Fort Desoto Park is at the southern most tip of Pinellas county, and one of the largest parks in Pinellas County. At the East Tip of the park, you'll find world-famous "East Beach", Tampa Bay's premeire kiteboarding spot that offers access to miles of grass flats at the mouth of Tampa Bay. The grassy launch area for parking, rigging, and packing up your kite gear is a true blessing in convenience. Local kiters have a long history there (nearly 15 years), and it's only through the good graces of park management that we still enjoy the privilege of kiting this crown jewel of kiteboarding spots.
The Tampa Bay grass flats offer flat, shallow and warm water, which is perfect for progressing rapidly in the sport. Inside the sandbar the water is shallow, deep and choppy on the outside. At low tide, the water may be too shallow to ride here. High tides usually have water depths of 2’-4’ inside the sandbar.
This launch site can sometimes be quite crowded. Parking can be an issue when the beach is crowded. Please park uniformly along the road, creating more space to launch and set up kites. If you are new to the launch, please don't hesitate to speak with the locals for tips and info regarding this site. Set up and launching of the kite can often be difficult due to limited space. Always launch kite towards the water and wind up your lines immediately after landing your kite. Beware of updrafts around mangrove areas, if you plan on riding on the "back side", please carry your kite through the mangroves, or go around the East tip.
Best wind directions: NE-E-SE-S-SW
You will enter the park on S.R. 679 a.k.a. Pinellas Bayway. There is a .35 toll before the entrance to the park. Once inside the park, there is a 5.00 per vehicle entry fee. Annual passes may be purchased at the Park Headquarters for 75.00 that are also good for North Pinellas Kiteboarding Spots, Sand Key Park and Honeymoon Island Park.
Getting to East Beach-
After the 5.00 toll plaza, you'll reach a stop sign looking directly at the flagpole and park office. Go LEFT and follow the road past the "East Beach" sign to the end of the road. This is technically the East Tip of the park and has no facilities. As you approach the kiteboarding area, you will see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and likely, lots of kites in the sky. It's a truly awesome spot, and great for beginners to hone their skills.
As the beach and rigging area is long and quite narrow, please park vehicles close to the road. Most kiters back into the parking spot to allow for easy access to their gear. On a good windy day, there can (and will) be up to 100 kiters show up, so please plan for that and park accordingly.
This is a matter of personal preference, but most kiters at this launch site do a "Downwind Setup", with the kite placed downwind, and bar laid out upwind. IF you rigged your kite and not ready to launch yet, please wind up your lines to avoid tangles.
Observe the riding area and the flow of trafffic before launching. You will notice a sandbar a good distance from the beach, where the grass flat ends and deep water begins. Newer kiters are encouraged to stay well inside the sandbar until they're proficent at deep-water relaunch.
Absolutely NO Commercial Activity Allowed. This has always been a thorn in the side of park officials and in Dec. 2015, they began taking action on their own to stop it. This includes any form of payment on the beach for lessons or gear sales, flags, beach tents, and flyers. The Dec. 2015 incident also resulted in the loss of Fort Desoto Park as an event venue for all kiteboarders, so it's safe to say that any offended willl be immediately reported to authorities, by anyone who spots it.