Kiteboarding Travel Guide: Squamish BC Canada - Destinations EP 04
Wind by Season
The best time to ride in Squamish is during their official kite season - from May 15 to September 15. Outside of this season, the air and water temperature can be quite cold and not kiter friendly. The wind is very steady throughout the summer, and most summer days mean wind of 18-35mph. Wind in Squamish is typically not gusty. As long as the skies are clear, you can expect good conditions for kiteboarding nearly every day of summer. Be sure to check the current weather conditions and status of the spot at Squamish Windsports Society.
Squamish is the outdoor adventure capital of Canada, and brings adrenaline seekers from around the world. This is a major hotspot in the climbing community, with thousands of climbing routes all around the area and the famous Stawamus Chief towering over both the town and the kite spot. There's plenty to do when the wind isn't blowing like whitewater rafting, mountain biking, bungee jumping, kayaking, hiking, and camping.
There is very little in the way of waves at this spot - mainly some wind swell and small river waves.
There is an epic piece of flatwater below the launch site called the Honey Hole, and when the tide is low and the sandbar is visible, there is plenty more flatwater throughout the spot. Even on high tide and windy days, that water is still relatively flat near the launch spot.
This spot is not very beginner friendly and suits experienced kiteboarders best. If you are riding independently from the Spit, your minimum level should include the ability to ride upwind and self rescue your kite .You can do kiteboarding lessons here off boats and jetskis, and the kite schools have all the equipment you need to handle the cold water.
Quick kiting Contacts
- Kiteboarding lessons - Aerial Kiteboarding
- Kiteboarding lessons - Sea to Sky Kiteboarding
- Spot information - Squamish Windsports Society
- Tourism info - Explore Squamish
- Rock climbing - The Mountain School & Squamish Routes
- Mountain Biking - Garibaldi Provincial Park
- Downhill Mountain Biking - Whistler MTB Park
- Hiking - Top 7 Trails
- Guided Tours - Squamish Adventure
- Sightseeing - Sea to Sky Gondola & Sea to Sky Air
- Visit Whistler - Whistler Tourism
Squamish is about 90 minutes drive from Vancouver, a major international airport (YVR). American visitors will need a passport to visit this spot, but do not need a visa for a tourism based visit. This spot requires a vehicle, both to get to Squamish, to get to the kite spot, and even to get around town. Squamish is not a very walking friendly spot unless you're really into walking! The town has several hotels, cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Kiteboarding Spot Guide
On the west coast of Canada, somewhere between Vancouver and Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway is the town of Squamish - a natural paradise that lures adventurers from around the world. This hidden gem happens to be one of Canada's most beautiful kite spots.
Most kiters have some difficulty seeing the appeal of riding in a glacier-fed river... but the only way to know is to go. These towering mountains, the thick forest, and the cold water are all part of the package. Those brave enough to face the challenge will have the reward of kiting in an intensely beautiful destination. It’s hard to put into words the magic of this spot.
We’ll give you all the intel on this kite spot followed by everything you need to know before you go - how to get there, where to stay, and what to do when the wind doesn't blow.
The Squamish Spit is managed by the Squamish Windsports Society. Their official season starts mid-May and ends mid-September, with the height of summer being the best part of the season for wind. If the sun is shining, the wind is usually blowing. Wind in Squamish typically blows from 15 to 30mph in the afternoons, with most days blowing well over 20mph. The wind here is fairly steady, making for beautiful kite conditions. If you’re visiting in July, be sure to check out the annual Kite Clash event – a super stoked local kiteboarding event where the whole community gets involved!
While there can be wind in the area in the off season, the water temperature gets quite difficult to manage and the facilities and support that are typically available at the kite spot are not available. This spot is not recommended for the off season.
Weather / Temperature
Visitors to Squamish should come prepared for weather of all kinds. You're in a mountainous spot on the Canadian coast where the Howe Sound meets the Squamish River... summer days can be nice and hot, but summer nights are fairly chilly. If you're standing out on the Spit on a windy summer day, you’ll want a windbreaker or a heavy jacket.
