I moved to Gibraltar six months ago.
It was a means to an end as I wanted to get more kitesurfing into my daily life while still keeping my day job. Gibraltar hosts numerous online betting and gambling companies, so finding work isn’t that hard. Gibraltar is also a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, meaning that you get paid in GBP, everyone speaks English and you have an airport minutes away. And the sun is shining, right, so all in all it’s a pretty convenient and pleasant place to live in.
Cross the border and you have all of Spain waiting for you to be explored. This is when the fun begins. The most obvious destination for a kiteboarder is Tarifa, roughly 35 minutes away. Everyone raves about Tarifa. It’s the Mecca of European kitesurfing. Now lo and behold, I don’t value the kitesurf around Tarifa that highly. There are way better spots both in the UK and in Sweden, but what you don’t get there is wind consistency. It is windy over here. That’s for sure. And sunny. So choppy spots aside, it’s still a great place and the vibe is unbeatable. Everything oozes surf culture.
It’s hard to find a well paid design job in Tarifa though, so that’s why I compromised and moved to Gibraltar. But 35 minutes drive isn’t too bad for a cheeky after-work kite fix, right?
This is where it gets trickier.
First off, I need to mention the border queues. If you’re driving, you might have to wait a staggering hour simply to get out. Weekends are fine, but don’t attempt an escape after work, between five and half six. This is why those sessions after work have been far less than I initially hoped for. Ok, so why not stay in Gib then? Here’s Gibraltar for you – it’s a massive rock and very little level ground surrounding it, of which 90% is developed. There’s only two beaches in the whole country (if I may call it that)! Sandy bay and Catalan bay. These beaches are on the far side of the rock and the reason I’ve never seen anyone kite there on a strong Levante is most likely because of the turbulence caused by the steep rock that sits right in front of them.
Can you kite surf in Gibraltar? No. Maybe it’s allowed, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it anyway. What you can do however, is to go across the border into La Linea, the neighbouring Spanish town and use one of the two beaches, either side. Because they’ve got two beaches, one on each side, you can ride both on Levante and Poniente. Playa Levante and Playa Poniente they are conveniently called.
These beaches are accessible after work but they’re not great. Poniente is better, although fairly small with a bit of chop. It’s sheltered by the bay and harbour though, so it definitely works. And I’ve never seen more than five, six kites there. Levante provides a much much bigger area, both water and beach, but you have to deal with bang on-shore wind and a nasty shore break. To enjoy this spot you need a howling Levante simply to get past the speed killing waves.
Palmones is a good middle-ground for Levante, halfway towards Algeciras. And past Algeciras, but not as far as Tarifa there’s Playa de Getares which is said to be decent as well. Mind you that the Spaniards favourite pastime is lounging on the beach, so any of these beaches will be full of people in the weekends between June and September.
Was thinking of moving away from London and doing the same.
I never even thought I’d get the chance for some after work sessions!
Was looking to buy a car and drive down towards Tarifa on the weekends.
It seems parking could be an issue in GIB though?
Are there some quiet spots around Tarifa too?
My friend told me it gets seriously busy in the summer – like 100+ kites.
Hey James. Thanks for your comment!
Parking is a massive issue in Gib. Most people I know who work in Gib actually live in Spain and park the car on the Spanish side and walk across. I was lucky enough to have parking with my flat but in hindsight living in Sprain would’ve been a better option for a kitesurfer.
The busy season around Tarfia is between June and mid-September. It gets proper hectic, especially since kiting is restricted to only a few areas. The rest of the year it’s not that busy at all, can even be empty.
Thanks for the tips!
I’m moving out to GIB beginning of June now!
Initially I’ll be living Spanish side for the first few months so I’ll see how it goes before I make a final decision. It seems cheaper but I’ve heard the border can be a nightmare.
Prefer to avoid the crowds if possible.
Which beaches are restricted and have you got any suggestions on spots?
Good to hear man! Check this post for a good breakdown of the spots around Tarifa:
Enjoy the Andalusian summer!