Kite surfing and Kiteboarding along Pensacola Beach Florida will not only leave you with a lasting lifetime memory, but it will plant a seed that will grow you into someone who loves salt water sports. Kite surfing in Pensacola Beach is a growing sport that will keep you tanned, grow your fitness, all while having a blast year around. Even though kiteboarding is something you do alone, you’re never alone doing this activity. Every spot you visit, you’ll meet others in the kiteboarding community. However, the best thing about kiteboarding is the unforgettable feeling of freedom: wind in your hair, the sea gently spraying your face. Empty your mind and let the wind guide you towards Pensacola kiteboarding.
In today’s article, we answer FAQs about kiteboarding in Pensacola Beach. We also explain the difference between kiteboarding and kite surfing in Pensacola Beach. We even give you a four-step process to getting started, even if you don’t live near the water. We’ll help you find the best places to go kiteboarding near Pensacola Beach. Finally, we offer tips for renting or buying equipment, including a local kiteboarding directory that offers more expertise, training and equipment.
Table of Contents
What is Kite Surfing?
Kite surfing blends the elements of wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, paragliding and skateboarding to create an exhilarating wave-riding water sport. While kites surfing Pensacola Beach, you are harnessed to a over sized hand-controlled kite. The “kite” resembles and acts like a parachute. The wind carries you like a ski-boat would a skier.
Kitesurfing vs. Kiteboarding
Generally speaking, many people use these words interchangeably for one another. However, there is a technical difference. Kiteboarding refers to using a twin-tip (or directional) board. Kitesurfing is kiteboarding while surfing the waves.
How do I get started kiteboarding?
- Get a trainer kite and master the kiting basics. You can do this on land, no board required. Just you, the kite, the lines and the control bar. The Slingshot B2 is a highly rated training kite for beginners. It’s affordable and has everything included you need to begin training right out of the box.
- Learn board skills. You don’t have to live near water to learn board skills. Skateboarding, longboarding, snowboarding and mountainboarding are just four ways to build your skills in preparation for your trip to the beach. Focusing on board skills alone will really get you ahead of the game since you won’t have to bother with mastering a kite and a board at the same time. For an adult, here’s a highly-rated beginners skate board.
- Take a lesson. There are several local businesses that offer kiteboarding lessons. However, it’s highly advisable to have some board skills and kite experience first so that you can maximize the trainers time, not to mention having a full-blast on vacation! I’ve included a directory of local businesses that offer training below, be sure to check them out.
- Get some quality gear. People get into kiteboarding because it’s affordable and fun. You can purchase complete beginner packages online or visit a local retailer who has knowledge who can answer questions and walk you through you equipment purchase.
What kind of gear do I need to go kitesurfing?
To go kite surfing near Pensacola Beach, you need a board, kite, lines and a harness. Below is a basic overview of each item.
There are primarily two different kinds of boards for kiteboarding, bidirectional and directional boards, although several hybrid board types are available. Some riders even use standard surf boards or even long boards. Made of composite, wood or foam, there is a large combination of possible materials, designs and sizes of kiteboards available. Due to their ease of use, the bidirectional board is the board of choice for novice or beginning kiteboarders.
Influenced by the surfboard the bidirectional board, also called a twin-tip board, are best for beginners. These boards are easiest to learn on since it performs equally, whether you’re right-tip or left-tip. Because these boards are larger than directional boards, so it is more difficult to do tricks on them, and harder to control when the wind gets strong. Typically, they’re very thin and can float.
Directional boards were influenced by has influences from both snowboarding and wakeboarding sport. These boards are used most often in surf conditions by kitesurfers for wave riding and doing stylish tricks. Directional boards are also used most often during kitesurfing sporting events.
Any kite that supplies enough pull can technically be used for kiteboarding. Ideally, you’ll want one large enough that can be easily controlled. But there are other features to consider when renting or purchasing a kite for kiteboarding. For example, can the kite be relaunched when it’s in the water? What is the performance of the kite when trying to sail upwind? How does the kite handle jumps? Below is an overview of the types of kites available:
Leading Edge Inflatable kites, or LEI kites have an inflatable leading edge, which makes them very reliable when relaunching them from the water. These inflatable kites have a permanent crescent moon shape.
Flat Inflatable Kites
Flat Inflatable Kites, often called Bow Kites, is the next stage of the evolution of inflatable kites. the bow kite also has an inflatable leading edge, but with a flat bow profile. These types of kites are popular with beginning riders to advanced riders. The advantages to using a bow kite over the standard inflatable kite include:
- easier to launch
- can gracefully handle a wider range of wind conditions
- can be “powered down”, or used in a deflated state.
There are four types of Bow Kites:
- Flat LEI kites
- Hybrid or SLE kites (Supported Leading Edge) – suitable for both beginners and experts.
- Sigma Series – feature a unique “bird in flight” shape with the center fo the kite swept back.
