Called kiteboarding, the latest craze sweeping the water-sports world gives extreme athletes and weekend warriors the chance to ride the waves like a dolphin and soar in the sky like a seagull - and Myrtle Beach provides the perfect opportunity to try it.
Considered a combination of windsurfing and parasailing, kiteboarding is a hit on the Grand Strand among the adventurous souls who see the Atlantic Ocean as one big liquid playground. Created on the West Coast by surfers who wanted to take their sport to the next level, kiteboarding saw its pioneers add parachutes and a harness to their surfing rig to discover a new way to take flight using the power of the wind and the waves. The sport has since spread east and exploded in Myrtle Beach.
Guests at The Breakers Resort on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront can test their skills in this cutting-edge sport. Although it's important to know how to surf before you are ready to strap on the parachute and prepare for liftoff, kiteboarding is relatively simple to learn - but it requires a lifetime to master. It takes a lot of practice, patience and physical stamina to get used to the sensation of the riding the waves while dragging against the wind, but you will be forever hooked the first time you grab some air.
First-timers may want to start out by brushing up on their surfing skills, or for newbies, by learning how to hang 10. If you don't have your own surfboard, there are various local surf shops where you can rent one for the day or week. Start on terra firma by placing your surfboard on the beach and yourself on the surfboard in the down push-up position. From there, practice popping up to a standing position in one quick, fluid motion, with one foot forward and one foot back. Most people are right-footed and use it as their back foot for stability, while "goofy-footers" ride with their left foot in back.
Once you've mastered the move on dry land, paddle out past the breakers with your board and get used to the handling on open water. Position yourself in "the pocket," the sweet spot between the breakers and the swells, and attempt to stand up while catching a wave at just the right moment. Trial and error is your best bet here, but you want to make sure you are comfortable on the board before you attach the wings. There are several Grand Strand outlets offering surf camps and lessons, like Palmetto Surf School and Jack's Surf Lessons, and they can also provide the equipment and training to help you make the transition to kiteboarding.
The parachute and harness also can be rented at local surf shops or provided by a surf school, but once again, you should take the time to get accustomed to the gear before going for it. Kiteboarding in Myrtle Beach is best when there is a steady breeze between 10 and 20 mph out of the south or southeast, which are good conditions for practicing your balance with the chute unfurled. Once you've got your parachute legs under you, you can venture out into the surf with your board and start surfing. Use the waves as a moving ramp to get airborne, and let the wind and water do the rest.
To avoid any dangerous interaction between kiteboarders and beachgoers, the City of Myrtle Beach has designated specific surf zones where kiteboarding is permitted. Fortunately for gusts at The Breakers Resort, there are several surf zones a short distance from the property, including the closest (between 34th Avenue North and 47th Avenue North) and the most popular spot (between 62nd Avenue North and 68th Avenue North). So work up your courage and scratch something new and exciting off your bucket list with a fun day of kiteboarding in Myrtle Beach.