Board Sports: Paddleboarding, Skimboarding & More

With all its beaches, bays, waterways and famously sublime weather, St. Pete/Clearwater is a magnet for board sports enthusiasts. Learn about the local favorites like kiteboarding and skimboarding here.


From stand-up paddleboarding or skimboarding along the Gulf of Mexico to windsurfing or kiteboarding in Tampa Bay when the wind kicks up, the area is great place for board sports of all kinds. With a quick check of the weather and a little help from the locals, you can find something to ride almost any day. And since you’re never far from the coast, getting on the water couldn't be easier.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Fun, Fitness, and It Floats

Stand-Up Paddleboarding – also known as 'SUP' – has gained popularity worldwide, attracting surfers, kayakers and water lovers of all fitness levels. SUPs are a blast for anyone and offer a true full-body workout if you push it. Locals will tell you: It can take a little while to get the hang of it, but with some practice you'll be gliding across the water like a pro.

You can find SUP outfitters throughout the area. Launch from the beach and paddle along the shore – the area's warm, calm Gulf waters were made for this. For a look into natural Florida, cruise the Intracoastal Waterway or Weedon Island Preserve on the bay side. Catch glimpses of native wildlife as you paddle along the coast or small mangrove islands. To step it up, take an exercise class from Water Monkey in St. Pete Beach.

Skimboarding: Run, Drop, & Slide

The Gulf Coast is a skimboard mecca. With modern boards, skimboarders can rival surfers when it comes to ride length and quality. The shorebreak is often small and manageable, so most days are perfect for beginners. And should a swell arrive, the same goes for the surf, which usually stays around two to three feet. The Gulf's soft, sandy bottom is especially welcome.

You can pick up a skimboard or surfboard at one of many local surf shops, including Reno Beach Surf Shop in St. Pete. Make a point to stop into Nekton Surf Shop in Indian Rocks Beach, owned by Gulf Coast surfing legends, the Lopez family. Cory and Shea Lopez put Gulf Coast surfing on the map in the late '90s, ranking in the Top 40 of the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour.

Popular spots for skimming and surfing include Sand Key, Indian Rocks Beach and Redington Shores, near the Redington Long Pier. With daily surf reports and photos as well as weekly forecasts, sites like Gulfster.com make it easy to track down some slide-worthy skim or surf.

If you're digging the beach scene and want to stay close by, check out the surf-themed Postcard Inn on the Beach. It's right on St. Pete Beach, voted TripAdvisor's No. 3 Beach in the U.S. for 2017. The hotel is Endless Summer meets High Modern, with a touch of island style. They have SUPs for rent, too. Other beachfront hotels offering SUPs right onsite or within walking distance include Island Inn Beach Resort on Treasure Island and Palm Pavilion Inn on Clearwater Beach, which was named TripAdvisor's top beach in 2016 and landed at No. 4 in 2017.

Kiteboarding: Take to the Sky

St. Pete/Clearwater is a prime spot for what might be the most extreme sport to ever come out of surfing: kiteboarding, basically a combination of surfing, sailing and skydiving. Riders can travel up to 30 or 40 miles per hour, soaring several stories high.

The hotspots are near the stunning Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Fort De Soto Park; both have access to Tampa Bay. Riders know about this body of water's unique nature: While you can certainly kiteboard on the Gulf, the bay is good for kiteboarding no matter what direction the wind is blowing.

The sport is demanding and lessons are an absolute must. Several outfitters can get you set up with gear and lessons; Best Pro Kiteboarding Center in St. Pete Beach is one to try. Be ready to be pulled around the water by a very large kite. But once you get a hang of it, well, it's like nothing else in this world.

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Weedon Island Preserve Cultural & Natural History Center

City: St. Petersburg
Category: Museums

Address
1800 Weedon Dr. N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33702

Phone: 727-453-6500

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Water Monkey Shop

City: St. Petersburg
Category: Shopping

Address
1305 49th St. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33707

Phone: 727-461-3637

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Reno Beach Surf Shop

City: St. Petersburg

Address
1031 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Phone: 727-896-7873

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Nekton Surf Shop

City: Indian Rocks Beach

Address
1303 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

Phone: 727-593-8292

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Sand Key Park

City: Clearwater
Category: Beaches

Address
1060 Gulf Blvd.
Clearwater, FL 33767

Phone: 727-582-2100

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Indian Rocks Beach

City: Indian Rocks Beach
Category: Beaches

Address
1700 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

Phone: 727-588-4852
Toll Free: 727-464-3379

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Redington Shores

City: Redington Shores
Category: Beaches

Address
18200 Gulf Blvd.
Redington Shores, FL 33708

Phone: 727-588-4882
Toll Free: 727-464-3379

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Redington Long Pier

City: Redington Shores

Address
17490 Gulf Blvd.
Redington Shores, FL 33708

Phone: 727-391-9398

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Postcard Inn On the Beach

City: St. Pete Beach
Category: Dining

Address
6300 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Phone: 727-367-2711
Toll Free: 800-578-7878

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Island Inn Beach Resort

City: Treasure Island

Address
9980 Gulf Blvd.
Treasure Island, FL 33706

Phone: 727-367-1926
Toll Free: 800-241-9980

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Palm Pavilion Inn

City: Clearwater Beach

Address
18 Bay Esplanade
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

Phone: 727-446-6777
Toll Free: 800-433-7256

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Clearwater Beach

City: Clearwater Beach
Category: Beaches

Address
10 Pier 60 Dr.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

Phone: 888-799-3199

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Fort De Soto Park

City: Tierra Verde

Address
3500 Pinellas Bayway S.
Tierra Verde, FL 33715

Phone: 727-552-1862

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Best Pro Kiteboarding Center

City: St. Pete Beach

Address
4737 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Phone: 727-458-3502

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