Welcome to Destinations, your one-stop kiteboarding video travel guide. If you have any questions when planning your trip, don't hesitate to reach out.
Spot at a Glance
Wind By Season
The wind blows year round at South padre Island, and if you've got the right equipment you can get a session in almost every day of the year. The winter wind is usually the strongest, and that time of year can bring the best waves. in the summer, the wind is medium strength and steady. There is the possibility of light wind days at any time of the year, so bring big kites just in case! Plan for wind speeds between 12 - 25mph in the summer and 12 -30mph in the winter.
Winter is the best tie to get some good wave sessions in on South Padre island. This is a great destination for donwwinders, where you can ride the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Watch the well forecast so you can catch it at the best time, and don't forget your wetsuit in the winter months!
The Laguna Madre (the water between South Padre Island and mainland Texas0 delivers flat, waist deep water for miles. This spot rarely gets crowded, and with so much flat water real estate, there's room for everyone to ride.
You couldn't ask for better learning condition in the USA. The steady breeze and shallow, warm water of the Laguna Madre are beginner heaven. Whether you or your travel buddies are doing lessons for the first time or you're working on progressing your skills. It's hard to beat this destination. Connect with one of the kite schools on the spot like ProKite for professional lessons with boat or jetski support.
This is a resort town, so while it can have a few cheesy elements, at least you know there's always something to do when it's not windy. There's a waterpark, jet-skiing, fishing, parasailing, horseback riding, plenty of pirate themed activities, and all sorts of entertainment.
Fly into Brownsville airport which is only a stones throw from the barrier island of SPI. A rental car or your own personal vehicle is a necessity in this spot, as most spots are only accessible by car. This is an affordable, family friendly destination that is a must-visit for American kiters.
With a world full of epic kite spots to visit, it's easy to forget about the ones closer to home... But here in the USA we have no shortage of selection when it comes to windy beaches.
Miles of waves or slicks on this barrier island
As far as American kite spots goes, this is one of the greats. Similar to the kiteboarding hotspot of Cape Hatteras, this barrier island features flat water on one side and waves on the other. It's not just a solid kite spot, it's a place where you can bring the whole family. Best of all? It's easy to get to.
In this article, we'll share all the need to know info on kiteboarding in South Padre Island - when to go, where to kite, and everything else you need to know before you go!
The wind blows year round at South Padre Island, and if you've got the right equipment you can get a session in almost every day of the year. While you can kite in South Padre at any time of year, the best times to come for the most consistent and strong winds are between March and July and between October and December.
Spring and early summer (March to July) are prime time. You can expect mid strength wind averaging 16 knots of steady, thermal breeze. This spot does suffer from some light wind conditions, especially on the hot summer days. Come prepared with big kites and light wind gear just in case!
For stronger wind, winter (October to December) will deliver the best conditions with average wind speed closer to 20 knots and the potential for winter storms which bring even stronger wind! If you like to ride in the waves, you'll also find much better wave conditions this time of year.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit, come prepared for light to no wind days. A variety of kite sizes and boards suitable for light wind is always a good idea. Failing that, a backup plan and willingness to go exploring will keep you entertained!
Being on the Southernmost point of Texas and just a stones throw from Mexico, you can expect warm weather year round. Uncomfortably hot in the summer! If you're planning a spring or summer visit, prepare for hot temperatures and warm water. You can leave your wetsuit at home! While it's still warm weather in the winter, you'll want to bring an extra layer and a wetsuit just in case.
Some places you can drive right up on the beach
There are plenty of launch spots along South Padre Island, though they can essentially be broken down into two types of spots: flats or waves.
In our video spot guide, we've given you the overview of kiting on the Laguna Madre, that endless expanse of flat, shallow water that separates South Padre Island from the mainland of Texas. Specific spots can be difficult to find with unmarked roads and lots of driving on sand, so we'll try to help out with some directions to get you out on the water.
We recommend that flatwater lovers should start their kite trip at the South Flats. This is the flatwater spot that is closest to town. In this spot, you'll find ankle to waist deep water for miles. This is butter flat water, with the potential for a bit of small chop depending on the wind strength and direction. The wind is usually side off shore, but the best thing about the flats is that it doesn't matter what skill level you are, you can always walk back to the beach if you run into trouble.
Shallow flat water for miles
To find the South Flats, drive north on Padre Blvd away from the town center. The turn off for the flats is the sand/gravel road on the left just after the road to the Convention Center (Orca Circle). Drive over the sand to the right where you'll see the Prokite South Padre van parked by the spot. Try to avoid driving through water that's more than a couple inches deep and make sure you're parked on hard packed sand in case the tide changes. They sometimes collect a small fee (under $5) at the entrance to this beach, so bring cash just in case.
The North Flats would be the best of the flatwater spats on South Padre Island with steadier wind due to less buildings on this beach, but this spot is a members only location. You will need to register and pay your membership fee to get access to this spot. You can visit the Prokite shop during business hours to register. If you're spending a couple weeks or more in SPI, registering is likely worth it. If not, you'll get by at the South Flats and you can always upwind or downwind to check out other spots from there!
