WHEN TO GO
Peak Season: April – October
Avg Air Temp: 25-30°C / 77-86°F
Avg Water Temp: 20°C / 68°F
Restaurant Meal: €10 – 20
Accommodation: €10 – 50 p.p.p.n.
THE LURELying at the beginning of the beautiful Costa de la Luz, widely acknowledged to be Spain’s least spoilt and developed coastline, you know it as one of kitesurfing’s original meccas, but Tarifa is building a solid reputation as the ‘Adventure Capital of Europe’ with over 40 activities to try. Plus there’s great food, wine, friendly locals and a lovely family atmosphere! This is the busiest kitesurfing destination in the world. Luckily the huge beaches can cope with the thousands of kiters that descend on Tarifa each season and you can expect wind and sun for 300 days a year. All this is just a cheap, quick flight from anywhere in Europe.
Just 14 kilometres across the water from Africa, this vibrant venue in Andalucia 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 2013 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 AND WATER
Two wind patterns operate in the area. The Poniente wind comes from the west, right to left cross-onshore. It’s super-consistent 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 on the main beach at Los Lances, gusty and can get very, very strong, however in season rescue boats do operate for school clients and you can buy rescue tokens if you are already a kiter. At Valdevaqueros it’s more cross-shore in the Levante and the bay curves round to catch you where it’s more cross-onshore. Poniente comes in for three to four day periods, is more prevalent than the Levante in autumn and winter and is great when combined with strong Atlantic swells. The Levante will often blow day and night for more than seven days and is frequent in summer, although it’s not always too strong, as its reputation might have you believe. The stats don’t paint a true picture of summer as there’s usually enough to at least get out on a 12 every day with the local effects. 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. Choose from onshore wave riding to classic cross-off down-the-line conditions. In general there isn’t much of a tide to worry about, apart from during big spring tides or in winter when a lagoon forms in the dunes of the main beach, which occasionally you’re allowed to ride. 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 / 57°F in January and reach highs of 38°C / 100°F in July/August. Averaging 15 to 20°C / 59 - 68°F Novemer to April and 25 to 30°C / 77 - 86°F in spring and autumn, this really is an excellent venue for most of the year. 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, but averages 15 - 18°C / 59 - 64°F throughout the year.
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 BEACH RESORT offer modern houses and apartments on the famous Los Lances beach. Providing luxury and practicality, they are equipped with a range of amenities to keep wind and kite lovers happy and each one is individually styled and decorated.
+34 956 684 685 / +34 628 173 020
HURRICANE HOTEL is situated directly on Los Lances 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.
+34 956 684 919
KITEWORLDWIDE have a large townhouse with an atrium in the middle of it with a beautiful open courtyard. Each studio within the house has a bathroom and kitchenette.
+44 (0) 20 36 085 777
ROOM TARIFA hotel is based right in the middle of the beautiful old town, perfectly positioned for long, lazy evenings in a cool environment.
+34 956 682 229
CLUB MISTRAL teach all levels, all year at a maximum ratio of 4:1, based at their centre in Valdevaqueros. A massive range of North gear is available for rent and they provide safety boat cover, equipment storage, windsurfing, SUP and surf lessons.
+34 619 34 09 13 / +34 956 68 90 98
+44 (0) 20 36 085 777
+49 (0) 881 92 54 960
+49 867 766 860 99
+44 (0) 1273 844919
+44 (0) 844 811 8489
The wind doesn’t usually kick in until the afternoon, so the mornings give a chance for other activities. The backdrop to this stunning beach is a mountainous nature reserve with stunning walks, mountainbike trails (we were guided 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. Also: 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.
Car hire is advisable, however the main spots are all within a ten minute drive of the Tarifa town centre. 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.
Euro (€) - £1 = €1.3 / US$1 = €0.8
FOOD AND DRINK
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. Look out for Vaca Loca for steak (although it’s only small and very popular) and our new favourite tapas restaurant is Lolos. 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 dont want to venture into town.
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 with DJs 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.
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 and the fresh seafood in the supermarket is amazing.
Malaga (AGP) is between a 90 minute and two hour drive from Tarifa with many cheap flight options. 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, just 30 minutes away. Make sure you collect your car from the Spanish side of the border to avoid queues when returning.
Zenith Ocean Voyages | The Caribbean
Zenith visits locations across the entire Caribbean chain, from Antigua to Los Roques and all the way to Curaçao.
Cabarete | Dominican Republic
Open stretches of golden sandy beaches are combed by a regular cross-onshore wind and protected by an offshore reef
South Padre Island | Texas
Choose from sheltered butter-flats on the Laguna Madre Bay side, to head-high, pitching waves in the Gulf of Mexico
Hurghada | Egypt
Turquoise waters, white sandbanks and a huge amount of space, the kitesurfing here really is good for learning and it’s easy to see why it has been so popular for so long
Essaouira | Morocco
This picturesque fishing town is also Morocco’s windiest town with a vast sandy beach that stretches for three miles
El Gouna | Egypt
A man-made dream of a town that not only caters for the kiting tourist, but attracts holidaymakers from all over Europe
Watamu | Kenya
Constant trade winds, a choice of sandbars, seven kilometres of powder white sand beaches and large summer swells make Watamu a wonderful playground for kiters of all levels
Dahab | Egypt
Dahab, a hotspot for wind sports due to its world class, reliable, safe learning conditions in the lagoons
Marsa Alam | Egypt
No matter your level you’ll find great conditions for learning, flying and jumping and even some wave riding