You know those kite spots that you hear about over and over from friends that have been and can’t stop raving about it?! In today's edition, we're covering one of those spots. In the Northern California Delta is a kite spot whose reputation precedes itself; Sherman Island.
Only an hour from the busy Bay Area city of San Francisco is a kite spot where the wind blows throughout the summer. This unique kite destination is as much about the quality wind and flatwater as it is about the vibrant community.
Sherman island is a favourite escape amongst the San Francisco kiteboarding community, but there’s plenty of good vibes to go around for the visiting kiteboarder. This guide will be short and sweet, because this small kite locale can only be described in a few words - the rest of the story will happen when you're on the spot!
Here's everything you need to know about kiteboarding in Sherman Island followed by a few travel tips to plan your trip.
Edge Kiteboarding - http://www.edgekiteboarding.com/
Kitopia - http://www.kitopia.biz/
Cali Kites (San Francisco) - https://www.calikites.com/
Kiteboarding Spot Guide
Prime windy season in Sherman Island is summer. The wind blows almost daily from April to September, with the most consistent months being June, July, and August. Late season wind (September-October) can also make for strong, steady wind with less of the summer crowds.
The wind in this spot works on a temperature gradient. When it’s cold in San Francisco and hot in Sacramento – which is your average summer weather – the temperature difference shoots wind through the delta. You can expect wind from 16 to 30 knots on most summer days.
Weather / Temperature
Come prepared for any and all kinds of weather. This is a spot where you'll want warm clothes no matter what time of year you visit. On a sunny summer day, you can expect hot temperatures. Once the sun sets, it can get quite chilly... especially when the wind is blowing.
The water temperature varies in this spot. Some days most riders would be comfortable in board shorts or a rash gaurd, while a 3/2 wetsuit may be needed on the cooler days. Our recommendation is to bring both just in case!
The Sherman Island Kite Launch is located in the Sherman Island County Park. This is a challenging spot, and not recommended for beginner of novice riders. Beginner riders that want to kite here can organize a session with supervision or a boat session with a local school. Contact Edge Kiteboarding or Kitopia to organize lessons or supervisions at Sherman Island.
For intermediate to advanced riders, you can rig your kite at the Sherman Island Kite Launch. Riders should be extremely confident with launching and landing kites, controlling their kite in the air and around obstacles, riding in onshore wind, and managing crowded or gusty conditions.
You’ll rig your kite on the grass and launch it in the launching zone. Once your kite is in the air, you will need to walk upwind through a winding path with bushes on both sides. Once you arrive at the beach, you'll step over some logs and obstacles to get into the water. In the water, walk with your board until you're far enough to do a few power strokes without putting your kite in the bushes.
Sounds like a mission? It is. But the incredible conditions here are well worth the work. If you're a confident kiteboarder looking to get a glimpse of the Northern California kite community - this spot is prime!
Keep in mind this spot can get busy in the summer so it’s extremely important to respect the right of way and the rules on the beach. Do not hesitate to ask your fellow kiters on the spot for directions if you’re not quite sure where to go.
Riding Level & Style
Again, this is an intermediate to advanced only kite spot. That said, this is an excellent place to do kiteboarding lessons if you get in touch with one of the local schools. Newer riders that are not yet confident riding independently can organize a trip upwind on a boat to avoid the difficult launch. Contact Edge Kiteboarding or Kitopia to book lessons.
This spot is suitable for all styles of riding, and is a favorite amongst freeride and freestyle kiteboarders. The water here ranges from flat to choppy depending on the tides. You’ll find the flattest water conditions if you ride upwind to the islands. When the wind is really pumping, this is an excellent big air spot. Remember to avoid doing tricks close to the launch area.
Because of the gentle water conditions, this is a great place for riders who would like to practice strapless and directional riding without dealing with waves. Foiling also works here, but be cautious of submerged obstacles near the launch or near the islands. Foiling with a short mast may help to avoid any obstacles.
There is a day use fee at Sherman Island County Park. As of 2018, the fee is $5 and must be paid in cash. Do not forget to withdraw cash on your way to this spot - both for the usage fees and for bridge and highway tolls coming from San Francisco.
This is off the grid kiteboarding at it’s finest. While the spot has great cell phone reception, there isn't much else. The kite spot here is in a county park without electricity or flush toilets. You will need to bring your own water, food, beer, and anything else you might need to survive for the day.
Sherman Island is the ideal road trip destination. It’s primarily a camping spot where most visitors stay for a while. Bring a trailer, tent, or camping equipment if you want to get the most out of the Sherman experience.
This place is truly best enjoyed if you can spend a couple days or a couple weeks just settling into the Sherman vibe, kiting every day, and making some amazing friendships on the spot. If you’re anywhere in driving distance, pack up your car, camping gear, and friends, and head on over!
Those traveling from afar will want to fly into San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), or Sacramento (SMF). You'll need a rental car to access this spot. There are hotels in nearby Antioch for those that want to stay near the spot. If you don't mind a longer drive, you can stay in San Francisco or Sacramento. It's 1-2 hours by car depending on traffic.
Here in Sherman, it’s all about kiteboarding and camping. There's not a whole lot else on the activities list in this spot. Luckily, there's plenty to see within 1-2 hours. Explore the vibrant city of San Francisco, ride at Velocity Island Cable Park in Sacramento, visit the mountain community of Lake Tahoe, and experience the USA's best wine destinations: Napa Valley and Sonoma County.
Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel - we'll be checking out some more of California's kite spots in this season of Destinations.
Sherman Island has been on my 'must visit' list for years. With kite spots like the tropical Dominican Republic, historic Charleston, and stunning Portugal on the Destinations list, a trip to Sherman Island was always on the backburner. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. And then I went. Now I get it.
This is a spot you need to experience for yourself!This is a very special and tight knit kite community. The opportunity to see and experience Shermand Island life is a treat. I hope you get the opportunity to visit this spot, meet the crew, and have some of your own Sherman sessions!
We will see you at our next Destination!
Duotone 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.
Facebook: Crystal Veness
Written and produced by Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic and Crystal Veness