Sand bar breaks all along the coast
If it's waves you want looking for, you've got the entire gulf side of the island open to you. You can ride at any public beach, but a good place to start is Beach Access Road 5. Drive north along Padre Blvd until you're well out of town. You'll see signs marking the beach access roads, so carry on down the road until you've found number 5. This one has a parking lot with a structure that has bathrooms and showers, a picnic area, and food trucks. There is a cash fee to drive onto the beach during daytime hours (around $10), but there's nothing better than being able to park on the spot and pump up your kite next to your car! Wind direction is typically side to side onshore here. Watch the swell forecast, because you can definitely get some decent wave conditions, especially in the winter months. This is a great place to do downwinder in the warm Gulf of Mexico, but make sure you organize a ride!
Experienced kiters that want to ride in town can kite in the waves at Isla Blanca Park (aka 'The Jetty'). This is a busy tourist beach and there are strict codes of conduct that come with that. Do not fly your kite over or near other beachgoers - find a quiet, empty area of beach to rig up your gear. Do not kite through surfers or swimmers! The reason beaches like this stay open to kiteboarders is because everyone behaves.
There are a few more kite spots in the area including on the mainland of Texas. We recommend checking out the kite spot map at Prokite for more details on these other spots.
SPI is perfect for any level rider
Riding Level & Style
It doesn't matter what your riding level is, this spot will work for you. If you're coming to learn to kite or you have friends and family interested in the sport, this is a great spot to learn. There's something about warm, shallow, flat water that makes learning to kite way easier! This is about as good as it gets for learning to kite in the USA, up there with Cape Hatteras. It tends to be on the more affordable side and more accessible for kiters from the western states.
For the more advanced riders, this is a good spot to work on tricks and progression. The shallow, flat water will allow riders who are trying new tricks a lot of room to recover in the event of a crash. Just make sure the water is deep enough before you throw a trick or your knees will not be happy!
When it comes to riding style, anything goes. The ideal styles of riding here are freeride, freestyle, and wave - but mostly in the winter months. You can ride big air here, but summer big air will likely be on the smaller side. While the wind may not be too strong in the summer, it's a great place to work on refining your technique in jumping. If you've got lightwind big air gear like the Duotone Rebel, you'll have no trouble getting some height, no matter what time of year you're riding!
The foil lovers out there will be happy to know that you can foil here, though foiling on the gulf side in the waves is much easier than trying to foil in the Laguna Madre. You'll find yourself walking for a long time to get into water deep enough to foil on the flatwater side, and you're fairly likely to run aground at any given moment! A short mast is essential here, even on the waves side where sandbars can get in your way unless you'e quite far out.
On the facilities side, South Padre Island is a pretty good spot for a visiting kiter. There are kite shops and kite schools on the island, and you're still in the US so you'll still get Amazon Prime! The small tourist city of SPI is full of hotels and entertainment options for the family.
Heading north out of town will drop you square in the middle of a big nature reserve, so come prepared when you head out to the beach. For a day of kiting, bring snacks, water and sunscreen.
Parts of SPI can get remote
The most common incidents in South Padre Island are to do with driving on sand, which is required at almost every kite spot on the island. Luckily, even a small cars can handle this if you make the right choices. Stay on hard packed sand, try not to drive anywhere you don't see other cars, and do a depth check before driving through water (especially near the South Flats). Keep an eye on the tides, whether you're kiting on the waves side or the flats side. Those that aren't aware of how high the tide can go run the risk of having their cars flooded or getting stuck surrounded by deep water!
To get to South Padre Island, you can fly to the closest airport in Brownsville (BRO). This is about 30 minutes from South Padre Island. You can drive here from other major cities in Texas like Houston or Austin, but be prepared for at least a half day drive. A rental car or your own personal vehicle is essential at this spot to access the kite beaches.
Visitors to SPI can choose to stay on the island or on the mainland in Port Isabel. Either spot is a very short drive to the kite spots. Hotels and vacation rentals are fairly affordable at SPI and there is plenty of selection within walking distance to restaurants and bars.
You can camp on SPI at one of the paid campsites or camp for free on one of the NPS the beaches (day use fee and free camping permit still required). Fair warning if you're camping: it can get extremely hot and humid which can make camping incredibly uncomfortable.
There are plenty of family friendly and beach activities here
There are activities to keep the whole family entertained on South Padre Island! Being a tourist hotspot, there's your typical beach town activities like theme parks and parasailing, but there's also a ton of nature focused activities here in SPI.
Here's a few ideas to stay entertained on a no wind day:
Gravity Park (amusement park, go karts, mini golf, etc)
Laguna Madre Nature Trail (free!)
Sea Turtle Inc. (rescue and rehabilitation center)
For American kiters, this is definitely a kite spot that you can't miss. It can be a bit on the sleepy side, so be sure to bring your friends or your family so you've got a crew to kite with and to go out and explore this breezy beach town with.
If you have any questions about this kite spot including gear recommendations for light wind kiteboarding, send us a message here on the chat or reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram. If you have any of your own tips and stories to share, we'd love to hear them!
We look forward to sharing the next Destination with you.
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