TOP THINGS TO DO IN TARIFA, THE WINDY CITY

Once swimmers are informed about their crossing date (10 days timeslot) and once they have arranged for their trip (accommodation, flights, etc.), they may have to wait for some time before swimming across the Straits. Tarifa is characterised by long periods of Easterly winds (known as Levante). Sometimes, crossings cannot start when this wind blows, as swimmers could be pushed to non-authorised areas where swimming is not allowed in order not to interfere with the maritime traffic of Moroccan ports. Therefore, ACNEG recommends booking flights and accommodation in the last minute or, on the contrary, enjoying this waiting time as much as possible. All depends on weather conditions and consequently, our experts will analyse, monitor and check them exhaustively.

1.WHERE TO EAT IN TARIFA

photo: Carlos Hidalgo

Tarifa has a great variety of food (good value for money). This area of the coast of Cadiz known as Costa de la Luz is really popular, particularly in the Straits of Gibraltar, where the bluefin tuna (atún rojo) is the signature dish. It is caught in this area by using a typical and traditional fishing technique known as the Almadraba. The 80% of the catch is exported to Japan to be cooked as sushi. However, red tuna is not the only species: the bullet tuna, the horse mackerel, the fresh anchovy and the sardine are also really popular together with the canned food from Tarifa.

  • Tuna tasting: La Pescadería, El Campero (in Barbate or Zahara), La Garrocha, Waikiki, El Burugato , Surla (sushi), El Lola
  • Typical cuisine: La Romanera, El Lola, El Pozuelo, Los Mellis, El francés, Silos, El picoteo
  • Meat (Retinto beef and Iberian pork): El caserón, Anca Curro, El ombligo, Vaca Loca
  • Fish and seafood: El Puerto restaurant, El Ancla restaurant, La Pescadería, Las Rejas (Bolonia)
  • Italian food (carbohydrates before swimming across the Straits): Perbaco, La Oca da Sergio, La Trattoria, Osteria del sole
  • Rice and PaellasLola Mora, MicMoc, Otaola, Carbones 13, Demente, La pescadería, Restaurante El Puerto, Las Rejas (Bolonia)
  • Vegetarian and vegan restaurants: Chilimosa, Mandrágora, MIC MOC, Ecocenter,
  • Breakfast: Cafe Azul, Power House, Manduka, Cafe 10, Surla, Andrea’s Brunch

 

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2.TRAINING SITES TO SWIM ACCROSS THE STRAITS

Photo: Carlos Hidalgo

There is a great variety of beaches in Tarifa where to practice many different sporting activities. Tarifa offers a unique location, a place where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet. The following list of beaches and training sites for open water swimming has been made taking into account their advantages and disadvantages or risks (further information by clicking on their names):

PLAYA CHICA (CHICA BEACH): This beach is situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is 400 metres long and 28 metres wide. Golden colour sand and calm water. The best place to train safely and quietly and also the best one to experience the lowest temperature in the Straits (Warning note: You must swim from the beach to the island cove without interfering with the entrance to the port and without surrounding the Island, both areas are highly dangerous). You can practice diving on this beach too.

LOS LANCES: Los Lances is a golden sand beach which is mostly situated in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 2,650 metres long and 120 meters wide. There are usually strong currents and swells on this beach and therefore, it is a good training choice for long distances and strong currents as long as you train when wind conditions are good and always accompanied by someone. Los Lances offers several sporting activities such as Surfing, Kitesurfing, Paddle surfing.

VALDEVAQUEROS: This cove is 9 kilometres from Tarifa, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 4,050 metres long and 120 metres wide. Golden sand beach with moderate swells. Sporting activities such as surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing but it is not the best choice for a quiet training or swimming practice.

BOLONIA: This cove is 22 kilometres from Tarifa, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 3,800 metres long and 70 metres wide. Golden and fine sand. It is a quiet area and a good place for swimming as long as you are always aware of currents and that you always swim with someone else.

CAÑUELO: This beach is 26 kilometres from Tarifa, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 800 metres long and 35 meters wide. Golden sand. Difficult access, along the road to the Lighthouse. This beach is like a refuge during periods of strong wind currents. Snorkelling.

LOS ALEMANES BEACH: Golden sand beach situated in Zahara de los Atunes (Atlantic Ocean), a village which is around 46 kilometres from Tarifa. Moderate swells similar to the ones on other beaches of the area. The perfect choice for swimming when the easterly wind is blowing hard in the area as it is a sheltered site. Be careful of rocky areas and coves.

