This is not your grandparentsâ€™ Florida! When you visit, youâ€™ll ask yourself, â€œWhy havenâ€™t I come here before?â€Â The answer to that question is that the Tampa Bay area is fast emerging for its outstanding beaches and artisticÂ vibe. Building on a foundation of spectacular white sandy beaches, sparkling clear waters, surrounded by palmÂ trees, a warm breeze, and even warmer people, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater region has rightly earnedÂ its reputation as one of the best places to live in the country. Leading the charge is St. Petersburg, which isÂ now experiencing the biggest downtown building boom in its history, investing nearly a half-billion dollars toÂ change the face of this once-sleepy vacation haven for retirees. Of particular note is the newly constructed St.Â Pete Pier, part of a 26-acre transformation of the St. Petersburg waterfront into a dynamic recreational andÂ entertainment district that responds to a young and active populationâ€™s needs and wants. You might find
localÂ kiters passing by the bridge on our famous 10-mile flat water downwinder from Lassing Park to the bridgeâ€™sÂ east side. Stop by during the spring and enjoy the flat butter water. With that being said, the best location forÂ kiteboarding is on a little island off of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The North Skyway Beach is home to theÂ local kiteboarders and visitors. The tight-knit community of riders of all skill levels kite from sunrise to sunsetÂ and spread the stoke by talking with anyone and everyone about our beloved sport.Â
IDEAL DISCIPLINES: Kiteboarding | Foilboarding | Wingsurfing
CLOSEST AIRPORT:Â Tampa International Airport (TPA) or St. Pete/Â Clearwater/Tampa (PIE), which is an airport for smallÂ airlines like Sun Country and Allegiant.
DISTANCE TO LOCATION:Â Tamp International Airport (TPA is 29 miles or 28 minutes,Â not during rush hours. St. Pete/Clearwater/Tampa (PIE)Â is 21 miles or 22 minutes, not during rush hours.
TRANSPORT TO LOCATION:Â Use Uber if it is a quick trip, but if you stay for a week orÂ more, rent a car.
BEST SEASON:Â The windiest months are October through May.
WIND RANGE: The high season is between 15-35 knots.
WATER TEMPERATURE: The winter water temperatureÂ averages between 59-63Â° F while the summer waterÂ temperature averages 80-90Â° F. Typically, we use a 4/3 fullÂ suit during the winter with either a Playa or Mystic jacketÂ and a 3/2 full suit or shorty with long arms for the spring.
OFF-SEASON:Â The off-season is between June and September. However,Â with hurricane season, we can also get a few days of wind,Â so it really depends.
LOCAL RULES/SAFETY HAZARDS:Â There are trees and mangroves on the west side of theÂ bridge, so you have to be careful when launching andÂ landing your kite. There is also a boat channel on theÂ west side that you can cross, but if anyone needs help orÂ assistance, there are people with jet skis that will rescueÂ you. If there is a swimming zone, you cannot kite there;Â these places include St. Pete Beach or Pass-a-Grille BeachÂ public beach access.
LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS:Â Typically anything close to St. Pete Beach is a good choiceÂ because you are also close to a second location called EastÂ Beach at Fort Desoto Park.
Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove is the closest to the North SkywayÂ Beach kiting location, but you have to call for prices. AirbnbsÂ located from St. Pete Beach to the downtown St. Pete areaÂ are also ideal.
Trade Winds is perfect if you have kids and ranges from $190Â upwards. Sirata is also another good spot for kids and hasÂ beachfront access to jet ski, parasail and enjoy other activities.Â Rooms start at $143. Hotel Zamora is within walking distanceÂ to the beach but does not have on-site access. It has a poolÂ and is located on a canal on St. Pete Beach. Prices start atÂ $144 per night.
Don Cesar is the luxury five-star historic pink hotel with roomsÂ starting at $299. Grand Plaza is a perfect spot for a coupleâ€™sÂ getaway; they have the spinning restaurant on the top with theÂ best view of the sunset and an excellent outdoor restaurantÂ called Bongoâ€™s that has live music steps from the entrance.Â Rooms start at $243 per night. The Vinoy is a downtown locationÂ perfect for kiters looking for nightlife just a walking distanceÂ away and close to the marina for $254 per night.
