Rio Vista (and the Delta atmosphere)

Rio vista is located on the Sacramento River Delta, 1 hour south of Sacramento, and less than an hour from San Francisco. It's a casual town, where shorts and t-shirts are the standard dress. Restaurants rarely have a dress code, and camping out is a friendly experience. Rio draws sailors from Sacramento, the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay area. Bay area sailors like Rio to get away from the cold salt water, and persistent summer fog.

Store Map Lessons Map (Sherman Island)

Sailing conditions

Rio Vista is similar to the Gorge, in that it has the tidal influences, and is powered by the summer thermal winds. During the summer, when the San Francisco fog bank settles in, and the inland valley heats up, it's time to bring out your summer gear. And although Rio Vista may not have as many 3.0 days as the Gorge, the wind is steadier, making it just more fun, for all but the most hard core extreme sailors. But no mistake, it also gets it's share of 5.0 and 4.5 days. Most days, there's a morning session, and an evening session, separated by a midday lull. Shorty wetsuits are typical for the summer, but bring that long suit, for the cooler morning sessions.

Surf Sailing is available at Santa Cruz, a 2 hour drive.

Launch sites:

Facilities Maintenance

Rio Vista is fortunate to have a very active Windsurfing Association (RVWA), that does a great job at keeping the sites maintained, porta-potties, where needed, good access to the waterline, and good parking facilities, as well as lobbying for the rights of windsurfers and kiteboarders.


Sherman Island


Most launch sites are on Sherman Island Road (3 major launch sites, and numerous smaller ones), with bathroom, parking, and camping facilities.


Windy Cove


For true luxury, checkout Windy Cove (closer to Rio Vista). This is a real showpiece, developed by the California Parks Dept., with a very nice campground (Brannon Island Campground) across the street. But on busy weekends, reservations are recommended.


It has a huge rigging area, and cement steps leading down to a spacious launch area. The paved parking lot holds about 100 cars, with expansion plans. The water facilities include a shower, but no port-a-potties here. It has tiled bathrooms that are nicer than some of us have at home. Full irrigation is being installed, to keep a blanket of grass all summer. Day use fees apply to Windy Cove, as well as camping fees at Brannon Island Campground next store. Shade-covered picnic tables and a volleyball court are planned.


Camping Facilities

Tent and trailer camping is "unofficially allowed" at most launch sites, with formal camp sites at "The Sign" (on Sherman Island), a great facility developed solely by RVWA. Day use fee sites are "The Access" at the tip of Sherman Island, and Windy Cove. Brannan Island Campground is the only one with a camping fee. "The Sign" has no official camping fee, but to stay there without becoming a RVWA Association member is truly tacky.

What to bring

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding Stores


Although the choices are numerous, favorites are Maria's (Mexican), and the Pizza Factory, both in Rio Vista. But for a truly killer burrito, and great funky atmosphere, Rogelio's in Isleton is a must.


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