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Kiteboarding Tourist Attractions in the US


The Outer Banks of North Carolina, also known as OBX, is considered one of the premier destinations in the U.S. for the thrilling water sport of kiteboarding. With vast stretches of coastline, shallow and calm waters, and top-notch accommodations, OBX provides the perfect playground for kite enthusiasts to indulge their passion.

I learned to kiteboard in the turbulent waters of Cabarete, Dominican Republic, where towering waves and a sea filled with fellow kiteboarders were the norm. Flat water was not a concept there. So, when I first arrived at Pamlico Sound on the Outer Banks, I was amazed at the progress I made in the expansive and shallow flatwaters. Not only did I improve my skills, but I also found the experience to be more enjoyable and comfortable for my body

The Outer Banks is a world of its own. Something changes as you traverse the long bridge over the expanse of water towards this narrow stretch of sand. The Outer Banks resonates with whispers of ancient pirate legends, is filled with untouched natural beauty, and offers an unparalleled charm of laid-back beach vibes.

With the brisk winds and a coastline stretching 200 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound, it's no wonder that wind sports enthusiasts have been flocking here for years. It all began with windsurfing in the 1980s, and later, as kiteboarding gained popularity, it transitioned to kiteboarders – the individuals you now see gracefully gliding above the water.

Currently, the Outer Banks is dotted with renowned beach towns known for their ideal kiteboarding conditions. Some, like Salvo, Waves, Rodanthe, and Hatteras, are brimming with amenities, ranging from hotels and kite shops to restaurants and beachwear stores. Other places, such as Ocracoke, are more remote but offer extraordinary conditions for those seeking a unique journey.

Kiteboarding locations with names like Wash Out, Real Slicks, Kite Point, Buxton Flats, D Spot, SDU, and Planet of the Apes consistently captivate your imagination and will not let it go

The Best Season for Kiteboarding in Outer Banks

The key to an extraordinary kiteboarding trip to the Outer Banks is choosing the right time to go. The OBX kiteboarding season runs from April to October, with spring and fall offering the best conditions. You'll find that south winds dominate during the warmer months, and as fall approaches, the winds shift towards the northeast.

In the spring, lightweight wetsuits are necessary as the water is still cool, while in the fall, you'll be fine wearing shorts or swimwear unless the weather is overcast, in which case a lightweight wetsuit will come in handy.

A variety of kites is essential; if you're visiting for a week, consider wind speeds ranging between 12-25 knots, with some days when the wind is not suitable except for those who enjoy kite play. On my last seven-day trip, I brought twin-tip boards and kites from CORE in sizes 7, 9, 11, and 13.5 meters, and used them all.

If you're looking for additional gear or feel the need for one or two new kites, Real Watersports and Kitty Hawk Kites have extensive showrooms filled with the latest equipment and knowledgeable staff ready to answer any questions. Rental equipment is also available.

Interested in taking lessons to try this sport or perfect your technique? Both operations have spacious kite schools with qualified instructors who will refine your transitions, jumps, or rolls in no time. I myself have taken lessons here in the past

Your kiteboarding location on the Outer Banks

Your kiteboarding location on the Outer Banks depends on two main factors: wind direction and your skill level. Most kiteboarders choose Pamlico Sound as their main destination. The water in most riding areas is waist-deep, with some areas even shallower and sandy bottomed. Three popular spots suitable for beginners to experts are Salvo Day Use area, The Washout, and Kite Point. Salvo Day Use, also known as SDU, has plenty of parking spaces and bathrooms with showers for easy cleanup after a day on the water. The only drawback is the relatively small launch area, and if the wind is blowing to the east, launching and landing can be challenging. This is my favorite spot; the atmosphere here is quite laid-back, and it's usually a quiet place on the water. As a beginner, if you encounter any issues, it's relatively easy to walk back to the launch area. The Washout (also known as Isabel's) is a fun area with plenty of space to ride, shallow sandy bottoms, and decent parking. It's a great spot to visit when the northeast wind is blowing, with the only downside being the small launch and landing area. Beware of the poles in the shallow waters to the south; they're fish traps and kite killers! Kite Point is located half a mile south of the Haulover Day Use area south of Avon. Miles of shallow water and easy access make this one of the best spots in the entire OBX. It's a great spot for beginners too, but it can get crowded. Note that the sand near the highway is very deep, and if you don't have a 4X4 vehicle, you might get stuck. A better option is to park at the Haulover Day Use area and kite to and from Kite Point. This location is most suitable for NNE to NNW winds. Kiting along the coastline is another option for kiteboarding adventures. If you're skilled at navigating the vast shore breaks, you'll have endless opportunities to ride the ever-present large waves. If you enjoy surfing, the waves are stable and the size is perfect for pulling off tricks

Wind Chasers

If you're tired of "mowing the lawn" and crave a more challenging experience, an OBX downwinder is the answer. One of the most popular routes is from the Kitty Hawk launch site to the Salvo Day Use (SDU) landing. This approximately 3.5-mile route allows you to access one of the best flatwater spots in OBX - Real Slicks. This beautiful flatwater area is a kiteboarding paradise with smooth water and ample space to run. It's suitable for intermediate kiters.

For more advanced riders, the Planet of the Apes downwinder is a must-do. On days with north to northeast winds, starting from the Salvo Day Use Area, head south, passing and crossing countless grass islands for a whopping 48-mile journey. Navigate narrow rivers with shallow water and (hopefully) find your way back to civilization. Along the way, make sure to spend some time in the expansive waters behind No Ache Island to enjoy the best flatwater in the country. In my opinion, this downwinder is somewhat intimidating, not because of the kiting (which is amazing), but due to the isolation and the awareness that if something goes wrong, you're still very far from anywhere.

It's a wilderness area with no homes, so make sure your group knows their destination, and your equipment doesn't let you down. If you venture into the channels, keep your kite high; dropping it in the grass will ruin your kite session quickly. If the wind is blowing from the southwest, simply reverse your starting point to the 48-mile marker.

For a truly epic journey, start from Kitty Hawk Kites, embark on a downwinder to SDU, take a break, and then continue on to Planet of the Apes until you reach the takeout at the 48-mile marker

Windless Days

The best thing about the Outer Banks is that on days when the wind isn't blowing, you won't be short of adventures and relaxation. Bask in the sunshine on the quiet beaches, paddleboard across the sounds, explore historic lighthouses, and shop for souvenirs or gear at local stores. And for those who prefer more active pursuits, try your luck fishing at the Avon or Nag's Head piers, or venture offshore for deep-sea fishing. The possibilities are endless on the Outer Banks.

Final Thoughts

Wherever you reside, typical days often look like this: wake up, check the wind forecast, have a quick breakfast, then head to the beach. Post-kiting usually involves soaking in a hot tub to recap the day's adventures, followed by a group dinner or a trip to one of the best local restaurants like Waterman's Grill. Evenings can run late or early morning, all depending on the day on the water.

The Outer Banks is more than just a charming North Carolina region – it's a haven for kite enthusiasts. With its renowned kiteboarding sites, this area offers a range of dynamic experiences for both novice and expert kiteboarders. Whether you're exploring the shallow waters of Kite Point, tackling challenging waves along the coastline, or embarking on an epic upwind journey from Kitty Hawk through Planet of the Apes, the adventure is always exhilarating, and I hope it continues from year to year

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