Tarifa is a small town on Spain's southwest coast with a lot of charm, especially in the old town with narrow cobbled streets with lots of cozy restaurants. We got there by plane to Malaga and with a rental car to Tarifa, where the drive takes about 2 hours. Once there, we stayed in a nice smaller hotel that had everything except AC in the room, which was quite difficult in the heat. Tarifa has a long beach and you can see Africa's mountains in the distance, the place is known for being “windproof”, which was good during the days we were there with strong winds from the southeast

Day 1

The place where the owner Boyan Zlatarev runs the Surfski Center is only a short 15 minute walk from the old town and once there the nice Boyan meets me and shows me down to the premises here he is staying. Boyan starts by asking me about my background and what I want to achieve with my 4 days with him, and based on these conditions, he sets up the program for our days together.

After a theory briefing where Boyan shows and explains the conditions that prevail in the waters around Tarifa with tides and winds, we take the car to Algeciras as today's strong winds prevented paddling from Tarifa. Algeciras is in a bay with the Rock of Gibraltar on the left so it was quieter there. Boyan starts teaching techniques to find stability in the surfski, which by the way was an Epic V8, a surfski that I had never paddled before, I felt good in it as it had good stability and I actually got better cockpit space in this one then my own Nelo 520. After a few turns with a focus on brace and some surf towards the beach, we finished the first day. The winds today were about 11-14 m/s

Day 2

Now the wind had picked up even more so after a theory briefing we took the car to Algeciras to continue on yesterday's theme with continued training to find stability and how to best catch a surf on the waves. Before we left, Boyan had explained in a good way where on the wave you should lie and how you should think when looking for the right wave. I can see that I have a lot to learn but Boyan shows good patience with my attempts and pushes me forward, constantly giving instructions and some praise when I manage to get it right. Today's paddling was again done in an Epic V8 which I am starting to feel more and more comfortable in. Today was a slightly bigger waves than yesterday but still within my comfort zone.

Day 3

Today it was really windy with winds up to 25 m/s so when Boyan asked if we should take a double ski and start from the beach in Tarifa to travel up to a beach just north of Tarifa. Before we left, Boyan gave a longer briefing on paddling technique, which I really need. Down to the beach where the wind whipped up the sand and made it a challenge to just carry the surfski down to the water, I have never paddled in weather like this but as I feel very safe with the Boyan I just looked forward to the departure with tense anticipation. That paddling was the coolest thing I've done with waves pushing in and we got in some really long and nice surfs, it was a great day and I was really pleased when I got back to the hotel.

Day 4

Boyan showed me some exercises to practice when I get home in order to develop my technique. The neighbors probably wonder if I've gone crazy when I sit and "dry paddle" in the garden with rubber cord lines attached to the paddle

Calmer winds today but still full pressure on the waves when we took out the double-surfski from Tarifa's long beach for a little longer paddling north. For me, it was very useful to sit behind Boyan and be able to study how he works to find the right wave to surf. It got a bit chaotic when we passed a shallower part where I got to experience what happens when the tide meets the waves and waves arise from two different directions, but this was only for a short while and then we could continue our downwind up towards Playa de Bolonia.

In summary

If you want to develop your surfski paddling, this place is absolutely fantastic to paddle on, stable winds and there are several possibilities to find a place to start from and if it is supposed to be a day without wind, you can still find surf in the tidal waves, the setting is fantastic with the mountains of Africa ever present on the horizon and the rock of Gibraltar nearby is a really cool place.


Boyan, who is the owner of the Surfski Center in Tarifa, is really professional and also very nice and he constantly pushes you forward, which I need as I have previously felt insecure when the water gets a bit bigger and have mostly paddled on calm water (with the sea-kayak I feel myself safer). Boyan is very careful in explaining why you do certain things and not just telling you how to do it, for me this is important if you are to be able to develop further, the briefings with theory mixed with paddling are the right mix so that you able to keep focus on everything new to be learned. The ground service is managed by Boyan's nice family who make sure that we are picked up by car where we paddle and the feeling when I think back on the course is that I absolutely want to return here and I will try to book 4 new days within the next few years as I developed a lot from the course and at the same time had a lot of fun.

I´ll give this surfski-course 5 stars of 5

Film from day 3: Surfski in Tarifa - YouTube