17 June 2019.

Tarifa, Windsurfing & Kit...

Tarifa has long been a famed destination for windsurfing and more recently kitesurfing. This is due to its geographical location on Spain’s most southerly tip just west of Gibraltar on the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light). The beaches to the west of Tarifa are fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. Africa, 20 miles away across the straits affords them no protection from the prevailing winds. The Poniente, a westerly blows in off the Atlantic and the Levante, an easterly blows from the Mediterranean out through the Straits of Gibraltar. The winds accelerate as they are funnelled through the Strait of Gibraltar between the continents of Africa and Europe. The result is pretty much consistently good sailing conditions. The Levante tends to be cross-shore to cross-offshore resulting in flat water planing conditions while the Poniente is generally always cross onshore and can produce some interesting wave riding conditions.

The main sailing beaches sit to the west of Tarifa town along a stretch of sandy coastline about 10km long. It’s not an exact science but the general rule of thumb is the further west you travel the greater the reduction in wind speed. Believe me when the Levante is pushing force 8 a reduction can be quite a good thing. Valdevaqueros at the far end of this stretch of coast is one of the most popular of Tarifa’s beaches possibly because it is slightly more sheltered. Bolonia, a short distance further up the coast, also offers good sailing conditions and a much quieter and more attractive beach.

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Beginner - Windsurf

windsurfing rating

If you can overcome the swaggering experts and avert your eyes from the tasty totty long enough to focus on the job then the beaches of Tarifa are ideal for learning how to kitesurf or windsurf. In the morning winds tend to be lighter so it’s best to hit the beach early. And with surfing schools every hundred yards or so getting expert guidance is not a problem. The surf schools also hire out all the kit you need including wetsuits – if you don’t mind that sort of thing. Both Valdevaqueros and Bolonia are worth checking out. The one point of caution I’d raise though is a distinct lack of safety boats. If you get into bother an instructor will come to your rescue if you’re in their class but other than that it’s self rescue or swim.

Advanced - Windsurf

windsurfing rating

For intermediate to advanced windsurfers and kitesurfers the conditions – most of the time – are likely to prove pretty reasonable. Good planing conditions are common when the Levante is blowing and wave riders are likely to see some airborne action when the Poniente kicks in. If things really hit the highs, the Levante topping force 8 for example, then only expert windsurfers with very small sails will be out along with kitesurfers who have become tired of life. Mere mortals should remain fully clad and adorn ski goggles if venturing onto the beach on these days unless they need to be exfoliated. A strong Levante can create a swell that produces waves suitable for executing those crowd pleasing rolls (rig and rider somersaults) off of.