By this stage of our 3-week Christmas/New Year get-away to Spain, we were past the two week mark and had already covered almost all of our 'orange' route shown on this map. We then awoke to rain for the first time, in Nerja on the Mediterranean Sea coast, with weather prospects not looking good for a few more days. That was when we made the decision to simply drive west to the start of the Atlantic coastline of Spain where the Strait of Gibraltar empties - if it was going to rain we might as well be where we really wanted to be!
It did not take much effort to retrace our steps as we cruised down the coast on Spain's beautiful divided toll highway system (there is another excellent highway beside it without tolls if you want to save money but not as much time), enabling us to reach Tarifa by about 4 PM. Like the Mediterranean, this part of Spain also has mountains fringing the coastline but the Atlantic is a much more unrelenting foe than the tamer Mediterranean Sea - making for some great weather memories!
Fondest memory: After enjoying Tarifa itself on our first night in town, we headed on up the coast, eventually reaching Vejer de la Frontera, south of Cadiz where we spent our second night before returning to Tarifa for another go-round. On that return trip, we took the time to detour toward the coast once more to take in the hippy-ish town of Bolonia and the next-door 2000-year old Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. We enjoyed everything about this part of Spain - especially the fact that the weather began improving as soon as we arrived! The morning after our tour of Baelo Claudia found us facing New Years Eve with no place booked for accommodations and our time in Spain running out, so we headed east again to the Mediterranean coast where we were lucky to find a room in Torremolinos (just outside Malaga) at the hostal we had stayed in near the very beginning our our trip.
Favorite thing: Some of the strong winds around Tarifa at times are made up of the Levante (south easterly winds) which blow from the land and the Poniente (westerly winds) which gust from the Atlantic ocean and is more likely in the afternoon and are colder. The mountains of Morocco and Spain create something like a wind tunnel
Favorite thing: Tarifa enjoys a warm humid climate. The summers while hot are not stifling because of the sea breezes and evenings can be cool. The winds are what makes Tarifa famous with the windsurfers. Winters are mild but can be quite cold in the mornings and evenings.
Favorite thing: I have never done kite surfing myself, but this area is for sure a good place to do it. As you can see on the picture, there are hundreds of kites in the air. This beach just west of Tarifa had a school to learn kiteing, and that's probably a good idea if you haven't done it before.
Favorite thing: Most tourists travelling to the Costa del Sol don't realise it, but the best beaches are on the Atlantic side of southern Spain. Terifa is only an hours drive from Marbella, and from there and west, you find one fantastic beach after the other. The sand is good and not the sticky stuff you find on most beaches on the Med. side. But it can be a bit windy though.
If you are in luck and it's a clear day, then you are at the nearest to Africa at Tarifa.
A real good view of Africa, is on the road between Tarifa and Algaceras. There is a cafe on the side of the road in the hills, that has good parking and a fantastic view. A good place to stop and see Africa just only 14 km's away!
Tarifa has always been wrapped around in an aura of mystery. Ever since ancient mythology told stories of the Pillars of Hercules, of which Gibraltar is one , being where the world ended, travellers have always been weary and intrigued by this place. Sailors will still narrate how sailing past Tarifa’s coast evokes the similar fascination.
This very same atmosphere attracts all kinds of visitors, be it for windsurfing or just for laying out on the beach, or for more profound reasons: It's history can still be discovered and still generates emotions that are hard to define in words, as many historians poets, writers and artists in general, who live or simply pass, by will tell you.
Travel back in time following the various stages of Tarifa’s history using the links on the left. Be culturally prepared for this mystical immersion you will experience when coming to Tarifa. You may find that it is so interesting that you may reconsider spending most of your time on the beaches, and not let culture pass by again.
Tarifa is the southernmost town in Europe. It's right at the very tip of southern Spain. Is has a fascinating location. Just 14 kms from Africa, it divides both the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans. From here, there are some fantastic views over to Africa.
It's here that you'll find the notorious Levante wind; a very strong inland wind that creates excellent windsurfing) and kitesurfing conditions. Tarifa is widely regarded as the "wind capital of Europe". Many important competitions are held here.
But there's more to it than that. It's not just surfing anymore. Nowadays, visitors come for the nightlife, food, culture and stunning beaches. Tarifa also has a hippie culture that thrives all year round. It has to be the "camper van capital of Europe" too - they're everywhere!!
Although the winds can be relentless, Tarifa is attracting more and more visitors each year. Property prices have boomed and it is quickly becoming a number one tourist spot.
Favorite thing: The Plaza of Santa Maria is also known as the square of the little frog. Nicely planted and with the central pool with frog fountains. The town hall and municipal museum are also located in the square
This statue erected in commemoration of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán known as Guzman El Bueno, who successfully defended Tarifa against the muslins in 1294.
This statue is at Paseo de la Alameda in front of the harbour.
Favorite thing: The Castle of Guzmán el Bueno built in 960 has been used in many sieges at Tarifa, by both muslim and christians. Originally it was built by Abderramán III to control the routes between Africa and Europe, at its narrowest point.
Is the causeway linking Tarifa town to Isla de las Palomas (Dove Island), you can drive out to the island although parking maybe scarce, it affords great views of Tarifas beach and the harbour.
Behind me is the statue of the Virgin of Carmen
This Alameda is where the tourist office is sited, also there are lots of restaurants with Terraces.
The port is just close to it, and also the castle. There are parking places around, so it is a good point to start your visit around Tarifa
It has been always a city with history, but in the last 20 years it became world wide famous because of its weather conditions, ideal for wind surfers.
Around the village you will find lots of shops specialised on wind surfing and all the news sports
Tarifa is wellknown by its wind, thats why it was one of the first places in Spain to use Eolic energy and provide it.
Every time i pass by I see more wind mills in the area, and the last time the only thing I regret is the new ones that look like a power tower .... (I love wind turbines, since my final project at Uni, that is like a sacrilege lol)