Restaurant Meal: €10 – 20
Accommodation: €10 – 50 pppn
THE LUREWhy come to Tarifa? Wind, wind, wind! And they do! Why else come to Tarifa? Because it's the 'Adventure Capital of Europe' with over 40 activities to try. Why else? Great food, wine and 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. Lying at the beginning of the beautiful Costa de la Luz, widely acknowledged to be Spain's least spoilt and developed coastline - and all this just a cheap, quick flight from anywhere in Europe.
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 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 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 and is more prevalent than the Levante in autumn and winter and is great when combined with strong Atlantic swells, whereas 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, and it's a warm wind coming from the land. 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. 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 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 sometimes you're allowed to ride. Due to the large variation in wind strengths - take all your kites.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DRAGON KITE SCHOOL teach all levels all year, rent and sell Best kiteboarding gear as well as used equipment. A rescue boat service is provided on lessons in the summer and the fully qualified IKO and VDWS instructors have years of experience. Their main shopfront is in the parade of shops next to the Mercadona supermarket, and they can arrange your accommodation.
HIGH FLYERS TARIFA teach all levels, all year at a maximum ratio of 4:1. Renting and selling Ozone gear, they provide a rescue boat in the summer season and also offer complete accommodation and transport packages.
HOTSTICK kite School have two shop fronts in Tarifa, one up near the old town and one near the Mercadona supermarket. The kite school has been operating since 2000 with an international team of instructors, using the latest gear, providing easy, safe learning. The shop stocks everything for kiting, windsurfing, surfing, boogie boarding or SUPing, plus clothing and accessories.
KITE OBSESSION teach all levels all year and are located at the end of the slick parade of shops next to the Mercadona supermarket and opposite the start of Los Lances beach. One of the longest running schools, they teach on, rent and sell Cabrinha gear and Mystic suits and harnesses as well as more local Tarifa brands.
KITE PROGRESS are located on the road going from Tarifa to Los Lances in their new building, right opposite the beach and at the start of the kitesurfing zones. They have eight years of experience in kitesurfing lessons, supervision and rental equipment and all instructors are IKO certified. They teach all levels all year.
KTS (Kite Tarifa School) teach all levels all year, providing a rescue boat service June to September and offer transport to the beach for those without a vehicle. Instructors are IKO qualified and they run IKO instructor courses, too. The shop stocks F-One, Best and Wainman as well as accessories and they also specialise in SUP.
WET are not only the importers of North into Spain, they also have a two stunning flagship stores in Tarifa, stocking all North items of course, but also Nobile, Ion, Fanatic, Hurley and Quiksilver clothing. Their second shop, just out of town, also features a cafe, childrens play area, gear repairs and a shaping room where you can watch boards being made!
+49 (0) 881 92 54 960
+44 (0) 20 36 085 777
+44 (0) 1273 844919
+44 (0) 844 811 8489
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, clmbing 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.
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.
Euro (€): £1 = €1.2 / $1 = €0.7
FOOD AND 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 bueaty, 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 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.
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 spots 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.
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.
Lake Como | Italy
Just an hour from Milan and home of the Italian Freestyle Champion, Stefano Martinelli, you can be sure you’ll pack in the riding time on Lake Como. Mix your kitesurfing trip with beautiful food, historical site visits and there’s also a cable park filled with kickers and sliders just a ten minute bike ride from the spot of Colico.
Cocos Keeling Islands | Australia
Warm, flat aqua-blue waters that you’ll find here are like the kiting conditions you see in your dreams. Perfect for beginner and advanced riders wanting 15 – 20 knot winds morning, noon and night. There’s no wonder that The Cocos Islands are growing in reputation for blissful kiteboarding and if you’re lucky you can kite with the turtles, reef sharks and manta rays.
Kalpitiya | Sri Lanka
One of the most consistently windy destination in the word, people are only just now beginning to believe all that they see and hear
Ulcinj | Montenegro
A new kiting hotspot on mainland Europe is being developed in Montenegro, former Yugoslavia. Ulcinj (pronounced: ‘Ooltseenie’), the southernmost town in Montenegro features a 14 kilometre long sandy beach and super steady side-onshore thermal winds that blow every day in the summer!
Keros | Limnos | Greece
Keros is a super safe sandy kitesurfing bay with a variety of conditions, suitable for all. The whole set up is within a protected ecosystem where you can spot wildlife such as rabbits, flamingos and rare species of flora.
The Algarve | Portugal
Glassy morning wakeboarding or surfing sessions are the perfect way to kick the early hours off, then it’s over to an afternoon of regular 25 knot wind speeds for some kiting action, changing spots a few times a week.
Sotavento | Fuerteventura
A year-round kiting holiday-makers’ favourite, Sotavento has a huge wide-open tropical beach land where you can ride the warm, shallow lagoon or hop over to the bright blue ocean for more bump ‘n’ jump action. Check out the stats – it blows here!
Flag Beach | Fuerteventura
Spectacular beaches with clean and clear waters surround a relaxed, laid back Spanish atmosphere. Fuerteventura is a fantastic location and offers flat water and smooth winds, especially in the summer.