The best place for kiteboarding in Central Florida. A guide to kitesurfing Fort De Soto.
Kitesurfing has taken me around the world many times over. After many international kite trips, I’ve acquired a need to live somewhere with perfect kiteboarding conditions. With that goal in mind, I’ve spent the last few years seeking the best kiteboarding spots in the United States. During my travels, I started spending more time in St Petersburg Florida.
Florida is the best-kept secret in kiteboarding. There are thousands of locations to kitesurf, and more kitesurfing schools than any other state. If you want to learn to kite this is the place. Best of all, it’s warm all year round. Tampa Bay is particularly special for kiteboarding.
Why St Petersburg is amazing for kitesurfing.
Few cities are as accommodating for kiteboarders as St Pete. There are many access spots on Tampa Bay. We can ride in any wind direction. The beaches all have easy access, ample parking, and forgiving conditions.
Tampa Bay offers many shallow lagoon-like beaches for freeride and freestyle kiteboarding. On top of that, there are spots for wind winging, wave kitesurfing, or kitefoiling.
Kitesurfing locations like this are rare.
The best place to kiteboard in St Petersburg is Fort De Soto.
Skyway Beach is the most popular kite spot in Tampa Bay. You will find most kiteboarding schools operating here daily. The beaches here are awesome and what brought me here in the first place. After having spent a couple of seasons kiteboarding here I have found that my two favorite beaches here are Fort Desoto, East Beach, and North Beach.
In this blog, I'll share
- Why you will love kitesurfing Fort De Soto.
- What you need to know.
- What to avoid kiting here.
- The best times to kitesurf East or North Beach De Soto.
Fort De Soto Each Beach
Best Wind Directions
NE, E, SE, E.
This location works best with a North East, East, South East, or South Wind. North and North East winds are a little more gusty. Mainly because the wind is traveling over the land.
Wind traveling over land tends to be more turbulent. Winds coming from the East and the South are the smoothest here. Paired with the protective sandbar, it’s a perfect location to kite.
What to expect kitesurfing at Fort De Soto East Beach.
The launch area here is a mix of grass and wet sand. On a windy day, many other kiters will be parked along the road. It’s a forgiving beach with plenty of room to set up kites and launch or land. Be mindful as your kite can get muddy if you don’t pump up in the grass. I also recommend shoes. Sometimes the fire ants get feisty here.
If you are new, it’s best not to kitesurf alone. You can almost always find a kiter here to ride with. The community is strong and the vibes are high. Generally, there will be someone to launch or land your kite.
The riding area is huge and mostly shallow. It can be anywhere from 2 - 4 feet deep. Be mindful of low tide. The water can get too shallow. You’ll know because much of the bottom will be exposed.
Booties are recommended here. Much of the bottom of Tampa Bay is sand and sea grass but there are shells and oysters.
Why East Beach Fort De Soto is amazing for Kiteboarding.
East Beach has the smoothest wind in St Pete and less current. There is a large sandbar protecting the riding area from choppy water. Currents can impact how well we ride upwind, how easy it is to jump, and more. Having flat water and less current makes everything easier.
This beach is best for twintip kitesurfers. You can kitefoil or wind wing here. Be prepared to walk past the sandbar to find the deep water needed.
The Views of Skyway Bridge are spectacular
What to be aware of kitesurfing Fort De Soto East Beach.
- Paid Parking. Use the machines or you will get a ticket.
- Fire ants. Wear shoes while setting your kite up.
- Shells. Booties are highly recommended in the bay.
- Low tides. The water can get too low to kite here at times.
- Deeper water to the west. It's mostly shallow but there are deep areas.
- Mangroves downwind. There are some mangroves to be mindful of.
Fort De Soto North Beach
It’s important to note that we can't kite in certain areas here. Fort Desoto is a State park. To protect this amazing spot, only kitesurf in designated areas. Do not kite in the swim zones. All kiteboarding should be done on the northern edge. It’s a half-mile walk from the parking lot and well worth the effort.
Best Wind Directions
N, NW ,W, SW.
The best wind directions to kite here are North, North West, West, and South West.
North Beach is like traveling to the Caribbean. Clear turquoise knee deep water, and white sand beaches. Depending on the year the lagoon here rivals the lagoons of North East Brazil. Some years the lagoon is less protected than others. It might not be large enough to ride or perfectly flat.
This is my favorite beach in central Florida when it lines up! My best advice is to enjoy it when it’s on. But be respectful as the riding area is small. If there are more than a few kiters here, it is necessary to take turns to allow others to try jumps or freestyle tricks. Don’t just ride back and forth without looking.
A big air session with the Elite Watersports crew at North Beach Fort De Soto
The lagoon here isn’t the only attraction. The beach offers a large sandy launch area for multiple wind sports. If you are a big air kiter, a wing surfer, or a wave rider, ocean side here is the spot. The wave kickers here are fun and I’ve seen some great big air days here. If you are a kitesurfer, the wave action is all time. Albeit, unlike the east coast, the sets are closer intervals.
What to be aware of
- Parking is not free.
- The launch spot is ½ a mile walk.
- Strong ocean currents.
- Lagoon currents.
- Low tides.
- Avoid the swim areas. Keep our kite spots open.
At low tide, the lagoon can be too shallow to ride. You can always count on Skyway Beach when tides and wind do not line up here.
Where to stay if you are visiting.
Fort De Soto offers amazing camping as well. They have tent and RV sites available with reasonable rates. Spots here fill up fast so it's ideal to reserve in advance. If you are planing a kite trip to St Petersburg, the windy season is November - April. With the numerous locations that work on different wind directions there is a good chance you will score some wind on your trip.
Hopefully you found this guide to be helpful. If you're new to the area or just visiting give us a call. (727)-800-2202 We're happy to help out with local intel, lessons, and gear needs.