Tarifa is my favourite spot in the world for kitesurfing and it’s not only for its windy conditions. The people, the atmosphere, and all the different kinds of sports you can do here, make Tarifa a complete allrounder.
You can spend one or two weeks in Tarifa and never get bored. Sure, the city is known for its steady winds during the summer but it has much more to offer.
Let me start from the beginning… Tarifa is situated in the southernmost point of Spain – close to Gibraltar, Málaga, Jerez and Seville and belongs to the federal state of Andalucía. It’s the point in the map where the warm Mediterranean Sea meets with the colder Atlantic Ocean. Spaniards call it “El Estrecho”.
During the summer time (End of May – Beginning of September) the wind is the main visitor of this city – howling through its streets and bringing thousands of travelers together. There are mainly two winds in Tarifa: the one from the west called “Poniente” and the one from the east called “Levante”. Both winds are rideable but couldn’t be more different. Poniente is a steady wind that blows directly from the Atlantic, bringing a bit of freshness to the city. Levante is a much warmer wind coming from the African Sahara desert. This wind is normally much gustier but warm enough to be able to kite with short sleeved wetsuit or even with shorts.
It might be wise to rent a car to get around. A lot of the airports have really cheap choices and a compact car is enough if you are not travelling with a lot of luggage.
Most of the Spaniards start taking holidays from the end of June to the end of August. Thus, the best time to come to Tarifa is Mid-June or the beginning of September. The rental prices are fairly afordable (as low as 40€/day. I normally use Costa Sur or AirBnB) booking 2-3 months in advance. That time of the year is perfect as the city, streets and supermarkets are not overcrowded.
This doesn’t mean that the city is empty though – you will find that the bars and restaurants in the historic center (surrounded by an ancient medieval wall) start getting full and the weather… oh the weather! It’s great… remember, we are talking here about the southernmost point of Spain here! This might be a great time to remember to bring sun screen along with you. There is a reason why they call it Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light).
As if the wind knew you need to sleep, it will start to blow from 12am in the morning giving you enough time to start your day with a good breakfast. I recommend: Tarifa Power House, and Surla which have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. If you need to buy some groceries, Mercadona provide good value for a great price and variety. Their own brand called Hacendado is the best alternative to other more expensive brands offering almost the same quality – sometimes even better!
As soon as the sun sets under the horizon the inner city starts to get crowded and people go out to socialize. The Tarifa Ecocenter is a great vegetarian restaurant with vegan options for having dinner. Taco Way is the place to go later for a good cocktail and if your body still has energy after a good session of kitesurfing and you are up for saltation you can end your evening in La Ruina.
I hope you have some kite options in your quiver as the wind in Tarifa can blow from 12 knots and get as crazy as 42 (or more!) knots. Though a 10m kite (I weight 75kg) might be the best suited kite in most cases. Tarifa Air Force or Ozu are the places to go if you need to fix something in your equipment. Pro Tip: As long as the wind keeps blowing steadily from one direction you will have enough wind to kite on the beach even if Windguru shows only 6-7 knots.
By car you can reach the main spots of the area:
- Valdevaqueros – is the main spot and also has a good chill-out area called “Tumbao”. The beach makes a big turn making it rideable with almost any wind. Valdevaqueros is also a great place to do a downwind with a good Poniente up to our next spot called: Balneario. Please note that waves can be much bigger and wind somewhat more gusty when arriving in Tarifa.
- Los Lances– this is the main beach where all the kitesurfing schools go
- Balneario – right at the bridge to the peninsula is also the place where the pro’s go and put on a show by jumping high every afternoon. This place isn’t recommended for beginners as there might be a few rocks in the ground and could be a little bit dangerous.
If for some reason there isn’t any wind or too much wind in Tarifa(!!!), you can also check the following spots which are around a 35 minute drive away:
- Palmones – Good for beginners. Wind normally blows enough for a 12m kite.
- Caños de Meca– For experienced riders only! Riding upwind is a must as the spot is really small.
This might not happen to you in your first visit to Tarifa but if you get tired of kitesurfing you can always book a ride on one of the whale watching tours, do a horse excursion, diving at the little Peninsula in the south or rent a mountain bike and explore the surroundings (and maybe find the wind mills on top of the hill).
Or what about a SUP Tour? This is becoming a great option to visit the small peninsula! And you can finish the trip riding some waves at Balneario.
If you are more adventurous you can always take one day off and take the ferry to Tanger (Morocco) or visit Seville. Please note that Seville can be really hot during July and August reaching temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit).
Learning to kite in Tarifa during Juli or August might be a bit tough but if you are looking for a good school make sure to go with:
- Tarifa Air Force. Cool and They also have a great shop!
- Tarifa Hotstick
- If you are renting a car make sure to rent an apartment outside of the medieval wall that surrounds the city center. Driving in the city center during the peak hours (6pm) can be a nightmare not mentioning searching for a parking spot.
- I haven’t done it myself yet –, but over the years I have met some people that were visiting the city to learn Spanish and kite for 1 month. This might be a great option for you if you are in your twenties and looking for that kind of a different summer camp.
If you have been to Tarifa before and are looking for other alternatives make sure to check the following post about Rhodes!