The Best Kiteboarding Spots in the USA (With a Few Surprises)
Table of Contents
Kailua is an ideal location for all kiteboarding levelsKailua, on the green, east side of Oahu, is situated on its namesake bay with white, sandy beaches and turquoise water — often showing up on “best beaches worldwide” lists. It is here where all kiteboarders can find ideal conditions. Thanks to the offshore reef, Kailua is protected from the waves and offers flat or choppy water during the summer months, including some wind swell. The best wind conditions are in the morning and evening.
How to avoid the crowdsKeep in mind that Kailua Bay gets crowded with kiteboarders, swimmers, and sunbathers, and the beach becomes smaller with high tide — make sure you launch and land quickly. It’s best to kite away from the crowds, in the spacious bay, and not get too close to shore or jump close to the beach. One tip for kiting here: you can set up and pack your kite gear on the big grassy area at the north end of the bay.
Kiters on Oahu enjoy consistent wind and beautiful scenery. Chase big waves on the North Shore, or head to Kailua Bay for flat water and waves. You might even find yourself riding among sea turtles.
Quote by Lindsay McClure, Oregon-based kiteboarder, kiteboarding coach and teacher at the World Class Kiteboarding Academy
Oahu - Good to Know
Beginners to advanced
15–30 knots in summer, 18 knots on average
Flat, choppy waves
Boardshorts/bikini from June–August; rashguard for sun protection
Surfing, kayaking, bodyboarding, SUP, hiking (e.g. Lanikai Pillbox Hike or Maunawili Falls Trail), Kailua Farmers Market
The biggest airport, Honolulu International Airport (HNL), is a 30-minute drive from Kailua Beach.
2. Cape Hatteras
Seventy miles of beaches with flat water shorelineMatt Nuzzo, the Co-founder of REAL Watersports, says, “Cape Hatteras has epic winds year-round. World-class waves. Seventy miles of pristine beaches and flat water shoreline. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, both over the water. Not many destinations in the world can match this.”
Cape Hatteras has spots for all skill levelsThere are a variety of places for waves on the Atlantic side. On the west side, in Pamlico Sound, are flat, waist-deep spots, ideal for beginners. Because Cape Hatteras is so far away from the mainland, plan on steady, stable wind in any direction. Small islands within the sound create slickwater conditions downwind.
A launching point for first-timers to the areaIf you are visiting Cape Hatteras for the first time, the Kite Point (SW or NW wind), south of Avon, is a great starting point. It has flat to choppy waist-deep water, which makes it ideal for beginners. Frisco (SW or NE wind), southwest of Buxton, has several kite spots on the sound side and surfside, so if you can’t decide what conditions you want, this spot has enough variety to keep you happy. You can find a great overview of all the kite spots in the area here and a more detailed map with descriptions here.
Downwinder options for advanced kitersIf you are into downwinders (for independent riders only), you’ll find plenty of great alternatives. Make sure to get a downwinder guide from one of the kite shops and be sure to check out this helpful article. Like the kiteboarding in Squamish, Cape Hatteras is famous for its flatwater freestyle opportunities, so if you’re chasing the butterflat, go for the Planet of the Apes downwinder, and you can find a few slicks in the outlets and channels.
Hatteras island is the kiteboarding mecca! With shallow waters on the sound side to learn and progress quickly, flat water for freestyle and sliders, and 1/4 away on the other side of the island, waves for epic kiteboarding!
Gage Fichter, wave kiter and team rider for Airush Kiteboarding
Cape Hatteras - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced
April–October, but you can kite year-round. Waves are best in the fall
10+ knots. Bring bigger kites and a foilboard; small kites for occasional storms
Flatwater, chop, waves
Boardshorts or shorty for the slick side and a 3/2 for the seaside during summer; in spring and autumn bring a 5/4
Surfing, kayaking, SUP, fishing, hang gliding, mini-golf, go-karting, laser tag
Cape Hatteras Kite Travel Guide. Check out the biggest international wakestyle competition, the Triple S Invitational
The closest major airport is Norfolk International Airport (ORF) which is 2.5 to 3-hour drive to Cape Hatteras.
