WHEN IS IT ADVISABLE TO SWIM DEPENDING ON TEMPERATURE AND WEATHER IN THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR?

One of the most frequently asked questions made by open water swimmers is: Which is the best season to swim across the Straits of Gibraltar? It is sometimes difficult for ACNEG to answer precisely and on many occasions the answer is difficult to understand too. We will therefore try to explain you why in the following lines.

The Straits of Gibraltar is an area which is marked by unpredictable weather conditions due to the fact that the sudden changes of wind and sea currents are a regular occurrence. Therefore, to set the stage for the best date to swim across the Straits is beyond our control.

As a result, it seems we cannot predict the perfect time to cross it but…When would it be then the best season? There is no exact and “better” date to swim across the Straits of Gibraltar. However, it is possible to set a period of time in which sea conditions could be better than during other times of the year. This would imply not only bearing in mind the direction and strength of the wind and sea currents but also considering other factors and risks that could have an impact on open water swimming
such as the water temperature.

In this article you will find information about what would be considered as “standard” conditions according to statistics temperatures and weather in the Straits of Gibraltar. You will also find information about other factors to be taken into account when arranging for your crossing. Please see our calendar below which explains the advantages and disadvantages of crossing the Straits of Gibraltar month by month from Tarifa, Cadiz (starting point).

APRIL

> WATER TEMPERATURE: The Straits of Gibraltar is a key site where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. This makes it an area with a lot of life, movement and sea currents. In winter, the water temperature is lower than 15ºC. This is the reason why the crossing season starts when water temperature reaches 15 ºC and when it is certain that that temperatures will be equal to 15 ºC or higher.

> EXPENSES: Tarifa, the starting point for crossings, is a touristic area. However, the crossing season does not start during the peak tourist season and therefore, if you decide to cross within this month, the expenses for accommodation, flights and hospitality will be lower.

> DATES AVAILABLE: Most swimmers wish to swim across the Straits during summer months as they think water temperature and sunny days will make their crossing easier (a widely held belief that we will explain below). April is one of the least popular months and consequently; the waiting lists do not take so long.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: It is true that at the beginning of the season there are fewer sunny days, but this does not have to be an obstacle for our crossing. On the contrary, wind and fog are to be considered like that and as a result, cancellations in April are not so frequent. Swimmers must take into account that temperatures are lower during this month but they can cope with them by training in advance and by using a wetsuit as long as weather conditions are the most appropriate ones to swim across the Straits. Otherwise, the crossing would have to be postponed.

MAY

> WATER TEMPERATURE: As set out above, water temperatures begin to rise. Weather conditions are not an exact science but temperatures in May are on average between 16º and 17ºC.

> EXPENSES: May is considered to be the beginning of the tourist season but flights, accommodation, and hospitality expenses do not increase exponentially.

> DATES AVAILABLE: It is one of the least popular months together with April and it is also one of the least crowded. The fewer number of swimmers and the number of days with optimum conditions for swimming make cancellations to be reduced.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: Weather conditions begin to improve within this month and temperatures continue to rise. Sunny days are frequent and there are also fewer swimmers.  Successful crossings are similar to the ones carried out in April.

JUNE

> WATER TEMPERATURE: There is usually a considerable rise in water temperature with an average of 19º / 20ºC. Growing demand during this month.

> EXPENSES: Higher prices for flights and accommodation. When it comes to going to the port, it should be taken into account that there is more activity and tourist offers in the city and access to the city centre is limited. Parking spaces next to the port are hourly paid. When booking for accommodation, you can visit our recommendations in order to find something that suits your needs depending on the number of people and budget (these lodgings provide certain flexibility for booking and possible last minute changes).

> DATES AVAILABLE: As the probability of succeeding in crossing is higher, the Association assigns the same dates to more swimmers (with a starting order). However, this could also imply more cancellations if weather conditions and other factors are not the expected ones.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: There are more sunny days during this month and according to statistics it is not one of the windiest. However, one never knows about the changing weather conditions in the Straits and we should not forget that weather conditions are a key factor in this area. There are also more hours of sunlight in June.

JULY

> WATER TEMPERATURE: An average of 19º / 20ºC reaching maximum values ​​of 20º / 21ºC. Pleasant water and room temperatures, sunny days.

> EXPENSES: July is considered to be the peak tourist season in the area, especially from 15th July.  Transport and accommodation within this month are more expensive and it is also more difficult to find available places. The more you take to book, the worse. Booking in advance will make you find what you need but not at the cheapest price.

> DATES AVAILABLE: Same as in June.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: Most days are sunny but statistics show that there are more east wind days (this direction of the wind makes the crossing impossible to start or be carried out). Consequently, the waiting time is longer and there are more cancellations as there are more people waiting. It is likely to have long terms dominated by east wind. There are more hours of sunlight.

AUGUST

> WATER TEMPERATURE: Temperature rises to about 20º / 22ºC, it is the month with the warmest water temperature.

> EXPENSES: Key month for peak tourist season. Prices increase as well as the lack of accommodation.

> DATES AVAILABLE: as in the previous months, it is one of the most popular months.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: This is the month when fog is most likely, due to high temperatures and strong east wind periods followed by periods of calm. When there are optimum conditions to swim across the Straits, i.e. there is no wind; there is also nothing to drive it away. Only when the start of the crossing is set later, the sun then makes it disappear. High temperatures and sunny days.

SEPTEMBER

> WATER TEMPERATURE: The average is 20ºC. Water and room temperatures are milder. Warm temperature.

> EXPENSES: The peak tourist season ends and prices stabilize again, but it is not considered to be a low season at all. This month is still booming due to tourism.

> DATES AVAILABLE: It is one of the most popular months and with more bookings. Cancellations similar to the ones in May.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: Weather conditions are usually more variable. Usually there are no long windy periods. It is usually considered to be a good month to swim across the Straits of Gibraltar.

OCTOBER

> WATER TEMPERATURE: To the surprise of most swimmers, temperature is of 19º / 20ºC. It is what could be considered as “warm temperature” for open water swimming despite the autumn climate.

> EXPENSES: Low season and therefore transport, accommodation and hospitality prices are considerably lower. There are more services available as the number of tourists decreases.

> DATES AVAILABLE: It is one of the least popular months as people think that temperature drops drastically and that weather conditions are worse.

> WEATHER CONDITIONS: Although weather conditions vary, it is a good month to swim across the Straits of Gibraltar with some nice days too. In addition, the fact that the day is cloudy does not mean we cannot swim across the Straits but we could be surprised by autumn typical days. Crossing is possible as long as it rains slightly and wind and visibility conditions are good. It rains but it pours! Rainy days within this month rarely happen.

QUERIES AND ADVICE

These are the factors that should be taken into account according to our years of experience. On this website, you will also find other tips in order to enjoy a wonderful experience when swimming across the Straits of Gibraltar. We will be with you throughout the whole process, from registration (advising you according to your needs) until your arrival here to start your crossing. At this point, we please ask you to follow our instructions. You have already done everything we have instructed you to do in terms of training and accommodation. As our most experienced master Antonio Montiel says:

“Once you are at the port, you have already crossed, now it’s our turn to guide you”.

Apart from our website, please find below some useful links regarding temperature and weather in the Strait of Gibraltar. We recommend you to enjoy this experience but leaving interpretation of this data in the hands of our experts. They are the ones who will decide the best day to cross.

WINDGURU-TARIFA

AEMET- AREA STRAITS

WINDY- TARIFA

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