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Oregon North Coast: Sunset Beach Kiteboarding Guide
IMPORTANT: If you are a beginner Kiteboarder, there are not many places better than the miles open beaches between Gearhart and Camp Rilea. If you show up to Sunset Beach without proper knowledge and experience of how to kiteboard safely, you will probably be left alone. For information on lessons or local information contact one of the local shops Pacific Wave or Cleanline. New Wind also offers advanced wave camps/clinics with Summer House.
Looking for decent free forecasting and sensor resources for the Oregon Coast? Take a look at our Forecast Page.
Sunset Beach is one of the most accessible and safe ocean kiteboarding venues in the Northwest. Because there is no development on or near the beach, kiters can expect few obstructions and plenty of room for maneuvering. As the gateway to approximately 12 miles of drivable beach, Sunset Beach provides access to kiteboarding, kite-buggying, landboarding, and just plain kite flying.
Directions . Hwy 26:
Sunset Beach is located 110 miles west of Portland on Hwy 101 @ Sunset Beach Lane. Take Hwy 26 west and follow the signs to Seaside-Astoria Hwy 101. Continue north through Seaside approximately 8 miles to Sunset Beach Lane and take it west. The road ends as an access point to drive on the beach. Occasionally, this access is not suitable for 2wd vehicles so take care; off-beach parking and porta-johns are available at a turn-out prior to driving on the beach.
Directions . Hwy 30:
Sunset Beach is located 110 miles west of Portland on Hwy 101 @ Sunset Beach Lane. Take Interstate 5 north to the Hwy 432 Longview exit. Follow the signs to Astoria and take Hwy 433 over the bridge to Oregon Hwy 30 west approximately 50 miles to Astoria. Continue through Astoria towards Seaside and Hwy 101. Follow Hwy 101 approximately 12 miles to Sunset Beach Beach Lane and take it west. The road ends as an access point to drive on the beach. Occasionally, this access is not suitable for 2wd vehicles so take care; parking off the beach and porta-johns are available at a turn-out prior to driving on the beach.
- Accessibility to vehicles on the beach means you are launching and landing on a public roadway. Beware of parked and moving vehicles. The beach is patrolled with radar and the speed limit is strictly enforced at 25mph.
- Camp Rilea (north of Sunset Beach approximately 3 miles and extends north another mile) is an Oregon National Guard military reservation and it is common for them to conduct firing exercises. Guards will be posted and military vehicles will be present warning beach users to keep out. When there are not firing exercises, it is OK to be in the area.
- Coordinate downwinders with others or by yourself. It is easy to hitch a ride back to your vehicle; there always seems to be an empty pickup bed going back upwind.
- Rig kites and park your vehicles up next to the sand dunes leaving the hard-pack sand for traffic, other beach users, landboarders, etc.
- Fires are permitted on the beach but there is no camping and you need to be gone by 10pm.
- Obviously, ocean conditions can range from lake-like to critical. Always watch for large waves, rips, logs/branches, and sea life.
- Water temperatures range from the low 40.s to low 60.s depending on the season/currents. Typical wetsuit thicknesses are 5 or 4 mil with or without booties/hoods.
- Helmets, leashes, and life jackets are recommended.
- It is not wise to kite further out than you are willing to swim; take ocean conditions into making that decision. Help cannot be expected from emergency services and depending on the conditions, other kiters may not be able to assist.
- The beach is safe and a fun place to learn or rip. Respect other users of the beach and you are good.
- NWS Clatsop sensor is what you want to watch. You'll need your whole board and kite quivers as the conditions can range dramatically.
- Wind can be blowing as early as 11am from the N NW in the late spring/summer/early fall and blow until dark. Best between 2-6pm.
- Short periods (2-4 hours) of good SW to W winds can be had in the off-season.
- Ft. Stevens. Parking Lot D is on the Lower Columbia and can offer good NW and E winds if the beach is not to your liking. Watch the currents.
(Special thanks to barfly for compiling this guide!)
More tips from regional riders:
"- Your not at the top of the food chain anymore. . .
- Buddy system is a great idea.
- Dress warmer than you think you need in the event your caught in the water for whatever reason.
- The beach that allows cars is considered a state road and the speed limit is 25mph. Its patrolled w/4x4 and radar.
- Always leave offerings under the bridge for the 'River Troll'."