Where To Ride

The following "Ride Spot" information is courtesy of Shea Gibson and is brought to you by the entire professional kiteboarding community of Charleston. This information below applies to all the wind sports: kiteboarding, windsurfing, and winging. Additional complimentary information is available through “Chucktown Wind Report” on Facebook. Local Daily / Extended Wind Forecasts for the Charleston Area are provided by Shea Gibson and can be found in the “Chucktown Wind Report” Facebook group. You can also view a video here about the launch spots with educational points and meteorological/hydrological aspects.

PADDLERS: there are so many launch spots for stand up paddling, kayaking, outrigger canoes, and surf skis. Look out for a blog post in the near future about the best places to launch and paddle. In the meantime, we recommend using the Go Paddling app.

Isle of Palms

Launch/Land Zones: 3rd Avenue - 51st Avenue for launch point and/or downwind end point, depending on wind direction. 

 

Directions of wind: NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW


Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

Isle of Palms permits kiteboarding in those areas less visited by beach goers. Basically, stay well away from either side of the pier (1 mile minimum distance) where most people are. Do not launch at the Charleston County Park or anywhere near the (Seacabins) Pier. IOP strictly enforces the 100 foot rule: all sport participants (kiters, surfers, fishers, boaters, etc.) must keep a 100' distance from any person in the ocean. Here, beach goers have the right of way.

From Memorial Day - Labor Day, all kiteboarders must stay at least 100 yards from the water’s edge once through the launch zone.

South End (“Waffle House” aka 3rd IOP) (Beginner, Advanced, Expert) 

Ride on NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW

The official boundaries from IOP's SouthWest tip at Breach Inlet to 6th avenue. Park at 3rd street near the beach access for this spot. Head beyond 6th Ave and you'll be risking coming in contact with people enjoying the water. You may ride downwind beyond the pier, but must stay 100 yards from the water line and remember to stay away from swimmers, surfers and anyone else in the water.

Middle Sections: (Advanced, Expert) 

Ride on NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW
Mainly areas for downwinding – not for stopping and causal riding. 100 foot rule to swimmers and 100 yard rule applies for this stretch. Again, do not go near Pier.

North End (Wild Dunes): (Beginner, Advanced, Expert) 

Ride on NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW...and on north tip, add NW/NNW/N/NNE as you round the northern tip.

Head to the Isle of Palms northern end and you'll find “Wild Dunes”, a private resort community where locals and vacationers co-exist. If you're lucky enough to have a friend living / staying there, then maybe they'll be kind enough to let you in the gate. If not, you'll have to park outside the complex and hike up the beach more than 1/4 mile. Once there, you'll have wide open beaches to rig and ride (watch for summer crowds). Being next to and inlet, you can really work currents to your advantage. At low tide, you might even get to ride the flat water barrier’ed by outer sandbars.

NOTE: The North tip of the island can see gusty Northerly winds, calling for a rider level of EXPERT as the spit between IOP and Dewees is very deep and currents very strong, with rough conditions to be considered.While this private beach has its own patrol, it does fall under Isle of Palms jurisdiction. With its seclusion, comes the kiteboarding unfamiliar beach-goer. People here just don't understand the potential hazards, so it is up to you to self- regulate. If it's seems crowded, or when in doubt, do NOT rig! 100’ rule to swimmers and 100 yard rule to beaches apply here.

Sullivan's Island

Launch/Land Zones: designated as “Stations” 12, 19 and 28-30 (28.5) 

Directions of wind: NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW/W/WNW/NW 

Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

During summer time, this area can become extremely crowded. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, beach patrol often prohibits launching here due to mass amounts of sun bathers and swimmers. Outside sand bar can provide an alternative, but stay out of Breach Inlet, in which strong currents and spits run just inside the sandbar activity. We don’t want search and rescue teams to have to launch resources in that vicinity. 

 

The 100 yard rule applies here as does everywhere else in Charleston. Launch: Station 28 - 30 year round. (Streets are named “Stations” from what used to be Trollies running up and down the island in early 1900’s, but also now serve as Avenues and/or Streets.)

 

Restriction: This is a watercraft launch area only. All kiting must be done 100 yards off shore. It is illegal to operate watercraft in the launch areas. Do not ride in the tide pool at Station 28.5

 

You may ride up or downwind anywhere on the island but you must stay at LEAST 100 yards from the edge of the water and 3 kite lengths (at least) from any swimmers.

                 

                           **Stations 12 and 19 (off season, only between Sept and April)**
 

Station 28.5 (“The Bath”): 

(Beginner/Advanced/Expert)

Directions - NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW

Typically, this is the main launch area for many kiters. In summertime, the shallow low tide slicks can heat up beyond 90 degrees, making it feel like a bath tub. Strong tidal currents have a huge effect on your power. On a South wind, you want an outgoing tide. Best spot for NE during an incoming tide.

Station 19 (“The Lighthouse”): 

(Advanced / Expert) 

Directions - NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW

One of only two lighthouses in the Charleston area, it’s the only one accessible by car. Low tide offers a wide beach and waters can be mild chop to waves, depending on swell. Sullivan’s Island authorities are picky about kiters rigging here.

During summer time, the area can get crowded. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, beach patrol often prohibits launching here due to mass amounts of sun bathers. When in doubt, find another spot to ride.

