The small handful of problems with kiteboarding Plymouth Beach, an hour from Boston, are easy to circumvent with a little planning and forethought.
During most of the better kiteboarding months of the year the water can be cold. So plan on at least a shorty if not a farmer john wetsuit, even during the summer, and especially during spring and fall, when conditions at the beach tend to be better. A farmer john topped with a whitewater kayaking drytop is one good idea.
Second problem here are the residents-only and high-fee parking regulations that limit access to the beach during most June, July and August. Kiteboard after 5:00 pm during those months.
If you plan to kiteboard Plymouth Beach during the summer, you’ll need a parking permit and a four-wheel drive vehicle. This is a lifeguarded beach, so kiteboarding, windsurfing or launching a sea kayak from the beach are restricted to the lower northern end, where there are also periodic access restrictions during piping plover nesting and hatching season.
Access issues aside, this is a most excellent southwest, southeast and northeast wind kiteboarding beach. Consistent surf and chop roll in on the beach during easterly winds, especially those from the northeast.
Moreover, kiteboard the lower northern half Plymouth Beach and you gain access to the hard breaking surf, steep chop and natural dry sand resting area about a half-mile offshore, enormous Browns Bank.
Brown’s Bank, roughly a mile long by half a mile wide, bares its tan flanks at half tide and lower, and creates wonderfully rough conditions two hours on either side of high tide.
The bank is not only a thrilling area to kiteboard, but at low tide provides convenient place step off your board, douse your kite and take a break.
Keep in mind that strong sides to prevail along the northern and western edges of Brown’s Bank, especially near the Bug Light, so be sure to bring along your advanced kite boarding surfing skills and tide awareness if you have this destination in mind.
Other caveats for kite boarding barrier Plymouth Beach: winds from the northwest, west and southwest blow offshore. Although the side-shore kite boarding is viable and consistent in good breezes, gear breakdown, injury, fatigue and the inability to relaunch your kite makes you vulnerable to the open water push and insistence of these offshore breezes. In winds from the western side of the compass, Plymouth Beach very much becomes high intermediates to experts- only beach.
As for east or northeast winds, these create conditions that hold tight in against the beach. Combined with rough water and breaking surf, easterlies also create conditions tricky and challenging, and potentially dangerous, to all but experts. Winds from the east and northeast are typically driven in by offshore storms, which can make for a gray and wet overcast day. Dress warm!
The launching area has a couple of advantages. The berm and slope of the beach are gradual, making launching easier. Steep dumping surf builds here only infrequently.
Depending upon which the end of the beach you launch from — the stonier and rockier southern end by the restaurant parking lot and adjacent to the Eel River Creek, won’t please the fastidious and fussy. If you like inflating your kite on a stony beach, bring along a section of Astroturf to rest your gear on.
The middle and lower northern ends of the beach alternate between wide swaths of smooth sand and large boulders, called glacial erratics, here and there. Intermittent sea walls and retaining walls front some sections of the beach until, at the beach’s lower end, they sandy apron that grows wide.
The further north you hike or drive down the spine of this beautiful, lengthy barrier beach the more open the shores become.
Keep in mind that lower three quarters of the beach are four-wheel drive only. Also, during some months in spring and early summer, large portions of the beach are closed to provide nesting space for the piping plover, a rare, easily disturbed bird that nests in scrapes out in the open.
For related stories on enjoying the outdoors in Massachusetts, see the content-rich blogs Sea Kayaking Dot Net and NorthAmerican Kayak Fishing.