Postcards from Tarifa
Tarifa is a small town in the province of Cádiz, Spain with an abundance of activities for thrill-seekers. Praised for being the world’s most popular destination amongst wind sports enthusiasts (think kiteboarding, windsurfing etc.), the key places to visit are beachbound; the Playa de los Lances, an expansive sand beach and kitesurfing spot, El Estrecho Natural Park with its rugged beach line and the Punta de Tarifa, known for its tall-standing lighthouse between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Separating Tarifa from north Africa is a slim stretch of water that is home to dozens of whales and dolphins. Whale Watch Tarifa are the pioneers in whale watching on the Iberian Peninsula. With this animal-friendly company, you will be spoilt to see seven different species of whales and dolphins. We recommend reserving with this company as their respectful handling of nature, the ocean and these beautiful animals guarantees a surreal experience, in addition to their great cause to protect the threatened animals. If you are lucky, on a good day, you can spot dolphins from the Playa Chica beach near the Isla(nd) de Las Palomas, a treasure cove for snorkelling.
On our day of arrival, we ventured through the ancient Puerta de Jerez (the only one of four medieval entrances remaining) and discovered the old town´s winding whitewashed streets and tangible north African feel, which could easily pass for Asilah or Essaouira. Breakfast at Cafe Azul is highly recommended, open from 9 am to 3 pm, seven days a week, this sweet spot has been featured in dozens of publications thanks to its cool interior and friendly staff.
The old town´s central square is called Plaza de Santa María, informally known as Plaza de la Ranita (Little Frog Square). The City Hall is in the same square in addition to the school Colegío Cervantes, easily spotted as it is part of the Neomudejar architecture. Next to the sea, be on the lookout for the Guzmán el Bueno Castle, located on a high outcrop overlooking the former shipyard. This historical spot gives away most of the town’s history dating as far back to the medieval period. When in the area, we recommend heading to Churreria La Palmera for some churros and hot chocolate before freshening up at the calm and overlooked Playa de Tarifa. Should you need a little more fun in the sun, Playa de los Lances is a beautiful white sand beach with strong winds and surrounded by low dunes; it has some beach bars and is full of spectacular kitesurfers.
Besides beach and culture, food plays a major part of the culture in Tarifa. Three Michelin-star chef Dani Garcia has opened BiBo Beach House in June 2019. Paying homage to the area´s bohemian vibe, he has created a chillout atmosphere with music, and Hawaiian-style dressed waiting staff to attend guests. The new establishment includes a surf school.
Our favourite dinner experience was at Hurricane Hotel, only situated 15-minutes drive on the outskirt of Tarifa old town. The venue´s restaurant can be entered through the steps of a narrow strip of beach or past the hotel’s front entrance. Make sure to reserve as most people who eat in the evening tend to stay until closing hours. The outdoor dining area overlooks the hotel’s swimming pool, surrounded by lush greenery and palm trees. On the menu, you will find fresh fish from the bay and selected A-listed meat from the area mainly prepared on the grill. Baked lamb shoulders, veal sirloin and their star dish Iberian beef (chuletón de retinto) are a few of the meats you can find sizzling for diners.
If you have time to venture out more, you must visit Baelo Claudia, the name of an ancient Roman town, located 22 kilometres outside Tarifa. There is a large car park by the ruins, and the famous Bolonia beach is a short stroll away. While in the area treat yourself to a refreshing meal and drink at Bar Ortega or Bar La Bahia. The sheltered bars both have terraces overlooking the golden coastal dune system of Bolonia beach, that eventually fades in the pine forest. This part of Andalusia is famous for its abundance of historical white towns. Be sure to make a stop at one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, the enchanting Vejer de la Frontera, an oasis that can be reached in less than an hour from Tarifa.