The water temperature is brisk - the Squamish River is fed by the Pemberton Icefield, a nearby glacier. A 5/4 wetsuit is recommended throughout the summer, though some of the tougher riders will go for a 3/2 or shorty on hot summer days. That said, if you’re spending any time submerged in the water, it's better to wear the warmer option! If you’re riding here early or late in the season, you may need additional protection like hoods, gloves, and booties. You may even spot some of the local kite junkies out on the coldest days in a drysuit!
The Spit is the primary launch spot for Squamish, and the best place to show up on a windy day to see who’s out for a session. The Spit divides the river from the estuary, and the wind blows cross offshore from the launch. It is a rocky launch, though in the summer there are mats laid out on the rocks to protect your gear. You may want booties for both the cold water and the sharp rocks on the walk down to the water. Once you're on the water, you can tack upwind to find some space and session on either the river side or on the estuary side. Depending on where you’re riding or the tide, the water can be anywhere from super flat to small chop. On the river side, you can find some small wind waves.
The Spit is one of the few spots that charges a fee to ride. It is professionally managed by a non-profit, both to protect the area and the safety and comfort of the riders. Visit the Squamish Windsports Society website for membership information or stop by the office when you arrive at the Spit.
Riding Level & Style
Level: This would be considered a fairly advanced spot, though the kite schools here have a great setup for beginners. If you're learning to kite, get in touch withAerial Kiteboarding or Sea to Sky Kiteboarding. They operate lessons from boats a little further up the river, free from the cost, hazards, and the difficulty that come with launching at The Spit. Riders who are not confident riding upwind should organize a supervised riding session with one of the schools rather than go solo on this spot. Experienced riders who feel comfortable in offshore and cross offshore conditions will be absolutely stoked here! This is some seriously quality flat water and steady wind, and an amazing place to practice tricks.
Riding Style: Freeride, freestyle, and big air are the go-to riding styles here. Occasionally, you'll get some waves in the river which can be fun on a directional, and strapless freestyle and foiling are both starting to take off here. Foilers will have ample opportunities to explore the scenery from the water. The wind is punchy here, so those who like to send it will be able to get some great big air sessions in when the wind is ripping.
What most riders love about this spot is the flatwater below the launch zone and the very small chop above. There's a little section called the honey hole for advanced riders to trick that is beautifully flat, but a bit of a challenge if you happen to crash. When the tide is low, there are sandbars all over the place, which means a lot of fun channels to navigate and even more flat water!
Facilities & Cautions
Facilities: The Spit is at the end of a long, dusty forest road which means you will absolutely need a vehicle to get here. Membership fees aren't common at kite spots, but in a spot like this.. your fees come with some serious benefits. The Squamish Windsports Society has a great setup with bathrooms, changing facilities, a hydraulic pump, felt mats laid out on the rocks to protect your gear, gear demos, pro clinics, bleachers and tables to sit and watch the action, and a very cool live digital wind meter so you can see exactly how windy it is. Probably the best and most important thing they offer is jetski rescue. If you're in trouble and can't make it back to the launch, one of the amazing volunteers will come and fetch you on a ski!
Cautions: It’s cross offshore here so if you screw up you might find yourself wading through some deep marsh or beached on the downwind side next to some massive industrial ship with a long walk back to town. To avoid that, make sure to only ride here when the spot is open. You can check the live status of the spot online here. It is rocky on the beach, and while the felt mats protect your gear, walking down to the water can be a bit sore on the feet. A lot of riders wear booties for that reason. Be sure to review the rules of the spot and do not hesitate to ask the crew on the beach if you have any questions or concerns. They're there to make sure you have an awesome and safe experience.
Squamish is Canadian kiteboarding at it’s finest, but this destination makes for an amazing experience for adventure seekers of all kinds – whether they plan to spend their visit on the water or off. Here’s a quick start guide on planning a visit to Squamish. For a detailed travel guide – and one you can share with non-kiting travel companions - check out this article by Crystal Veness.
