Tips and Facts

Tips and Facts

getting there




It's always nice to pack light, but there are a few things we don't want you to forget. Due to the possibility of lost luggage we recommend that you carry-on important items whenever possible, we recommend that you carry-on important items whenever possible.

- Unless you aren't from the US, leave you passport at home!
- A printout of your email invoice confirming full payment and this Tips & Facts webpage.
- Harness, lycra, dry, full or shorty wetsuit (check with us on conditions during your travel period) booties, gloves.
- Sunglasses and chums, a visor or hat.
- High SPF (25+) waterproof sunscreen lotion (oil makes board slippery)
- PFD and/or helmet (if desired)
- Sweater or a light jacket / windbreaker just in case.
- Slacks for dining out in restaurants (most are casual, though you could have a night on the town...)
- Extra spending money (see "Currency/credit cards" below)
- Paperback books for flights and evenings (Our staff appreciates current newspapers / magazines - especially windsport related!)
- Ear Plugs, a good idea if you are a light sleeper and if you're practicing those forward loops!
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for muscle aches
- Medical tape for tired hands.

What We Have: 

Our partner-center at Big Winds has a huge selection of gloves, hats, caps, booties, harnesses, sunglasses, sunscreen, wetsuits, lycra tops and shorts, plus windsurf and kitesurf gear. For each pre-booked rental you are invited to use our stand-up paddle boards during open hours, great in the morning or on a light-wind day.



Hood River, Oregon is in the Northwest of the US, about an hour's drive from Portland, right in the heart of the Columbia River National Scenic Area and on the southbank of the Columbia River, a natural border separating most of Oregon State and Washington State, and playground to wind-sports enthusiasts for decades.


English. Some instructors will have a varying grasp of foreign languages (Spanish, French, and German) 

Summertime in the Gorge is so BEAUTIFUL that most of us locals find it hard to leave town anytime between mid-May and mid-September. Sure, this is the Northwest and we sometimes will get some rain, but typically the micro-climate in Hood River - just a short ways east of the Cascade range - will have dry and warm days somewhere in the high 70's to low 90's. Evenings are often warm enough to leave the sandals and shorts on, though some nights call for a light sweater and jeans.



Currency/credit cards:
Everything you can think of including cash, ATM machines, and credit cards. Traveler cheques might be the only less convenient option as you'll need to stop into a local bank first to turn them into cash, but still a totally acceptable wayto bring your traveling money.

Electrical voltage:

110 volt, same as in the rest of the USofA.

Email / Phone Services:

Your cell phone will work here ... unless you are deep in the forrest on a long hike or if you drop your phone in the river while making a bottom turn in one of the swells at The Hatch! Most of the guest-homes and apartments we include offer free WiFi. Several cafes and "HotSpots" can be discovered downtown as well.


So many great restaurants to choose from, and more on the way every year! Stroll the streets of downtown and check out the menus listed on the outside the doors to find someplace to match your tastes. 4 brewpubs and at least 10 wine tasting rooms can help keep you hydrated after a long day on the water!

Other Activities available:

On rare light wind days take out an SUP or try one of many other activities - world class kayaking, white water rafting, cycling (mountain and road), even snow skiing year round on Mt. Hood. Countless wine tasting rooms and brew pubs as well as great restaurants are within walking distance downtown.


Typical US practices are the norm, anywhere between 10%-20% for service that you feel deserves it.  


Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.

Airport Arrival:

Portland International airport (PDX) is a medimum-sized and ultra-modern terminal, and easy to navigate. Once you have retrieved your bags simply follow the signs to get your rental car.

Note: Vela does not book rental cars as part of your vacation package, but you will need one to get around Hood River. Most of the car rental counter are located across the skywalk on the 2nd-level. Once you have found your car rental provider, simply ask them for directions to the I-84, and you'll be about a 1 hour's drive from Hood River! 


