The biggest attraction of the North Carolina Coast has always been the miles and miles of water, and sport enthusiasts of all kinds flock to the coast to claim the ocean and sound waters as their own personal playground. Drive along NC Highway 12 in between the Hatteras Island villages of Avon and Buxton on a particularly breezy day, and you'll spot living proof of the simple allure of the water. On these windy days, the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound waters on both sides of the highway will literally be speckled with large kites of all colors gliding across the sky, as the riders hold on and skim across the sound water or ocean waves.
This phenomenon is a relatively new sport called kiteboarding, and it's taking the North Carolina coast by storm. Kiteboarding enthusiasts from all over the world have designated the North Carolina beaches as a veritable Mecca for the sport for its miles of water frontage, perfect wind conditions and its reputation as a hub for the largest kiteboarding camps and stores in the country.
Though kiteboarding has a relatively short history, it has been given the designation of being one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Originally called kitesurfing and gradually evolving into the common term kiteboarding, riders are popping up all over the country as the popularity of the sport grows.
Only a decade old, the origin of the sport is traced to two brothers from France, though some claim that America's own "Cory R." was also an originator of the sport, as he was the first to combine water skis with a large kite. In Hawaii, the ideas merged and the sport evolved. On the North Carolina coast, where windsurfing has always had a popular following, the sport flourished as the windsurfers who had always flocked to the coast easily picked up this new, alternative sport as well.
On the Outer Banks, Hatteras Island's "Kite Point," just 1/4-mile south of the famous Pamlico Sound windsurfing spot known as Canadian Hole, is credited as being one of the first launching points of kiteboarding on the East Coast. In the late 1990s, kiteboarders began to mix with windsurfers at the world famous wind sport launching areas. Today, Kite Point and neighboring Canadian Hole boast more kiteboarders than windsurfers on a regular basis.
So what, exactly, is kiteboarding? To enthusiasts, it's considered the ultimate water sport, encompassing the speed of water skiing, the tricks of wakeboarding, and the carving style turns of surfing. Kiteboarders literally attach themselves to large kites with a harness and lines. The kite is then launched about 100 feet into the air, allowing the riders to glide across the water, using the kite to maneuver them and lift them into the air. In the best conditions, like those found along the North Carolina coastline, an advanced kiteboarder can literally lift himself between 20 and 40 feet into the air and soar for up to seven seconds, spinning and flapping, or just gliding and enjoying the ride.
Beginners, don't worry! This doesn't mean that the only way to enjoy yourself is by performing highly advanced mid-air tricks. Many kiteboarders stick to the water's surface, mastering the technical maneuvers that can power them across miles of water.
With literally hundreds of miles of water frontage, North Carolina kiteboarders have a lot of possibilities when it comes to where to go to enjoy this sport. Beginners find that the calmer waters of the coast's Sounds, like the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound, are an ideal place to learn and hone their skills. Intermediate and advanced kiteboarders find that the unpredictable breakers of the Atlantic Ocean are a challenging locale for the sport. Often, you can find different bodies of water, and therefore different launching points, all located within the same area. For example, right across from Hatteras Island's Kite Point is Ego Beach, a popular spot for advanced Kiteboarders to test their abilities in the Atlantic Ocean.