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Windsurfing in the Washington DC Area

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Belle Haven Marina, VA (1 hour from DC)

Directions: From Beltway (coming from MD, across Wilson Bridge): Cross Potomac River and take GW Parkway south (toward National Airport). Go Past National Airport and into Old Town Alexandria. GW Parkway becomes Washington Street in Alexandria. Stay on it. After approx. 2 miles, Washington Street becomes the GW Parkway again (you will see the river on the left). Go 1 mile, make left into Belle Haven Marina (the sign is on the right, but you turn left). View map. See also.

Comments: Good for any breeze except west. Usually you don't have to pay a launch fee if you launch on the point all the way down on the left. The rocky point is the best place to launch from. There is a sandbar located about twenty five yards off the point and goes all the way to the channel. It makes for smooth and fast sailing especially if the tide is going with the breeze. It is only knee deep at low tide.

Fee: None (see above).

Chesapeake Beach, MD (1 hour from DC)

Directions: If you're coming from the Capital Beltway, take Route 4 all the way through Upper Marlboro until you see signs for Chesapeake Beach/North Beach. When you get to the end of the road, and the Bay is right in front of you, take a right. After you turn right, you'll see the Rod & Reel Restaurant on your left (you can sail here but it is a small beach and is not open to the public). Continue south on 261, and turn left onto Brownings Beach Rd. If you pass this dirt road you will come upon a small convenience store in Randalls Cliffs. Turn around and head back north. The county road has a gate barricade that is rarely closed. North Beach (public beach) is right on the bay. To get there turn left on Rt 261 and continue on that road. You can rig on the beach near the pier. View map.

Comments: There are a several crab houses and dock bars in the town. Overall, it's comparable to Kent Moore but a little closer to home with more options for post sailing activities.


North Beach: These two beaches are just south of the Calvert County/ Anne Arundel County line. A good destination when Sandy Point is closed. Also, it is much better for beginners because it is shallow for at least the first thousand feet away from shore. Much of the shore there is covered by rock revetments, but there are two public beaches in North Beach. One is in the middle of town, next to a fishing pier. The other is at the north end of town, secluded with parking for about 6 vehicles.

Fee: None.

Dewey Beach, DE (2-1/2 hours from DC)

Directions: Dewey is just south of Rehoboth on Route 1. Follow the road and pass through the town (about 3/4 mile long), and enter the Delaware State Park. It is about 7 miles long and follows route 1 on either side. The second parking area on the right is marked "Sailing Beach". View map.

Comments: The wind is OK in Summer, but really picks up in the Fall. The bay area is quite shallow, so it is good to learn how to waterstart. The ocean is also an option for the more experienced; however, you can only launch after 5:30 PM in the summer season. This is a nice alternative to OC, and overall my favorite place. Often when the wind isn't blowing on the Chesapeake, it is in Dewey. It's worth the drive.

Fee: $1 per person in the summer season.

Fort Belvoir, VA (3/4 hour from DC)

Directions: You can get there by taking I-95 South to Backlick road (exit 166) South or East. Stay on Backlick onto Ft Belvoir. Take a right at the first light on the Base (Gunston Rd). Follow this down and take a right on Warren Rd. You can't miss it from there. View map.

Comments: Fort Belvoir has a scenic site on the Accotink Bay. The base is open to anyone and has a beautiful grass rigging area that is very clean. The bay is shallow, and gives access to the Potomac. Most importantly it's free and you can park feet from the water! It is pretty good on NW winds, and you can sail flat water and get great chop further down the bay. Not very good for short boards, but pretty good to teach people because of the shallow water.

Note: I've recently (9-5-98) heard that windsurfers are no longer allowed to launch from the site at the end of Warren Road. The marina is still available, but not as nice.

Fee: None.

Fort Smallwood Park, MD (1 hour from DC)

Note:I've heard that this park has closed its beaches to windsurfers. Can anyone verify this?