3. South Padre Island
Kiteboarding conditions depend on the time of yearDepending on the time of the year, expect different conditions. March through July will provide the most windy days with an average of 16 knots. October through December brings stronger wind, averaging 20 knots. These are the ideal months for wave kiters. On hot summer days, you might be able to sneak in some light-wind sessions. Generally speaking, be prepared for lighter wind and bring bigger kites to make the most out of your stay.
The South and North FlatsSouth Flats is the kite spot closest to town, and it has good flat, ankle to waist-deep water, serving up ideal conditions for kiteboard beginners and those wanting to practice new tricks. This area is suitable with almost any wind direction. The North Flats have steadier wind and perfect flatwater, but you’ll need to pay a membership fee to gain access. You can do so at Pro Kite South Padre (cost $20 per month; $30 per year).
The Gulf side is for wave kiters and downwindersWave kiters have 15 miles of coastline to play in on the Gulf side with typically side-onshore wind. Like the kiteboarding in Cape Verde, this makes it ideal for intermediate riders looking to expand their skillset. Boca Chica has the cleanest waves, so it’s worth making the hour-long drive. Experienced wave kiteboarders will enjoy the waves in Isla Blanca Park, aka “The Jetty,” which is also a good spot for foiling on lightwind days because of small waves. It’s a busy tourist beach, so be mindful of beachgoers and swimmers. This map of kite spots will give you directions on how to get to the various locations.
South Padre Island is a kiteboarding beginner’s paradise; it’s like the kiddy pool for kiteboarding. Knee-deep flat water for all ages, steady side/on wind, and warm weather and water.
Quote by Tina, traveler and kiteboarder
South Padre Island - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced
March–July, October–November; you can kite year round with the right setup
10–20 knots. Bring bigger kites and foilboard (foil on the Gulf side)
Flat, choppy, waves
Shorty in spring and autumn; boardshorts in summer; long wetsuit in winter
Surfing, kayaking, wakeboarding, SUP, snorkeling, scuba diving fishing, diving, dolphin watching, skydiving, and amusement parks
Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) is a 30-minute drive from South Padre Island. Harlingen’s Valley International Airport (VIA) is a 45-minute drive from South Padre Island. A rental car is easiest to get to the kite spots but cabs are cheap. There’s also bus service, too.
4. Columbia River Gorge
Hood River is a world renowned kiteboarding destinationThe Hood River is an international kiteboarding hotspot and home to many American pro-riders in summer (Colleen Carrol, Brandon Scheid, Craig Cunningham). Even kite brands have their American headquarters here. The whole vibe is filled with stoke; locals and visitors love the outdoorsy lifestyle and get the most that nature has to offer day in and day out. The main spot for kiteboarding tours is the Hood River Event Site. It’s here where you will launch your kite from the sandbank during summer. Independent kiteboarders and those who want to work on skill progression can kite upwind of the sandbar, where it’s choppier. Downwind of the sandbar is where you’ll find kite lessons — the water is more shallow and flat. Be aware of the rotation of the riders below the sandbar.
A distinctive Hood River featureSomething unique to the area is that the river current flows opposite to the wind direction; this means on lighter wind days it’ll be easier to stay upwind. While the Hood River is suitable for all types of kiteboarding — from foiling to freeride, freestyle and big air — wakestyle kiters will love the permanent slider park.
Hood River is an epic kiteboarding destination not only because of its consistent winds... but for the wealth of other activities available: pristine hiking, world class mountain biking and kayaking, ski and snowboarding, great food, wine and beer.
