The Ebro Delta National Park is located 160km south of Barcelona. It is an important wetland habitat and home to about 300 species of birds. It is also one of Spain’s main rice growing areas. The strong north easterly Mestral winds which blow regularly from autumn to spring make the area popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers.
There are 3 windsurfing spots, each of which is oriented slightly differently, meaning that you can sail here whatever direction the wind blows.
In my experience Mestral is slightly less reliable and a little gustier than the Tramuntana winds which blow on the Costa Brava. However, in January and February, when temperatures on the Costa Brava sometimes drop below 8 degrees Centigrade, temperatures here are normally 4 or 5 degrees warmer. Quite a significant difference and enough to make the Ebro Delta a very attractive option.
The Ebro Delta Windsurfing Guide
Riumar is known as the delta’s wave spot, having said that, whenever I’ve sailed there conditions have been pretty flat. Mestral blows cross shore from the left, the beach is long, sandy and very safe since it curves round meaning that even if you lose ground you will quickly end up back on the beach.
Most people park on the sandy track at the north end of the seafront. In the winter the locals normally rig in the shelter of a rental house located on the beach (some even rig up in the garden!). To get here, follow the road to the seafront and turn left. Park where the road turns to sand (see map below).
The north-easterly Mestral wind often blows a force stronger here than at Trabucador and more steadily than at L’Ampolla.
Trabucador is a sand spit which separates the sea from a large lagoon that is shallow enough to stand up for the first 50 to 100m (depending on the tide and which part of the spit you are sailing from). It is popular with beginners, people getting to grips with strong winds, freestylers and kite surfers. In the summer there are 2 kitesurf schools and hire centres here.
You can either park at the sandy car park at the start of the spit or, if you want to escape the crowds, drive further along the spit and park up wherever you like. Beware, with strong winds and high tides the spit can become totally flooded.
When the Mestral wind blows you can sail on the lagoon where it’s directly onshore. When the wind blows from the east through to south west you can choose between sailing on the sea or on the lagoon.
L’Ampolla is situated on a bay which is almost completely closed off from the sea. The best place to sail is just past the Camping Ampolla Playa campsite to the south of the town. To get to the spot, follow the road along the seafront until you pass the campsite. After the roundabout the road changes to a sandy track which leads to an area called “El Fangar”. Park and rig here.
With Mestral you sail out across the width of the bay. When the Easterly Llevant winds blow you sail towards the town. The wind tends to be gusty, the main advantage of sailing here is that if you stay at the campsite you can just carry your kit across the road to the beach. Also there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby in L’Ampolla.
Getting there from Barcelona
All 3 spots take around 2 hours to get to from Barcelona on the AP7/E15 motorway. For L’Ampolla take the L’Ampolla exit (Exit 39A). For Trabucador and Riumar take the Amposta turn-off (Exit 41). A GPS is a great help here, the area’s dead flat and it all looks the same so it’s surprisingly easy to get lost. You should also take care when driving at night because the roads on the delta are narrow, unlit and generally flanked by irrigation ditches!
Hire Centres and Schools
There are 2 kitsurf / Stand Up Paddlesurf (SUP) schools / hire centres based at Trabucador. More info on their websites:
Staying on the Ebro delta
The delta is close enough to Barcelona to drive down for the day. However if the forecast is good we normally stay for the weekend. There are campsites close to all three spots. We have stayed at Camping Ampolla Playa which is a middle sized campsite and Camping La Tancada (close to Trabucador) both are simple economical campsites. If you stay at La Tancada in summer you should take plenty of insect repellent because there are lots of mosquitos from the marshes. There is also a small campsite at Riumar, but we haven’t stayed there yet. If you prefer to stay in a hotel or apartment there are plenty of options.
Birdwatching – The Ebro Delta attracts bird watchers from throughout Europe, there are several permanent hides set up.
Cycling – the delta is flat and there are cycle paths and bicycle hire shops.
Interesting blog. I used to be a very keen windsurfer but other sports got in the way. I’m now ready to come back to it but I’m a bit rusty and ten years older. I have a Masia in Castellon near Alcosebre but there’s never any wind around there as far as I know. I’m over in April and May and would like to have a go at Elbro Delta area. Is there likely to be any wind and is there a decent hire place? I still have my old kit, Ahd 259, fanatic be 250 and fanatic cross. They’re all very out of date and I wouldn’t trust my booms and mast gear but the boards, masts and sails are ok.
I’d appreciate your advice. Cheers
The Fanatic Bee takes me back; that’s 1999/2000 era, right? I had a Bic Veloce and a Mistral Screamer at the time ;-)
I haven’t sailed at the Delta for a few years now and used to go there in the winter generally because it’s warmer than the Costa Brava. There should be a fair chance of some thermal breezes in April and May, although you now have to pay to park at Traboucador.
Another place which is pretty good for thermals at that time of year would be Denia, which is South of Castellon, the other side of Valencia.
If you’re feeling a bit rusty, why not stop at Leucate on the way down (assuming you are driving down with your kit)? It’d be a good place to shake off the cobwebs, and there are a few windsurfing shops there which are cheaper than any you’ll find in Spain.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any places which rent windsurfing kit on the Delta. If you want to hire, you’d be better off stopping on the Costa Brava. There are rental places at Port de la Selva and Sant Pere Pescador.