Taking kiteboarding lessons in Florida is a great option for someone looking to break into the sport as well as the advanced rider. The water is warm, the wind is consistent, it is quick & easy to get to, and there are numerous great spots to learn & ride. We get calls and questions from clients all the time asking where to go to kiteboard in Florida so we decided to put together the following tips.
The Stuart Inlet is defined as the flats north of the Port Salerno Inlet, west of Sailfish Point, East of Sewall's Point, and South of the NE Ocean Boulevard Bridge. The Stuart Inlet is an incredible flat water riding spot with mangrove runs, hidden islands, and lots of places to explore on a twin tip. The bay is predominantly waist deep and great for beginners through advanced riders. As you go further north towards the bridge, it becomes deep enough to hydrofoil.
The Stuart Inlet is open to the public, but has a lot of users within the waterway - the spot is one accident away from having kiting banned. Stay away from all other boats you see out there, especially fisherman. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 100 yards away from anyone else on the water. The only viable way to access the Stuart Inlet is by boat using a boat launch. We run trips out to the riding area throughout the windy season (December - May) and take riders to the spot for a fee. Call us or email us to set up a ride along.
This spot can be kited in most wind directions as long as it is coming in from the ocean. Offshore breezes (anything with west in it) is coming off the land and tends to be extremely gusty. The bay is big enough that you can position yourself to get a good fetch (distance between sources of wind disturbance and you) and get a good breeze approach. Expect to ride 15m - 7m kites on average during windy season in December - May, trending towards bigger kites. SE sea breeze is the predominant wind and tends to build as the land heats throughout the day. NE frontal driven breezes tend to bring the strongest winds and are gusty and chilly.
The current tends to rip through the inlet either helping or hurting your ability to go upwind. Be wary of the direction of the current and where it flows fastest within the channels.
It can be extremely shallow in areas depending on tide, be careful of landing in shallow water and hurting yourself. There is also a ton of boat traffic flowing through the ICW and people partying on their boats on weekends. Stay clear of the ICW Channel no matter what!
There is a federally protected bird island on the west side of the channel close to Sewall's Point that you must stay 500 yards away from. As a rule of thumb, if you avoid going west of the channel, you shouldn't run into problems. South of the Hutchinson Island Marriott on the eastern edge of the inlet there is a bay. Stay out of that bay, it is a bull shark breeding ground!
If you go out, we recommend referring to Google Earth on your phone, it will tell you where the deep water channels and shallows run and where you are relative to them.
There is a thin, south facing strip of beach just under the Stuart Causeway Bridge (NE Ocean Boulevard) connecting Sewall's Point to Hutchinson Island. This spot is extremely advanced - if you mess up at all you are going straight into the bridge. You will hurt yourself, you will hurt others, and you will endanger access to all at the spot. That being said, it is a fun spot to ride and has deep water, making it a good spot for foiling.
Access to this spot is open, but also precarious. Numerous people who were not ready have gotten launched into the bridge, require rescue, and ruin the image of the sport. (This has also happened to people who were ready!) Do not launch here if you aren't a very competent kiter. Remember, do not self-launch, always ask for help, and be respectful of others using the beach to protect access.
This spot can only really be kited in south facing winds. Southeast is best as it is the cleanest breeze approach. It also works in SW breeze but it tends to be a bit gustier as the breeze is coming off the land. You can launch from the north side in north facing breeze, but you are entering the water down a rock wall and we don’t recommend it.
The current tends to rip through the inlet either helping or hurting your ability to go upwind. Be wary of the direction of the current and where it flows fastest within the channel in deep water. Stay upwind of the shoreline until you know 100% you are going to be able to hold upwind or risk getting sucked under the bridge.
The launch is extremely tight with a thin strip of beach just upwind of a bridge, bushes, trees, and cars. Be wary of your kite control and flying the kite into the bridge. The only clean breeze approach to launch here is from the south. We cannot reiterate enough - DO NOT launch here unless you know what you are doing.
