With a NW wind, there is a big island to the north of the Skyway West launch area that sometimes obstructs the wind. To be exact, there are two islands, Whale Island and Tarpon Key, and they are one mile to the northwest of the launch area. With a west wind or a WNW wind, it is easier to tack upwind and get around these islands for some exploring. Check it out!
How to Get There
The most difficult part in this adventure is tacking upwind. The easiest way to tack upwind is to do it in the shallow and flat water surrounding Fort Desoto and across from the channel at Skyway. There are two major channels to avoid when getting to Whale Island and Tarpon Key. Both channels need to be crossed to get there but avoid spending all the time riding there.
Altogether it will take quite a bit of tacking back and forth to make the one mile upwind trek to the islands. Once there, the trip is worth it. We can guarantee other kiteboarders won’t be there. You’ll have an enormous playground to yourself to explore and jump around.
For an additional adventure, continue past Tarpon Key and head towards Eckerd College. There is one more channel to cross, but once crossed there is more flat water. There are little mangrove islands around these flat waters to explore. Be aware and be careful of the oyster beds that surround the mangrove islands.
If you choose to go downwind of Tarpon Key, then make sure to stay far enough downwind to avoid wind shadows. The tall palm trees on the island can cause a wind obstruction. Remember to stay seven times the distance of the height of an object to experience cleaner winds. There is a channel that runs north to south. Try to stay in the water between the channel and I-275. The water here is shallow in most areas.