Last updated 2-27-2024

A guide to kitesurfing Picnic Island

Everything you need to know. 

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Kiteboarding and Wing Foiling Picnic Island

Tampa Bay has some of the best kitesurfing spots in all of Florida, arguably some of the best kiteboarding spots in the United States. There are many reasons to make this case. To name a few; The abundance of beaches, beginner-friendly conditions, the consistency of wind, and the fact that you can find somewhere to kitesurf in any wind direction.

If you live in the city of Tampa, a popular location is Picnic Island Park. Known simply as Picnic to the local kiters. Located in southwest Tampa, this is a convenient and beautiful kitesurfing location. There is ample deep water. This is a huge draw for kitefoiling and wingfoiling. Depending on the wind direction, you can find some flat water here. This blog will share everything you need to know. 

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Table Of Content

  • Why you will love kitesurfing Picnic Island
  • The best wind directions to kitesurf Picnic Island.
  • What you need to know when kiteboarding here.
  • What to avoid kiting here.
  • Where to get kitesurfing lessons in Tampa

Why Picnic Island is great for kitesurfing, wing foiling, or kite foiling.

Skyway Beach is the most popular kitesurfing location in the greater Tampa area. It's also a bit of a drive from Tampa if you’re on a time crunch. Luckily, there is an amazing kite launch nearby. At Picnic Island Park, you’ll find scenic beaches, trees, and access to deeper water for wing foil or kite foil here. There is ample parking near the boat ramp.

The kite beach is a short walk through the grass. There is plenty of room to rig your kiteboarding or wing-foiling gear on the beach. The water near the shore is somewhat shallow and offers extra room to launch your kite.

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The main attraction here is easy access to deeper water. Most of Tampa Bay's kitesurfing beaches are shallow. This is a huge draw for kiteboarders looking for flat water. Picnic Island is one of a few beaches that is more accommodating to the hydrofoil crowds.

Heads up, the water can be choppier here than other kite beaches like Skyway Beach or Fort Desoto in St Petersburg. For foiling this is a non-issue.

Actually most Florida kite locations have chop. We are spoiled to have so many perfectly flat water locations in Tampa Bay. This however is not always one of them. Wind direction and rider level play a roll here. 

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Best Wind Directions for Kiteboarding Picnic Island.


This location works best with a southwest, west, or northwest wind. These directions will be the smoothest and the safest. Looking at the map, you can see southwest wind will be smoother here.

This is because it has plenty of unobstructed travel through the bay before reaching the beach. A west or northwest wind does travel over the city. It’s still good but not quite as smooth.

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On a northwest wind, you can kite on the southern tip of the park to find flat water. Be aware this is for experts only. There is ample room but If something goes wrong, you will drift towards the Air Force base. Expect a military escort and potentially a fine.

If you are new we recommend avoiding Picnic Island Park and taking kiteboarding lessons. Elite Watersports has a kitesurfing school based in Tampa Bay. They choose to teach on freeride kites. It’s good for their students and fun for the instructors to use after a lesson.

What to expect when kitesurfing at Picnic Island

The launch area at Picnic Island is easy but be mindful of sand spurs in the grass. Inspect the area before pumping up. Shoes are recommended as well. The water near the shore is shallow. This means you can walk out little if you need extra room to launch a kite. 

Generally the water here is deep. You can't walk back in if something goes wrong. St Petersburg offers many shallow beginner locations. This is not one of them. Only kite out as far as you are willing to swim back in.

Admittedly this advice is common knowledge at most kiteboarding beaches. We bring it up in this blog because most of Tampa Bay is beginner-friendly. If you are no stranger to kiteboarding on the ocean, Picnic Island Park is going to be an easy kite location for you. There is no shorebreak or large wave to deal with 

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Kitefoiling here is convenient and fun. You won’t have to worry about shallow areas or sandbars to get in the way. Even better, you won’t have to walk a long way to find deep enough water. The park is nice and a great place to post up for the day with the family as well.

Picnic Island is best for intermediate to advanced kiteboarders. We encourage beginners to ride at Skyway Beach. If you’re a kitefoilers chances are you are more than advanced enough to kitesurf here. The same can be said for wing foiling.

The only issue here is choppy deep water. A wing surfer would have no issues paddling their board back to shore. A kitesurfer who had to flag their kite out might have an issue drifting to far downwind on the back side of the island. If you are not sure, play it safe and stay where the wind is onshore here.

What to avoid kiteboarding here.

Picnic Island Park is an amazing place to kiteboard on short notice. With a nice park, a nice launch area and ample deep water its hard to beat. There are a few things to watch out for. 

•Tampa Bay has shells. Wear booties
• Sand Spurs in the grass. Watch out when pumping your kite or wing.
• Be mindfull of the boat channel north of the island.
• Stay away from the Air Force base. There are signs in the water. 
• This is not a shallow water location.

Twintip kiteboarding is fun here. Especially for experienced riders looking to ride on the southern tip. Be mindful that if the wind shuts off or something happens, you will be swimming back in. Skyway Beach is more beginner-friendly and offers plenty of shallow flat water. If you are here to kite foil or wingfoil it's going to be amazing. Just stay away from the Air Force base and boat channel.

Need help with gear or booking a lesson?  

Elite Watersports has served the St Petersburg area for years. They offer kiteboarding and wingsurfing lessons. They also have a retail shop equpit with all of the latest kitesurfing gear. 

If you need help give us a call. .

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Ryan "Rygo" Goloversic


Kiteboarding Tampa

Picnic Island Kiteboarding

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