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Sotavento - El Paso

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General details:

El Paso is my favourite location on the Sotavento beach. It's a couple of km further S from Los Gorriones & Villa Esmeralda, and is slightly less windy and slightly more interesting than at Los Gorriones. It is also home to the Rene Egli Pro Centre II with it's kit rentals and instruction.

This is an excellent beginner/improver spot. The place is liberally sprinkled with sandbars which form safe, sailable lagoons at high tide. Further out, conditions are similar to the world cup site with wind cross-off. Possibly slightly lighter winds here than Los Gorriones.

5.5m Naish Nalu on Fanatic Bee 260 Joy on F2 Phoenix 340 4.7m North Zeta on Fanatic Bee 260/85l
Me - 5.5m on 85l board. Note the lagoons in background
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Safe sailing for beginners in the lagoon.
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Me on a tiny wave! 4.7m sail on 85l board.
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EL Paso Panorama
70° panorama of the beach - looking N - with El Paso mountain on the far left. Click for larger pic (157Kb)

The beach is immense and stretches for miles in both directions. Like all beaches in Fuerte, any form of dress is a mere formality. Nudism is commonplace and coexists happily side-by-side with those of a slightly more reserved nature.

The car park is right by the rental centre and cafe, and is right by the beach. The closest you can get to the water's edge is about 150 - 200m. The car park does get busy (and gets busier every year). If you want to get closest to the water's edge, get there early!

Most people here are Germans as the rental centre is German-language orientated (although Rene Egli is Swiss) and is heavily marketed in Germany & Switzerland. There are increasing numbers of Brits as more UK tour companies offer holidays in Los Gorriones & Costa Calma.

The sand here is white and fine. Anything above a F4 will pick the sand up & blow it - very hard if you happen to be lying down. Believe me, it's taken me days to get Sotavento sand out of my hair and the various orifices!

The sailing is easy with the added attraction of small waves, rideable in parts coming in, just about jumpable going out. The waves seem best when the tide is low.

For beginners, there's a lagoon which fills up on high tides (though not always on neaps), giving safe, waist deep water.

The wind is offshore. It also seems to fan out from the car park where the wind has come down a valley. This makes it incredibly difficult to sail back to the beach in front of the car park/by the rental centre - especially on a small board with limited upwind capability!

The beach also angles outwards going NE from here (ie, the beach gets wider). At the point where the water's edge turns in once again, parallel with "the land", the wind also seems to bend out dead offshore. Once out beyond this point, the water turns very confused, with a SE-bound swell combining at right angles with the wind-blown chop. It's possible to get a sudden 1.5m wave peak in front of you - apparently from nowhere.

It can get extremely busy on the water. in June 2003 I couldn't count the number of boards. I'd estimate around 80-90 were out at once. From novices to experts. I didn't see any accidents, but I'm sure they must happen.

Because the wind is so offshore, and the waves are close to the beach, most people sail up & down the "angled bit of the beach" described above, leading to the overcrowding.

The kit rental centre have a couple of rescue boats & they are in fairly constant use. Their poilicy is to rescue people who've rented kit from them. If you've not rented kit from them, who knows?

2-3 km S. of El Paso is another dirt track down to the beach, coming out alongside a huge sand dune which seems to feature prominently on many postcards of Fuerte! Similar sailing conditions as at El Paso.

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Directions to the right place:

A couple of km S. from Los Gorriones is Risco del Paso: Heading S, turn L off the main road onto a surfaced road. Follow this for ~2 km. The road turns into a dirt track just before the beach.

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How the winds work:

The wind is always about 80° from the land. Ie: almost dead offshore.

Occasionally, and completely unpredictably, the wind suddenly switches off, usually in the afternoon. I've been caught a couple of times here & had a long swim back with my kit.

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Tidal conditions:

Max tidal range is about 2.5m - nothing drastic.

No noticeable currents.

The area in front of the car park & rental centre dries out for another 50-60m or so on spring low tides.

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Offshore winds, also very gusty.

Rescue cover may not extend to those people with their own gear.

Getting sand blasted.

Expecting cheap beach tents/wind shelters to survive.

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Lots of car parking available right by the beach

Rene Egli Pro centre II for kit hire & lessons (no kites here).

Cafe in the Rene Egli centre.

Miles of beach!

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B&B's / campsites

Los Gorriones is the nearest hotel about 2km N along the beach or 5km by road. Ifyou're booked into Los Gorriones with kit rental from Rene Egli, I'm pretty sure they'll run a shuttle bus back & forth.

Loads of hotels and apartments in Costa Calma.

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Pubs and eateries

Cafe bar at the Rene Egli Centre

Fuerte Action bar (and shop) just outside Costa Calma, on the main road.

Must be loads of bars in Costa Calma itself.

If you know of any good bars or pubs in the area , please let us know.

Cafe in the Rene Egli Centre

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Note: All comments and opinions mentioned in this section of the site are the personal opinions of the various contributors. Inevitably, one person's favourite may be another person's least favourite.

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