Directions: This can be a little confusing because there are two state parks in Maryland called "Smallwood". One is on the Potomac river pretty much straight across from Mason Neck. The other one, and the one where I go windsurfing is on the mouth of the Patapsco river near the entrance to Baltimore harbor. To get there take 95 to MD 176. You drive around BWI airport to get on Route 3 and then immediately get off onto Route 100. Follow signs like you are going to Gibson Island. Turn left at the traffic light when the controlled access/express way ends. Take a right at the next light and follow the road until it ends. View map.

Comments: Although it's a city park, it is run by a private company. There are two windsurfing spots. When you first enter the park, a road veers off to the right. This goes to a small, somewhat private beach that faces out into the bay. Water stays shallow pretty far out. It's good for practicing water starts and when the wind is out of the south, south east.

A second spot to put in is about three quarters way around park loop road, just before the swimming area. There is a grassy area to park and rig. You have to walk through a fence to a narrow, gravel beach. The water gets deep pretty fast. There are a couple of large rock islands about a 1/2 mile out that are kind of fun to sail around. The beach faces north to the Key Bridge about a 1/2 mile inside the point where the Patapsco river opens into the bay. If you know the area, it's a pretty industrial view across to Baltimore harbor couple miles away, piles of coal and smoke stacks. The crowd that tend to hang out in the park aren't what you would call "the beautiful people". A lot of biker types. The park also has a fair amount of trash blowing around.


The wind is great there from just about any direction. When it's out of the NW to N, it tends to funnel down the river channel in front of the north facing beach. In the fall when we get a lot of N wind, same thing out from under the Key bridge. When it's out of the S to SE, you get a similar effect from the bay up the river channel. SW is about the only direction that doesn't work well there. More comments.


Fee: $4 a car load.

Gunpowder State Park, MD (1-1/4 hours from DC)

Directions: Located just north of Baltimore. View map.

Comments: Great spot if going with non-windsurfers. Lots of grass and a swimming area. Also a protected area for beginners and rental and lessons available. It's a 100 yard carry from the parking lot to beaches 4 and 5 (the windsurfing beaches). There is a snack bar nearby.

Fee: $2 per person. Children in car seats and sr. citizens (62 and over) are free.

Phone number: 410-592-2897. To get through to the windsurfing folks directly, dial 410-666-WIND.

See also: Gunpowder Falls State Park

Kent Island, MD (1-1/4 hours from DC)

Directions: Kentmoor Marina on Kent Island. Take route 50 across the bay bridge and go 5 miles south on route 8. View map.

Comments: Good for SW to NW winds.

Fee: $5 a car.

Kim's Beach, VA (3/4 hour from DC)

Directions: Kim's Beach is on the left side of the GW Parkway, about 1.5 miles from the Mount Vernon Estate (it's near the intersection of Vernon View Drive and the Parkway). View map.

Comments: The big attraction of the place for advanced windsurfers are the chop/swells in the deep-water channel on the other side of the river when the wind blows big time (25-30). I've actually been able to wavesail a few choice days a year. Shoot for the pier on the other side of the river on a big wind day and you'll see what I mean.

The best place to put in is right next to the picnic table that's on the southern end of the parking lot (closest to Mt. Vernon). There are always cars with boards on top (when there is breeze) parked in the parking lot in front of Kim's Beach. Best directions are West and Southwest Northwest is also a possibility in stronger winds (but when the wind shuts down, plan on a good swim if you're on a sinker).


Fee: None.

Leesylvania State Park, VA (? from DC)

Directions: Just south of DC off of 95, across from Indian Head MD. To get there stay on Route One South, cross the Occaquan River. A few miles south is a sign for the park. The entrance road winds in for a few more miles.

Comments: You have to carry your gear about 40 yards from the parking area to the water. On South or North winds it is a broad reach across the potomac. The river is deep and wide there so the swells are better for sustained air. Watch out for the barges. I am told it works on NW also, you just have to get past the point. Wide secton of river to sail on, and a grassy area to rig on.

