In general, you can check the IWindsurf webpage for directions, information and wind conditions at the most popular windsurfing sites. Below is information on some lesser-known sites as well. There is an overall map at the bottom of this page. Ocean sites are first, Lakes are next. Suitability for kiteboarding is also marked. There is no other ordering.
Closest non-polluted beach to providence, I think. Also surprisingly fast to get to from Boston. Nice south-facing beach with very flat water most of the time. In a (rare) east or west wind you can easily sail to portsmouth or beyond. Very good for beginners as the water is flat and the bottom is quite shallow for a ways out. and it is enclosed. There's also a brackish lake on the other side of the parking lot, i've seen people on jetskis there though i haven't tried sailing it mostly since it seems a bit swamp-like. The water here warms up quite a bit sooner than on the coast. There are a couple of large rocks in one cluster right next to the parking area which can go just below the water at high tide, but are visible at any other time. Don't worry, there aren't any other rocks lurking nearby. Enough space to launch a kite here in the off season.
From Providence Take I195, and take exit 4 in Mass. Off the ramp take a right onto route 103 west. At the first light (1 mile), take a left on prarie ave. Bear right onto Pinehurst, then turn right onto Ocean Grove, then right onto Bayview. The beach is about 1/4 mile. The streets in this neighborhood are quite confusing, but fortunately the distances are short.
From Boston take rt. 24 south, bear right onto exit 6 (rt. 79) in fall river. go 2 miles and bear right onto rt. 6 / rt. 138. cross the bridge and turn left onto rt. 103 (riverside ave). go 3 miles and take a left on prairie ave (see remainder of directions above).
Fogland Point / beach. Tiverton, RI. (45 minutes from providece)
Fogland point is one of the most popular spots in the state. It is one of the windiest sites not on Cape Cod. There is a sheltered shallow cove area on the north side of the point (you can walk across except at high tide), and slightly more open sailing on the south side. Great area for all skills of sailors. Also the beach is nice, too, and not too busy. Pebbly / sandy beach, not very big waves. I have counted as many as forty sailors on the water on a breezy summer weekend afternoon. In the summer beach fee is $5, you can get in free after maybe 4pm or so. water is choppy in high wind. One of the most beautiful and scenic sailing sites also. There's a saltwater marsh, and some tidal pools with lots of sea life. Popular kiteboarding spot, especially for first-timers.
Take I195 to Fall River, and take exit 8A to get on route 24 south. From 24, take exit 5 to get on route 77 south. About a mile after the intersection of 77 and 179 (Tiverton Four Corners), take a right onto Pond Ridge Road. At the end of the road go left, then immediately right. You are now on Fogland road. Take a right at the sign for Fogland Beach. Along the road you will see the open bay on your left, and the sheltered cove on your right. You can sail on either side. The point is very shallow and has a lot of rocks to prevent erosion, so don't sail too close to shore or you will trash your fin like I did.
Sandy point beach Middletown (40 min from Providence)
Nice east-facing beach, directly across the Sakonnet from Fogland point so it often has similar wind conditions but may be a shorter drive for some. Summer beach fee $10? Should be enough space to launch a kite here in the off season.
Get onto the island using either 24 south (Mass. exit 8 on I195) or 136 south (Mass. exit 2 on I195). Take 138 south on the island. Take a left on Sandy Point Ave (a few miles before the 138/138A split), and it will take you all the way to the beach.
1st, 2nd, 3rd beach Middletown / Newport. (50 min from Providence)
These are top quality beaches. 1st and 2nd beach are south facing, very large and are right on the ocean, while 3rd beach is east facing, smaller and in a cove so it gets much smaller waves. First and secord beaches have large waves, they aren't suitable for beginning sailors. In the summer, parking fee is $10 on weekdays, $15 on weekends, $70 for season pass. Parking is free after 3pm. These beaches tend too be quite busy on summer weekends, though summer weekdays are not too bad. 3rd beach is too crowded for kites in the summer.
Get onto the island using either 24 south (Mass. exit 8 on I195) or 136 south (Mass. exit 2 on I195). Take 138 south on the island. After you see RI Nursuries on your right (you are in Middletown at this point), 138 splits into 138 and 138A. Take the left onto 138A, following signs for "Newport Beaches". 138A is also called Aquidneck Ave. Stay on Aquidneck ave. until it ends, and take a left. Pass by Island Sports on your right.
First beach: after Island Sports, stay on Aquidneck Ave. (it bears right). After a few hundred feet you will see Atlantic Beach Club / Johnny's House of Seafood on your left, and 1st beach is just past that on your left. The main entrance is about halfway up the beach.
