AVERAGE COSTSBeer: $3
Restaurant Meal: $10
Accommodation: $30 per night
THE LUREYou name it; SPI has it! This small beach city's focus is on outdoor activities. Superb wind, a million acres of flat, shallow, warm Gulf waters, warm air and water temperatures as well as a lack of crowds make this a kiter's dream (although you'll definitely find a good party!).
THE SET-UPThe island runs almost straight north to south and is less than a mile wide. Choose from sheltered butter-flats on the Laguna Madre Bay side, to head-high, pitching waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Laguna Madre Bay on the west side has over a million acres of flat, shallow waters. Wherever you put your kite down you'll be able to touch the bottom. The main launches on this side are just north of town, starting with the south flats. A sandy bottom and shallow blue water make this a premier kite spot in northeast to northwest winds. Up the road the north flats work in 360 degrees of wind, but costs $15 per month or $25 per year for access. Passes and local advice available at the kite shops. The wind is generally stronger towards the middle of the eight mile bay, so it's a good idea to join the local shop's guided downwinders as they'll take you straight to the wind. For surf, the Gulf of Mexico side provides 15 miles of coastline with side-shore winds. Intermediate to advanced riders can shred chest to head-high, steep, fast and smack-able waves. Pitching more on the inside and remaining mellower beyond the first couple of sand bars, you can really choose your desired gradient. Do a downwinder, hop in a cab and do it all again!
WIND, WEATHER AND WATERThe winds average 17 knots all year! The busiest kite seasons are spring (March to June with ridiculously consistent thermals mid-summer) and fall/autumn (September to November) when the weather and water temperatures are still warm. August through early October is tropical hurricane season and can be unpredictable. As cold fronts approach between September and November from northern states, the south winds are sucked in from the Caribbean, often blowing 20 knots for several days. As the north front reaches Texas, the direction switches 180 degrees and it nukes from the north at 35+ knots. North winds are strongest in first few days before easing. The regular south winds soon return with consistency after 'winter' which is occasionally cold for the odd day or two, but nothing piercing. April to November boardshorts / light wetsuit weather. Summer temperatures can reach 32°C / 90°F. Year round average water temps: 25°C / 77°F. Slap on that sunscreen and make sure you bring all your kites – you'll use 'em!
ACCOMMODATIONAll you'd expect for a destination resort set-up for tourism, from budget motels to houses for the family.
SCHOOLSAIR PADRE KITEBOARDING is the premier centre on SPI, offering camps and lessons, beginner – advanced, year round. Support boats and radio helmets for every student. Surfing, SUP, kayaking and wakeboarding also offered, as well as a kite repair service and large selection of multi-sport rental gear.
Accredited by: IKO and PASA
+1 956 299 9463
NO WINDThe best surf in the Gulf of Mexico. Scuba diving, snorkelling, SUPing, jet-skiing, dune buggies, fishing, sailing, sky diving and dolphin watching are also great fun. A $3 cab will take you to any place or activity on the island. The Mexican border is just 15 miles south...
GET AROUNDSPI has good local transportation, but hiring a car is recommended to make the most of spots and sights.
CURRENCYUS Dollar ($): £1 = $1.6 / €1 = $1.4
FOOD AND DRINKDriving down Padre Blvd, look out for Blackbeard's Padre Island Brewing Co. and Captain Roy's D'Pizza Joint. Three supermarkets for self catering. Nightlife is at the south end of the island with bars lined side-by-side - try Louie's Backyard or Wanna Wanna. Best views of the technicolour sunsets with tasty cocktails at Laguna Bob's, Tequila Sunset or Palm St. Pier. More conveniences etc. are a 30-minute drive inland to Brownsville.
AIRPORTBrownsville airport (BRO) is 30 minutes inland, Harlington airport (HRL) is 45 minutes away and McAllen (MFE), 90.
Lake Como | Italy
Just an hour from Milan and home of the Italian Freestyle Champion, Stefano Martinelli, you can be sure you’ll pack in the riding time on Lake Como. Mix your kitesurfing trip with beautiful food, historical site visits and there’s also a cable park filled with kickers and sliders just a ten minute bike ride from the spot of Colico.
Baraka Charters | The Caribbean
Embark on a week-long quest for waves and flat water spots in crystal-clear, warm seas, many that are only accessible by boat, creating your own dynamic adventure through the pristine Caribbean oceans. You’ll anchor at idyllic spots around remote tropical islands with the thrill of launching directly off the boat. Your kite spot will extend to the horizon, shared with only the handful of riders also onboard. A change of scenery everyday, this is the the freshest of experiences you could hope to have.
Cocos Keeling Islands | Australia
Warm, flat aqua-blue waters that you’ll find here are like the kiting conditions you see in your dreams. Perfect for beginner and advanced riders wanting 15 – 20 knot winds morning, noon and night. There’s no wonder that The Cocos Islands are growing in reputation for blissful kiteboarding and if you’re lucky you can kite with the turtles, reef sharks and manta rays.
Kalpitiya | Sri Lanka
Experience phenomenal kite safari opportunities or stay right at your boutique hotel situated right on the flat water lagoon, with the option of riding on the sea. You can even watch the conditions from the pool!
Ulcinj | Montenegro
A new kiting hotspot on mainland Europe is being developed in Montenegro, former Yugoslavia. Ulcinj (pronounced: ‘Ooltseenie’), the southernmost town in Montenegro features a 14 kilometre long sandy beach and super steady side-onshore thermal winds that blow every day in the summer!
Keros | Limnos | Greece
Keros is a super safe sandy kitesurfing bay with a variety of conditions, suitable for all. The whole set up is within a protected ecosystem where you can spot wildlife such as rabbits, flamingos and rare species of flora.
The Algarve | Portugal
Glassy morning wakeboarding or surfing sessions are the perfect way to kick the early hours off, then it’s over to an afternoon of regular 25 knot wind speeds for some kiting action, changing spots a few times a week.
Sotavento | Fuerteventura
A year-round kiting holiday-makers’ favourite, Sotavento has a huge wide-open tropical beach land where you can ride the warm, shallow lagoon or hop over to the bright blue ocean for more bump ‘n’ jump action. Check out the stats – it blows here!