Squamish is the outdoor recreation capital of Canada, and it offers this outdoor recreation at a world-class level. Located a short one hour drive from downtown Vancouver, Squamish makes it easy to escape city life to a landscape surrounded by steep cliffs and tree-filled mountains. The kiteboarding spot is along a dike road far out into the bay, which means the wind is incredibly steady, and on the downwind side by the jetty, the water is butter flat. Venture out into the bay to enjoy the huge rock cliffs that tower over you on both sides—it truly is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and the conditions are there to match. The kite community is very connected, meaning you’ll meet all the regulars when you’re at the spit and ride with them every day following. Squamish has grown into a town that offers all types of cuisine and activities but still has the relaxed vibe and community of a small mountain town.
Kiteboarding | Foilboarding | Wingsurfing
Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
DISTANCE TO LOCATION:
The drive from Vancouver to Squamish is about 77 miles and takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.
TRANSPORT TO LOCATION:
Taxis in Vancouver and Squamish are not cheap, and our Uber and Lyft coverage is lacking. The best call, if you plan to kite often and explore, is to rent a vehicle. The Squamish Spit is down a maintained gravel road that any car can handle, but taxi’s don’t appreciate. If you choose the taxi route, it will be roughly $225 USD for a one-way trip from the airport to Squamish.
From May through August, you can count on non-stop wind on sunny days. April and September can be great, but generally have fewer sunny days to get the thermal wind blowing in the desired southwest direction.
The wind blows a steady 20-24 knots nearly every single day it is windy.
The average air temperature in Squamish during the summer is 77° F. The water isn’t as comfortable at a cool 50° F due to the mountain river runoff, so, depending on preferences and how long you spend in the water, most riders wear anywhere from 3/2mm up to 5/4mm full wetsuits.
Squamish wind is thermal driven, so when the weather gets cloudy and cold, the wind is non-existent. Typically, the months between October and March lack wind and are quite chilly.
LOCAL RULES/SAFETY HAZARDS:
The Squamish Spit is managed by the Squamish Windsports Society (SWS), which offers air compressors, mats for launching, a live wind meter, and jetski retrieval in the case of gear malfunction etc. There is a membership fee to ride: $20 Day Pass or $180 for the season.
The spot is offshore with a protected estuary downwind and a shipping terminal to the east, both of which should be avoided. Without the SWS managing the area and assuring the city that we can kite safely without crossing into protected and hazardous zones, we wouldn’t have kiting in Squamish.
Squamish lodging ranges from hostels for $50 USD per night to hotels at $150 USD per night. The options range from shared living spaces with bunk beds up to 4-star hotels, with tons of choices between those price ranges along with Airbnb rentals. There are also numerous campgrounds around the area. The downtown area is ideal for those who would like to explore the waterfront, bars, and restaurants without driving for every outing.
The most budget-friendly lodging in Squamish is The Squamish Adventure Inn & Hostel, within walking distance to downtown. They have private rooms with washrooms as well as traditional hostel rooms with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. There is also a shared kitchen for guests. The lodging offers an amazing view of the famous Squamish Chief mountain to the east.
The ‘go-to’ for a reasonably priced 3-star accommodation is the Best Western Mountain Retreat Hotel ( $100 USD/night). Located north of downtown, it is off the side of the highway, roughly 5 minutes from downtown Squamish. The hotel offers a pool, workout room, and conference room. Individual rooms vary from single bed and bathroom to suites with a kitchen and two beds.
The most luxurious hotel around Squamish is the Executive Suites Hotel & Resort. The nightly rate is $150 USD. The hotel offers large outdoor grass areas, an outdoor bar, pool, workout room, and restaurant. The hotel is located further out from downtown Squamish with a 10-minute drive into town.
The local cuisine is very multicultural, with options for virtually any type of food one could ever want. My personal recommendations include Sunny Chibas, a Mexican cantina that many kiters enjoy after a long kite session ($10 USD burritos), The Watershed Grill that has it all with a location on the river and offers a great brunch, lunch and dinner ($14 USD meals), and Sushi Sen, an awesome sushi dinner restaurant ($4 USD per roll). Squamish is a reasonably average priced location for food. Expect to spend roughly $40-50 USD per day on meals.
Aerial Kiteboarding – www.theaerialstore.com
North Shore Ski and Board – www.northshoreskiandboard.com
www.squamishwindsports.com – Includes current wind and statistics, links to wind forecasts, tides, membership purchases, events.
www.weather.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=02&siteID=06400 – Government Canada Forecast. They generally under forecast so expect stronger than is shown.
www.windguru.cz/3612 – Great for forecasting cloud cover which affects the thermal. Look for clear skies. Ignore the wind speed in this forecast! It is wrong. It does not account for thermals or the Venturi effect which adds 15-20 knots.
WHY JACK RIEDER RECOMMENDS THIS SPOT:
“As a sponsored athlete for Airush Kiteboarding and AK Durable Supply Co., I’m lucky enough to travel around the world experiencing tropical kite spots, but I still have to say Squamish is my favorite. The wind is incredibly steady, it blows every day in season, and there are countless other outdoor activities to do when you need a break from the non-stop wind.”
THE ONE THING EVERYONE MUST DO:
Every person that visits Squamish should hike the Chief. The Squamish Chief is a very manageable hike that brings one out to a peak of the Squamish area with a view of the Howe Sound, downtown area, and neighboring mountains. It offers an amazing perspective on the ruggedness of the west coast landscape.
The best thing about Squamish is there is always something to do outside. Squamish is home to world-class biking trails, mountain climbing, slacklining, hiking, and much more—choose a sport, and Squamish has got it. If you come in the spring, you could even sneak in a ski or snowboard session before you go kiteboarding in the afternoon.
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