While Crissy Field and Points South are some of the San Francisco Bay Area's best kiteboarding Marin County also has its fair share of great kiteboarding spots. With that said here is a quick break down of some places to kiteboard in Marin.
San Francisco Bay and the surrounding Coastal waters provide a variety of kiting conditions that truly make Northern California a "Kiteboarder's Paradise". Within two hours drive from San Francisco, one can find countless locations to kite, be it the mystic of kiting beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, to the consistent winds of Sherman Island, to the Waves of Waddell, Northern California offers Kite Surfers a plethora of conditions/locations. Here at 101 Surf Sports we pride ourselves on being very knowledgeable about San Francisco Bay, the winds and tides associated with the Bay and every little nuance that surrounds each kiting location.
Kite sizes can vary, however tendency is to ride kites between 10 to 12 meters (Note: the average being a rider of 185 pounds), within San Francisco Bay and a 6 to 9 meter kites, if you are kiteboarding the Coast, as the winds tend to be stronger. Boards size vary based on your riding styles, but twin-tips tend to be between 120 and 140 cm, however due to strong tidal currents certain locations it may be preferred desire to ride a directional board or a race board, such as Crissy Field.
Due to the natural topography and the change between the Pacific Ocean's water temperature and the high temperatures found in the Sacramento Valley during the summer months result in consistent West and Northwest winds from March through September. During the winter months our wind dramatically decreases and the only wind found during this period is typically either pre or post Storm Winds (so one's timing is critical).
Richardson's Bay - Not a spot that is kited often however due to the prevailing "fog Bank" that sits on the ridgeline above the 101 Freeway, Richardson Bay, can be a great little spot to kite. Launch at Blackie's pasture off of Tiburon Blvd. and make your way upwind towards the Sausalito Marinas. To kite Richardson's Bay one must be able to kite upwind immediately and one must be able to self-launch and land there kite, as this is not a spot that is heavily kited. Note that Richardson Bay is shallow and cannot be kited during low tide. Map of Richardson Bay Click Here
Larkspur - A great place to kite for intermediate kiter's on up, as the launching and landing spots are not ideal and can be a little tricky due to the wind shadow caused by the Power Poles and narrow beaches. It is best to park behind Cost Plus and walk 15 minutes to the launch spot. Larkspur is a tidal location and it is best to kite on an upcoming tide through high tide. Larkspur has a good variety of flat water and good wind chop waves for boosting airs, add the scenery of Mt Tamalpais and the added element of being escorted off San Quentin Maximum Security Prison at gunpoint, if you decide to emergency self rescue yourself, make Larkspur a great North Bay kiting spot albeit a little fickle on wind. You can also park, rig and launch next to Marin Country Day School off of Paradise Drive, if you choose. Map of Larkspur Click Here.
Stinson Beach - is a great side off beach that can be a little fickle as the wind has a tendency to "pull back" from the shore and can make getting back to the beach tricky and this is "whitey's home" so spending time in the water as bait is not advised. Stinson is a beach break, so some knowledge of wave riding is favorable. Typically a more popular kiting location in Marin with a consistent group of kiter's when the wind works. Stinson Beach is also a spot to kite on the clearing winds typically found during the winter months as the storms pass-through. Map of Stinson Beach Click Here.
Tomales Bay - Millerton State Park located along the South-Eastern Side of Tomales Bay. Millerton offers a great place to kite with a section of perfect "butter" to boost huge freestyle tricks. Millerton's sand dune offers you a protected beach and picnic area where family can watch you kite out of the wind and a place to rig your kite. Low tides can be a problem with Millerton, so check your tide book before driving out. Map of Tomales Bay Click Here.
Palo Marin - If you are on a Soul Searching mission to kite waves without the crowds found at Waddell Creek then Palo Marin is your destination. Requires knowing where to park and which cow pasture to walk through, but the rewards can be well worth it as there are great waves to be had. Whitey's home, so no chumming. Click Here for Palo Marin Map.
"Tuba" aka the Estuary at Drake's Beach - probably the Best Wave to kite in Marin, but there is a catch, it is "illegal" to kite, as there is a bird nesting ground that is not to be disturbed, however Rangers tend to allow kiting to happen. Two ways to get there either kite up from Limantour Beach or park in the Drake's Beach Parking lot and walk down the beach 2 miles to the mouth of the Estuary to rig and launch. Map of Limantour Beach
"Brick Yards": Our home spot here at 101 Surf Sports! Located just a few short miles from our shop BY offers a good kiting right down the road. Park in the designated parking spots and walk over to the beach to rig and launch. Numerous obstacles some marked lie in the water and this location does not work on a low tide. Winds here have to be Westerly as there is a wind shadow for a Northwest wind. Map to Brickyards San Rafael.
Bodega Bay: Located within the Northern End of our go to kiting areas this location is home to Whitey and big winds, so be prepared to ride your smaller kite. A great windy spot to kite either the flat water within the Harbor or the waves outside the harbor, also home to Whitey. Beginners and intermediate riders it is best to stay inside the Harbor. A low tide makes Bodega Harbor to shallow to kite, so check the tide book before heading out. Map to Bodega Bay.
Dillon Beach: Again on the Northern end of our "go to" kite locations, however Dillon Beach offers a great wave and a great beach to kite surf, Dillon Beach is also home to Whitey, so please keep chumming time to a minimum. Typically a windy location, so smaller kites and a wave board are preferred. Map to Dillon Beach
Kitesurfing from a boat. The other way to experience the endless kiting opportunities here in San Francisco is from a boat, as there are numerous locations that have very consistent wind, but due to lack of water access and/or the in-ability to launch/land your kite make kiting these locations "un-kitable." This is where have a boat and a knowledgeable captain can give you countless locations to kite including, but not limited to San Pablo Bay and Angel Island to name a few kite locations. Pictured at right is our Kite the Bay Power Boat Platform.
Other notable kiting locations that merit discussion in the Greater San Francsico Bay include Crissy Field, Waddell Creek, Sherman Island, and 3rd Avenue for your true San Francisco Kite Surfing Experience.
Disclaimer: This is a working document that will change as our knowledge to the various locations change or, a change in laws prohibiting kiting in a certain location.