She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air – Holly Black
I have always had a fascination for surfing and surfing destinations despite never getting on a board of any sorts myself. I like the freedom lifestyle, I enjoy watching the power of the waves, and I love the hippie vibe. Tarifa, a capital for kitesurfing and windsurfing, became therefore an obvious destination in my trip.
Tarifa is a small fishing town of medieval origin at the southernmost point in mainland Europe. Here the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Here the wind and the waves are very powerful, ideal for surfing sports. From here you can see across the Strait of Gibraltar and enjoy views of Morocco, only 14Km away. When there I even got a text message alerting me that my phone, safely in my pocket, was roaming on the Morocco network!
With its narrow cobbled streets, its typical Andalusian whitewashed houses and courtyards (patios), and some examples of Moorish architecture, Tarifa old town is quite charming and a lovely place for a stroll. You can easily get lost in the maze of alleyways!
There is also a castle (Castle of Guzman El Bueno), originally built as a Moorish fortress in the 10th century, with additions made around the 14-15th century. It is very well preserved and worth a visit, also because of the views of the coast of Morocco from the castle towers.
The atmosphere in Tarifa is very laid back, the surfing culture is everywhere and there is a bohemian/hippie vibe around town. The beaches are gorgeous and visiting off-season was a great way to see them without huge tourist crowds. Yet the surfing community is still present and I enjoyed watching the kitesurfers showcasing their skills most of the afternoon and until sunset.
The main beach for this is Playa de Los Lances, west of the causeway to La Isla de Las Palomas, on the ocean side. Las Palomas – the southernmost tip of town and where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet – is unfortunately closed to public access. But as you walk along the causeway you’ll have the Med on one side and the Atlantic on the other side, only a few meters apart!
If you enjoy walking/hiking, there are also some nice coastal paths with breathtaking views. I only walked some short stretches as I was running out of time but I really enjoyed them. Again, the views are amazing.
There was one more thing I wanted to experience in Tarifa before leaving: watching the sunset over the ocean! So I headed back to Playa de Los Lances (25-30 kitesurfers were there at that point, their kites creating beautiful shapes in the sky) and sat there until the sun had completely disappeared under the horizon line.
A brisk walk to the bus station got me there just in time for the bus to Algeciras and after a 45min journey I was back to where my day had started. Wishing I had planned things differently and stayed in Tarifa for a couple of nights….