So what makes Tarifa one of the best kitesurfing destinations in Europe?
Looking at Tarifa is like looking at a crossroads: two seas, two continents and two completely different cultures, ready to be explored by all kinds of adventurers.
Located on one of the most southern points of the whole Europe, exactly where the “Old Continent” touches Africa and the Mediterranean meets the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean. On a pretty clear day, you can actually see the northern coast of Africa, Morocco. It’s only about 15km away.
This small town of Tarifa has became one of the most popular meeting points for kite-lovers.
Why? Simply because, on this crossroads lying at the beginning of the magnificent Costa de la Luz, the “Coast of Light”, two different winds meet: the wild and the innocent, Levante and Poniente.
Levante is coming from the east at speeds of 30+, sometimes even up to crazy 45 knots. It blows offshore and reaches its peak speeds when it crosses the Straits of Gibraltar. Levante is warm, gusty and unpredictable, so you do need to have a few tricks up your sleeve before jumping on it.
More gentle, but often much cooler, Poniente, blows at about 20 knots from the west, mostly onshore. You can quite often expect choppy waves with Poniente, but other than that you’re in good hands.
This is exactly what makes Tarifa such a renowned destination for wind sports:
you’ve got 35km of absolutely amazing coast line with mostly sandy beaches and guaranteed, consistent, at times even crazy, winds for 300 days a year! Combine this with warm weather and you have the perfect spot for kitesurf maniacs.
Driving a car? Absolutely!
Apart from Tarifa itself, you’ll be able to find several different kitespots in the area to go for a good ride session. Located either to the east or to the west, so a car might be a pretty good idea, otherwise you’ll easily miss out on some of the really pretty places the area has to offer. But watch out peeps! You may have to deal with the gusty Levante quite often. Some spots may not be ideal for the newbies.
Kitespots to visit?
The most famous beach in the Tarifa area is Playa Los Lances. Wide and clean with no rocks, it is the perfect place to rig up your kite and practice on Poniente wind, especially for beginners. Although it can get really busy with flying kites and holiday makers, so if you do drive a car, go a little further to avoid the season crowds. When Levante hits, Los Lances might get pretty much off-limits so if you’re only just starting out, dip your toes in and really take it easy.
Make sure to visit Playa de Valdevaqueros, ideal for kiting on a strong Levante wind. Located about 8km from Tarifa, it has two different zones for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Valdevaqueros is considered one of the safest beaches in the area because of its round shape, so even with strong Levante wind, you’re not entirely riding offshore. Quite a few events are being organised here including the World Championship. The place gets pretty crowded in the season from about June to August. But anything before and right after the season still offers a great wind and awesome rides.
You should also check out Playa Punta Paloma just next door to Valdevaqueros, basically the same thing just a different entrance to the beach, located about 9 km from Tarifa. You’ll be riding on Levante here, same setup as Valdevaqueros, so some experience is necessary, but overall it’s a pretty safe kiteboarding spot.
Playa Caños de Meca, a little further but an awesome 70km trip from Tarifa, you’ll find yourself riding some awesome waves, so not great for freestyle and twintips. Riding on Levante wind here but as you’re getting a little further the wind weakens a bit, so an awesome ride after all.
Playa Palmones, about 17km away from Tarifa the other way. Head here when Levante blows hard in Tarifa; you’ll have great onshore wind everytime almost guaranteed. It’s quite a small beach with flat water, awesome for freestyle.
Playa Chica – Just outside Tarifa town, it’s a pretty good kiting spot, although it could get pretty busy with the holiday makers.
Balneario – Right next door to Playa Chica. When riding on Poniente, it is pretty easy going and suitable for all levels, but watch out for Levante here folks.
The Lagoon or La Charca – Flat water, a paradise for beginners and those practicing tricks. If you’re a beginner or taking your kitesurfing lessons, then this might be one of your starting kitespots.
Rio Jara – One of the quieter kitespots, nice’n’easy riding on Pontiente.
Arte Vida – Pretty well known spot for its waves.
Getares – When Levante hits Tarifa hard, head to Getares. You will get a perfect onshore wind almost every time, guaranteed.
Well, let’s just say that’s less likely to happen, but if you need to take a break for the day, head to the town. The old town of Tarifa is really stunning with it’s colourful bendy streets. You can easily get lost for the day in its art shops, cafes, bars and many little food stores.
Where to next? The epic world class waves, consistent winds and 300 days of summer make Portugal a whopper of a kitesurfing spot so checkout some top notch kitespots on the lengthy Algarve coastline or believe it or not, Morocco is just a stone throw away, so book a ferry and checkout what Essaouira has to offer.