Why come to Tarifa? Wind, wind, wind! And they do! This is the busiest kitesurfing destination in the world. Luckily the huge beaches can cope with the hundreds of kites that descend on Tarifa. A cheap, quick flight from anywhere in Europe, the spiritual home of European kitesurfing grew in massive popularity for many other reasons.
The spiritual home of European kitesurfing grew in massive popularity for many reasons. Just 14 kilometres across the water from Africa, this vibrant venue in Andulucia lies at the meeting point of the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. Strong, reliable, year-round winds blow here and the beaches, such as Los Lances (just outside of town) are wide, open (ten kilometres long), made of soft sand and are obstacle free. Well over 15 kite shops and 40 industry related businesses operate along the busy high street and many top PKRA riders (including the men's and women's PKRA Champions, Alex Pastor and Gisela Pulido) actually live in Tarifa, so the standard of riding is very high, but there's very little attitude. July and August can see a thousand kiters on the water in the several kilometres of beach around Tarifa, so its important to observe the rules and respect each rider. If the wind gets too strong or offshore, then take a drive to another beach. There are many options from bump 'n' jump to classic cross-off down-the-line wave conditions on the day. Head an hour north to Canos de Meca for a better chance at quality wave conditions, or if the Levante is too strong in Tarifa. Another option is to head east, to Palmones. There are plenty of options. Get the full low down from a shop when you arrive.
WIND, WEATHER & WATER
Two wind patterns operate in the area. The Poniente wind comes from the west, right to left cross-onshore. It's super-consistent, usually the summer wind and brings good weather. It doesn't usually get too strong apart from during a winter storm. The Levante wind comes from the east and is cross-off from the main beach, gusty and can get very, very strong. Poniente comes in for three to four day periods whereas the Levante will often blow day and night for more than 7 days. One of the reasons that Tarifa can cope with all this is because there are a lot of different beach options, so it's a very good idea to hire a car. If the wind gets too strong or offshore, then drive to another beach. And with so many different beach options comes a huge variety in conditions. Choose from onshore wave riding to classic cross-off down-the-line conditions. In Winter a huge lagoon forms in the dunes of the main beach and is perfect for flat water fun, although it does get very busy as it's so popular. Due to the large variation in wind strengths - take all your kites.
Air temperatures can remain pleasant all year, but can dip to 14°C in January and get above 30°C in July. The water gets warm in the summer, requiring only boardies or a shortie wetsuit but can feel much cooler in the colder winds in the winter, when you will need a spring suit.
Car hire is advisable as there are so many spots to choose from, however the main spots are all within a ten minute drive of the Tarifa town centre. If there's no wind you'll make the most of this activity-rich area with a car. Within Tarifa itself you can walk from most places you'll stay in the town. The
walled old town has a unique blend of Andalucian white 'Pueblo' with a hint of Moroccan influence, resulting from a Moorish occupation in a previous life. This is a very safe environment for all the family, although, like everywhere, don't leave valuables lying around in your cars.
Currency: Euro (€): £1 = €1.2 / $1 = €0.7
There is a massive amount of accommodation on offer, from boutique hotels in town, beach hotels, mid-range and budget hostels, campsites as well as a broad range and spectrum of self-catering villas, apartments and houses. Some schools operate an overall package, too.
TARIFA DIRECT offer a range of self-catering options, with everything from apartments in town, to luxury villas.
www.tarifadirect.com / email@example.com
+34 637 939 359
HURRICANE HOTEL is situated directly on Los Lance beach, five miles west of Tarifa. Built in a Moorish style and set in sub-tropical gardens, it has spectacular views as well as a superb restaurant, plus pool, sauna and gym. It is partnered with the Punta Sur hotel a little further west and across the road.
www.hotelhurricane.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
+34 956 684 919
HOTEL MISIANA is located right in the historic centre of Tarifa's old town, just a few steps from the restaurants, bars, shops, the port and the old city beach. Featuring an outdoor terrace serving excellent food in a friendly atmosphere it also has a stunning penthouse on the roof overlooking the city.
www.misiana.com / email@example.com
+34 956 627 083
FOOD & DRINK
The vibe in Tarifa is an eclectic mix of surfers, creatives, geeks and a boho urban crowd, all drawn to Tarifa's inspiring, unspoilt natural beauty, slow pace of life and culinary delights. Losing none of its old Spanish charm and white washed walls, Tarifa really comes to life at night. From incredible authentic tapas to high class cuisine to cheap and cheerful pizzas. As well as being a superb venue for young kiters to unwind and party, the Spanish way of life also sees children happily playing and socialising with the rest of the family late into the night outside restaurants, too. You can eat cheaply here too, with many restaurants offering a Menu del Dia for lunch costing around €9, including wine/coffee. For the ultimate experience check out Silos 19 (www.silos19.com). We also recommend Vaca Loca for steak (although it's only small and very popular) and our new favourite tapas restaurant is El Lola. For nightlife, choose from rammed dance clubs to laid back bars. There are also a few options on the way to the beaches if you don’t want to venture into town. For a very relaxed vibe there are beach bars serving fine local food and offering a variety of live music while up at the Club Mistral centre at Valdevaqueros there is a great restaurant right on the spot as well as a chiringuito bar serving wicked caipirinhas as sunset approaches. This is a popular kiting spot as it's nicely sheltered from the wind for non-kiting partners to catch the sun and relax.
At least once during your trip you must try the Hurricane Hotel. Booking may be necessary at weekends and in summer. There are various supermarkets, the main one being the Mercadona just at the end of the high street offering similar produce to the rest of Europe, and probably cheaper, and the traditional Spanish meats, cheeses as well as the fresh seafood in the supermarket is amazing.
Tarifa has more shops than anywhere else in the world click here or the tab above
The backdrop to this stunning beach is a mountainous nature reserve with stunning walks, mountainbike trails (we were guided excellently by Pedal Freaks Tarifa - www.pedalfreakstarifa.com), horseriding tracks, climbing and bouldering, all with amazing views across The Straits to Africa and the Atlas mountains. Other activities include: golf, diving, paragliding, fishing, archery, landyachting, surfing, SUP, pilates, yoga and more! There is also lots more to see and do outside Tarifa, incuding visiting ancient and picturesque towns along the coast. How about learning to speak Spanish? The wind doesn't usually kick in until the afternoon, so the mornings give a chance for other activities.
There are many options for cheap flights to Malaga especially, but also Gibraltar and Jerez. Malaga (AGP) is between a 90 minute and two hour drive from Tarifa. Jerez (XRY) is a much smaller airport but is only about a 60 minute drive from Tarifa. Gibraltar (GIB) is the closest airport to Tarifa, only 30 minutes drive. Make sure you collect your car from the Spanish side of the border to avoid queues when returning.