.

And once you’ve tired of hitting the waves? Hawaii is amongst the world’s enviable locations. With everything from fine dining and top class nightlife, to an abundance of biodiversity, rich wildlife and unexplored beaches. There are few locations where you can have it all, but Hawaii is one of them.

 

 

 

 

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