Quote by Sensi Graves, Hood River local, pro kiteboarder and owner of Sensi Bikinis
Columbia River Gorge - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced (crowds and cold water can make it challenging for kiteboard beginners)
June–September, but you can kite year round
10–25+ knots. Bring kite sizes for all conditions
Flat, choppy, great slider park for wakestyle
4/3 or 3/2 wetsuit
Kayaking, rafting, SUP, hiking, mountain biking, wine tasting, brewery tours, horseback riding, and snowboarding/skiing in winter
Hood river is a 1-hour drive from Portland Airport (PDX). A rental car is essential. You can also make the 5-hour drive from Seattle (SEA).
5. San Francisco
Challenging conditions and gusty windsDon’t think that because the kite spots are so scenic that they’re safe. Kiting here is challenging, so unless you’re kiteboarding with a kite school, the area is best for advanced riders. As a rule, it’s always a good idea to talk to a local kiteboarder before heading into the water to learn about potential dangers at a particular spot. During springtime, the wind is best in the late morning through the early afternoon — it becomes too gusty later in the day. In the summer, look out for some great NW winds.
The best San Francisco kiting spotsWithin San Francisco proper, head to Ocean Beach. It’s as long and sandy as the best kitesurfing beaches in Cabarete, with lots of space for launching and landing. It also has a big swell, nice ramps to jump off from, and strong currents, which is why it’s only recommended for advanced kiteboarders. Crissy Field, the picturesque and most famous spot at the Golden Gate Bridge, is for advanced riders only due to strong tidal currents, ship traffic, and shifty, often gusty, wind. South of San Francisco near San Mateo is 3rd Avenue/Baywinds Park, one of the windiest and most popular kite spots in the Bay. Intermediate to advanced wave riders will love Waddell Creek, which is further south along US 1, just north of Swanton. Sherman Island is a must-visit during the summer if you’re up for a road trip — just about 2 hours northeast from San Francisco. It’s a perfect location for “kite-eat-sleep-repeat.”
The San Francisco Bay Area is definitely one of the top kiteboarding destinations in the world for sure. We have good consistent wind for most of the year — especially April-October — and the most unique variety of kiteboarding beaches.
Quote by Erin Loscocco, local pro kiter and owner of BayAreaKiteboarding.com
San Francisco - Good to Know
Beginners within a kite school environment or advanced kiteboarders
10–25 knots, bring your full kite range and if you have a foilboard
Depending on the spot, choppy with waves
Long wetsuit year-round
Surf, foil surfing, foilboarding with low wind, sightseeing in San Francisco, like taking a ride on the cable cars, visiting Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge (I did a bike tour and loved it)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is a 15-minute ride from downtown San Francisco. A rental car is recommended if you want to check out the variety of kite spots and explore more of the city.
6. Corpus Christi
Expect wind every dayDuring the windiest season, from March through August, consistent thermal S and SE wind arrives in the early afternoon and keeps picking up until evening. In the low wind season, September through March, there are still a lot of kiteable days; the cold fronts bring some stronger N wind, which allows you to visit other spots than you would in the summer.
The best kiteboarding spots in Corpus ChristieWildcat Park, Portland, is the most popular and windiest spot. It has flat to choppy waist-deep water, which makes it ideal for learning how to kiteboard (beginners should wear booties because of oyster shells). Grassy Point, Corpus Christi is close to another location, Brozil, which is only accessible by kite for independent kiteboarders. Grassy Point has butterflat water because of its small channels. Enter this spot by driving through the marina and paying a small fee. Oso Bay, Corpus Christi is a big flatwater spot protected by a long sandbar with a sandy, muddy bottom. Boots are recommended because of shells.
Join the locals for this Friday summer traditionIf you are visiting during the summer, join the locals on a Bay Crossing every Friday. Joey Stephenson from Kiteboarding.com says, “We meet at Wildcat Park in Portland and cross the bay to go to Fajitaville on North Beach in Corpus Christi. There we land on the beach, have a drink, and then return to Portland. People have come here from as far as Wisconsin just to do a Bay Crossing with us.” For more detailed information on all the kite spots, take a look at these lists from 361kite: Mainland Spots Around Corpus Christi, Back Bay/North Padre Island and Gulf Side/North Padre island.