Lances Beach (photo: Carlos Hidalgo)

PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL:

Public swimming pool next to Tarifa promenade. Access is allowed by a monthly subscription fee of 25 Euros or by vouchers (which can be shared among swimmers). A 1 session voucher is €6, a 5 sessions voucher is €25 and a 10 sessions voucher is €40. Salt water heated pool which is 25 metres long and 120/160 centimetres deep, 6 lanes. Swimming materials on offer. Opening hours:

  • Mornings MONDAY TO FRIDAY: 8:00 am – 02:45 pm
  • SATURDAY morning: 9:30 am – 01:45 pm
  • MONDAY, WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY evening: 4:00 pm – 9:45 pm
  • TUESDAY and THURSDAY evenings: 7:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.
  • Closed on SUNDAYS

3.RELAXING SITES AND PLACES TO VISIT DURING WINDY DAYS

Cañuelo Beach (Photo:Flirck Sevillista)

When there is a windstorm in Tarifa, you can find “hiding places” in the area where to have a good and relaxing time. These cosy places with nice views are a good option to enjoy and relax. Below, some alternatives to take into consideration if easterly winds blow hard in the area:

TERRACES AND GARDENS WITH POOLS:

  • Puravida (Access by paying for a drink or something to eat)
  • Tres Mares Hotel (fee-paying access)
  • Mandala (Access by paying for a drink or something to eat)
  • Pachamama (Access by paying for a drink or something to eat)

COVES:

El Ombligo (N-340 highway entrance, between Punta Sur Hotel and Torre la Peña campsite), Punta Paloma, Cañuelo, Faro de Camarinal, Cala de Roche (Conil de la Frontera), Castillejos beach (Caños de Meca).

SANCTUARY:

The Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Luz (patron of the city of Tarifa), is a pilgrimage destination for Tarifa inhabitants. It is situated 8 kilometres from Tarifa downtown. This is an annual pilgrimage (known as romería) which takes place in September and where the pilgrims called romeros make their way on foot or on horseback next to the Virgin up to the particular holy site. The Sanctuary is a quiet place which is open to the public throughout the year.

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4.LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Photo: Ezequiel Andreu

WHALE WACTHING:

Whale watching is nowadays one of the main tourist attractions of the area. The Straits of Gibraltar is catalogued as Reserve of the Biosphere and seven different species of cetaceans (dolphins, whales and killer whales) live there. There are different whale watching companies in Tarifa which offer a 95% of success, such as the company called Turmares. There are boat trips every day (subject to good weather conditions) from the end of February to the beginning of November and prices, VAT included, are as follows:

ADULTSCHILDREN 4 TO 14 YEARS OLDBABIES 1 TO 3 YEARS OLDBABIES <1 YEAR
REST OF YEAR €30€20€5 FREE
JULY/AUGUST €35€22€10FREE

Trips: at 12:00h and at 17:00h. Length: From 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes.

BIRDWATCHING:

The Straits of Gibraltar is an area of ​​passage for many different species of birds, due to their migration Europe-Africa (August-October) and Africa-Europe (March-May). In September, it takes place the Straits of Gibraltar Birds International Fair. At the entrance of Tarifa, we have the Mirador de Cazalla Ornithological Observatory, which was donated by the City Council to the Ornithological Association known as Cigueña Negra. Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Free entry.

QUADS AND ADVENTURE:

It is not all based on sea sports and sea activities in Tarifa. The city is also surrounded in large measure by the Alcornocales Nature Reserve. The company called Quads Aventura Tarifa offers different activities and routes. Price per person is 40€ for a one hour trip and 7€ for a 2 hours trip.

5. OTHER SPORTS

Photo: Carlos Hidalgo

DIVING:

The Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, along with their rich marine fauna, make Tarifa the perfect site for diving. There are several diving companies in the area with qualified professionals. Buceo Scorpora is one of them; they offer lessons and provide you with the necessary equipment to enjoy an unforgettable and unique underwater experience. Visit their website for further information regarding diving activities, courses, price list, equipment, etc.

HIKING:

We would advise you to carry out all these routes accompanied by someone and equipped with some kind of location or communication system in order to avoid losing your way.

