Zahara de los Atunes
"My Village on Costa de la Luna"
How presumptuous of me to call Zahara "my" village, but for over 20 years I sort of thought of it as that because I spent my first few weeks in Spain in little Zahara (of the Tuna Fish) with 25 other American students learning all about Andalucian culture and studying under the tutelage of a handful of professors from all over Spain, bullfighters, gypsies and the villagers of Zahara. Back then, we were the most exciting thing to happen to the village so when our bus pulled into town one day in September, 1986, there were a lot of excited people waiting to meet us and hang out. What followed was a magical time for me that I have never forgotten so I was thrilled when we turned onto the hilly bull covered back road in Cadiz leading to the pale sands of Zahara on the Costa de la Luz.
"Zahara now for you"
I really want to keep this place a secret but I guess now, it's not as secret as it used to be and I don't think the word getting out has really ruined it. I felt a twinge of sadness that Hostal Castro, the place I had stayed in back in 1986 was now part of another hotel, but when I walked into a neighborhood grocery store there was actually someone who remembered me! Their excitement about seeing "one of the Americans" from way back when, was a very nice feeling.
If you like it quiet and typically Spanish and you are comfortable speaking Spanish, Zahara could be a nice romantic getaway or family vacation. There are lots of camping areas around Zahara at the other beaches and on the beach in Zahara. Zahara now has some good hotels, ours was absolutely everything we expected and even better. I will make a tip about it of course.
The big attraction of course is the beach, not crowded, but quiet and sometimes you see people riding horses on the beach, which would be a fabulous way to enjoy a sunset there.
To see things on foot, I enjoyed a jog from the start of town to the Melia Atlanterra Hotel (4 kilometres each way) down the road with the beach on one side of me and bulls grazing on the other side part of the way.
We had decent food, tuna of course is the star attraction but make sure you get a good cut of tuna. I was stupid and let them give me whatever they had and so once I got the barriga, which is the fatty darker, gamier part.
Stay in a nice hotel there with a view of the sea if you can. I did visit the Atlanterra Hotel which is the luxury hotel but I found it too much like a resort hotel anywhere else in the world. I wanted a place that was small and charming and found the perfect place: Pozo del Duque.
"What else you can do"
You need a rental car if you stay in Zahara because it's a bit out of the way and just much easier. From Zahara you can visit other places of interest. We went to the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. It was only a short drive away, 10-15 minutes. We also went to Gibraltar. There is a nature reserve and sherry and horse country north and west, plus the city of Cadiz. In short, there are many things you can do, or do nothing but beach and I will definitely return!