In the final part of our Tarifa trilogy we find ourselves looking at the wave spots in and around this wind capital. For those that missed part 1 and part 2, then just click on the links and you can check them out first to find out what we are talking about when we say Levante or Poniente winds.
Known for its bump and jump Tarifa certainly has a few spots to windsurf, however for real true wave riding then this becomes more limited. For the locals they tell you to simply wait for the right forecast then you can get any conditions you want. From down-the-line over mast high sets to nice stunt ramps and small side on waves it has a lot to offer the everyday wave rider.
Sitting on the most sout-eastern point of Europe and with the full force of the Atlantic Ocean slamming into Tarifa, this place can really catch some good waves. This said it is more common to find the bigger swells further north at locations which require an hour or two drive. In this feature we start at the bottom and the south (in Tarifa) and work our way north. First, here are a couple of maps detailing the spots.
The first map shows Tarifa and further north all the way up to El Palmar. More importantly it shows the spot of Canos de Meca, which we will get on to later.
The second map shows a more detailed view of the beach connected to Tarifa and all the different spots heading north from there.
1. Playa Chica
Playa Chica is perhaps the most tame of wave spots when it comes to actual waves. The ramps produced there are often small, enough for forward loops and it can be quite choppy with a bit of bounce back from the peninsula wall. The main advantage of windsurfing here is that it catches the wind first, so if Levante is quite light then here is the safest bet for any form of jumping. There are other beaches that work in Levante which require a swell but can offer some great down the line riding, for example Balneario.
Just over the peninsula from Playa Chica this spot works best when there is a swell and medium to light Levante winds on the forecast, then it really can offer some fast down-the-line starboard tack riding. In Poniente this is really a dead on shore spot and doesn’t work so well, sometimes if there is a little south in the wind then you can get some port tack jumping in, just.
3. Campo de Futbol/Rio Jara
Further north these two parts of the beach are fairly similar, it is quite normal to launch from Campo du Futbol and sail upwind in Levante to score some nice riding. However, the forecast rarely provides anything over waist high, which makes it a good introduction to down-the-line wave riding but not so good if you are seeking big ‘rideable’ waves. Recently Ben Van Der Steen was in town and managed to score one such session with Tom Malina and a few of the PWA Slalom crew, here are the words from Ben and a gallery to show what went down.
“It does not happen very often ( maybe 6/7 times a year ) that we get levante ( the strong east wind) and a west swell , but when it happens the beach from campo de football thats the end of town till the rio jara becomes an amazing place for wave sailing . The conditions are full speed down the line wave riding , almost like a little punta preta. With clean waves and about a 45 degree offshore wind its pretty hard to get on the waves but when on them its just a joy to ride glass walls all the way”
In Poniente winds, both these spots can be a lot of fun and often catch some of the best wind with side-onshore starboard tack ramps and riding to be had. There is often a lot of kitesurfers here however, this can make it a little bit sketchy to get a clean run out if you are charging after ramps.
4. Arte Vida
Probably one of the most popular spots near Tarifa in lighter Poniente winds. The angle of the beach gives the ramps a little more side in them which makes riding a bit easier and the angle for jumping is also better, however if it is light then chances are it is just wind blown swell and the ramps won’t be so big. You often find yourself sailing here first then moving on to another spot later in the day. It’s pretty nice with the cafes on the shore offering cheap Bocadillos or take along your own meat and make the most of the free BBQ spots. This place is also pretty good at catching the swell when it is bigger and can provide some big ramps for those daring to ‘float’ out through them. Check out the shot on the right.
5. Las Dunas
Strong Levante winds and a some swell on the forecast make this the closest place when Levante is too strong in Tarifa. Port tack side-shore conditions make it pretty fun with a super nice back drop and the centre on the beach there has a real friendly vibe, be sure to poke your head in and look around.
A little further north from Tarifa, about 20 minutes drive is Bolonia, it works in both wind directions but again also requires a strong Levante wind to reach there. This happens quite often in Tarifa so you could well find yourself heading here. The waves generally require swell but in Levante, the wind blown stuff also works. Again the scenery is really nice here, there are some nice cafes on the beach and you can rig on the grass where the wind tends to be a little lighter, a bit more sheltered.
7. Canos de Meca
Canos is really the spot where it can go off. Big swells wrap around the point and provide full on down-the-line glassy waves. Levante has to be really strong to reach here, combined with a strong swell you get what appears in the following gallery.