I tried the spot of Silvaplana (Engadine, Switzerland) in August 2011, and many more times after that. Lake Silvaplana, as well the nearby Lake Sils, during the summer months, allow you to enjoy very pleasant windsurfing sessions, at high altitude, on flat water, in a truly exciting setting. The spots are suitable for different disciplines: freeriding, freestyle, slalom, and foil.
Windsurf spot reviews: Silvaplana and Sils (Engadin, Switzerland)
The main spot on Lake Silvaplana is located at the Silvaplana Windsurfcenter, at the northern end of the lake, where I went out most frequently.
Generally, you start your session from a pebble beach facing south, immediately at the beginning of Silvaplana (check for "Mulets" in the Google maps image, at the bottom of this page). Some go out from the slide of the windsurf center, inside the small harbour.
The logistics were almost perfect:
- parking site at a few meters from the shore you use to get into the water, with reasonable prices (CHF 2 for 4 hours - 2011);
- freely usable bathrooms and locker rooms at the windsurfing club.
The wind, here, is more well spreaded than in the other spots in the lake, further south (see below). On average, it is around 15 knots, with gusts at 20; it can be a bit variable in terms of direction, depending on the areas of the water surface, where you sail. But, on some occasions, and in particular, if there are currents, at high altitude, from the south to reinforce the thermal wind, the wind can reach greater intensity.
In the session of August 2015, e.g., things got better with 20 knots wind, as average. Consider that the lower density of the air at this altitude (we are at 1800 meters above sea level), means that, with the same speed, the pressure on the sails is lower. So, bigger sails are required than those that you would use to lower spots, with equal intensity of the wind.
There is a very modest chop in the spot. The water in August, in the reported conditions, is less cold than expected (in August 2015 I went out with a 4/3 mm wetsuit, finding myself very well). The air temperature on sunny days fluctuates between 18 and 25 ° C.
The spot has been very popular with kitesurfers, since some years. The Kiters mostly sail downwind (they rig on a lawn and start from a beach at the mouth of the lake emissary river). There is also a kitesurfing school here. The riders, however, are quite respectful of the rights of way.
The landscape is wonderful: you sail on blue water in the middle of green mountains, with cows grazing on the grass....
In the spot, in August, the Engadinwind takes place, an event during which slalom, foil, and freestyle (tow-in) regattas are held. On racing days, the spot is virtually inaccessible, and you have to go out in the other spots listed below. On the spot, there is also a nice campsite, right on the lake shores, often full of vans, tents, and campers of windsurfers and kitesurfers. In front of the Windsurf club, there is also a point where to buy drinks and food (Bar / Restaurant).
In the middle of the lake (south bound, therefore), the wind is even more constant, and some go out in this area, or sail upwind up to here. But there are no comfortable beaches to go out, in this area.
At the opposite end of the lake to the south (Sils area, where the Swiss Sailing School is located - enlarge the image of Google maps), there is another spot frequented by windsurfers. On the website of the club, they say it is suitable for less experienced riders. We tried it in summer 2020. The environment at the beach is very pleasant. A beautiful lawn where you can rig or lie down (to take the sun or have a pic-nic), the Beach club where you can eat and drink, and some comfortable access points for entering the water, with a sandy bottom. Here, there is another seat of the Windsurfing Club Silvaplana, mostly equipped with beginners gear, since they can practice in the safe bay, right in front of the Club.
Indeed, the strongest wind is found in the northernmost Silvaplana spot, described above. Here in the Southern spot, the wind comes from the beach (i.e., offshore), and it is quite gusty near the shore at the exit point. To benefit from a more steady wind, you must deliberately drift at least 100 meters from the shore, towards the center of the lake, and then go upwind, at the end of the session, to return to the shore. Be careful if you are not expert, as you may find it difficult to return. In any case, the spot is safe as you can reach a point on the coast, anyway (the lake is less than 2 km wide).
Recently, we have also discovered some excellent exit points on Lake Sils (see map), which you meet first coming from the Maloja pass. The best spots, here, are those located just south of Plaun da Lej (those just to the north suffer from a bit more gusty wind). You park in some unpaved areas along the roadside (the widest, on the left going north, just before the Plaun da Lej bend), and then you enter the water from the shores of the lake, from some beaches, or from some points where the coast is less steep. At such points, you have no rental centers, no refreshment points.
One last chance to windsurf at Lake Sils is at the beach in front of Camping Plaun Curtinac. The beach is really beautiful (also sandy bottom here), and allows you to sail in the central part of the lake, well hit by the wind. Unfortunately, at this point you can only access by car if you are a campsite guest. If you want to get out of here, at any cost, you can park at the dirt parking lot at the southern end of Lake Sils (see map, via Plan Cuncheta), and transport your equipment to the beach (a few hundred meters), with a trolley.
Obviously, Engadin also offers much more, in addition to the possibility of practicing water sports (on this website, you will find many articles related to trekkings, in the area). Therefore, by spending a few days of vacation here, you can spend time windsurfing, but also doing mountain walks and bike tours, or just relaxing.
Ultimately, I highly recommend you try Engadin for windsurfing, especially on the hottest days of summer!
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To enjoy a slidegallery of a session at the spot, click here.
Here below, the video of our session at Silvaplana.