So, in May I packed my bags and headed off with my mate Colin, and Buca the dog to Tarifa. Range Rover packed to the roof with my newly acquired kiteboarding kit, we headed off through France towards Tarifa. Making it down to Basque Country, we spent our first night before an early start for Tarifa – the kite and windsurfing centre of Europe.
Arriving late on the Sunday and checking into our apartment, we headed off to meet Sam Guest and the Tantrum Kite Surfing Team for beers and dinner.
The next five days were spent trying to find secluded spots as the wind was blowing at over 40 knots each day, not fun for a beginner. Despite the normal secluded spots defying all expectations and being windless, the Tantrum team were successful in finding spots 1.5 hours north of Tarifa and a fun afternoon was had by all.
The wind certainly didn’t live up to my expectations though, in total only getting on the water for eight out of the 30 days I was there!
Here’s a quick run-down of the beaches around Tarifa:
Los Lances beach is vast; it stretches over 14 miles and is several hundred metres deep at most points. A river mouth approximately two miles from Tarifa also causes flat water lagoons to form on the beach itself given the right conditions. The beach itself is so big that it is divided by locals into several smaller points (so people know exactly where it is you’re going), the most famous of these being Valdevaqueros and Arte Vida.
Arte Vida is located approximately halfway along Los Lances beach. It has a small point break to its right and the beach curves around gently, creating a great wave on the right-hand side. The water to the left is more open and generally less crowded and makes this a perfect spot when the westerly (Poniente) winds blow.
Right at the end of the beach is Valdevaqueros, this is the only beach in Tarifa itself which works in Easterly wind (Levante). With one of the world’s largest sand dunes and endless curving bay it is an idyllic setting which works in any wind condition. The wind is often stronger here due to thermal effect caused by the heat given off by the sand dune. For this reason this beach is very popular with kite surfers and there are also many bars, hotels and restaurants here when you’re too tired to kite.
Not strictly in Tarifa but still definitely within driving distance is the beach of Caños de Meca. When the Levante is howling in Tarifa, this is the place to go. One of Spain’s premier surf beaches the wind here is often calmer, more constant and with the addition of some swell, can turn this into a truly world-class spot.
Heading the other way up the coast is another fairly unknown spot called Palmones. Divided in two by a river, here you will find flatter waters and calmer conditions when it is blown out in Tarifa. A small flat water lagoon behind the beach is also perfect for practising those latest tricks.
Here’s some Tarifa Bars and Restaurants worth checking out too….
- Vaca Loca is awesome for great steaks
- La Tribu makes great pizza and is really well priced
- Bossa bar and Bar 10 are the two little bars in the old town
- La Cueva for awesome burgers
- Also check out the back streets for some amazing Tapas Restaurants.
I can’t recommend the Tantrum Team highly enough for kite surfing lessons, and also as a great group to hang out with when you can kite surf. Sam the owner and Maria the Centre Manager, along with the other instructor guarantee to make your trip to Tarifa loads of fun even if like me, the wind did not live up to expectations.
On a separate note, after I left the wind blew perfectly for 10 days, so that’s the law of the kiteboarding sod………..