a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
Kiteboarding in South Padre (SPI) – Part 1
Kiteboarding in South Padre (SPI) – Part 1

Kiteboarding in South Padre (SPI) – Part 1

As a Guide…

Hopefully this will serve as helpful guidance to someone kiteboarding in South Padre Island (SPI) for the first time. I have tried to put down some information that I wish I had known starting out. Going to a new place to kite can often feel intimidating.

Kiteboarding in South Padre - North Flats
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Andrew at the North Flats

Kiteboarding in South Padre – Launch Spots:

  1. South Flats (Convention Center)
  2. North Flats (SPIWK Membership)
  3. The Jetties (South End of the Island/Isla Blanca County Park)
  4. The End of the Road (North End of the Island)

The Laguna Madre & The Flats:

The Laguna Madre or Inland/Inter-Coastal side of South Padre Island offers one of the best places to kiteboard in the United States. The water is relatively smooth and waist deep for at least a mile out from land. Underwater the ground is soft and mucky (not too many rocks or coral to worry about here). Smooth waist deep water & wind? That’s perfect for kiteboarding!

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North Flats

Why SPI?

It is the perfect place to learn to kiteboard and a great place to practice. You can pretty much stop and stand anywhere in the water to take a break without fear of being pulled downwind or long body drags back to your board.

The large beach on this side of the island also gives you plenty of room to setup your lines and launch a kite. Most of the time there are plenty of fellow kiters around to help you launch and land. Bring a sand bag, water jug or something to safely secure your kite while setting up.

Kiteboarding in South Padre
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North Flats Launch Zone

Generally the wind cleans up the farther away you get from shore in the Flats. Just be wary that if the wind shuts off while you are out there, you may be in for a long walk or swim back. If you have any doubts about the wind stay closer to shore.

Also, pay attention to the tides and where you park in the Flats, you may need 4WD to get yourself out otherwise. As you get farther out, you may also encounter high-speed fishing boats. Occasionally, you may see Dolphins and other sea life in the Laguna Madre.

Collectively, what I call the “Flats,” can be broken down further into the North & South Flats as respective places to kite.

South Flats

The “South Flats” is located close to the Convention Center and is best suited for wind out of the North. The Convention Center Building itself and other structures create a wind-shadow & some turbulence for wind out of the South. Note that if you keep your kite at noon while on land here you can expect to be lofted in a gust sometimes. It is better as always to keep the kite low and go during a launch.

The South Flats is open to the public, so be aware of other non-kiting beachgoers, fisherman, and cars driving around here. This is a popular spot for catching sunsets in the evening.

Kiteboarding in South Padre - South Flats
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Sunset at the South Flats

North Flats

The “North Flats” is located further north of the Convention Center a couple of miles and requires an SPI Windsurfing Organization (SPIWK) Membership. The SPIWK Membership can be purchased for under $40 at some of the local kite shops (ProKite South Padre or AirPadre) and requires filling out a simple release form.

There is a gate by the main road that is kept locked and this area is generally not open to the public (it’s private property). As a result everyone is only here to kiteboard, foil, or windsurf. It is also a great social spot for kiters to talk everything kiteboarding (kind of like tailgating but for kiteboarders). To date you can also bring your dog here.

The North Flats is good for winds out of the South or North (particularly the South). It is a great spot to kite because you don’t have to worry as much about other beach goers and it has all the same perks as the South Flats (but without the wind-shadows).

Kiteboarding in South Padre
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North Flats

Safety Kiteboarding South Padre

Safety is always a top priority at the North Flats for the SPIWK Organization. For example, one of the big rules of the North Flats is always to setup and stay downwind of Windsurfers. There is nothing worse than a Windsurfer running over your lines and getting tangled while your kite is down. [Note that sometimes there can be a little bit of tribalism between kiters and windsurfers. But don’t worry. Just follow the SPIWK rules. Watch out for each other out there, be respectful, and have fun.]

This spot is an absolute blast to kiteboard due to the steady clean winds and shallow water. The community here is friendly and welcoming to kiters coming from anywhere. My thanks goes out to the hardwork of the SPIWK Organization for preserving this kite spot. This is truly a special place and its a privilege to kite here.

A Note on Foiling from the Flats

On lighter wind days you can foil the Flats, but you have to be mindful of the depth and tide. Often you have to walk out a ways for deep enough water. A lot of the locals here use a 24″ mast with their foils, but because the tide was low when I went I wished I had used an 18″ mast instead (I ended up doing some great crashes off the front of the foilboard). For the same reasons, I recommend riding your foilboard strapless here to avoid serious injuries.

The Gulf of Mexico:

Overall, the Ocean Side of South Padre is a lot busier with beachgoers, foodtrucks, bicycles, powered parachutes, fishermen, and other people driving on the beach. This makes the ocean side less ideal for launching and landing a kite.

On my next trip to South Padre, I plan to spend more time on the Gulf Side (Surfing and KiteSurfing). To date, I have really only stayed on the Laguna Madre side for kiteboarding visits to South Padre. Practicing jumps & spins with the twin tip, foilboarding, and/or riding strapless on the surfboard in flat water is hard to beat.

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Ocean Side

Next Time…

It will be a future challenge and kiting goal of sorts for me. I’m still somewhat new to wave riding. Maybe a downwinder to start with next time???

This is what I know so far the ocean can be a board eater! The water here is often tumultuous with multiple breaks and has a lot of rip current unlike the bay side. I have heard that experienced riders often have trouble here and that the ocean has claimed a great many boards. I have also witnessed a lot of kiters doing downwinders on this side.

“Another sacrifice to the Kite Gods!”is what my Dad likes to call it.

The Jetty

If you are looking for waves, check out the “Jetty”( or plural-jetties if you include Boca Chica) on the south end of the island. You can gain entry here through the Isla Blanca County Park. If you are kiting, watch out for surfers. This is considered one of the best spots to surf on the island. There are a lot of non-kiting beachgoers here too. Be careful where you set up.

The End of the Road

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End of the Road

On the north end of the island or at the end of the paved road, aka the “End of the Road,” you can also kite winds out of the north on the Gulf side. This seems like a good spot to practice kite control with a smaller kite or to use a landboard. The sand here is pretty soft and dune like.

Hopefully, I will be able to follow up with future trips, information, and insights on kiteboarding in SPI and other Kite Spots. I will try to follow up with the gear and kites that I used on our last trip to SPI and other helpful info.

Stay safe and stay stoked!!! Check out Part 2 of Kiteboarding in South Padre!

Thanks for following along. ~KiteBikeVan

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Kiteboarding in South Padre (SPI) Continued… – Jo"Van"Na

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