There is also a ton of boat traffic flowing through the ICW and people partying on their boats on weekends. Stay clear of the ICW Channel no matter what!
This spot is not for you if you can't hold upwind quickly...there is nowhere to go if you get pulled downwind. If you do, recognize the situation, self-rescue, and get back to land safely.
There are three small beaches on the NW, SW, and NE corners of the Stuart (NE Ocean Boulevard) Causeway connecting Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island that are good spots for launching/landing from. These beaches are small with tight launches, affected by wind shadows, and tend to have other beachgoers on them.
Each of these beaches is open to the public with parking lots just a short walk from the beach. Keep in mind that other people use these beaches many days and they always have right of way. Do not endanger access.
The combination of these beaches will work in all wind directions on the compass rose with exception of S & SW as it comes straight off the land. For N, NE you can use the western causeway beach located north of the bridge on Sewall's Point. For N, NW you can use the eastern causeway beach north of the bridge on Hutchinson Island. For E, SE you can use the eastern causeway beach on the south side of the bridge on Sewall’s Point.
When you utilize the causeway corner beaches, the breeze is blowing straight onshore and you begin riding in a tight corner right next to the bridge. You must be able to hold upwind quickly and efficiently.
There are wind shadows, tight launches, and docks on these corner beaches. Walk well offshore when you go for launching, it will create more room for you to start holding upwind.
Be aware of the usual boat traffic of the ICW and shallow waters as you get out into the bay on the south side of the bridge. There is also strong current flow under the bridge that can hurt/help your ability to hold upwind. Be aware of which way it is going.
The strip of water between Hutchinson Island to the east and Jensen Beach to the west forms the ICW and is an awesome riding spot with chop for twin tipping and deep water for foiling. The US Sailing Center of Martin County offers an access point that is open to the public for a fee (daily, monthly, and annual memberships exist and support a great cause). It is a great spot for intermediate to advanced riders to go launch from but does have a tricky launch.
In order to launch at the US Sailing Center of Martin County you must be a member. Contact them about a daily, monthly, or annual pass and ask them how it all works at the Center.
The Sailing Center works in all directions on the compass rose with east in it. If it is due south through due north, it tends to be offshore or sideshore and extremely gusty close to shore.
The launch area is small with many boats around and bushes close by that cause a wind shadow. Since the waters off the beach at the USSCMC are waist deep for a while, you will need to walk offshore with your kite and launch it in the water to escape these wind shadows.
There can be sharp shells and other things in the water as you walk offshore, we recommend a pair of booties.
Be aware of boat traffic coming through the ICW and be aware of which way the current is going as it can either help or hurt your ability to go upwind. The riding here is mostly open ocean chop.
The oceanside riding in Stuart is one of the reasons we love living here most. From Stuart Rocks on the southern end of Hutchinson Island all the way up to the Fort Pierce Inlet, there are miles and miles of beach with rolling waves to do downwinders, hydrofoil, and rip on a surfboard. It is a true paradise for kiting.
The biggest thing to be aware of are other beachgoers and lifeguards. If you are at a public beach access point, walk well clear of all lifeguards in their chairs and crowds and rig up. Do not launch near crowds.
While you are riding, be careful of people swimming, surfing, and fishing and stay well offshore if there are crowds to avoid crashing your kite on anyone. The lifeguards are extremely friendly but ask you to stay away non-kiters which is entirely reasonable - there is plenty of room for everyone to play.
Hutchinson Island runs NNW to SSE. You can kite in all directions on the compass from due north through SE. As the breeze becomes more sideshore, it becomes gustier. Don’t go out if it’s coming from westerly directions or the south, as it will be blowing offshore and you don’t want to go to Portugal!
The waves on Hutchinson Island can get big and are generally breaking directly onto shore, meant for advanced riders. Don’t be afraid to body drag out past the break prior to trying to put your board on. When you are coming back in, time your approach and be wary of getting launched onto the beach.
There can be sharks in the water here and other sea life as with any ocean riding situation. Do not go further out than you are willing to swim back. Always ride with a buddy.