Corpus Christi is a great location for kiteboarding for several reasons. First we are the windiest location in the US based on average wind speed, and second, we have a large variety of riding spots that suits many riding styles.
Quote by Joey Stephenson, Portland, Texas local, kiteboarder and Kiteboarding.com employee
Corpus Christi - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced
You can kite year-round, but March-August are best
13–20 knots in summer with S/SE wind, so bring bigger kites. Weaker and stronger days in the lower season
Flat, choppy, small waves
Boardshorts/bikini or shorty during the main season
Surfing, SUP, fishing, dolphin watching, explore the National Seashore or the Texas State Aquarium, visit the floating battleship museum, USS Lexington, or Schlitterbahn Waterparks
Corpus Christi Travel Guide, Where to Ride in Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi International Airport (CRP) is closest to all the kite spots. San Antonio International (SAT) is a 2.5-hour drive. Austin Bergstrom airport (AUS) is a 3.5-hour drive. A rental car is recommended to get around.
7. Key West
The best place to practice new tricksThe main spot in Key West is Smathers Beach, which has a small sandy beach for setup. It can get pretty crowded during the peak season and is only for intermediate to advanced kiteboarders. A big shallow area with flat water makes it ideal for practicing new tricks, and the white beach and palm trees create a stunning backdrop. Be aware of sunbathers and swimmers and be sure to launch and land far away from power lines.
The best spot to learn and progressThe Flats in Key West are accessible by boat, and it receives wind from all directions. You can launch right from the water because there are no obstacles, just sand and turtle grass — which is ideal for soft landings if you crash. The Flats is a great spot not only for people who want to learn to kiteboard, but also for progressing your riding, learning new tricks, and getting into unhooked tricks. It’s a great idea to go for a kiteboard-road trip when you visit. I plan to explore as many areas as possible once I make my way there. For more kiteboarding spots around the Florida Keys area, check out this South Florida Guide from KiteboardingFlorida.com.
Key West offers world-class kiteboarding and kitefoiling, accessible only by boat. Just 6 miles away from the island, you'll find miles and miles of shallow, super flat, smooth, clear water. Epic sessions in an epic location.
Quote by Skot, kiteboarding instructor at UpWind Kiteboarding in Key West
Key West - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced
Year round, but December–March is best; May–September has lighter thermal wind
Shorty or long wetsuit with a cold front in winter; boardshorts/bikini and rashguards for sun protection in summer
SUP, wakeboard in cable park, sport fishing, party
Fly into Key West International Airport (EYW) directly, which is usually more expensive. For international flights, you will have a stopover in Miami (MIA) — or you can make the 3-hour drive from Miami by rental car.
8. The Jersey Shore
Sandy Hook is home to exceptional flatwater conditionsSandy Hook is New Jersey’s most popular spot and the closest to New York City. As its name implies, it’s a peninsular sandy hook with the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays to its west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. On the Raritan side, there is excellent flatwater sheltered by the sand bar, offering calmer conditions — which makes it perfect for beginners and for practicing new tricks. The best wind direction for this spot is N, but S also works. Launch from Parking Spot B.
A spot for beginnersMost places offer flat to choppy conditions. Kite Island, for instance, has a big bay with waist-deep flat water, making it ideal for learning to kiteboard and practicing unhooked moves. It’s only accessed by boat, and the closest harbor is Waretown.
Other great New Jersey kiting optionsOther kite spots to check out around New Jersey are Long Beach Island, Ocean Side (chop, waves), 25th Street Long Beach Island (flatwater, chop), Seaside Park (choppy), or Lakes Bay (flat, choppy). You can find an excellent overview of all kite launches around New Jersey here. If you’re from New York, make sure to check 57hours other Favorite Kiteboarding Spots in NYC (including a secret spot!).