LOCAL CUISINE:Â You can live decently for $25 a day all the way to $100 for food.Â For seafood, RumFish Grill is high end, Doc Fordâ€™s is located atÂ the new pier right on the water; be sure to say hi to local kiterÂ Dustin! The Wharf is located on Pass-a-Grille Beach; you canÂ park your boat or drive, or Sea Salt is on the expensive side butÂ well worth the food found on Second Ave North in downtown St.Â Pete. If youâ€™re looking for Italian, Bella Brava, Tony and Nelloâ€™sÂ are great, and Tierra Verda is perfect for on your way home fromÂ a session at Fort Desoto Park. If youâ€™re into sushi, check outÂ Sushi Inc, Lemon Grass, Basil Leaf or Hawkers Asian StreetÂ Food. For Mexican, try Ceviche, Red Mesa Cantina, CasitaÂ Taqueria, Grand Hacienda or Bodega. Oak and Stone has 50Â different local beers on tap, pizza and the best gouda Mac andÂ cheese. If you want hot wings, Fergâ€™s Sports Bar is the placeÂ to go. Bongoâ€™s is right on the water and has live music perfectÂ for sunset. For breakfast, the Seahorse Cafe has everythingÂ and is ideal for people who are picky eaters. Stellaâ€™s is anotherÂ awesome local breakfast spot, and Karma Juice Bar and EateryÂ has the best acai bowls. You can get your coffee buzz on atÂ Black Crow Coffee, Intermezzo, Addicted to the Bean or BanditÂ Coffee Co.
WHY JACLYN SEHR RECOMMENDS THIS SPOT:
Elite Watersports is a fully operational kiteboarding, winging, foiling (including electric), andÂ wakeboarding school started by Aaron McClearnon in 2008. In 2015, Aaron opened a brick andÂ mortar store to better serve the area and, since then, he and his team have taught over 2,800Â hours a year and helped spread the stoke to around 550 students annually. Elite WatersportsÂ operates in sunny St.Petersburg, Florida. Lessons are at the Skyway Bridge because itâ€™s perfectÂ for almost all conditions Mother Nature throws at us. As part of the community, we have beenÂ able to create not only an amazing culture that helps each other but the environment as well.Â Aaron has instilled this vision of taking care of what you have, and nature will take care of you.
Elite Watersports â€“ https://elitewatersports.com/
Clearwater Kiteboarding â€“ https://clearwaterkiteboarding.com
Watersports West â€“ https://www.watersportswest.com
Kiteboarding St.Petersburg â€“ http://kiteboardingstpetersburg.com
Kiss the Sky Kiteboarding â€“ https://www.kisstheskykiteboarding.com
Ikitesurf â€“ https://wx.ikitesurf.com/spot/159397
Sail flow â€“ https://www.sailflow.com
Windy â€“ https://apps.apple.com/us/app/windy-wind-weather-forecast/id997079492
Bay News 9 â€“ https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/weather/marine
THE ONE THING EVERYONE MUST DO:Â Kiteboard, of course! Then check out the new pier in downtown St. Pete or head out to Shell Island for the day.
NON-WIND ACTIVITIES:Â Rent a jet ski or go parasailing with Suncoast Watersports, take the ferry to Egmont Key and look for sharkÂ teeth, rent an Onewheel for the day or take an E-foil lesson from Elite Watersports. Go indoor rock climbing orÂ go-kart racing or visit the Dali Museum.
Tkb’s North American Travel GuideÂ is chock full of destinations like this. Get the digital roadmap to more nooks and crannies than you could ever hope to explore in a North American season. Whether youâ€™re into kiteboarding, foilboarding, snowkiting or wingsurfing, this guideâ€™s got all the in-depth travel info and insider intelÂ you need to plan your next North American kiteboarding adventure.Â If you’re already a Tkb subscriber, log into your account to view the entire North American Travel Guide Guide for free.