Squamish is one of the most incredible adventure destinations in the world with a huge variety of extreme spots to enjoy including mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, back country skiing, hiking and of course kiting! Squamish is located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler in British Columbia, Canada surrounded by beautiful mountains and water. The kite spot is the Spit located where the Howe Sound meets the Squamish River.
Kite season: May-October
Wind conditions: 20-25 knots
Water conditions: flat/choppy
Water temperature: 5-8 degrees C (5mm wet suit recommended)
Kiting from the Spit
The Spit is the launch and land spot in Squamish. The wind blows offshore from the spit making it an advanced kite boarding spot. Because of the offshore wind, it is necessary to know how to ride upwind, upwind body drag to get your board back as well as perform a self rescue in the water. The launching spot is quite small so there are launching etiquette rules to help keep the spit safe and as least crowded as possible. Make sure to go the Sea Can to pay the annual or daily Spit user fee and get acquainted with the rules as well as learn about all the hazards including currents and obstacles in the area.
The Squamish Wind Sports Society operates a jet ski rescue service between May 15th and September 15th to make sure no kite boarders end up in the Estuary (a protected wildlife area). If you do need a rescue be sure to perform a self rescue and wrap your lines to the jet ski can come and pick you up without sucking up your lines.
The beautiful, constant winds in Squamish that everyone talks about come in the summer months. The winds are thermal, meaning they are driven by heat. As the north and inland heat up a temperature difference is created which in turn creates a pressure difference. As the pressure difference increases the cool air (high pressure) from the south is sucked to the north (low pressure) creating a southerly wind. The opposite effect happens during the night as the inland cools to lower temperatures than Vancouver bringing winds from the north.
The wind generally switches to southerly between 8-10am and builds quickly. Wind speeds build to 20-25 knots. The wind begins to drop around 5pm but usually remains ride-able until 8pm. Squamish kiteboarding is some of the best in North America.
You can check and forecast the wind using the following links:
As the Howe Sound is ocean, it is affected by the tide. When the tide goes below 1.7m a sand bar starts to show in front of the spit and along the outside of the river. The sandbar in front of the spit grows larger and larger as the tide gets lower bringing a huge beach. The beach allows for a much larger launching area and a nice place for relaxing. The sandbar also creates a smaller channel where the river pushes out into the ocean making the river flow even faster. The wind blows in the opposite direction of the river current creating much more power when riding in the river. Be careful not to lose your board in the river as the current will take it upwind very quickly!
Learning to Kiteboard in Squamish
Taking lessons is essential to learning kiteboarding. You can take lessons from downtown Squamish or from the Spit. All lessons are done from boats, as it is not safe for beginners to learn from the spit. Beginners will be taken way upwind away from all other riders to learn the basics of kite flying while the kite is hooked into the boat. Once they have mastered kite flying they will go in the water hooked to the kite to practice body dragging and then try for the board.
Kite Shop, Gear Rentals & Repairs
The only Squamish kiteboarding shop- Squamish Watersports/Aerial Kiteboarding is located downtown Squamish offering gear sails, rentals, lessons and repairs. Rentals can also be picked up at the spit from the gear trailer. Please call before heading to the spit for rentals to ensure that someone is there to help you. All gear repairs can be done at the shop including canopy tears, bladder and valve leaks, bar repairs, line checks and more. We will lend you gear to use for free while your gear is in for repair.
Kiting from Downtown
Escape the crowded spit and hitch a ride upwind in a boat. Start from downtown at the Squamish Watersports shop and get an upwind drop from in a boat and a ride back to the shop when your session is over. Enjoy the hot tub and hot showers after a cold session in the Howe Sound! It is also possible to kiteboard from Nexen beach, though the wind blow directly onshore with many obstacles around. You must be a very confident rider to ride from Nexen.