El Médano, Tenerife
Only 10 minutes drive from Tenerife Sur airport, El Medano is a wind and kite surfers’ paradise, featuring year-round cross-onshore winds from the left and water temperatures where you can get away with board shorts and rash vest (if you’re hardy) or a shorty wetsuit (if you’re a wuss). Water temps are around 17 C in mid-winter and 25-26 C in summer.
The wind is strongest and most reliable in summer, but the wind stats are pretty good all year round, thanks to a north-east trade wind strengthened further by a thermal effect. In summer, leave your big kites and sails at home; kiters here tend to use just 7m kites or smaller, and the windsurfers are looking at between 3.5m and 5m sails.
El Medano Bay - suitable for any level with a mixture of chop and small waves. The wind tends to fill in as the morning progresses, and then remains steady throughout the day, with surfers out right until sunset. El Médano is not the easiest place for learners, but there are schools right on the beach for both kitesurfing and windsurfing, with fully qualified instructors.
Cabezo - further upwind, featuring waves and only for the more advanced rider.
Like Tenerife, there’s very good and reliable wind in Fuerteventura, and off-water fun aplenty if the wind should drop, although Fuerte is so blessed with wind that it’s become a fixture of one of the major kitesurf world tours.
Sotavento Beach - wide and long with a lagoon for learners to pick up the sport. On the outside, a mixture of chop and waves pulls in the more advanced.
Sotavento is around 40-50 minutes from Fuerteventura Puerto del Rosario airport.
Flag Beach - the other main location on Fuerte for wind. Situated in the north east.
Cabarete, Dominican Republic north coast
Another legendary spot in the Caribbean for wind and kitesurfers, with a chilled out beach atmosphere in which to recover from tricks gone awry. This is very much the place to mix a Caribbean holiday with your wind pursuits. Cabarete’s wind is most reliable in the summer months.
Kite Beach - this imaginatively named kite spot can get busy due to its relatively smooth waters protected by a reef but there is plenty of space to spread out in Cabarete, including at Bozo Beach a bit nearer to town, but featuring chop and small waves. If you get bored quickly, then there’s always a guided downwinder you can take.
Cabarete is about 30 minutes drive from the nearest airport, Puerto Plata. It’s quite a bit further to the next airport, Santo Domingo, around three-four hours drive away.
There’s a good range of accommodation for any taste and budget. And there’s a great variety of bars and restaurants on Cabarete’s main beach drag.
If the wind drops, you can always explore inland, cheaply hiring a car or motorcycle in Cabarete.
Aruba, a Dutch dependency located off the coast of Venezuela, has some of the most reliable wind stats on Earth. Not a big island, you nevertheless need to hire a car if you’re going to get the best out of the two wind spots, at either end of the island.
Fishermen’s Huts - this area provides off-shore wind and therefore flat water conditions. For a small fee, someone will keep an eye on you and bring you back in if you can’t stay upwind. Time is divided between kitesurfing (morning and late afternoon) and windsurfing (day).
Boca Grande - located at the other end of the island, the cross on-shore winds, chop and small waves at will keep you entertained for days. It’s not a huge bay for launching, but once you’re on the outside, there’s the whole Caribbean to play in.
Aruba is also great for diving, on wrecks as well as reefs. And for the ultimate dive sensation, head to Aruba’s sister island of Bonaire, the entire coast of which is a designated marine park, and rightly so. The water temperature is always balmy, so surfers can leave their wetsuits at home.
Aruba is the perfect place for a couple or family who want to be doing different things on their holidays. Beach bums can head to the brilliant (and cooler to the touch) coral sand beaches outside the main hotels. Watersports nuts can head off to the windsurfing, kiting and diving. And all can get together again in the evening, for the laidback but delicious Aruban cuisine.
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Red Sea, Egypt
There are a number of places around the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, perfect for windsurfing, kitesurfing and diving.
Dahab - the “Goa of Egypt” but with plenty more wind averaging over 300 days a year of sailable weather. Dahab is laidback, friendly and always sunny, and along with Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, is also world renowned for good diving.
Sharm el-Sheikh - not quite as windy as Dahab, but Sharm’s still got it. The main reason to come to Sharm, however, is to sample the world famous diving, including on the “Thistlegorm”, the wreck of a World War 2 freighter complete with its wartime cargo. Plenty of dive schools here to choose from, as well as charter boats to join going out to the main sites on day trips or longer liveaboard excursions.
Safaga - South of Hurghada, but with a much quieter vibe. Again, great wind statistics and different conditions for all levels. And did we mention the diving? Again, world class.
Moon Beach - for something a little bit different, try Moonbeachretreat.com, equidistant from Sharm el-Sheikh airport and Cairo International Airport. Moon Beach is a get away from it all kind of place, tucked away on the east coast of the Gulf of Suez, near Ras Sudr. There, you can try kitesurfing, windsurfing and yoga for when your limbs fail you. The Moon Beach team arrange windsurfing from your doorstep. The kitesurfing is run out of a resort twenty minutes up the road. The wind of course is great and reliable. No diving, though.
The European Mecca of windsurfing and kitesurfing, Tarifa needs little introduction. Situated west of Algeciras on Spain’s Atlantic coast, Tarifa benefits from the effect of winds funnelling through the Straits of Gibraltar from the east (the “Levante”) and the west (the “Poniente”).
In summer, the Levante can get quite mental, occasionally hitting Force 10! But in general expect more manageable wind and a relaxed but hip off-water life, centred around the funky and compact Tarifa old town.
The water is a mixture of chop and small waves. Water temperatures are high in the summer, so you only need board shorts and rash vest. In the autumn and winter, you’re going to need a full wetsuit.
Off the water, there’s plenty to see and do, so hire a car and make some trips to fishing villages, mountain towns and the sherry capital of Jerez.