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Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA

4.9

EXOTIC LOCATION

2.1

LOCAL BEACHES

2.0

EASE OF TRAVEL

4.9

LOCAL HOSPITILITY

4.6

WEATHER

Overall Rating: 3.7

OVERVIEW

Cocoa Beach Kiteboarding has everything a kiteboarder is looking for. Waves and flat water in multiple locations all within a few miles of each other. One of the most popular locations on a North wind is the “520 Slick” famous for its flat, shallow waters for maximum learning or progression. Wave riding from everyt direction from North to South in different areas of the beach. The windy season runs from August to May but you can kite here all year round with the afternoon thermals in the summer on bigger kites. Water shoes are recommended at these locations.

Because of it’s truly unique package of not only great wind, but also insanely great weather, phenomenal food, fun and culture, Tarifa is a treasure of a town that is literally on everyone’s “Top Lists” of places to kiteboard in the world.

Perched on the southern coast of Spain overlooking a wide sugar sand beach, surrounded by Andalusian hills with pastel colored mountains of Africa visible in the distance across the water is the Tarifa. Tarifa is a very old town at a cultural crossroads between Europe and Africa, Christianity and Islam. Discovered more than twenty years ago by wind sports fans, it’s become a Mecca for kiteboarders and windsurfers looking for consistently good wind. The town of 17,000 booms to over 90,000 in the summer when kite surfers and tourists come from all over the world to vacation and ride, resulting in a vibrant night life and a town full of hip hotels, hostels, fantastic restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Because of it’s truly unique package of not only great wind, but also insanely great weather, phenomenal food, fun and culture, Tarifa is a treasure of a town that is literally on everyone’s “Top Lists” of places to kiteboard in the world.

Perched on the southern coast of Spain overlooking a wide sugar sand beach, surrounded by Andalusian hills with pastel colored mountains of Africa visible in the distance across the water is the Tarifa. Tarifa is a very old town at a cultural crossroads between Europe and Africa, Christianity and Islam. Discovered more than twenty years ago by wind sports fans, it’s become a Mecca for kiteboarders and windsurfers looking for consistently good wind. The town of 17,000 booms to over 90,000 in the summer when kite surfers and tourists come from all over the world to vacation and ride, resulting in a vibrant night life and a town full of hip hotels, hostels, fantastic restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

WHERE TO PARTY

Tarifa’s winds REALLY blow year-round and are kiteable 300+ days a year. Tarifa’s high season is in June, July and August. During those months the Poniente blows most days starting around 1:00 pm and blowing until the sun starts to go down. Tarifa also gets the occasional offshore Levante wind in the summer, but not as frequently or and strong as in the winter. During the winter Terifa still gets Poniente winds, but there are more frequently, and stronger, Levante offshorewinds winds.

June, July and August are incredibly crowded. Hundreds of kites fill the air every day. With perfect temperatures, wind and weather it’s no wonder. We visited Tarifa in August, 2019 and I thought it was great. The sheer number of kites in the water were intimidating at first but something I got used to after a few days.

However, if I had my pick, the perfect time to visit would be in Spring or Fall. To me those would be the Goldilocks sweet spots between the Levante-heavy and colder winter months and the super crowded summer.

Tip: Visiting Tarifa any time is awesome, but we suggest September and October or April and May.

BEST LAUNCH SITES

Although Tarifa has a small airports, we found that flying into Seville and driving to Tarifa was the quickest and easiest way to get there. We flew from Orlando, Florida to the London Gatwick Airport on Virgin Atlantic, and then caught a two and a half hour connecting flight on Easy Jet to Sevilla. Once in Sevilla we rented a car and then drove another two hours to Tarifa.

Because we visited Tarifa in August, 2019, the town was booming with tourists and parking was incredibly hard to find. We were staying in the Riad hotel which is located in the middle of Tarifa’s old town, where the nearest parking lot was a ten minute walk away. Driving into Tarifa on the Amazon de los Rios — which is the main road into town — we followed the blue parking signs, and after taking a right turn onto Batalla del Salado we found a public parking lot that charged 13 euros a day. However, the lot was full when we arrived and we had to wait on the side of the street a few minutes before someone left the lot and there was room for us.