- Delta Kites
Framed Single Skin Kites
These types of kites have a frame, much like a tent does, that outlines the shape of the kite. They also have a leading edge made out of graphite or fiber glass. Because of its rigid construction, these kites can be difficult to launch out of the water. However, after some practice you can master this and the kite becomes reliable and easy to use. Lastly, these types of kites don’t perform well in wind speeds under 10 MPH.
Ram Air Foil Kites
Ram Air Foil Kites, or closed cell foil kites, are structure-less. They only take on their shape once launched into the air. Because of this, they’re the most aerodynamic of all the kite types. Launching this type of kite from the water can take some practice, but the ram air foil kites if gaining popularity due to their use in multiple conditions for multiple activities.
Kites size ranges about 7.5 square feet to 225 square feet. Smaller kits can be flown faster in high winds while larger kites propel the rider faster in slower wind conditions. Experienced kiteboarders may have 3 or more kite sizes which are needed to accomodate various wind speeds.
Generally speaking, kiteboarding uses either three, four or five lines. The best material for the lines are either Dyneema/Spectra or Kevlar. These materials have minimal stretch and float in water. Flying lines come in length typically between 23 and 110 feet. The length of the lines vary depending on kite type, wind and water conditions, and the activity you’re trying to do. For example, on a low-wind day you may want longer lines, which extend the kite’s flight path and allow you to get more speed from lower winds.
The bar allows you to steer the kite and board. Again, the type of bar you want is directly impacted by the type of kite you choose. Many kiteboarders use the four-line control bar for a four-line foil. Using a four-line control bar, you can swing the kite left by pulling the left end of the bar. Oppositely, you can swing the kite right by pulling the right end of the bar. Handles are often used in conjuction with foil kites and work in a similar manner.
Whichever bar you choose, it’s important it has a reliable safety release feature. When working properly, this system will allow you to disable the kite at a moments notice. It will also allow you to easily retrieve the kite and control device. Otherwise, you may end up losing your kite in the wind. You should always test your safety control device before using it, and again in shallow water close to land.
a kite harness comes in 3 different types:
- seat (with leg loops)
The harness is designed to reduce the strain on the riders arms, spreading the pull across the riders body. Waist harnesses are the most popular among advanced riders, while seat harnesses make kiteboarding possible with the least effort from the rider. Vest harnesses add safe features like flotation and impact protection.
- wetsuit – protects in cooler conditions and from marine life like jellyfish. Also will help prevent abrasions. In cold conditions, a dry suit is recommended.
- safety hook knife – can be used to cut tangled or snagged kite lines, or to release the kite in the event the safety control device fails.
- helmet – to protect the head from blunt trauma.
- personal flotation device – to keep the kitesurfer afloat in the event they become unconscious.
Where are the best places to go kiteboarding in Pensacola?
Pensacola Beach is an amazing destination if you’re interested in kiteboarding. There are miles of beaches that aren’t super crowded up state highway 499 between Pensacola and Navarre beach. These beaches give you plenty of room to play with your kite and have a blast. The most popular spots to go kiteboarding near Pensacola chicken bone beach. Chicken bone beach is located near the access point at the gates of the Fort Pickens area in Pensacola Beach. There are several beach pavilions located here which will help you locate it.
Pensacola Beach is one of the best places to get kiteboarding lessons. there are many areas where the water is knee deep, and all of the area beaches offer a sandy bottom, which makes taking a spill much easier.
Beginner courses start at around $50 per session, but prices and availability may vary by season. Typically, if you’ve never been kiteboarding, sessions begin on the beach with the kite only and progress to the water.
Why should I take kiteboarding lessons?
- Fun – experience the thrill of kite surfing in Pensacola Beach and enjoy a guided experience of a lifetime.
- Save money – Many people want to test the water before they spend $1500 to $2000 on the gear.
- Safety – the ocean currents are never to be taken lightly. Even a little guided help could save your life.
It is recommended you check the directory below for more accurate pricing as well as availability. Here are some questions to ask your trainer when you’re considering booking your training session:
- What should I wear? Be sure to ask if a weatsuit is required or if you can wear other apparel. You should also ask the best kind of footwear to wear.
- Are you required to purchase gear or can you rent it?
- What is your refund and cancellation policy? Especially in the event of inclement weather, find out if the lessons are cancelled if you’re offered a refund or the opportunity to reschedule.
- What certifications does your instructor have?
- Does you instructor have CPR certification?
If you’re looking to do some kiteboarding while in Pensacola Beach but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a kiteboard, you can find kiteboarding rentals nearby. Most allow you to book online, and offer from a choice of weekday and weekend lessons. Most local kiteboarding rentals will work around your busy vacation schedule whether you’re looking for longer or shorter packages. If you’re looking for a fully immersive experience, you may find kiteboarding camps during the busy summer season.
If you’re staying at a resort or a are renting a private private residence, you can also ask if they have any equipment available for your use for free or at an additional charge. Checkout the directory below and visit their website for more information. In this area, there are many mobile businesses that will meet you a specific location for renting equipment.
Pensacola Beach Kite Surfing Directory
Pensacola Kite Surfing
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