Everything to Know About Windsurfing in San Diego | LaJolla.com

Everything to Know About Windsurfing in San Diego

Did you know windsurfing (also known as boardsailing or sailboarding) got its start in California? Yup. This exhilarating wind-propelled water activity is a mashup of the rich surfing culture and the innovative aerospace industry, which are both deeply entrenched in the Southern California scene. Aeronautical engineer, Jim Drake, started working on the concept of attaching a sail to a surfboard in his Santa Monica garage. After he patented the windsurfing idea in 1968, Drake went on to design the first version of a board with an articulating sail.  The rest is history, as they say.  Today, windsurfing in San Diego has become a beloved recreational activity, a competitive water sport, and all-around smashing good fun for locals and tourists alike.

Top Spots for Windsurfing in San Diego

When it comes to windsurfing, San Diego opens up its waterways with a wealth of wondrous opportunities. From sailing away in the open water to drifting calmly inshore, there’s no telling where the wind will take you when you set sail. But where to go? We’ve got you covered. Here is a list of some of the best windsurfing locations in San Diego, along with top shops for rentals, lessons, and more.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center

Image courtesy of mbaquaticcenter.com

From San Diego surf lessons and kayaking to sailing and windsurfing classes – Mission Bay Aquatic Center is the place to get sick skills in water sports. Since 1970, the MBAC has been helping the community explore the joys of communing with the area’s robust beach culture, marine life, and water activities.  They offer many different resources to help you get on the water, including windsurf rental and windsurfing lessons in San Diego.  MBAC is jointly operated by the Associated Students of SDSU, which is a testimony to their commitment to educating both newcomers and experienced water-goers alike.

Located a stone’s throw from Mission Beach, MBAC is the ideal spot to launch into your windsurfing adventures.  This area of the Bay provides smooth surface water and exceptional conditions that will make your windsurfing lesson or outing a marvelously mellow and enjoyable experience. Rentals are affordable and offered in 2.5-hour blocks.  

If it’s your first time renting gear from MBAC, you’ll be asked to take a quick qualification test to confirm you know the ropes before hitting the water.  If you need a brush-up or a full-on lesson, MBAC can accommodate you with seasoned, highly-qualified instructors. Lessons last for four days, and upon completion, you will have learned all the skills to ace your windsurfing excursions.  Once you’re rolling on the water, let the wind power you through iconic Mission Bay highlights, including eye-popping scenery, dolphin and sea lion sightings, and much more.

  • Address: 1001 Santa Clara Pl, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 488-1000
  • Hours: Tues – Sun 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    Closed Mondays

Manta Wind & Water Sports

Image courtesy of Manta Wind & Water Sports facebook.com/KiteBoardLessons/

This water sports business offers water adventurers an upgraded experience from windsurfing in San Diego. They specialize in teaching wing surfing and kite surfing. These two types of water sports are similar to windsurfing, but with more modernized equipment resulting in an invigorating excursion on the water.

Since 1999, Manta has provided locals and tourists with premium lessons by highly qualified instructors boasting a 100% safety rating.  Lessons are around two hours each, and upon completion, you’ll be ready to catch the wind in your sail (or kite) and slice the water like a true trooper.

In addition to lessons, Manta also offers foil board rentals. They have a tremendous variety of merchandise, including boards for sale and other equipment that will enhance your aquatic experience. Whether you’re looking for fun San Diego harbor activities or want to let the wind blow you in the gorgeous open waters, Manta could be your solution to get you the gear and training you need.

  • Address: 2203 Denver St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • Phone: (858) 610-6000
  • Hours: Mon – Sun 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Image courtesy of kitenow.com

While not technically windsurfing, San Diego has become a kitesurfing mecca. KiteNow in La Jolla is where you need to go if you want the ultimate kite-to-water surfing experience. They offer simple pricing for various packages lasting anywhere from one to four hours.  

You get to use all their equipment for each lesson, which includes boards, kites, radio helmets, etc (they offer discounts on lessons if you have your own gear).  Kitesurfing lessons at KiteNow range from private or group lessons.  This La Jolla provider also has gear rental services, and they’ll even repair kiteboarding equipment if you need some work done on your kiteboard rig.

  • Address: 1080 Fiesta Island Road, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 220-3519
  • Hours: Please call for hours

How to Make the Most of Your Windsurfing Experience in San Diego

If you’re thinking about windsurfing, San Diego is the best place to give it a shot.  Various locations like La Jolla Shores, Mission Bay, or Coronado are sheltered from harsh conditions, providing a smooth experience from launch to landing.  Here are a few more tips on making the most of your windsurfing experience in San Diego:

  • Get Lessons: Clearly, if you don’t know how to windsurf, it’s time to school up. Even if you’ve done it but are a bit rusty, it’s a good idea to get in a few refresher lessons to make sure you’re fit for the best surf possible.
  • Know Safety Protocols: A board, a sail, and a big sea can add up to bliss—or it could be a recipe for disaster if you’re not familiar with safety protocols. Get abreast of safety guidelines by taking windsurfing lessons in San Diego, where you’ll get everything you need to know to avoid hazards on the water.
  • Wear a PFD: While it’s not legally required, it’s always a good idea to wear a PFD (personal flotation device) to ensure optimal safety.
  • Prepare Your Body: Windsurfing is an extremely physically demanding activity.  Make sure you’re in shape before surfing the waves.  If you are in good shape, do some stretches before launching into the water – your body will thank you!
  • Check the Weather:  Obviously, weather plays a big role in optimal windsurfing.  Check the forecast before you go, and venture out during optimal weather conditions.

Best Time for Windsurfing in San Diego

The high wind season in San Diego occurs from March to October. The sweet spot for perfect wind speeds is around 18 knots for prime windsurfing. That means you don’t want to windsurf in high wind conditions. For milder winds, check out San Diego weather in June and July. You’ll get a breeze during these months—but not so much wind that windsurfing becomes a challenge rather than a joy.  

Windsurfing vs Kitesurfing

Windsurfing has an articulated sail that is attached to a board.  Alternatively, kitesurfing has a kite (it looks like a parachute) that is attached to the surfer by a harness.  Both activities are classified as extreme water sports. Also, both involve standing on a board, as well as utilizing the wind to help you slice through water and waves.  The biggest difference is in rigging with a sail attached to a board in windsurfing or a kite attached to the surfer who rides a board on the water.

Windsurfing Gives You Wings!

Are you ready to experience the top San Diego attractions atop a slick windsurf board?  We hope these insights into windsurfing inspire you to get out and start harnessing the power of wind to propel you into new heights of adventure, sightseeing, and water-loving fun.

Media credits: Unless otherwise noted, the conceptual images of the windsurfing in San Diego in this article are copyright of LaJolla.com.