Surfing in Tarifa  © Michelle Chaplow
Surfing in Tarifa © Michelle Chaplow


Although windsurfing tends to be better known on the Costa coastline – most famously in Tarifa - surfboarding is also enjoyed by many, particularly in the Autumn and Spring. On the Costa del Sol, the beaches around Estepona are particularly popular. However, it is the Costa de la Luz, between Tarifa and Cádiz, which has the best and most consistent good waves for surfing. The beaches of El Palmar in Conil, are more notable for surfboarding and body boarding, although Tarifa is a mere 35 minutes drive away due east.

Most of the larger sports shops stock surf boards, as well as some smaller speciality shops. If you are a beginner, ask the staff to show you some beginner's boards. Don't buy the first one you see, shop around. You will probably be recommended a long, thick, wide board. The objective is to get something that will easily allow you to catch waves and be stable. Your board should be roughly one foot longer than you are tall.



Before you begin to surf you should be able to swim at least 100 metres without stopping. Once you have learnt to catch and ride small waves (up to one metre high) then make sure you can swim 500 metres without stopping. If you want to ride two metre waves and bigger then be sure you can swim at least 1,000 metres without stopping, and be able to swim at least 25 metres underwater.

However, Andalucía cannot be compared to Hawaii or Australia when it comes to serious surfing waves, which means that it is an excellent place to begin to perfect the sport.

Swimming will exercise many of the muscles you will use to paddle your surf craft, it will also improve your aerobic fitness, and increase confidence in the water.

If someone else is already riding the wave, don't try and catch it yourself - remember, one wave, one person. Wherever possible, surf with a friend. Some people think that it's best to surf with another learner (and spur each other on), some think it's better to surf with a more experienced surfer so that you can learn from them. In either case you will learn from the other surfer, and increase the chances that there'll be someone who can help you should things go wrong (but remember you should be self-sufficient in the swimming department). The other big advantage of surfing with someone else is that you immediately cut the chances of you being bitten in half by a shark! Although in Andalucía, the chances of any Jaws-like scenario are very slight indeed.

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