Second and Third beaches: a few hundred feet after Island Sports take a sharp left at the larger 3-way intersection. Drive up the hill, then down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, bear right, and second beach is on your right. Drive by second beach, and at one of the forks in the road there is a sign for third beach - bear left. Then keep right and 3rd beach is a few hundred feet.
Island Park, Portsmouth, RI. (30 min from Providence)
Pebbly/sandy beach. Large, south facing, surrounded on 3 sides by land. Never very busy, even on summer weekends. Free parking. Far enough up the bay that the wind is sometimes lower than at fogland or 3rd beach. Water can be very choppy especially with south wind. Narrow but long beach, ok for non-beginner kiting.
Ned's Point, Mattapoisett, MA. (45 minutes from providence)
Good site on the near side of Buzzard's bay - much shorter drive than Falmouth. Wind may be slightly less until you get out into the bay a bit. Watch out for the rocks on either side of the launch site! Once you get about 100 feet out you are safe though.
Take I195 east, get off at exit 19. Continue south on North Street, across Route 6, to the water. Turn left onto Water Street. At the 4-way intersection, go straight. You are now on Ned's Point Road which ends at the parking lot. The launch area is on the left side of the parking lot.
Colt State Park / Bristol town beach. Bristol, RI. (25 min from providence)
Take I195, and take RI exit 7 for 114 south. Stay on 114 until just before downtown Bristol, and take a right at the light for the park entrance, after you see a small sign for the park on the right. Anyway, the park is also right off the east-bay bike path also. Drive down the park entrance road a bit, and keep right for the Bristol beach, left for the state park. If you go to the state park, keep right after the toll collector to get to the boat ramp.
URI Narragansett Bay Campus beach. Narragansett, RI. (40 minutes from providence)
This beach is at the URI Bay Campus. Good east-facing launch spots. This location is somewhat sheltered by the islands about a mile out in the bay. The Jamestown bridge is also quite close, and sailing in and around the islands and bridge is fantastic. There is often a several-knot tidal current here.
From the north, take I95 south to the exit 9 split. then take route 4 south, continuing after the merger with route 1. About 3 miles after you pass the Newport exit, there is a big intersection which has a Texaco and a Mobil. Take a left. Follow this road, it weaves around a bit and crosses some intersections but eventually goes right into the water. The part that goes to the water is called South Ferry Road.
Horseneck beach. Westport, MA. (45 minutes from providence, 70 from boston)
Horseneck is a large, popular summer beach, much like newport 1st and 2nd beaches. In spring and fall it is a very good wavesailing spot for intermediate to expert sailors. In the summer there are a lot of crowds, and sailing is at #2 and #3 only. There is a small parking lot on Gooseberry Island, and if it is really crowded they will have a parking guard who often will give parking precedence to people with watercraft. Sailing at #1 you drop your gear off at the end of bridge st, and then park at the restaurant at the beginning of the street (a few hundred yards).
Conditions: #1 is excellent, safe wavesailing. very long beach with all sand. #2 can have wavesailing, but more often open ocean, flatwater or bump and jump. it has occational submerged rocks for a hundred yards, be careful until you clear them. #3 is good wavesailing, but there are some rocks near the launch area. the launch here is off the rocks and a bit tricky. #4 is similar to #2 but less rock hazard. Horseneck is not suitable for beginners due to rock hazards and waves. This is a good launch site for long-distance sails - cuttyhunk and martha's vineyard are possibilities. Kites are launchable at #1 unless it is really crowded and #2 sometimes.
From Providence: Take I195 east, take MA exit 10 (?) to get on route 88 south. Continue on 88 until the end - shortly after a bridge and rotary signs on the right are for the main beach parking lot. For gooseberry island, continue on 88 south until it ends at the coast, turn right and go 1/4 mile into the gooseberry island parking lot.
From Boston: Take I93 south to exit 4, take route 24 south to I195, take I195 east and follow
Ninigret pond is a large, shallow saltwater body right next to the beach in Charlestown RI. Very good for beginners since large areas are only a few feet deep. Good for beginner kiting also.
Take I95 south to exit 3, then take 138 east. turn right onto 112 south and continue until it terminates at route 1. take 1 west a little ways until sign for east and west beach roads. cross 1 and go east a few hundred yards, exit onto east beach road. continue to the beach, take a left and down dirt road to parking lot for the pond.
Worden pond (40 min from providence)
Worden pond is the second biggest lake in the state, yet it is very shallow - large areas of the pond are only four feet deep! This make it ideal for beginners. The bottom is soft and mucky, so there is little danger of fin damage. Even so, I have seen a fair number of people with weed fins, since there are a lot of water plants around the edge of the pond. I didn't have a problem using my regular fin.. The wind may be quite a bit stronger on the water. North facing launch, best sailed on a NE or NW wind. Wind is sometimes unpredictable here, i've gotten here some days and found no wind, while the URI bay campus launch (only 10 minutes away) had very good wind. Not enough space to launch a kite here.