Fee: $2.

Mason Neck State Park, VA (40 minutes from DC)

Directions: Mason Neck State Park is a wildlife refuge off the Lorton exit of I95 south of DC. Take the exit on Lorton Road, and turn north to intersection with Route 1. Go south on Route 1 to traffic light at Gunston Rd, turn left, and go down Gunston Road about about 4 miles. Follow the ranger's instructions to the cartop ramp. View map.

Comments: You are rewarded with a cramped unloading area and a shallow bay about 1/2 by 3/4 mile, and access to Occoquan Bay and the Potomac River. The shallow bay is good for practicing waterstarts and the larger area for cruising. The location is best when the wind has a W in it -- SSW through NNW.

Fee: $2 per person.

Ocean City, MD (2-3/4 hours from DC)

Directions: Take route 50 from DC over the Bay bridge for ~90 miles. Exit to route 90 (follow the signs), which takes you all the way to OC (and Highway 1). View map.

Comments: You can launch anywhere on the ocean side before 7 AM and after 5 PM (in the summer), though the surf can be quite rough (I've seen one person break a mast in two when he wiped out). On the plus side, there is usually good wind ocean side. On the bayside, Sailing Etc. has a nice launch site near 50th street (with lockers and showers), but it cost $15 a day (less if you get a weeklong pass). However, there are lots of places you can launch for free, though no state run sites. One is two blocks north of Sailing Etc., and though it is a little marshy, there is a nice area to setup. Some of the best sailing I've ever had was whipping across the bay at 20+ knots, passing speed boats!

Point Lookout State Park, MD (2 hours from DC)

Directions: View map.

Comments: Located at the northern mouth of the Potomac. When the wind blows it gets big chop (not lined up due to the geography) and you can sail on whichever side of the point suits the wind. There's really no best wind direction -- all it takes is 12 knots or greater. It's also on the Wind Hot Line.

Here are some helpful tips:


Windsurf only at the Point near the lighthouse unless you contact the ranger on duty for approval of other areas.

Be aware of the MD harness/wetsuit vs PFD regulation (they do give tickets).

Be aware of "trash free" status (you bring it in, you take it out).

Fee: $2 per person.

See also: Southern Maryland Windsurfing.

Riley's Lock State Park, MD

Directions: Rileys Lock on Potomac River north of Potomac, Maryland; west of Gaithersburg Maryland near the intersection of River Road and Senaca Road. View map.

Comments: Fairly large parking area (20-30 cars) next to C & O Canal Trail, 100 feet from the water. Grassy area for rigging, shade trees, picnic tables for onshore family/friends. Nice open stretch on Potomac 1/2 mile wide by about mile up/down river. Wind direction is probably best from NW to WNW.

When river is high current can be a pain too, but for people living in Montgomery County it's a quick fix on a windy day.


Fee: none.

Rocky Point Park, MD (1 hour from DC)

Directions: The park is located between Back and Middle river. To get there, take beltway (695) exit 16 onto 702, take a left at Eastern Avenue, and a right onto Back River Neck road (which takes you all the way to the park). View map. (Note: I checked out rocky point the other day and I think some of the directions are out of date. 702 off 695 is no longer exit 16. It is somewhere in the 30's (can't remember which!). Also, 702 goes straight through top the park so there is no need for the Left then Right.)

Comments: Rocky Point State Park can be a great sailing location, mostly in the spring and fall (as with all mid-Atlantic sailing). At the park itself, you launch from a sandy cove next to the swimming area. This place is exposed to North and Northeast winds, and also from the South and Southwest. For better exposure of South to Northwest, launch from behind the golf course on the Back river (rocky launch, hence its name). Northwest is excellent due to the high banks which tends to funnel winds along the river. Fairly steep chop sets up (I've seen 2-3' chop on 20-25 MPH days). I've sailed many locations on Northwest winds in the area. West tends to be gusty, as well as South and Southwest winds; however, you can travel out to the bay to catch cleaner South and Southwest blows. On good South days, the bay sets up some entertaining rollers. This launch has a protective cove on Southerly winds, well suited for beginners.

