PURSUITS: Go Ride A Kite
Hitch your board to a stiff breeze and skim the waves at park sites around the country.
Kiteboarding is like water-skiing minus the boat. Feet strapped to a board, you crouch in the water, then hold on tight as the wind fills a bed-size kite. If all goes well—and you don’t tumble into the drink—you’re tugged upright and sped off at speeds of as much as 25 miles per hour. Though the sport attracts its share of thrill seekers, the recent advent of easier to-control kites has made kiteboarding novice-friendly. So try riding the waves at one of these kite-friendly national parks.
BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
The air and water are always nice, with year-round temperatures in the low 80s, and the wind usually a bracing 12 knots. Advanced kiteboarders head to Buck Island, just off the northeast shore of Christiansted, St. Croix, particularly popular for its broad white-sand beach. (Lessons: Kite St. Croix)
CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE
With 64 miles of sandy ocean beaches and more than 20 days a month of consistent wind, this is one of the nation’s prime kiteboard destinations. On the mainland side of the skinny barrier islands are the warm waters of Pamlico Sound, a giant practice pool for novices. Advanced kiters launch from the ocean side. (Lessons: Real Kiteboarding)
ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
As at Hatteras, Assateague allows kiters to choose between the mellow side of the sound and the Atlantic’s big waves, with multiple locations allowing kiteboarders to take advantage of different wind directions. (Lessons: East of Maui)
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE
The coastline of Sleeping Bear Dunes twists and turns down the eastern side of Lake Michigan for 35 miles, so no matter which way the wind blows there’s always a good spot to kiteboard. And blow it does, at a reliable 15-plus knots from spring through late fall. The best spot for beginners is Esch Road Beach, with its wide open bay. (Lessons: Broneah Kiteboarding)