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Tarifa has ten kilometers of white sandy beaches. It is only eleven kilometers across the straits of Gibraltar and offers stunning views of the RIF Mountains of Africa. With its clear water and fine winds it is a windsurfer’s paradise with plenty of schools available for beginners and not so experienced surfers. The most popular beach is the Playa de Los Lances in spite of the strong winds which would be a problem for bathers but heaven for the wind surfers who arrive year after year.
Ecological lovers will also be impressed by the vast areas of unspoiled countryside which is closely protected by the Spanish authorities. In the spring and autumn migrating birds, especially storks usually cross the Gibraltar straits. There are boat tours where you are able to watch the Whales and Dolphins that swim in the waters of the straits. Horse riding is immensely popular due to the vast unspoilt surrounding area and horses are available locally for hire. Northwest of Tarifa there are a number of beautiful virgin beaches with ample stretches of golden sand.
You can have a relaxing holiday here combined with the many sports activities on offer. Those include Horse-riding, hang-gliding, kite-surfing, rock climbing and scuba diving to name but a few. Underwater fishing is also possible in the clear waters beyond the beaches of Los Lances, Bolonia, Punta Paloma, De la Plata, Valdevaqueros and Torre de Peña.
Near to the entrance of the port of Tarifa on the Mediterranean Sea lies Playa Chica. It is a small bay protected from the wind which makes it perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The water is clear and sparkling, providing ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The town is dotted with plenty of varied restaurants where you can enjoy the different fish dishes. Due to the cold stream of the Atlantic, fish and seafood tend to be larger and more appetizing than those found in the neighbouring Mediterranean. From Tarifa you can enjoy a day trip to Tangier in Morocco on one of the catamaran ferries. It measures 89 meters and can carry 800 passengers and 175 cars. The trip takes just over 35 minutes.
During our Tarifa visit, we parked our car about a kilometer from the port and made our way to the ancient Moorish quarter through the symbolic “Door of Jerez”. Originally there were four gates but this entrance to the old quarter is the only one remaining. It opened the door to a northern access that led towards Jerez. We sauntered along the winding alleyways to arrive at the historic center where the Church of “San Mateo Apostól” is situated. Here you are able to stop for cold refreshments in one of several bars, and the chance to have a browse through the selection of quaint shops.
We both have a sweet tooth so couldn´t resist a stop off at “La Tarifeña” pastry and cake shop. The almond and chocolate cakes were delicious and very reasonable at around 2, 50€ for both.
One of many attractions to explore is the castle of Tarifa “Gúzman El Bueno”, built originally as a Moorish fortress for protection against the Moors and Vikings. Alonso Perez de Guzman drove out the Moorish infidels in 1294 after their conquest of Tarifa in 1292. As a reward, including sacrificing his own son to save the town, the castle was named after him as well as the title “Duke of Medina Sidonia.” The castle itself is an impressive trapezoid shape with its sand coloured stone, and if you take the stairs to the top of the walls you get amazing views of the “Port of Tarifa”, and the “Island of las Palomas.” You will also come across a replicate catapult which was a typical weapon in medieval times. It’s an ideal spot to take some photos.
The entrance fee is 4€ or for an additional 1€ you you are granted access to the “fortified walls” location. There is also a reduced rate for pensioners, students and invalids.