KiteWorldWide’s Sara Jolly lives just outside Tarifa and here explains what you can expect during a trip to Europe’s kiting capital in these times of coronavirus restrictions
CAPTION ABOVE: Maarten Haeger pushing his luck at Balneario, a spot close to town PHOTO: Core
CORONAVIRUS: YOU CAN’T KILL OUR VIBE
While we need to do everything we can to follow the guidelines and rules, we’re starting to go out into the world again. Kitesurfing is a resilient sport and kiters have been among the first to travel again, following the wind to get some much needed time on the water. The vast percentage of businesses in Tarifa are small independents and completely reliant on tourism. Due to the strict lockdown rules and lack of international tourism, many have had limited income through the winter and then the season kick-off in March was stalled to July. The next few months are crucial for their survival and let’s hope that the shoulder season of autumn into winter delivers the warm and excellent conditions that we know and love.
It may have been reported that Spain has crowded beaches, restricted business hours, police enforced closure of beaches and that anyone daring to pump up their kite without a face mask on has been chased down, but let’s look at the facts: what can and can’t you currently do in Spain?
FACE MASKS Yes, face masks must be worn in the Andalusia region if you are walking around town, visiting shops or walking along the beach. You do not, however, need to wear a face mask when doing sport or when seated. Therefore, you can kite freely without the worry of a strange bearded tan line. The beaches are not restricted; you are free to come and go as you please. The good news is the beaches are less crowded, so at the moment we have more space along the ten kilometre stretch of beach here in Tarifa than we have ever had since windsurfing took over in the eighties. DRINKING AND BARS The main rule (if you have ever been to Tarifa you will appreciate what a big difference this has made) is that you now have to sit down if you go to a bar. Therefore, no hanging around in the crowded street with a drink or two in your hand, chatting to anyone who happens to pass by. No more random, spontaneous conversations (that were usually a blurry memory, if a memory at all, come the morning, anyway!). This has taken away some of the unique buzz and atmosphere of Tarifa, but it has made things more civilised and, subsequently, easier to navigate at night, too! CAPTION BELOW: Bring it back... Bar Tumbao, Valdevaqueros, summer 2019
RESTAURANTS, TAPAS BARS AND CAFÉS
Again, you must sit at a table in all restaurants, tapas bars and cafes, all establishments have a 50% capacity rule so it might be best to book in advance to avoid disappointment or queuing for a table, rather than wandering around and picking a place to eat as you stroll past. Restaurants can now plan and be more organised. There are also no menus. Instead you must use your phone to scan the QR code on the table to order your food. To walk inside you have to wear a mask, but once you are seated the masks can come off and the wine and chat can flow. All establishments can be closed at a moment’s notice if they are seen allowing guests in without masks or if the capacity exceeds 50%.
KITESURFING If you are a free kiter with your own gear then nothing has changed. You can still rock up at the many spots along the extensive golden sands, pump your kite and go. Renting kite equipment during your stay is still widely available. If you are looking to learn how to kitesurf, or want to progress and therefore need lessons, most schools are only running semi-private or private lessons (though this isn’t official guidelines). This ensures there are a maximum of two people plus the instructor for each lesson so schools can minimise the contact and keep an element of social distancing in place. All the instructors are wearing face masks to the beach and all schools have hand sanitisers. Some schools like Explora Watersports or Bibo Watersports are also giving all guests their own wetsuit for the duration of their stay, avoiding any sharing of equipment and all equipment is also washed daily. Both these schools among others are also using radio headsets for private and semi-private lessons to enable fast progression with less contact.
WHAT HASN’T CHANGED? For me the biggest thing that hasn’t changed is Tarifa’s heart. Tarifa has always been a small town with a big heart; the people make Tarifa what it is and they are still here running the various independent, funky and unique tapas bars, restaurants, hotels and kite schools. Despite the difficult situation, their smiles, inclusivity and ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude and little jokes are still prevalent. This is what will ensure Tarifa will get through this. The good news is people are beginning to travel. The Brits love Spain so they were one of the first groups of visitors to arrive (unfortunately the recent change in self isolation in the UK has put a stop to many people from the UK being able to continue with their holidays as booked). Luckily for Tarifa, Belgians, Germans and Italians have also been in force since travel has been eased across Europe.
Find our full rundown on Tarifa, taken from our annual Travel Guide:
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