Europe’s Windsurfing Capital: Tarifa

Beach Essentials

Where: Tarifa, southwest Spain near Africa
When: Spring – Autumn although year round temperatures are pleasantly hot / April for the fly surfing championships
Happenings: Horse riding, scuba diving, fly surfing – but renowned for windsurfing
Remember to bring: A pro board if you’re already experienced

Tarifa is on the southern most tip of the South West coast of Spain. Standing on the shore you can look out across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa – just 20 miles away at the narrowest point.

Because of the windy conditions, Tarifa isn’t the first choice of destination for luxury loving sun-worshippers. It’s uniquely un-built up and there’s no large tourist complexes – just great campsites and many unpretentious cafes and bars which come alive after a hard days surfing.

Because of its position, Tarifa is constantly buffered by two conflicting winds: the Levante from the east and the Pontiente from the west. Barely a day goes by when there’s no wind in Tarifa, and although it drives the locals crazy, Tarifa has long been known as the windsurfing capital of Europe.


The best seasons for surfing are spring and autumn (Feb – October), especially when there’s a full moon.


Windsurfing enthusiasts from all over Europe head for Tarifa throughout the year, and some end up staying for months. Because the winds are so strong, it’s not an ideal place for beginners but if you don’t bring your own gear you can rent windsurfing equipment from one of the many surf schools attached to major hotels.

It’s not only windsurfers that make a beeline for this coast. Conditions are ideal for a number of other water sports, such as fly-surfing – a cross between surfing and paragliding. The world fly-surfing championships take place in Tarifa in April.

Spain has a long tradition of horse-riding and Tarifa’s pleasant beaches and undeveloped environment make it an ideal activity. There’s a number of great trails to explore on horseback and you can organise your ride through any of the major hotels in town (see Further Information)

The Straits of Gibraltar offer some fantastic sites for scuba diving at different depths. The currents can be strong but there’s two certified dive schools in the area and a number of outfitters who will arrange your diving trip for you.

More Information

Welcome to Tarifa
Really useful site containing info on the Terifa scene: windsurfing, weather, nightlife and a whole host of other activities.

By Jess Halliday

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