Tip: Don’t rent a car.The rental car was expensive, especially because we paid for the full insurance coverage option. We also had to wait almost an hour at the rental car lot to pick up our car. It would have actually been cheaper to hire a car to pick us up at the airport and drive us to Tarifa, and then take us back to the airport.

Once in Tarifa you don’t need a car; calling the local taxi company is a breeze and takes no more than 5 minutes for a taxi to arrive. The taxis are clean, the drivers are nice, and the fares aren’t expensive. Also, if you’re going to get lessons or rent gear, almost all of the shops will give you a free ride to the beach.

BEST LAUNCH SITES

Tarifa’s beach stretches for almost 10 kilometers west from the town of Tarifa to Punta Paloma, which is a curve of land topped by a massive sand dune. The beach is wide with fine sugar sand,and is largely free from rocks, debris or vegetation. Beach access and parking are both free and don’t require permits.

The beach next to town is reserved for swimming. Kiteboarders and windsurfers are prohibited from riding in the swimming area which extends to probably a half mile west of town.

The beach has two main launch sites: Playa de Los Lances and Ensenada de Valdevaqueros. Both of these launch sites are too far to walk with gear. The closest beach, Playa de Los Lances, is about a ten minute drive west from town depending on traffic. Ensenada de Valdevaqueros, which is another few minutes drive west from Playa de Lost Lances, is located just before the sand dune of Punta Paloma.

Although all of these locations are crowded, it might be the easiest place to launch a kite because the beaches are incredibly wide, free from debris, and — here’s the kicker — there are always lots of other experienced kiters on the beach who are more than happy to help you launch or land your kite.

PLAYA DE LOS LANCES

Playa de Los Lances, the launch site closest to town, is easily accessible off the main road of Batalla del Salado which runs west parallel to the beach from town. The site is clearly marked and after making a turn into the entrance there is a long and large gravel parking lot. Parking is free but during the summer it may be tough to find a spot.

Sand dunes separate the parking lot from the beach itself, which is wide and open. Near the entrance to Playa de Los Lances is the Chiringuito Aqua — a fantastic beach bar and restaurant. This fun little bar has cold cervezas and amazingly fresh food that’s inexpensively priced. Best of all — they have free bathrooms that are clean and open to the public.

On the days we rode at Playa de Los Lances, Chiringuito Aqua became our home base. We’d ride, take a break for some food and drinks, ride again, and then hang out with other riders for cold draft cervezas and homemade guacamole.

Playa de Los Lances is separated into two areas that are clearly marked: to the left of the main entrance the beach is designated for kite schools and students; to the right is everyone else.

Be forewarned: this beach is CROWDED in the summer. As Jesus Lara, a native Tarifian and the owner of Kite Local School Tarifa told me, “Keep four eyes open at all times!” Situational awareness is critical; keep an eye out for all of the other riders — especially before any transitions, tricks or jumps. The good news is that, unlike some other crowded beaches, all of the other riders are respectful to each other and there are relatively few issues.

PLAYA DE LOS LANCES

Playa de Valdevaqueros, the second and western beach launch, has the same wide sandy beach for easy launching as Playa de Los Lances. However, because of the unique geography of its location next to the high dunes of Punta Paloma, the winds are generally stronger here — up to 5 knots stronger — than at any other place in Tarifa. In fact, on one of the days we were at Playa de Los Lances the wind died down to around 10 knots so we couldn’t ride. We so we packed up, rode west to Valdevaqueros, and there was PLENTY of wind — easily 7 or 8 knots more than there had been at Playa de Los Lances. We launched our kites and had a great session.

Although there are no schools located at Playa de Valdevaqueros,

There is ample parking, easy access from the main road, and no obstructions on the beach. However, like with Playa de Los Lances, it’s super crowded here in the summer with hundreds of kites in the air on any given day.

Although there are no schools located at Playa de Valdevaqueros,

Tip: At the end of your session visit the (insert name) beach bar. Great music, cheap beer, and picnic tables overlooking the beach. Fantastic views of the sun setting behind the dunes and great chance to meet and talk to other kiteboarders.