Fee: $5 per adult

See also: Rocky Point Beach & Park

Sandy Point State Park, MD (1 hour from DC)

Directions: The park is located on the western end of the Bay bridge (route 50). To get there from DC or Baltimore, take route 50 and exit at the last exit before the bridge (marked "To Sandy Point"). View map.

Comments: This popular park has an access area for windsurfers. It sometimes has inconsistent wind and lots of chop. The water really drops off quickly from the beach, so you can easily beach start. When the wind blows from the South, large rolling waves build up just south of the lighthouse, which make for interesting surfing. In addition, because of the shape of the point, the current can be quite fast (up to 2 knots). Overall, Sandy Point is good for intermediate and experienced sailors, but not for beginners.

You can sail across the bay from Sandy Point (about 4 miles) to Kent Island, which has a nice shallow area that extends for a few hundred yards (good for learning how to water start). I recommend you only try this crossing with a buddy.


Fee: $3 per person during the summer season.

Washington Sailing Marina, DC

Directions: The Washington Sailing Marina is off the GW parkway, south of National Airport. View map.

Comments: It is sailable (flat water, mostly light wind) from May - Sept. You can stretch the season a month or two on each end with a convertible wetsuit. The water and launch is a little nasty but you can get in a sail within 10 minutes of downtown DC. Good in Fall, Ok in Summer. Grass area to rig your sail. You have to deal with sail boats, mud and some weeds.

Fee: $4

Other locations

Cape Hatteras, NC (6 hours from DC)

Though I haven't been there (yet!), this is supposed to be the best place on the East Coast to windsurf. I've heard that Avon and Canadian Hole are recommended. More information.


East of Maui, Annapolis, MD - (410)573-9463

East of Maui, Dewey Beach, DE, (302)227-4703

Sailing Etc., 54st Street in OC, MD - (410)723-1144

Sailing Etc., Dewey, DE - (302)227-8989

Ultimate Sports, 110 West Padonia Road, Timonium MD - (410)666-WIND


Baltimore Area Boardsailing Association

Chesapeake Windsurfing Association - Annapolis Area Contact - Mark Bandy - (410)573-9463 or (301)858-7111.

Chesapeake Windsurfing Association - DC Area Contact - Dave "Wave" Loop (301)951-0705

Southern Maryland Windsurfing Association

Windsurfing Enthusiasts of Tidewater

Weather Information

National Airport - (202)936-1212

Chesapeake Bay Marine - (703)260-0505

Baltimore Airport (BWI) - (410)936-1212

Local and marine weather on radio 162.xx MHz

Interactive Marine Reports: Southeast U.S.

Thomas Point (just south of the Severn River)

Cape Henry ("The Tower", near the mouth of the Bay)


Northeast Regional Climate Center

WBOC-TV Weather Center


Gulf Stream (Sea Surface Temps)

Boating Forecast (bay and coastal waters)

Wind Hotline (pay service) - (800)765-4253 - Web page

Where to Rent Windsurfers

Belle Haven Marina, 1 Bell Haven Rd., Alexandria, VA just off the GW Parkway. (703)768-0018. There is a sailing school located there (Mariner Sailing School). Rentals are $20 for two hours.

Gunpowder State Park. $20 an hour.

Sailing Etc., 51st Street in OC, MD - (410)723-1144

Washington Sailing Marina. $15 an hour (do they still rent? please verify)


Chesapeake Bay and River and its Tidal Tributaries. Public Access Guide. This map gives hundreds of parks on the water, many of which have good launch sites. Call the Bay Program at 800-662-CRIS for more information.

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Guest Alexander

Thank you!


There's also Gunpowder Falls State Park, about an hour North. Beautiful spot 4-wdsurfing.



