Time to explore the Californian Kite spots! The first one is a beginner friendly location in the San Francisco Bay: Alameda Beach, officially known as Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach.
A long sandy beach, shallow waves and the San Francisco Skyline on the horizon: it is a great spot. Not only for kite surfers though. There are families, BBQ parties, sunbathers, folks with trainer kites, bikers on the beach, the bike trail and the lawn and stand-up paddlers, swimmers, wind surfers and others in the water. On a sunny, windy weekend day this place can get crowded. The local Kite School Boardsports has a designated launching area. So we’ve launched there and none of the other beach goers was entangled in our kites. But we made the big mistake to unreel the lines across the bike path. A mini-biker of about 6 years rolled over them and it took a while to free his bike from Kite lines. Lesson learned: There are better places for kite lines than walkways. I guess at a crowded place like this one, it’s good to read the safety guidelines first.
The kiters distribute themselves over a large kite-able area and so it was not too crowded in the water while I was there. The long beach is perfect for folks like me, downwind surfing, upwind walking. I really have to learn going upwind soon. This spot is perfect for beginners as the waves are usually small and there is no perceptible current.
There are rumors out there that surfers need to share the Bay with sharks. The great white shark! A wide area on the ocean side of the Golden Gate Bride, from Bodega Bay, North of San Francisco, all the way to Big Sur, far South of San Francisco, is called Red Triangle. It’s a preferred breeding area for many marine mammals like elephant seals, sea lions, and otters which are the great white shark’s delicacy. Like the famous sea lions of Fisherman’s Wharf. Fat and numerous tidbits for the white’s, right in the Bay.
I guess, that’s the good reason to learn quickly how to stay on the board and ride fast. Better don’t look like a yummy, fat sea lion.
Kite boarding parameters
Season: April through October
Wind: Wind Alert USS Hornet is not very reliable. Better trust the locals. Boardsports is the local Kite school and the guys there are incredibly good in predicting the afternoon winds by reading the fog bank in the West and the wind condition on the ocean side of Golden Gate Bridge. It seems like more fog in the morning on the ocean side means more wind in the Bay in the afternoon.
Tide and Current: Not much current. Here is a Tide Overview. Low tide really means no water at all. You can walk far out dry-shod.
Waves: Shallow Bay waves are perfect for beginners.
Wetsuit: Yep. The Bay is cold. Not freezing, but year around wetsuit-cold.
Beach: Long and sandy beach without rocks. Enough space for lots of kites and sun bathing folks.
Specialty: Maybe sharks are around, so better don’t look like a seal.
Who’s there: Kite boarding beginners, some intermediate and one or two advanced riders.
Good to know: Kiteboarding safety rules
How to get there: It’s a 25 min drive from San Francisco’s busy Market Street, across the Bay Bridge and south on I-880 till Exit 42. Then follow 5th Street East and the Alameda Sign, through a tunnel and just keep going till you see water. Parking is no problem. During season it’s $5 when the booth is attended. Otherwise it’s free.
And back: On the way back to San Francisco you’ll find yourself most likely together with 500 other cars in in front of the Bridge Toll Booths. It’s around $5 or $6. Wait in line and pay cash or wave and smile because you’ve got a FasTrak toll tag.
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