Hotel Check-In:

The normal check-in time is at 3:00PM for all properties, although we can request early check-in if available. Vouchers are not required for check-in. Simply arrive at the front desk and give the agent the last name of the person who made the reservation. If there are any questions, please show them the email invoice that you should print and take with you. NOTE: If you are arriving after 9:00 PM, you must call us with your arrival information immediately and no later than one week prior to arrival at 800-223-5443 / 541-387-0431 (unless you have already given us this information). The hotel's front desk may be closed after 9:00 pm unless Vela is able to notify them of your late arrival.

Hotel Check-Out:

Check out time is normally around 10:00 for all properties. Make certain to go over your final bill carefully. Personal charges such as bar tabs, laundry, telephone calls, and such are your responsibility. DO NOT let the hotel charge you any tax or service fees on accommodations prepaid by Vela. We always prepay tax and service charges for you. Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff. Important note: If you have an early flight, make arrangements for a taxi to the airport the day before your departure and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you are leaving on a late flight, sometimes there is a courtesy room available for storing luggage and taking a shower.

Kitesurf Equipment Rentals: 

Although kites are not available for rent in Hood River, board rentals are available and include a range of twintip models. To ensure availability during your trip reservations in advance is highly recommended. Experienced kiters and students who have completed their lessons should plan on bringing their own gear or plan to buy some while in town.

Getting To Vela Hood River at Big Winds: 

The rental center is located inside Big Winds at  207 Front Street, right at the at the end of downtown (Oak Street), and mere minutes away from some of the best kiting areas throughout The Gorge. Our rental season runs from May to October, during which our rental department will be happy to make your sailing dreams come true! 

Checking In To Get Started:

Center hours are 9:00 to 5:30 daily. If you have reserved gear in advance, our staff will be anticipating your arrival. You can find our staff members at the rental area in the back of the store, though feel free to introduce yourself to anyone in the front of the shop. A member of the team will set you up with an orientation as well as supply you with all the paperwork before you can take your gear. A credit card is required for safety deposit and for setting up your account at the center.!

Damage to equipment:

You will be asked to leave a credit card as deposit when you take out equipment. Once you sign out a board it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition! To minimize the possibility of damage, please choose equipment that suits your ability level and conditions, and handle equipment carefully when launching and coming in to shore. Items that need replacing such as fins, sails or mast will be charged at cost plus 10% for parts and labor. For items that can be repaired, standard charges will apply. This must be paid directly to the center in full upon return of the damaged equipment.

On-Site / Walk-Up Rentals:

If you have not paid for equipment as part of your vacation, note that rentals will only be available after the staff is satisfied that all pre-paid guests have had their first choice and will be at a higher rate.

Getting On The Water:

Please make sure that you understand all safety procedures and beach rules at the launch you plan to kite from. For full details about the many launch sites in the area please check out this link and let us know if you have any questions.

Gear Storage:

  Sorry, there is no storage at the center, but you will likely have space at your guest house or stored in your car.

Getting To Vela Kitesurf Hood River at Gorge Kite:

From Portland go east on I-84 to exit 63, Hood River City Center (63 miles east of Portland). Turn left toward the river at the top of the freeway exit ramp. Turn right at the 4-way stop. For the Spit Location turn right the T-intersection, Turn right a third time just before the 76 gas station. Follow small access road between gas station and freeway. Follow road as it turns left toward the river and changes to a dirt road. (You may need to pay $2.00 if the person is collecting when you enter.) The School is the red building with the big yellow triangle on the north east corner of the parking lot (to the right as you drive up). This is where you will begin and end all of your lessons. To find the Event Site location turn left at the T-intersection (away from the gas station) instead: the Gorge Kite booth is on the East edge on your right of the entrance of the parking lot. There is short-term parking lot on your left before entering the parking lot (OK for a quick stop to check in about your lessons) as well as long-term paid parking (if you need a spot for the day). Note that all lessons will begin and end from the Spit location.