How to get there:
The best way to get to Squamish is to fly into Vancouver International Airport [YVR] and rent a car. It's about a 90 minute drive up to Squamish from the airport. This would be a near impossible trip to do as a kiter without access to wheels, so keep that in mind when you're planning your trip.
Where to stay:
Squamish has several accommodation options from hostels to campgrounds to hotels to vacation rentals. Hostels like the Squamish Adventure Inn are around $30 a night for a bed in a dorm, and simple hotels start around $70 a night and go up as the quality goes up. AirBNB is always a great option for private accommodation or to rent a room in someone's house for those on a budget. This is a wonderful place to camp, but spots can be hard to find on weekends in the summer and a rental camper or the appropriate equipment for a night out in the Canadian wild is needed. Regardless of where you stay, you will still need to drive to and from the kite spot.
What to eat & drink:
Squamish isn't particularly well known as a foodie destination, but it is home to some amazing coffee houses and breweries. On the North side of town, you've got the lovely Cloudburst Cafe and the Locavore food truck, which is perfect for a quick, tasty meal.
Along the highway you have the cafe at the Squamish Adventure Centre which is a great spot for coffee with a view, and there's Mags 99 - a local favorite that's a strange blend between a fried chicken joint and a Mexican restaurant.
Down in the village, you've got Zephyr Cafe with plenty of vegan and health food options, Howe Sound Brewing for a local beer, and the Copper Coil for upscale bar food. One of my favorites for a casual night out is Backcountry Brewing - great craft beer and amazing pizzas.
If you have access to a kitchen, there are several grocery options in town so you can prepare food at home. If you’re looking for a real foodie adventure, head North to Whistler where you’ll find a multitude of delicious restaurants and bars where you can stay busy well into the night.
Squamish is known as the outdoor recreation capital of Canada. When you're not kiteboarding, the water is a great place for kayaking and canoeing, fishing, bird watching, and nature photography. If you're lucky, you might even see a bear! Keep your eyes peeled, this part of Canada is teeming with wildlife.
For some chill, family friendly activities, check out the Shannon Falls walk for an easy hike and a great view. Alice Lake is a great place to hang out by the water or camp, and you can do the fairly easy Four Lakes Trail hike from here. To get an epic view from above, take the Sea to Sky Gondola up for a breathtaking view of the sound and the surrounding mountains. If you like height, there's bungee jumping nearby or beautiful scenic flights in small planes.
If you're up for something a little more challenging, there are a ton of mountain bike trails at nearby Garibaldi Park. The jewel in the crown of Squamish is the Stawamus Chief. This granite monolith brings rock climbers from around the world. You can hike to the top of the chief, climb it, or if you're new to the sport take a climbing lesson at one of the many nearby spots.
I highly recommend a day or two in the resort town of Whistler, about 40 minutes up the road. This is an epic place to ski and snowboard, but in the summer you can catch the lifts up for some downhill mountain biking. If you’re looking to just chill and relax, there are amazing hotels, restaurants, and spas in Whistler. This is an ideal place to take the family and an absolute must if you're traveling with non-kiters.
Kiteboarders visiting Squamish that are used to kiting in beach spots will see a unique vibe here.. a lot of the kiters you'll meet in this spot are Canadian and living somewhere between Vancouver and Whistler. Kiteboarding is a part of every day life, and the locals here squeeze in sessions whenever they can. It’s not a holiday vibe, it’s just life. And it’s about as good a life as you can imagine!
Take a look at the Squamish video spot guide [LINK] and the Squamish travel guide for even more recommendations. If you have any questions about this kite spot, please send us a message or reach out to Crystal Veness on Facebook or Instagram.
We can’t wait to take you to the next Destination!
North Kites USA team rider and a MACkite team rider. Originally from Canada, she now calls the entire world her home, playground, and her workplace. She goes where the wind blows - so if you see her at a kite beach somewhere in the world, say hello! Her primary goal is to share her love of kiteboarding and travel and all the lessons learned along the way with the world.
Written and produced by Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic and Crystal Venese