Take I95 south to the exit 9 split, then take route 4 south. From
route 4, take exit 5B onto 102 north. After 1/2 mile, take a
left onto route 2 south. After 6 miles, take a left onto route 138 east, then
after 1.5 miles take a right onto route 110 south / ministerial rd / plains rd.
(110 is poorly marked, keep your eyes
peeled for the sign). After 4 miles on route 110, take a right
onto Worden Pond Road, and then the boat ramp is a few hundred
feet on your right. Also there is a camping area further down the
Massapoag Pond, Sharon MA. (30 minutes from providence)
Just big enough for decent shortboarding. You can launch from both the north end and south end of the lake. On the south end if there's too many people or people are fishing on the beach area, you can drive a little further to the community center, walk down the hill and launch between the trees without much trouble.
From I95 going north, take exit 8 and turn right to get on south main street. After about 3 miles you are at Sharon center. From the north, take exit 10 and turn left, and also about 3 miles to Sharon center. At Sharon center, take a right onto Pond street. After about 3/4 mile, take a right onto Beach street for the north end of the lake, otherwise continue along the side of the lake and take a right at the end for the south end.
Long Lake and Lake Snipatuit, Lakeville/Freetown MA (50 min from providence)
Of the four lakes in the Lakeville/Freetown area, these two can be sailed. Both are quite large. I prefer Snipatuit since Long Lake has far more boat traffic, and I think the wind there is gustier also. The launch at Long Lake is on the south end, while at Snipatuit it is on the north end.
For Long Lake: take I495 east, take exit 5. go south 6.5 miles on rt 18 through lakeville, take a right on lakeside ave (still rt. 18) and go another 2.5 miles. the boat ramp is marked on the right.
For Lake Snipatuit: take I495 east, take exit 3. go south 1.5 miles on rt. 28, bear right onto spruce st. go 3.5 miles and take a left on Neck rd. go 3/4 mile and there is a small dirt lot on your right.
Seekonk reservoir, Seekonk, MA. (10 minutes from providence)
Nice little lake, right near the city. From I195 take Mass. exit 1 and go north on Fall River Ave. (forgot the route number). After about 3 miles, take a right on Newman Ave. (route 152?). After about 1/2 mile, the lake will be on either side of the road, park on the right and there is a small launch right there.
The lake is only suitable for longboards. the wind can be a little dirty around the perimiter but i've had much better luck than at Lincoln Woods. Also there aren't any underwater rocks... This spring I was talking to a guy who lived on the lake (not a sailor), and he said that the wind always picks up after 3pm or so, and that it's often quite windy. I Don't know how seasonal this statement is though. South facing launch.
Lincoln Woods State Park. Lincoln, RI (10 minutes from providence)
Longboards only. There are a couple of islands in the lake to make things interesting. Also, the wind is often quite "dirty" due to the trees and odd lake shape, and there are parts of the lake with underwater rocks just below the surface. The park road is a circuit going around the lake, and there are many good launch spots all around the lake, so you can just drive around until you find a spot you like. You can't launch from the main swimming area except after swimming hours. There are usually people fishing around the lake, watch out for their lines when you launch. Also, you are supposed to wear a life jacket, though it does not appear to be enforced.
Lincoln Woods is about 10 minutes north of Providence. Take route 146 from either the north or the south, and there is an exit for the park. When you get off the highway, follow signs for the park, it is about 1/2 mile. In the summer, entrance fee is $2-$4 before 5pm.
Stafford Pond. Tiverton, RI. (35 minutes from providece)
small size lake with good water.
From route 24 south, take exit 1B to route 81 south. After a few miles, the road forks, with 81 bearing a little left, and Old Stafford Road bearing a little right. Take the right onto Old Stafford Road. After about 1/2 mile the road rejoins with route 81, and about a hundred feet before this intersection there is a small sign on the right for the fishing area. Take a right down the dirt road, and you are there.
Very large sporting goods store, specializing in windsurfing. Excellent prices and a wide selection of new and demo equipment, all boards are tax-free under RI state law.
directions: Take 138 south on the island. After you see RI Nursuries on your right, 138 splits into 138 and 138A. Take the left onto 138A, following sign for "Newport Beaches". 138A is also called Aquidneck Ave. Stay on Aquidneck ave. until it ends, and take a left. Island sports is a few hundred feet on your right.
Local windsufing links
Cape Cod Windsurfing Guide by Marc Lefebvre