The southernmost point in Pinellas County, Ft De Soto is one of the best Kiteboarding sites for beginners or lessons in the area. It offers large areas of flat shallow water. If you want to ride while looking at your reflection in butter flat water, then this is the spot for you.
The park is headed up by Jim Wilson, who is a fan of kiteboarding and a very fair guy! Be safe, respectable, and do not abuse the freedoms of this spot. The park is made up of five keys totaling 1,136 acres of almost unspoiled natural surroundings. There is over six miles of beach along with two fishing piers, a historic fort built in 1898, picnic facilities, and 233 camping sites for less than $30 USD per night. Reservations for camp sites can be made by calling 727-582-2267 daily from 8:00 am – 9:00 pm EDT
PRECAUTIONS: It is mandatory that everyone is out of the park BEFORE sundown. Please pack up early and check the beach for trash. Kiteboarding is permitted throughout the island with the exception of North Beach within the boundary marked by the no boating buoys. This area includes the large lagoon (entire) and extends north towards Bunces Pass. Do not fly kites over beach users or swimmers, and STAY OUT OF THE SWIM AREAS! DO NOT WALK THROUGH THE MANGROVES WITH YOUR KITE IN THE AIR! It may be a good idea to wear booties here, many foot injuries have happened here. There is a mucky bottom with a variety of things that will cut you.
The Tampa Bay grass flats offer flat, shallow and warm water, which is perfect for progressing rapidly in the sport. Inside the sandbar the water is shallow, deep and choppy on the outside. At low tide, the water may be too shallow to ride here. High tides usually have water depths of 2’-4’ inside the sandbar.
This launch site can sometimes be quite crowded. Parking can be an issue when the beach is crowded. Please park uniformly along the road, creating more space to launch and set up kites. If you are new to the launch, please don’t hesitate to speak with the locals for tips and info regarding this site. Set up and launching of the kite can often be difficult due to limited space. Always launch kite towards the water and wind up your lines immediately after landing your kite. Beware of updrafts around mangrove areas, if you plan on riding on the “back side”, please carry your kite through the mangroves, or go around the East tip.
Best in NE-E-SE-S-SW winds.
GIVE WAY TO ALL WATER USERS, INCLUDING SWIMMERS, SURFERS, AND BOATERS. NO EXCEPTIONS! DO NOT RIG OR LAUNCH YOUR KITE ON CROWDED BEACHES. PLEASE RESPECT OUR CONTINUED EFFORTS TO MAINTAIN ACCESS. STAY OUT OF SWIM AREAS!
From the lagoon/pavilions north to Bunces Pass is North Beach. Park officials have restricted Kiteboarding inside the lagoon as well as inside the marker buoys. Rig, launch and ride on the north end towards Bunces Pass. Do not fly your kite over swimmers or beach users, and STAY OUT OF THE SWIM AREAS! New kiters are required to body drag out from shore past the swim area before water starting, to minimize risk to swimmers and beach users.
Park in the last parking lot and cross the pedestrian bridge for access. There is a sandbar just off the pass with some great swells during the winter cold fronts.
Best in N-NW-W-SW winds.
Just north of the Gulf Fishing Pier and south of North beach is Big Beach. This spot is generally un-crowded, especially in the fall/winter, Big Beach offers a large, obstruction free beach with side-on and onshore winds. Water on this side of the island is deep outside of the sandbar and the only potential hazards are a fishing pier and tower towards the southern end of the beach. Park out by the road and expect a long walk with your gear. Your work is rewarded with plenty of wide open beach and fewer beachgoers than North Beach. Do not fly your kite over swimmers or beach users, and STAY OUT OF THE SWIM AREAS!
Caution should be used throughout the waters especially during the stone crab season. Entanglement with a crab trap buoy or swim area marker is a potential risk with a kite down in the water. The buoys can grab a line and cause kite to re-launch unexpectedly.
Best in SW, WSW, W, WNW, NW winds.
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