Station 12 (“Boils”) : 

(EXPERT ONLY)

Directions - WSW/W/WNW/NW

Fitted with rock groins all around the southern end and into the Charleston Harbor mouth of Sullivan’s Island, this area sits very close the shipping channel and quickly drops to 50+ feet of water within 50-100 yards out. Strong current moving over areas of rocks coupled with submerged debris makes this area particularly dangerous. With elevated onshore Westerly winds, ground swell can also make this area very choppy with very rough conditions. Typically the best time to go is on an incoming tide. On an outgoing tide, as current pulls directly out to sea, the upwind aspect can be extremely difficult.

Folly Beach

Launch/Land Zones: North end, South end – stay away from Charleston County Parks areas, including the Pier.

Directions of wind: Any –depending on location...with emphasis being onshore flow from NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW along the main stretch of the island.

Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

Folly Beach has yet to designate specific kiteboarding zone, and we hope to keep it that way. This means it's up to us to keep within safe launch areas and ride away from populated areas. Stay away from SWIM ZONES and the PIER. The official boundaries for County Park are 200 yards South of the County Park facility building to the inlet. The wide open, pretty unpopulated southwest offers the safest area to kiteboard on Folly Beach.

Be very careful to stay upwind of Folly Beach on a Southerly day, or you'll likely end up down-wind near one of the many large rock jetties used to protect sand erosion.

The infamous surf spot, “The Washout”, is reserved for surfers only as it is extremely populated year-round. From Memorial Day - Labor Day, all kiteboarders must stay at least 100 yards from the water’s edge once through the launch zone. Please respect the surfers’ space.

South End:

(Beginner, Advanced, Expert)

This is by far the safest, widest open area on Folly Beach for kiteboarding. And, you can ride it in almost any wind direction. Located in the Folly Beach County Park, this is one of several Charleston County Parks. Here, you'll find the hardest packed sand on the island, making it great spot for kite ground boarding as well as kiteboarding. Stay away from the populated park areas of the beach and stay away from SWIM ZONES and swimmers alike. This is also a great spot for West winds. Though they are a touch side off, the massive salt marsh behind the Island allows the "turbulent land breeze" to stabilize.

Middle Folly

(Beginner, Advanced, Expert)

Directions - ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW
While Folly Beach is open to kiting without restrictions, riding mid-isle can be hazardous as there are unmarked jetties and groins that are submerged at high tide. Hitting one of these while kiteboarding can cause serious injury or death. Most of Folly is wide open, but stay well enough away from the beach (100 yard rule) as many, many surfers cluster the waters at their individual breaks. “The Washout” past 12th street heading north is the most populated, so stay away from everyone in the water.

North End/ Morris Island “Oyster Roast”: \

(EXPERT ONLY) 

Directions – NNW/N/NNE/NE/ENE

Aptly named for the plethora of oyster beds, many visible at low tide near the sandbars around the inlet (into Folly River) and Morris Island, which is across the inlet. Be careful, or the oysters will roast you! Important Note: Oysters also along an underwater hardened mud ledge just off the beach so don’t walk out too far at low tide.

The entire North end is owned by Charleston County Park and Recreations Commission. This is one of the few launch areas for NNW/N/NNE winds in Charleston. Park at the very end of East Ashley Avenue North and walk the long paved path to the very tip (or if NNE, you can ride right there at the end of the cul-de-sac – only a short walk through the path). The northern tip is also known for the Morris Island Lighthouse which is located directly across the inlet. Make it across the channel to hit Morris Island Beach or hit the outside sandbar for large surf...but don’t go down out there or it’s out to sea. It can get rough out there with very strong currents, so ride with a plan and never go alone.

Kiawah Island

Kiawah, and neighboring island Seabrook, are private gated communities. They are a huge mix of posh housing, including Charleston's most prestigious hotel, The Sanctuary. It takes a solid 45 minutes to arrive at the gates, so most people going to these islands either live there or are guests. What this means for kiteboarders is that the only public beach around typically remains mostly vacant of people. The beaches are long, wide, and simply just huge. Even with mild crowds during peak seasons, simply hike south a hundred yards or so and you'll likely be the only soul around. While this falls under Kiawah Island jurisdiction, beach patrol tends to stay out of this private property. Overall,there have yet to be any rules established here.

South End – Beach Walker Park /Captain Sam’s Inlet (public beach)

Launch/Land Zones: Any available.

Directions of wind: Along main stretch, ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW ...at the southern tip, almost any direction.

Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

North End – “Salt Flats” (have to be a guest or visitor of a guest to access this area)

Launch/Land Zones: Any available.

Directions of wind: Along main stretch, E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW ...at the northern tip, you’ll be able to get NNW/N/NNE/NE directions as you wrap around. It’s quite a hike into that northern-most area.

Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

Edisto Island

South End - “Bay Point” to the Main stretch of the island

 

Launch/Land Zones: Any available.

 

Directions of wind: Any –depending on location on tip – can get good NNW/NW/WNW/W winds around point...with emphasis of onshore flow from NE/ENE/E/ESE/SE/SSE/S/SSW/SW/WSW along the main stretch of the island.

Experience Level(s): Beginner, Advanced, Expert

Bay point lies on the southwest tip of Edisto Beach, which is Edisto Island's beachfront town. This little beach shack town is virtually untapped by commercial enterprise. About the most exciting thing around is the local Piggly Wiggly market and McConkey’s Jungle Shack. With southerly Lowcountry Sea Breezes, the northeast current opposes the wind and makes for epic wide open riding. Plus, if you time tides with wind directions, you'll be cruising every time it blows.

Head across the channel to the backside of the Bear Island outer barrier sand bars, where slicks and smoothness await. Careful ....no civilization over there. Of course, paradise does have a flaw...much of the Atlantic side beaches are steep, narrow, and plagued with large rock jetties/groins every 40-60 meters, barely leaving enough room to rig and launch.