While some die-hard surfers reckon it isn’t the real thing unless you’ve got your toes on the nose, in-the-know adrenaline seekers agree that the increasingly popular sport of kitesurfing actually takes the thrills (and spills) to the next level. While it’s certainly not a sport for the faint-hearted, if you’re already an experienced surfer you’re halfway there with the skills needed.
But getting the most out of the wind on a kiteboard definitely depends on finding the right location, with all the right conditions – and if you’re looking for the best tips you’ll get all year, here they come!
Take On the Wind at Tarifa
Tarifa, a resort on the exotic southern coast of Spain, is renowned as one of the best places in Europe to kitesurf and windsurf, due to the strong winds blowing up the Straits of Gibraltar on which it sits. If you want to sound even cleverer than you usually do, an interesting fact is that the wind is so prolific in this region that they produce much of their own power!
But enough talk of the weather, because probably the only interest you have in wind turbines is how many you can spot on shore while you’re haring up the Straits of Gibraltar on a kiteboard in the direction of Morocco… let’s go!
Top Kitesurfing Spots Around Tarifa
If you’ve never been to Tarifa before, there’s no need to waste any time trying to work out where the wind and water conditions are best, because we know the top five places and we’re happy to share. You’ll be lofting, schlogging, luffing and mobing in no time – although you probably won’t even know it until you learn the lingo! Just make sure you don’t end up in a kitemare…yes, it’s a thing! (Use your imagination…)
Need to know:
There are two different kinds of winds in Tarifa:
- The Levante – a warmer wind that blows in offshore from the east. (Best in June and July.)
- The Poniente – the cooler wind that blows in from the west, offering fantastic conditions for kitesurfing. (The predominant wind in Tarifa.)
The scale used to measure the speed and strength of wind in relation to the conditions is called the Beaufort. Levante can reach 8-9 Beaufort, while Poniente reach around 2-5 on the scale.
Now you’ll be able to talk the talk with the experts (or bluff your way, at least!), it’s time to get out there and get the good stuff!
Los Lances is the top pick and the local Tarifa ‘homespot’. It’s an awesome, wide, sandy beach, with plenty of space to spread out and a buzzing beach bar to swap stories, get tips, and make some new prorider friends. Ocean conditions run from flat to choppy, with both Poniente, to provide the small waves, and the Levante to spice things up a little.
Beginner to pro level.
Palmones is a narrow beach set around a small tidal lagoon, about 35km from Tarifa. A strong Levante is usually in attendance, which will take you out into the open sea. While you can putter around the lagoon – and it’s a great smaller place to start your training – the open sea beyond provides a challenging playground for hours of fun!
Beginner to pro level.
Caños de Meca
A sandy beach bordered by a reef, this is another top spot with a very strong Levante blowing in, creating lots of waves ranging from small rollers to pretty big ones. It is no place for the absolute beginner, although you should be able to progress here after a few days of solid training. Don’t be a hero though, because you’ll need to be able to confidently travel upwind before you take on Caños de Meca.
This beach is about 60km from Tarifa and there’s a small beach bar if you want to take a timeout to refuel and bang off a Snapchat to your jealous mates shivering back home!
Advanced to pro level.
Rio Jara is a small tidal lagoon with relatively flat, shallow water. It’s a great ‘soft’ place to start your training, and the Levante here is perfect for beginners to get their sea legs. There’s also a Poniente blowing in that makes for good, easy beginners’ kiting. Further out, though, it’s possible to find some challenges so it doesn’t have to be a walk in the park if you’re starting to get your confidence up. It makes a great alternative if you want to change your day up a bit, as it’s just a walk over from Los Lances.
Beginner to prorider level.
About 65km from Tarifa, Conil makes for a great day trip out when you’re looking for some new challenges. Although it has a limited training area in the small tidal lagoon, there’s a world of fast-paced fun to be had in the open sea. A strong Levante is present, creating lots of small waves and excellent conditions for building on your skills.
Beginners to proriders.
Tarifa – As Much Airtime as You Can Handle
So, do you think you’re ready to pack your trusty surfboard in mothballs and head over to the dark side? If ever the time was right to try kitesurfing it’s now, and if ever a place was the perfect training ground, Tarifa is it! Brush up on your drags, drifts and downloops and you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the pros in no time!
Tip: If you reckon your kitesurfing skills are getting pretty on point, you might be interested in a little healthy competition in the years to come…
How to get to Tarifa from Gibraltar Airport
There are plenty of regular scheduled flights from the UK to southern Spain, with Gibraltar being the most convenient airport. A direct flight will get you on the ground in Gibraltar in less than three hours. If you plan on bringing your own kiteboard, make sure you liaise with your chosen airline to check you’re allowed to travel with it.
Once you land, the most convenient way to get you and any kiteboarding equipment straight to your accommodation is by pre-booking a private Gibraltar airport transfer. With Shuttle Direct, you can make an easy online booking and a friendly local driver will meet you at the airport and take you straight to the resort without any waiting around for other passengers. The trip will take around an hour, and transporting any equipment is not a problem as long as you advise at time of booking.
Where to Stay:
Tarifa Beach Resort: You won’t have to waste any precious kitesurfing time with accommodation at the Tarifa Beach Resort. Perfect for an extended stay in Tarifa to make the most of the conditions, the resort’s spacious, modern houses and apartments have everything you need – so you can focus on what’s important. Walk to cafes and bars, enjoy the onsite BBQ facilities, and surf the web for free as well as the waves on the doorstep!
La Residencia Tarifa: Come home from a day of action packed kitesurfing to La Residencia Tarifa and you’ll be able to relax with a drink on the rooftop terrace, take a soothing dip in the heated infinity pool, and soothe your aching muscles in the sauna. Enjoy the exotic ambience of the rooms, equipped with all mod cons like free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, and plan the next day’s action as you take in panoramic views over the ocean from your private balcony.
Hotel Aristoy: Easily the funkiest luxury accommodation in Tarifa, the fabulous Hotel Aristoy is chill, contemporary and close to everything. When you’re not out in the waves, you can relax at the hotel enjoying the free Wi-Fi, outdoor pool, onsite restaurant, and lapping up the fantastic views. You’re also just five minutes from the ferry for a quick hop over to Tangiers. Hip, homely, and happening, the Hotel Aristoy is your ideal choice for big boys’ accommodation in Tarifa.
About Shuttle Direct
Book your airport transfers with Shuttle Direct and you’ll enjoy the service of the most renowned operator in Europe and North Africa. Our easy to navigate online booking system allows you to book your travel arrangements and receive immediate confirmation. You’ll be met at the airport of your choice and a friendly, experienced driver will transport you and your luggage directly to your accommodation via the fastest, most convenient route. Shuttle Direct’s range of shared and private transfers offers something for every budget.