Tarifa's spot guide
It looks like your state of mind completely changes when you become a kitesurfer. Your holidays will always be determined by the wind season, you will always travel with your sporting equipment and if you have a partner that doesn’t kite, then you will always need to have a location where your partner can relax at the beach or in a cafe while you’re out kiting. Soon the wind season will start in the southern part of Spain, called; Tarifa. This kitesurfing mekka has so much to offer, from many different kind of spots to a big surf vibe, huge kitesurfing billboards and during the night the entire kitesurfing scene will gather in the old village centre for a drink or two until late in the night. Let us first start with the kitesurfing spots and then later the night progresses we dive deeper into the restaurants and cafes.
Tarifa surprised me (again) in many ways. There are dozen of great spots from butter-flat lagoons to kicker waves and, with some swell activity, some amazing wave spots.
There are many different spots on driving distance that offer great variety on conditions depending on the wind direction (e.g., Balnario/ Valdevaqueros/ Getares/ Palmones). As there are 2 main wind streams (Poniente and Levante) there is always a spot that offer your demands.
Probably the most well-known spot in Tarifa, Balnario, famous for her jetty and the island next to the spot. With the strong and beating off-shore Levante wind this is the spot where you want to break your Woo-record or send the biggest and gnarliest loops you’ve ever done. Flat water with glassy waves are a perfect ingredient combination for a world-class spot to boost your jumps to the next level. As this is the busiest en most buzzing spot when the Levante wind is pumping there will always people out to keep an eye on each other. During the busier days there is also a ‘rescue’ boat available that normally keeps an eye if someone is in trouble.
Next to the amazing conditions that Balnario offers with Levante, it also offers great conditions with Poniente. The cross on-shore (a bit colder) wind makes it a complete different spot.
If you are less confident in off-shore wind and looking for some more gentil, on-shore conditions to learn some new tricks then Getares will be your go-to spot with Levante wind. From Tarifa town it is only a beautiful 15min drive over the mountain towards a spot that is situated inside a bay. With beautiful mountains on each side and cross-onshore winds (if there’s Levante wind) you will have a perfect sand beach to launch your kite and more than enough space to learn your latest tricks.
Normally the wind is approximately 20knots less compared to Balnario, which makes this a perfect alternative if you are done with big-air and getting sand blasted haha..
Just another 15min drive after Getares (approximately 25min drive from Tarifa) lies Palmones. This spot is situated inside the harbour and offers cross on-shore wind (with Levante) and has a wide variety on spot conditions, from choppy on the outside to flat waters inside the river mouth. However, as this spot is situated inside the harbour it is wise to focus on keeping your mouth closed while having a crash and getting submerged. There is often some oil-patches and plastic floating in the waters.
Also a good thing to keep in mind is to make sure to cover all your other gear (kite’s/ boards) inside the car with a blanket or something similar. All the spots near Tarifa are really safe and thrust-worthy, though at Palmones I must warn you to have a bit more caution when you are out on the water (not for your own safety, but more for the safety of your gear).
This is the spot where you want to be with the Poniente wind direction. This spot offers some fun waves with the cross on-shore wind direction to push your skills in the wave discipline or to use these waves as a kicker for your big-air game. Arriving at this spot you will drive along some trees and a camping ground, which is a perfect place to have a pick-nick or late midday snack after or in between your sessions. If you continue driving you will arrive at a parking spot with a small little restaurant/cafe with a view at the spot. Park your car here, pump your kite and have a session in between an amazing surrounding.
After your successful session you must definitely not go straight to bed. Tarifa has also so much to offer off the water. There are many tapas bars, restaurants and cosy places to be during the evening.
There are many restaurants for lunch and dinner in and around Tarifa, but below you will find my 4 favourites that I regularly visit when I am in Tarifa for training or competitions;
Surla: you must have visited this pure local surf place. It’s open for breakfast and lunch and makes one of the best sandwiches and coffees in town. It looks like this is a gathering place for most of the kitesurfers that are in Tarifa at that moment. Fresh food, smoothies and coffee.. What else would you be looking for in the morning after an intense day of kiting the day before haha..
Cafe Del Mar: It’s the cafe right next to Surla. It has beach-front and is an amazing place for your partner (if he/she doesn’t kite) to sit, drink another cappuccino (or Gin-Tonic) and watch you and all the other kiters having the time of their life. I could also recommend this place for dinner :)
Power House Cafe: Are you looking to refuel your body after an hectic kiting session and need some new energy before hitting the ocean again? Then, try this spot :)
Chilimosa (vegetarian): Fancy some vegetarian/ vegan food in the old city centre? Don’t hesitate, but head to this place. Even for meat-/ fish eaters this is such an amazing spot. Been bringing here many of my friends who are die-hard meat-eaters and they all loved it.
After your food in the evening and you are keen for some dancing/ice-cream or some more drinks, then head down to the old city centre, walk through some small streets and follow the sound of the music. This will bring you to the vivid areas during the night. However, I must advise you to perhaps take a small power-nap before going to break the night. Parties only start around midnight in Spain and continues until the sun rises again. Don’t miss the heat of the evening by skipping your power nap hahahah..
It’s a small city, but it has a vivid and lovely atmosphere with great variety on spots, restaurants and other activities you can do. Make sure to make the most out of it, even when there’s no wind. You can go mountain biking or rent an electric bike to explore the rough mountains, go hiking, drive along the beautiful coast-line towards Caños de Mecca or El Palmar or enjoy some amazing tapas in the heat of the sun!!
As you might notice, I am a fan of Tarifa hahaha.. so get this spot on your bucket-list!!
- By Roderick Pijls
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