Sandy Hook is a beautiful spot... You have good wave riding on the eastern oceanside and some flat shallow water on the western shore — perfect for beginners.
Quote by Viktor Marohnic, climber, kiteboarder, skier, all-around adventurer and founder of 57hours
The Jersey Shore - Good to Know
Beginner (if you go with a kite school) or independent intermediate to advanced kiteboarders
March–May and September–November
15–25 knots. Bring bigger kites for Sandy Hook
Flat, choppy, waves depending on the spot
Long wetsuit for spring and autumn
Explore NYC and Long Beach Island’s nightlife during the summer
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is about a one-hour drive from Sandy Hook. A rental car is recommended.
Crandon Park is where it’s atMiami’s most popular kite spot is the watersport concession area Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. The area is carefully managed: to kiteboard, you must have IKO / PASA Level III certification, wear a helmet, register, and pay an entrance fee. You can learn about the rules here. You’ll be rewarded with some clear, flat to choppy waist-deep water and a huge area to play in. At low tide, you even get butterfat conditions, and if you venture a bit offshore, you’ll have some small waves to play in.
Matheson Hammock Park and Miami FlatsMatheson Hammock Park is the second major kiteboarding area in Miami, and, just like Crandon Park, it has the same tight rules and entry requirements. For butterfat water, head to Miami Flats, which works in all wind directions and is accessible by boat.
Miami has a tight morning and evening kiteboarding windowkiteboarding in Miami proper can be tricky, especially because kiting has repeatedly been banned, and rules regarding launching/landing are complicated. Because of this, the area is only recommended for advanced, independent kiteboarders. For now, kiting is tolerated and usually only possible when the beach isn’t filled with sunbathers or swimmers — so basically very early in the morning or after everyone leaves. Popular spots with deep, choppy water are between 23rd and 29th streets, 45th to 60th street, and north of 87th street. All of them offer only a small space for launching and landing. Stay away from the lifeguard towers (200 yards minimum) and areas supervised by lifeguards. Also, it’s best to keep a safe distance from swimmers and beachgoers.
Miami is incredibly special as a kiteboarding destination because we have warm weather year-round and nowhere else in the world can you kiteboard all day at some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, but then also enjoy endless choices for world-class dining, culture and nightlife.
Quote by Lauren Lipcon, TKS Miami Beach team rider
Miami - Good to Know
Beginners (if you go with a kite school) or independent intermediate to advanced kiteboarders
December–April. The wind is more constant from February onwards
Everything from light wind to storms. On average you’ll be riding on bigger kites, but advanced kiteboarders should bring all sizes for all conditions
Flat, choppy; small waves depending on the spot and tide
Long wetsuit in Jan and Feb; shorty from March–April (if there is a cold front coming in, a thin, long wetsuit can come in handy)
Kayaking, SUP, sightseeing, exploring Miami’s unique Art Deco architecture, visiting the theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios)
Miami International Airport (MIA) is the easiest airport to fly into. Downtown Miami is a quick 10-minute drive away. Crandon Park is another 5-10 minutes farther.
The Galveston Island BeachfrontThanks to a 5-mile-long dike, the water stays flat even with stronger winds and is protected from waves. There is a large grassy area to launch and land (and pack your kite sand-free). For wave riders, the Galveston Island beachfront from West Beach to the San Louis Pass offers an ideal kiteboarding spot with a sandy bottom. You can find directions to both locations here.
Houston - Good to Know
Beginner to advanced
March–May and September–November are ideal
In spring 10–20 knots and in fall up to 25–30 knots. Bring all kite sizes, but bigger is generally better
Flat and choppy
Boardshorts/bikini and a rashguard for sun protection
Wakeboarding (Wake Nation Houston or Hangar 9), e-foil, exploring Houston
From the Galveston Island kite spot, it’s around a 70-minute-drive to the Houston Airport (IAH) and 30 minutes to the city center. From the city center of Houston it’s around a 60-minute drive to The Levee.