In the south of the south, there’s a corner of infinite beaches, whipped by the perfect wind, which looks across to Africa. We are talking about the most southerly tip of Europe, the point where the land gives way to the Strait of Gibraltar. Well positioned as the paradaise of kitesurfing, the Cadizian destintation of Tarifa is the world leader of this fashionable sport. The wind that blows us away They call Tarifa “the capital of the wind”, and with good reason. There are two predominant winds here: the strong, warm levant, which blows day and night, and another colder one called the poniente, which is stronger in the afternoons and suitable for kitesurfing. Every year, hundreds of avid afficionados arrive on these infinite beaches in search of it, to learn or improve their ability in this high-adrenaline sport. Before kitesurfing existed, it was windsurfing which drove the economy of the area for around twenty years, and put Tarifa on everyone’s travel map. Now, as the climate is mild practically all year round- the average temperature is 17 degrees, while that of the water doesn’t go above 22 – and conditions are excellent for flying kites almost every day, Tarifa is also home to many permanent professional residents, among them , Gisela Pulido, the young, nine-times world kitesurfing champion from Barcelona, who also has her own school and shop here. Beaches all year round Of all the beaches which make this charming place of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets with a Moorish feel and which stretch for more than 20km of navigable shores, the one at Valdevaqueros, some twelve kilometres from the historic centre, is the most popular for kitesurfers with winds of up to 35-40 knots. In winter as much as in summer, people go there to kitesurf and refuel afterwards at one of the ‘chiringuitos’ (little beach bars). Los Lances beach too, nearer to the town and looking out onto the immense Atlantic, is another of the most spectacular beaches due to its size (it is 10km long) although during the high season in summer it is forbidden to catch waves there as it is reserved solely for bathers. It is the perfect location for surfing with the poniente wind. In fact, last summer it hosted the Tarifa 2014 Pro Kite Tour, the ninth trial of the global Pro Kite Tour circuit which broke the Guinness world record with 352 participants. Playa Chica seaside resort, the area of La Jaima a Dos Mares, Hurricane and Torre de la Peña, are other spots where kites multiply according to how the wind is blowing and the level of the surfers. Also worth a mention is the very beautiful and slightly further Bolonia beach. Considered one of the last virgin beaches in Europe, beside its sand dunes, is the Conjunto Arqueológico (Archeological Collection) of the ruins of the old Roman city of Baelo Claudia, which has arrived at the present day in an excellent state of preservation, and can easily be verified by visiting the museum whenever you want.  Beyond kitesurfing Before the wind became an added value for a town now inhabited by 15,000 people but which for a long time was far from everything and everyone, Tarifa was something very different. Of course there are those who chose it as a summer destination accepting that the wind could ruin all their beach plans. But once windsurfing and then kitesurfing became fashionable, everything changed forever. Then hundreds of young people of all nationalities began to arrive, first little by little, and then a lot more quickly, often in vans loaded with boards and wearing bright shirts in loud colours and sunglasses, which are now the official uniform of a good kitesurfer. From among the pioneers in taking a gamble on this new way of life is Nacho Yuste, a “wind freak” born in Valencia who boasts the title of champion of kitesurfing in Spain and who landed in Tarifa to set up his own school 14 years ago. Kiteobssesion is as much the place to enrol in a beginners course as to buy equipment under the guidance of a team of experts. Their basic 2-day courses, with six hours of classes, costs €120 and from there you can also take other types to suit you, which include the option of private clases, always with the guarantee that if the client is not satisfied with the experience, they will get their money back. Now there are some 50 schools established in Tarifa and the figure is rising every year. Many of them are located, one beside another, along Batalla del Salado street, such as Surf Center, both providing all the equipment kitesurfers could need as well as a large range of good-looking surfing clothers to shine on the beach as much as during après kite. ALICIA ARRANZ JUAN SERRANO COBERLLA  

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