SPOT GUIDE: EL MEDANO - TENERIFE

SPOT GUIDE: EL MEDANO - TENERIFE

Mark Shinn lived in El Medano for over 20 years and in that time was passionate about windsurf, surf, SUP, kitesurf and now all things foil. He still frequently returns each year because of the regular wind and fantastic gear testing conditions from the prevailing northeast trade winds. Here's his spot guide to the village that has become Tenerife's capital of wind sports, just a ten minute drive from 'Tenerife South' airport

Words: Mark Shinn // Photos and video clips: Lukasz Ballinski

PORT OF GRENADILLA

Take a ten minute drive north of El Medano and you'll find the newly built, and rather contentious, Port of Grenadilla. Visible from El Medano (as a glaring eye-sore) the one benefit of this environmental outrage is the creation of the one set of conditions El Medano was always lacking – glassy flat water!

The harbour walls block all chop and swell but are low enough to allow the wind to pass over relatively un-obstructed (I say relatively, as it can still be a little gusty). This is the perfect spot for beginners and riders looking to fine tune their techniques before entering into the harsher conditions of El Medano village itself.

The beach is made of rounded pebbles so it’s a good idea to take sandals or wetsuit booties with you. The entry to the water, however, is extremely easy and the sea floor drops away quickly so you can jump directly on to your board straight off the beach without risk to your foil.

The Port of Grenadilla is also a great spot to start a downwinder back to Medano. Once you emerge from the shelter of the harbour you enter into the path of the swells travelling between Tenerife and Gran Canaria. On windy days it’s possible to complete the entire 45 minute trip without using the assistance of the wing. Even if you do need the occasional burst of power it’s a fun ride and fantastic for improving your swell riding and glide techniques. Make the trip as long as possible by ending in South Bay where Flashpoint cafe is waiting with a cool beer for your efforts!

PORT OF GRENADILLA

Take a ten minute drive north of El Medano and you'll find the newly built, and rather contentious, Port of Grenadilla. Visible from El Medano (as a glaring eye-sore) the one benefit of this environmental outrage is the creation of the one set of conditions El Medano was always lacking – glassy flat water!

The harbour walls block all chop and swell but are low enough to allow the wind to pass over relatively un-obstructed (I say relatively, as it can still be a little gusty). This is the perfect spot for beginners and riders looking to fine tune their techniques before entering into the harsher conditions of El Medano village itself.

The beach is made of rounded pebbles so it’s a good idea to take sandals or wetsuit booties with you. The entry to the water, however, is extremely easy and the sea floor drops away quickly so you can jump directly on to your board straight off the beach without risk to your foil.

The Port of Grenadilla is also a great spot to start a downwinder back to Medano. Once you emerge from the shelter of the harbour you enter into the path of the swells travelling between Tenerife and Gran Canaria. On windy days it’s possible to complete the entire 45 minute trip without using the assistance of the wing. Even if you do need the occasional burst of power it’s a fun ride and fantastic for improving your swell riding and glide techniques. Make the trip as long as possible by ending in South Bay where Flashpoint cafe is waiting with a cool beer for your efforts!

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Caption: D'Jo van der Linden, local shaper of D'Light boards

CABEZO

Probably Tenerife’s most famous wind sport location and has been home to the Windsurf world cup for decades. Cabezo offers the most challenging conditions to be found in El Medano but with a little preparation offers some fantastic wing conditions.

Entry to the water from the world cup beach is strongly NOT recommended as the infamous reef and, in particular Godzilla Rock, make starting challenging and extremely perilous for your foil. The further north up the beach you walk the easier the conditions become. Entry at high tide is easiest but Cabezo can be foiled on all levels of water just take care of the reef when the water is low.

Riding the reef in the middle of the beach can lead to long, fun rides with some steeper sections, but enough gap between the waves to start again should you take an unexpected bath.

No matter how tempting the waves my seem DO NOT attempt to ride Cabezo main break (the main windsurf spot). Even at high tide the reef is dangerously unpredictable and the swell breaks powerfully; a bad set of circumstances for foiling!

When the conditions are good Cabezo can be busy as it remains one of Europe's premier windsurf locations, so ride with respect and follow the rules. There is no conflict between wingers and windsurfers in Cabezo and it’s in all our interests to keep it that way.

Caption: D'Jo van der Linden, local shaper of D'Light boards at Cabezo

CABEZO

Probably Tenerife’s most famous wind sport location and has been home to the Windsurf world cup for decades. Cabezo offers the most challenging conditions to be found in El Medano but with a little preparation offers some fantastic wing conditions.

Entry to the water from the world cup beach is strongly NOT recommended as the infamous reef and, in particular, Godzilla Rock, make starting challenging and extremely perilous for your foil. The further north up the beach you walk the easier the conditions become. Entry at high tide is easiest but Cabezo can be foiled on all levels of water just take care of the reef when the water is low.

Riding the reef in the middle of the beach can lead to long, fun rides with some steeper sections, but enough gap between the waves to start again should you take an unexpected bath.

No matter how tempting the waves my seem DO NOT attempt to ride Cabezo main break (the main windsurf spot). Even at high tide the reef is dangerously unpredictable and the swell breaks powerfully; a bad set of circumstances for foiling!

When the conditions are good Cabezo can be busy as it remains one of Europe's premier windsurf locations, so ride with respect and follow the rules. There is no conflict between wingers and windsurfers in Cabezo and it’s in all our interests to keep it that way.