Lesson Programs:

There are many options when it comes to learning how to kite in Hood River, but for the 3rd season in a row vela has selected one school to work with: GORGE KITE! Gorge Kiteboard School has been a PASA certified school since 2003 and has earned a reputation as one of the most professional kiteboarding schools in the country. Owner and instructor, Mark Worth, maintains the school's strong reputation and your safety by teaching every lesson. When you sign up with Gorge Kiteboard School, you know that Mark will be your instructor. Your safety is his number one priority both during your kiteboard instruction and after you are on your own. All the equipment you will need for your lesson from your booties to your helmet and including kites and boards is provided, including Cabrinha Kites, Headzone Radio Helmets, Promotion Wetsuits (limited sizes available), Da Kine Shorts Harness, and professional instruction. Are you ready to kite?


This series is designed to bring kiteboarders to the level where they are ready to start kiteboarding on their own. Every student learns at a different speed and this series generally requires three to five 2 hour 45 minute lessons to complete. A few students are extremely quick learners and complete the series in two lessons, other older students are extra concerned about safety and want 5 lessons to achieve a higher level of control. Each lesson is focused on that student and we will work on the combination of skill that the student needs to reach their goals.


Designed to build the skills necessary to go upwind and kiteboard in more demanding wind conditions. These lessons can be combined and are often used as the basis of a 5-day to 7-day program. Your instructor will kite with you to demonstrate the following ranges of skills: Kite Theory / Safety, Stance, Turns, Staying Upwind, and an Introduction to The Gorge to learn about local safety issues and how to evaluate the wind and river conditions.


Are you already kiting on your own but want to push yourself to reach the next level? Let's focus on how to handle a wider range of wind conditions and work on jumping and riding swells. The skills covered in these lessons can be combined and are often used as the basis of a 5-day to 7-day program. Your instructor will kite with you to demonstrate the following ranges of skills: Controlled Jumps, Generating More Power, Kiteboarding in Radical Winds, Working with Big Swells, Downwinders, Riding and Jibing Directional Kiteboards, as well as Coaching and Problem Solving.


You will learn much faster in a private lesson then a group, because your lesson will be tailored to your needs and style of learning and you can safely progress faster when under direct supervision of an experienced instructor. If you would like to learn at the same time as your friend and are sharing a ride, we can run two private lessons one after the other. This gives you the best value for your money and the fastest and safest path to your goals.


Bring a friend or family member and save $25 per person by sharing the 45-Minutes of classroom time.After the shared class, each student gets a 2-Hour Private lesson on the water. The other student will have 2 hours to go into town or hang out at the beach while I work with the student in the water. 2-HOURS 45-MINUTES = $270 PER LESSON PER PERSON BASED ON 2 STUDENTS.


For advanced level students only, two friends can safely work on advanced subjects such as high-wind kiting and jumping as they share one instructor. It is strongly recommend that students enjoy the safer and faster learning curve of private lessons for the on-the-water segment of all beginner and intermediate level lessons. Experienced students can kite on their own before or after the lesson if they bring their own gear. 2-HOURS 45-MINUTES = $245 PER LESSON PER PERSON BASED ON 2 STUDENTS.


  Are you traveling as a family or group of friends all hoping to learn to kite? Then this is the best value available! Hire your instructor for a Full Day (10-Hours, 9am - 7pm) and get the most time with a mix of group and private coaching! Pricing is based per day with a maximum of 4 students on any given day. Mulitple days are encouraged from a 1-day to a 14-day period. You can break up the hours to accommodate for wind conditions, skill level progression, and to generally make things up as they go Everyone gets something a little different and learns at their own speed. We can combine classroom time or split up where appropriate. The on-the-water portion of beginner and intermediate lessons will be private. Advanced lessons can have multiple students. Each student will have a few hours of lesson time throughout each day ... normally enough to wear out beginners. Experienced students can kite on their own before or after the lesson if they bring their own gear. UP TO 8 HOURS MAX = $1,055 TOTAL FOR UP TO 4 STUDENTS.


A jet-ski will be used when it helps the lesson, such as better wind. It is generally more efficient and cost effective to work on the edge of the sandbar and avoid the time used up riding the jet-ski.

Make sure to say goodbye to our staff before you go. Check to see if you have left anything at the center or if you have taken care of your final tab for additional services you may have purchased. If you have had some bad luck in the wind department, make sure to get you No Wind Claim Form before you go, and we hope that you have still had a great vacation overall in spite of Mother Nature!