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Fletcher's Boat house on the Potomac River in Washington rents different kinds of small watercraft like canoes and rowboats. I don't see why you couldn't windsurf the Potomac if there was enough wind.





4940 Canal Road, N.W.

Washington, DC 20007

Phone: (202) 244-0461

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Guest Leasure Lee

I sail mine on the bay at Sandy Point State Park. The Chesapeake can be rough, so I have learned to check for for calm seas.

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Guest AHD310_board_1996

regarding Hatteras, I think the Island Creek houses (nearby Ocean Air wooden bridge)

is one of the best launch sites in Hatteras. The BABA club usually has a spring

(MAY) and fall (OCT) trip, but space is limited, and it tends to fill up fast.

in my opinion, it IS the best windsurfing place on the EAST coast.


2nd best tlocation on EAST coast (my opinion) is Pleasantville NJ

(on RT 40, near Atlantic City, behind a tall HOTEL).

Its also the home of www.extremewindsurfing.com

store. You can rent or take lessons there, too.

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Guest Denito

Are there any good public launch sites on the Magathy River, that

are not too far "upstream a small creek"?


And what about launching from Gibson Island MD, is there any public

launch site there?


I agree, Sandy Beach can be quite rough, and I prefer calmer

inland waters, like on rivers.


On the other hand, I heard about a guy who windsurfed from

Sandy Point, and got skunked in Cheasapeake Bay,

and had to be rescued by a fisherman in his boat.

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Guest Mayo Beach MD

Also, there is Mayo Beach (south side of South River, across from

Thomas Point, at entrance to Chesapeake Bay). But to sail from

there, you need to pay $75/year for a windsurfing permit,

because there is a locked gate


As of 2012, they have recently UPGRADED the Mayo Beach site.


Also, there is Beverly Beach MD nearby. That site was permitted last

year while the Mayo Beach upgrades were being done. I think

Beverly Beach is a small community area, so the parking may be

an issue - not sure, as I have never windsurfed from there.

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Guest BabaMan

Are there any good launch sites on Severn River in MD? There is a park named "Jonas Green Park" on east side, nearby rt 450. Is this a good place to launch from? The web site says there is a strong undertow and drop off about 30 feet from shore. Any comments about that?


Here's the link for Jonas Green Park:




Also, how about the Smith's Marina in Crownsville MD, on the western side. Is this a good launch site?


Here's the link for Smith's Marina in Crownsville MD:



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Guest starboard_guy

One site not mentioned is Pohick Bay Regional Park. This park is near to Mason Neck State Park, on

Gunston Rd, about 1 mile to the west. So if you were to drive to Mason Neck State Park entrance (on right),

you would find the Pohick Bay Park on the left side about a mile before you reach Mason Neck.


Pohick Park launch faces north-easterterly, and is across the bay from Ft Belvoir.


I visited Pohick Bay Park during a freak 55F warmspell day in Feb 2012, but I

did NOT windsurf that day. I noticed there were signs about raw sewage

causing water contamination. You definitely would want to avoid falling into the

water if at all possible.

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Guest want2carvejibe

I've never been to Dewey Beach DE site (New Rd site mentioned on Windsurf

Resource Web siteseems like the ideal place to go), but I want to try it.


I prefer to stay overnight, and so I am looking for recommendations for economical overnight lodging. The summer hotel prices in that area seem rather high to me.


Right now, the only economical lodging that I have found is for $30/tent site at

Camp Henlopen in Lewes DE, which is about 10 miles north of Dewey Beach.

In addiition, Henlopen only has 17 tent sites, so I imagine it would be difficult

to book a spot during the summer.


So I'm looking for recommendations for other *cheap* places to stay overnight

near to Dewey Beach DE.


I would imagine that the Tower Rd site doesn't permit overnight parking, does it?

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Guest Joe Pineapple

I have two beginner Hi Fly windsurfers - mast, boom and sails for both. I would like to give them to a nice home.

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