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EL MEULLE

Located at the downwind end of Cabezo reef is a small harbour wall that throws up some fun conditions with far less consequences than Cabezo itself.

There are three ways to access the spot: a five minute upwind ride from the South bay; a short downwinder from Cabezo; or jumping into the water on the inside of the wall and making the short paddle around the end and out to the wind line.

Popular with riders making their first forays into the waves the break here starts on the reef but the wave peels out into the deep water of the bay. If you make a mistake you'll get washed out to the flat water to collect your thoughts and easily start again.

Beware of taking the wave too deep (too far upwind) as the reef shallows quickly and if you start too deep you may well end up high and dry on not a very foil-friendly collection of rocks. At high tide the waves tend to bounce back off the wall making the inside section incredibly confused, so best avoided. On occasions there can be fishermen on the end of the wall too, who's lines are also worth avoiding!

Generally though, this is an ideal spot for those less confident in waves and with a far more chilled atmosphere than the hotspot of Cabezo. Once again it can get busy when the conditions are good, so check behind you before turning around and follow the rules when taking waves.

EL MEULLE

Located at the downwind end of Cabezo reef is a small harbour wall that throws up some fun conditions with far less consequences than Cabezo itself.

There are three ways to access the spot: a five minute upwind ride from the South bay; a short downwinder from Cabezo; or jumping into the water on the inside of the wall and making the short paddle around the end and out to the wind line.

Popular with riders making their first forays into the waves the break here starts on the reef but the wave peels out into the deep water of the bay. If you make a mistake you'll get washed out to the flat water to collect your thoughts and easily start again.

Beware of taking the wave too deep (too far upwind) as the reef shallows quickly and if you start too deep you may well end up high and dry on not a very foil-friendly collection of rocks. At high tide the waves tend to bounce back off the wall making the inside section incredibly confused, so best avoided. On occasions there can be fishermen on the end of the wall too, who's lines are also worth avoiding!

Generally though, this is an ideal spot for those less confident in waves and with a far more chilled atmosphere than the hotspot of Cabezo. Once again it can get busy when the conditions are good, so check behind you before turning around and follow the rules when taking waves.

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SOUTH BAY

South bay is the only sandy launch in the village of El Medano. It's absolutely the best spot for beginners who don’t have transport to the Port of Grenadilla as there are no rocks or reef hiding under the surface and the sea bed drops away nice and steadily. So even if there is some swell and small waves, there is no shorebreak, meaning it’s relatively easy to get out and reach deeper water to start.

The wind can be a little gusty on the beach, but once you're 100 metres out things calm down, giving you time and space to start easily. It’s not advised to ride further out than the end of the Red Mountain (Montana Roja) as strong currents await there and can sweep you out to sea if the wind drops.

South Bay is the location of most of the windsurf rental centres and schools, so can get busy at peak times in the season (well, most 'normal' seasons... 2020 an exception) but once you’re on the water there is plenty of space to be found. On the rare occasions that the wind shifts to blow from the southwest, South Bay becomes a flat water paradise with cross-off winds and glassy smooth water.

If you’re new to winging, looking for lessons or simply want to rent gear, South Bay is your first point of call with most brands being represented and plenty of gear to choose from.

SOUTH BAY

South bay is the only sandy launch in the village of El Medano. It's absolutely the best spot for beginners who don’t have transport to the Port of Grenadilla as there are no rocks or reef hiding under the surface and the sea bed drops away nice and steadily. So even if there is some swell and small waves, there is no shorebreak, meaning it’s relatively easy to get out and reach deeper water to start.

The wind can be a little gusty on the beach, but once you're 100 metres out things calm down, giving you time and space to start easily. It’s not advised to ride further out than the end of the Red Mountain (Montana Roja) as strong currents await there and can sweep you out to sea if the wind drops.

South Bay is the location of most of the windsurf rental centres and schools, so can get busy at peak times in the season (well, most 'normal' seasons... 2020 an exception) but once you’re on the water there is plenty of space to be found. On the rare occasions that the wind shifts to blow from the southwest, South Bay becomes a flat water paradise with cross-off winds and glassy smooth water.

If you’re new to winging, looking for lessons or simply want to rent gear, South Bay is your first point of call with most brands being represented and plenty of gear to choose from.

LA TAJITA

The largest sandy beach in Tenerife and technically outside of El Medano village itself, La Tajita offers a fun alternative when the wind switches to the southwest during the winter months. No need to worry about rocks or reefs, there's an easy launch and some fun swell to be had for gliding, even when the winds are light and the waves small.

Beware that during periods of south swell La Tajita can have a HEAVY shorebreak, so be patient and observe the spot for several minutes before jumping in the water and receiving a nasty surprise. The popular launch is at the south end of the beach, just before the new shopping centre. FYI - the north end of the beach is a popular naturist resort! During the standard northeast trade winds this beach is cross offshore, very flat water and easy for learning, but the wind can be terribly gusty, so head to the Port of Grenadilla instead.

OTHERWISE:

Although very consistent throughout the year, the NE trade winds don’t blow all the time in the winter. The island is however a treasure trove of hidden and secret spots for winging at any time... enjoy!

TIP:

A word of advice… whilst the crime rate in El Medano is very low it’s not advised to leave valuables in your car in the car park or stashed in your wing bag on the beach.

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