BLOWN AWAY WIND, WAVES, AND SIESTAS — JUST A FEW OF THE REASONS TO DISCOVER TARIFA, SPAIN

STRETCHED OUT on the white sand, I watched a Spanish kiteboarding instructor run past me down the beach, yelling, “Work eet! Work eet!” into a walkie-talkie transmitting to the helmet of a tawny Swede ripping her candy–colored kite through the azure sky. Awesome conditions, I thought. I really should get out there—just as soon as I finish my nap.| STRETCHED OUT on the white sand, I watched a Spanish kiteboarding instructor run past me down the beach, yelling, “Work eet! Work eet!” into a walkie-talkie transmitting to the helmet of a tawny Swede ripping her candy–colored kite through the azure sky. Awesome conditions, I thought. I really should get out there—just as soon as I finish my nap. Welcome to Tarifa, home of the extreme siesta—perhaps the only place in the world where you can climb, bike, and kiteboard all in one day yet still have a hard time finding an open tapas restaurant during the collective afternoon snooze. Strategically located between the Andalusian mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, and a mere eight miles north of Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar, this little nub of southern Spain was named after Berber raider Tarif ibn Malluk, who blew through here in a.d. 710. The town has been considered prime real estate ever since, tempting everyone from the Phoenicians to the Arabs to stake a claim. But the tiny eighth-century Moorish fortress—with its population of 15,000, maze of steep cobblestone streets, and shady courtyards—has remained relatively undisturbed, thanks in part to the ruthless consistency of a blustery 20-mile-per-hour wind. But this breeze, topped off with the town’s Africanized tranquilo vibe, makes windsurfing and kiteboarding enthusiasts ecstatic—so much so that they’ve started up a small juggernaut of rental shops and boutique hotels. Here’s how to make the most of Tarifa and its mighty wind. Kiteboarding// Tarifa sits on the exact point where Europe splits the Mediterranean from the Atlantic and where the offshore levanter and onshore poinente winds collide. The happy result? More than 300 days (January through March tends to be rainy) of kiteable breeze. Get a lesson, a massage, and a seaside bedroom or a suite with an adjacent garden at the Moroccan-influenced Hurricane Hotel (doubles from $98; 011-34-956-684919, www.hurricanehotel.com), halfway along a series of linked white-sand beaches that start right in town and stretch seven miles north. If you’re already kite-proficient, launch from the table-flat Playa de Los Lances. You’ll have a clear shot all the way across the strait to Tangier. Pro rider Mark Shinn was one of the first to legally make the transcontinental crossing (landing in Morocco requires a permit), in 2001. By Tom Price Photo: SURF’S UP: A Tarifa wind junkie catches some serious air. (Courtesy, Escuela Internacional Kite Tarifa)

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