The following is a description of the different kiteboarding locations in San Diego.
Stinkies has the most consistent winds. It is a part of Mission Bay and has flat water, is surrounded by sand beaches, has lots of parking, bathrooms, and there is almost no boat traffic. On a typical north wind day it blows side shore relative to the launch. There will almost always be people to help launch/land your kite.
This is the location in San Diego that the SDKA (with input from the lifeguards) has designated as the spot to learn. It is an excellent spot for advanced flat water riding.
The city requests that we do not walk on the mini-island located in the downwind portion of the cove because it hosts an endangered species of plant.
Booties are recommended because there is sometimes glass and/or nails as there used to be fire rings located on the beach. Most people ride with no problems.
To get to Stinkies take the Sea World Drive exit off of Interstate 5 and head west. Follow signs to Fiesta Island (you can see it from the exit). Drive onto the island and the first cove you come to is Stinkies (about 3/4 mile from the entrance to the island). If you get to the fork in the road you have passed the cove and need to circle around the island. If there is wind you will see kites.
Sail Bay is an intermediate flat water spot. The winds and sandy beaches are OK for beginners, but there is often a lot of boat traffic (especially in the summer), the launch areas are small, there is a popular boardwalk adjacent to the launch, and there are buildings downwind of most areas.
Sail Bay has times when it is an open-speed zone for waterskiing and other powerboats. Kiteboarding is discouraged by the lifeguards during these times. Detailed information is at www.sannet.gov/lifeguards/safety/boatreg.shtml under “Special Use Areas”.
There is grass-like vegetation growing in the shallow water. It can be slippery and it has muscles with extremely sharp shells living in it. These shells cut feet and kites, especially at low tide. Be careful!
To get to Sail Bay exit interstate 5 at Sea World Drive and go west (towards the beach). Stay in the right lanes and exit on Ingraham (the exit that goes towards Mission Beach). After exiting, go straight over the first bridge and go left at the end of the second bridge at the light (Riviera). Sail Bay is now on your left.
The “Strand” is a state park that has sandy beaches and surf. The winds are usually side-onshore and steady, but many days the wind can be onshore. There is a lot of open beach downwind from the launch. This is an intermediate to advanced spot mostly because of the surf zone (constant beach break).
The lifeguards have requested that all kiteboarding take place south of the southernmost open parking lot. If they open a new lot south of where you are riding, please move down the beach until you are south of the new open lot. Beach-goers have absolute priority here (by law) so all riding must be downwind of anyone on the beach or in the water.
The vegetated sand dunes just south of the park entrance is protected bird habitat. Please fly your kite so that it is not over the beach, and so it does not cast a shadow in this area. The lifeguards shut down riding if we do not follow these guidelines.
Silver Strand State Beach is located about 15 minutes south of downtown San Diego. Take interstate 5 south past downtown and follow the signs to Coronado. You will go over a large bridge (the Coronado bridge). After you leave the bridge take a left at the first light (Orange). Follow this road for a while until you pass the large Navy obstacle course (on your left). The next exit (a mile or so down the road) leads to the Strand. Exit, turn left and park on the street in the Coronado Cays. Walk your gear to the beach and set up and ride south of the lifeguard tower.
EXPERT ONLY LOCATION! Potentially large surf, gusty winds, and very crowded conditions. Lots of surfers and kiters together in a small location. If you are not staying upwind and riding safely with control the lifeguards can call all kites off the water. Expect locals to approach you and discuss your skill if they do not know you. Please understand that this is not territorial localism. Tourmaline was almost shut down to kiting so locals are very protective. If you are skilled you will be welcomed.
San Diego is usually a light wind area. Most days with wind will range from 8-15 m.p.h. In the winter storms can bring higher winds. Most people use kites in the 14-16 m² range. Check www.ikitesurf.com for most accurate wind info.
You will need a full suit in the winter with water temps in the mid to upper 50′s. Most people wear 3 or 4mm. Many people wear thick rash guards under their suits. In the summer a spring suit or less is often enough with water temps in the mid to upper 60′s.
After a rain, or when there is a known sewage spill, the water can be contaminated. Call the recorded message at 619-338-2073 for the current water quality report or visit www.earth911.org
There is nowhere in San Diego to rent gear for kiteboarding, but for lessons are available.
If you need any more information please feel free to email us, and we hope you have a great time in San Diego!