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„Tarifa is the most iconic kitesurfing place in Europe. There is a substantial number of different spots around the town. It has a great combination of excellent kiting conditions, beautiful coast line, interesting old city, great food, amazing bars, and the laid-back atmosphere of a surfing place. If there is no wind, you will have an opportunity to explore the stunning Spanish province of Andalusia. The number of kite shops and schools is unparalleled. Food and drink prices are reasonable. Beaches are mainly occupied by western European kitesurfers. Read the rest of this Tarifa Kitesurfing Guide and find out everithing you should know”
Pros: reliable wind, diverse spots around the town, beautiful coastline, rich historic heritage, tasty food, great atmosphere…
Cons: Can get crowded in high season, you’ll need a car to fully experience Tarifa.
Tarifa is the southernmost point of continental Europe. It sits right on the border between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. With Prasonisi on Rhodes it is probably the most famous kiting spot in Europe. There are several beaches around the city where you can kite.
Balenario is the beach closest to the city. During summer months kitesurfing is forbidden in this area. If you move to the north, you will reach a small flat-water lagoon. Great for freestyle tricks but also crowded, although kiting is forbidden there. It is usually reserved for pro riders who live and practice in Tarifa.
If you move from Balenario and Lagoon further north you will get to Los Lances beach. It is more than 7 km long. Most people who visit Tarifa for kitesurfing come to ride there.
On the northern end of Los Lances there is a small rocky part of the coastline. Beyond that area lies my favourite beach called Valdevaqueros. It is long and sandy, making it ideal for kiteboarding.
Punta Paloma is a beach furthest out from Tarifa. It is connected to Valdevaqueros. Punta Paloma has a large sand dune in the back of the beach.
Los Canos de Meca is a city situated 65 km from Tarifa. It will take you around 55 minutes to get there by car. Los Cano de Meca is interesting because you will find small waves on the beach.
Tarifa has two different wind systems: Poniente and Levante.
Poniente blows from the Atlantic Ocean (west) cross on shore. It is weaker but more constant than Levante. During activity of Poniente you might get cold on the beach.
Levante is much stronger but sadly it is also gusty. It blows from the Mediterranean and it is cross to off shore wind. Be careful if you kitesurf on Los Lances during Levante days because you might drift off shore if something unforeseen happens. There is an organization called Sea Angels, which can help you in case of emergency. They have rescue boats patrolling the beach. You must buy their rescue voucher costing 30 EUR (valid for 2 rescues) on one of many locations in or around Tarifa (usually surf schools or shops). If you do not have the voucher, the rescue is going to cost you an arm and a leg. During Levante days it is much safer to kite on Valdevaqueros since there is the Punta Paloma sand dune to catch you (fingers crossed) if you get into trouble.
I know people who visit Tarifa for kitesurfing even around Christmas. However, the real season lasts from May to October. Peak months are July and August. You will probably have at least 8 out of 10 windy days during high season.
Beaches are long, wide and sandy, an ideal environment for kitesurfing. There are no dangerous sea life forms, rocks or other harmful obstacles in the water. Some parts of the beach have barbwire fence in the back but you will have to work real hard and make a ton of mistakes to get close to it due to its distance from the sea.
Weather is warm during summer months, so most of the time you will need only shorts and a t-shirt.
Since there is a wide choice of beaches where you can kitesurf, you will get to choose if you want to ride on a beach with infrastructure (bar, kite club, shade, rental etc.) or you will find a part of the beach without anything in sight. When I say without anything in sight I don’t mean without other riders, since it is impossible, especially in peak season when big crowds hit the beaches.
One of the coolest places in the world where you can kite is Tumbao Club on Valdevaqueros. It is famous for its mojitos, great music, a big lawn where you can chill, and good food in the restaurant. There is also a big wind surf and kitesurfing school, rental, shop etc.
Water is choppy. In the summer months you will only need board shorts and lycra or shorty. As I have mentioned before, if you want to catch waves go to Los Canos de Meca.
In order to experience Tarifa to the full extent you will need a car. You might find accommodation near a beach but if conditions change, or you get an urge to explore the coast, you will be stuck in one place.
Search online and you will find a good number of rent-a-car agencies. Book in advance. Spanish rentals are not as laid back as Greek, so you will need a credit card (not debit card) and an international driving licence. We have chosen a local company, since they were much cheaper than more famous international firms. Always go for the full insurance. Some visitors had a really bad experience with already existing small dents on a door of the car. They did not have full insurance and they were asked to pay a substantial amount of money for the repair.
Always leave earlier in the morning if you are heading up the coast towards Valdevaqueros in order to avoid a traffic jam (I am not joking) during peak season. Parking space also can be a problem. Some beaches and clubs charge parking but you will get a free drink with the receipt.
When it comes to airports you will have plenty to choose from. This part of Spain is full of popular tourist destinations. Malaga, Marbella, Gibraltar, Jerez and Seville have airports of their own and they are not far away. Gibraltar might be a good choice for UK citizens. It is only 45 km away, so a car ride lasts around 55 min. Queues are possible at the border crossing. We opted for Malaga due to good connection with other European cities. It took us close to 2h (154 km) by car to get from the airport to our accommodation.
The best way would be to rent a car when you land. Otherwise you will have to plan ahead in order to reach your final destination quickly, so bear that in mind while choosing an airport. If you pick Gibraltar, walk for about 5 minutes to the Spanish side of the border and rent your ride there (much cheaper). Taxi or private transfer could cost considerably.
Tarifa does not have a train station.
Accommodation prices are generally higher than in some other European countries where you can kitesurf. You will have a number of options, from hostels to boutique hotels. You can choose a hotel or a camp close to a kite beach. It will probably cost you even more and if conditions are not good at that particular beach, you will have to move somewhere else anyway.
If you liked this Tarifa Kitesurfing Guide and you think that Tarifa is your next kite holiday destination you can book your accommodation here.
If you are not kiteboarding, then explore the old city streets of Tarifa. When you find something interesting and you want to revisit it, pin the location on map in your mobile phone because you will have trouble finding it again. Streets are narrow and crooked, similar to a labyrinth. Guzman Castel near the port is well worth visiting. If you like shopping for both clothing and equipment, Tarifa is the right place for you. I haven’t seen such a big number of specialized surfing shops anywhere in the world.
Surrounding hills are full of hiking and bike trails. Views are stunning. You can easily see Moroccan coast across the sea.
Share as many tapas (small portions of food) as you can eat with your friends. Paella is a traditional rice dish served on a big pan you will not want to miss. Av. de la Constitucion (street) has several nice restaurants where you can try the local cuisine. La Taperia is a great place where you can try tuna and swordfish steaks.
In the evening try out bars in the old city. Taco Way has the best cocktails in the area.Usually bars have a happy hour lasting until 11 o’clock in the evening. Surf Bar might also be a good idea. If you want to stay out late visit La Ruina or Mombassa.
Andalusia is full of beautiful places. At least visit Kadiz, Malaga, Seville and Granda. Every city is special.
Kadiz was the main city for trade with South America, thus it is full of old churches, stunning houses and Spanish fleet admiral villas. Malaga has a lovely city center with an ancient cathedral. Seville and Granada have palaces built in middle ages called Alcazar and Alhambra. Buy tickets in advance online, otherwise you might miss them due to big crowds.
Seville is not that close but it would be such a pity if you didn’t visit it. The Plaza de America was built for the Ibero-American exhibition. Another venue in Seville which you must see is the cathedral. It is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the world (Christopher Columbus was buried there). The city is full of locations where famous movies or TV series were filmed (Star Wars, game of Thrones, Lawrence of Arabia, Knight and Day etc.)