Last updated 5-26-2024

A guide to kitesurfing Skyway Beach.

Everything you need to know kiteboarding here. 

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Kiteboarding Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

St Petersburg, Florida, is home to the best kitesurfing conditions in the United States. Tampa, in general, is a sleeping giant that provides prime kiteboarding conditions in winter. We get consistent winds and have more kiteboarding spots than any other city in the country. The kiteboarding community here is massive and rivals Hood River, Oregon, and Hatteras, North Carolina, yet you won’t hear about Florida as much as these places. This means you’ll get perfect winds and prime conditions without the excessive crowds, yet you can still experience the vibes of a kitesurfing town.

It’s reminiscent of those quiet ski resorts in the 70s and 80s before they became overpriced tourist traps. You can feel the spirit of kiteboarding here and enjoy perfect kiteboarding beaches with your friends and our community of kiters. While there are many kite beaches in the greater Tampa Bay area, one beach that is worth visiting is Skyway Beach West. Chances are you’ve seen the iconic bridge in the background of kiteboarding photos here.

The main aspect of Skyway Beach West is how well it works for all wind directions, the kite shop support, access to kiteboarding schools, almost perfectly flat water depending on the tide, and a vibrant, stoked kiteboarding community that often goes for beers together after their sessions.

Skyway is my go-to destination every winter, and for good reason. In this blog, we'll share everything you need to know about kiteboarding Skyway Beach East, from the best wind directions on this side to what to expect and what to avoid.

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Table Of Content

  • Why you'll love kiteboarding Skyway Beach West.
  • What to expect kitesurfing Skyway Beach West
  • What you need to know when kiteboarding here.
  • What to avoid kiting here.
  • Why you need to take kiteboarding lessons at Skyway Beach.

Why you will love kitesurfing Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

Picture a small kiteboarding beach with extensive shallow riding for twintip kiteboarding and deep water access downwind for kite foil and wing foiling. Now imagine a small island with a channel behind it leading to an even larger flat water, shallow area that extends for a mile.

The beach is full of stoked kiteboarders from which to make friends or get a launch. The local kitesurf schools are always here teaching lessons out in the shallows and available for support if necessary. The main riding area is knee to ankle deep, depending on the tide, and generally relatively flat. This is prime for learning kitesurfing or trying new tricks. The wind is smoother the further out you go, and that's what makes this spot unique. The shallow riding area past the boat channel is massive! Despite the location's popularity, you can easily find ample space.

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To the North of the launch area, the water is about waist-to-chest deep and perfect for wingfoiling or kitefoiling. There is a small but growing community of wing surfers here, and the conditions are great for learning to wind wing.

The water depth helps keep some separation between the different sports practiced here. You might see kiters and wingers fighting over the same space in most kite locations, but not here. Everyone has plenty of room, and the community gets along interchangeably here.

Best Wind Directions for Kiteboarding Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

N, NE, SE 

Two beaches are located at Skyway, each working in various wind directions. Skyway Beach West works best with a northwest wind, a west wind, or a southwest wind. Northwest winds are more prevalent in the fall and winter months. This direction is gustier than the North on the other side of the beach on Skyway East.

The further you can get from the beach, the better the winds become. This works well because a vast riding area is shallow and forgiving far from the shore. Many riders like to ride close to the beach, but the wind will shift here as the land moves upwind and downwind, creating rotary winds. As the wind clocks west, you can anticipate smoother conditions, but likewise, it is better the further out you sail.

With this direction, the riding area is as big, but you’ll need to kite out further to find space. The shallow riding area is rectangular, so this direction makes the tacks shorter if you wish to stay in the shallows.

In the spring, around late February to April, there will be more and more southwest winds here. These are nice as you can kite at the edge of the shallows on low tide to find glassy water right where the deep water starts. This means you can kite on low tide in prime conditions!

Be mindful that with this direction, the wind is pushing you into the deeper waters, so if something goes wrong, you won’t be able to walk back in.

What to expect when kitesurfing Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

Take the 275 towards the Skyway Bridge. You'll take the rest stop exit on the St Pete side. Go to the west side near the rest stop. There's an access road that leads down to the beach. You'll reach the main beach, which has ample parking everywhere. This is all hardpack dirt and some sand. Be mindful of the road closest to the water, as getting stuck in the mud there is possible. Avoid any puddles, and you’ll be just fine.

The main beach has lots of parking but will fill up quickly in the morning with kitesurfers if the forecast looks good. I recommend parking in the back so you don’t get blocked in. Only park up front if you plan on being there all day for the session.

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How do I get to Skyway Beach?

You’ll see the shallow riding area and a tiny island right from the beach. To your right, you’ll find deeper waters perfect for wingfoiling or kitefoiling. You can set your gear up right next to the trees here, and there is an excellent wind shadow where you can seek shelter while setting up in the cooler morning temps. Looking past the island, you’ll see a clearly marked boat channel that you can also foil in.

Just past this is the main riding area, and there will usually be a few kiteboarding schools teaching on jet skis. Depending on the tide, you can set up along the shore for a long way down. You should check the tides, as they vary wildly here. Gear can get swept away during a session if you’re not paying attention.

There's always a group of kiteboarders here to support launch or land kites. You can always expect the Elite Watersports team to be here teaching if you have any questions about the spot.

What to be aware of kitesurfing Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

Skyway Beach West is one of Florida's best beginner kitesurfing beaches, but there are some things to be aware of. The bottom is mostly sand and sea grass, but many shells and oysters can be here. The island is a hotbed for oysters, so don’t ride next to it or be tempted to jump it.

The water is shallow, and there are too many risks. Keep a reasonable distance from the shore when riding on a northwest wind. Many trees are here, and getting your kite stuck there is possible.

On a south wind, be mindful of the deeper waters to the North. There is plenty of shallow water to walk out of, but if you are in a deep area, you might have to self-rescue and swim.

  • Yield right of way to all beach and water users.
  • Wear booties, as there are shells and rocks
  • The water gets deep to the south
  • Boats in the chanel 
  • Oysters by the island 

Why you should take Lessons at Skyway Beach West, St Petersburg, Florida.

Elite Watersports has served the Tampa and St Petersburg area for years. They offer kiteboarding and wingsurfing lessons. They also have a retail shop equipt with the latest kitesurfing gear. This is hands down the best location to learn kitesurfing. With everything we have covered in this blog, you can see why we operate our kiteboarding school here. Call today and reserve your spot for jet-ski-supported lessons. If the wind is blowing, we're going!

If you need help give us a call. .

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Ryan "Rygo" Goloversic


Kiteboarding St Petersburg

Skyway Beach West 

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