  1. Del Buda Route: This route will lead you to the Mirador de la Peña (De la Peña viewpoint), from where you will see the last stretch of the Atlantic coast. The route starts at the Punto de Información del Parque Natural del Estrecho (The Straits Nature Reserve Information Centre), at km. 77,5 of the N-340 highway.
  2. Silla del Papa Route: It is a narrow and steep road which leads to one of the best viewpoints of the Cadiz coast, right in the Sierra de la Plata. N-340 highway, at kilometre 71 you have to take the CA-8202 road to Bolonia. Following in the direction of the trails and viewpoints, you then have to turn right at about 2 and a half kilometres.
  3. Camarinal Lighthouse: Sandy and slightly uneven road located in Bolonia. N-340 highway, at the height of km. 71, you have to take the CA-8202 road to Bolonia. It continues towards the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia and it is indicated at about 3 kilometres.
  4. El Cañuelo stream (Arroyo de el Cañuelo): Road parallel to the Arroyo del Cañuelo which offers many different landscapes. At kilometre 71 of the N-340 highway you have to take the CA-8202 road to Bolonia. Continue towards Baelo Claudia archaeological site and following the same road, it is situated at 450 m. before reaching the Camarinal Lighthouse trail.
  1. Alcornocales Nature Reserve (Parque de los Alcornocales): This natural site offers many different hiking routes and it is a protected nature reserve of 170,000 hectares which is situated between Cádiz and Málaga. It has the most extensive forest of cork trees in the world and also houses many archaeological, cultural, historical and monumental sites.
  1. Honey Stream (Arroyo de la Miel) (Algeciras): path which runs through a forest and next to a river. Hikers can see the ruins of a mill and waterfalls during their trip. The entrance is located at an area known as “El cobre” on the N-340 highway.

Arroyo de la Miel / Photo: daniel-ghio

KITESURF / WINDSURF/ PADDLE SURF:

Sea and wind sports are really popular in this windy and coastal area. There are nautical schools such as Surf Center Tarifa. This company offers Kitesurf lessons from 20€. Lessons are held in small groups or in 1to1 lessons in order to guarantee a safe and effective lesson. Please visit their website for further information about prices and courses.

Photo: Emilio García

CLIMBING:

San Bartolo mountain range: sandstone formation which can be climbed in different categories (classical, sporting and bouldering). Suitable for all levels, it is located right in the Nature Reserve of the Maritime Zone of the Straits ( Parque Natural de la Zona Marítima del Estrecho). You can climb on your own or by booking with Tarifa Adventure.

San Bartolo views / Foto: Mike kotsch

MOUNTAIN BIKE AND E-BIKE: 

There are several mountain bike routes in Tarifa which offer spectacular views. There is also a new activity; the E-bikes (electric bicycles) offered by the company known as E-BikeTarifa. Please visit their link for further information about prices and routes.

* We always recommend this type of activities once the crossing has finished so as to avoid potential injuries.

6. SIGHTSEEING: NEARBY AREAS

Morocco / Foto: Carlos Ibáñez

MOROCCO

There are one day trips as well as several days trips to Morocco. Cities such as Tangier, Asilah or Chefchaouen, among other Moroccan towns, are of tourist interest. We always recommend checking the weather forecast as the return journey could be cancelled due to windstorms and consequently, swimmers could be late for their crossing. FRS Iberia and Intershipping are ferry companies which offer a wide timing of 35-minutes boat trips.

“WHITE VILLAGES”

The White Villages (Pueblos blancos) are a group of 19 typical Andalusian towns characterized by the white colour of their buildings. It is a perfect option for a road trip. These villages are Arcos de la Frontera, Bornos, Espera, Villamartin, Algodonales, El Gastor, Olvera, Alháquime Tower, Setenil de las Bodegas, Alcalá del Valle, Prado del Rey, El Bosque, Ubrique, Benaocaz, Villaluenga del Rosario, Grazalema, Benamahoma and Zahara of the Sierra.

VEJER DE LA FRONTERA

The town of Vejer is 47 minutes from Tarifa by car or by bus. The city centre stands on a hill of 200 metres high. The municipal area also includes a stretch of coast in the Atlantic Ocean known as El Palmar de Vejer, a tourist small village. In 1976, its historic city centre (fortified), which still preserves the castle and several significant churches, was declared a historic-artistic site. Vejer is a member of the so-called ‘Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain’. If you want to taste the best meat in the area, we recommend you to book at La Castilleria. On the contrary, if you are keen on Moroccan cuisine, then visit the so well known Jardin del Califa restaurant. .

BARBATE

In 50 minutes by car or bus from Tarifa. It is a town in the province of Cádiz which is located at the mouth of Barbate River, on the coast, near the Cape Trafalgar, where the Trafalgar battle took place. It is a fishing town which is mainly devoted to tuna fishing by putting into practice the traditional fishing technique known as “almadraba”. We recommend visiting El Campero restaurant.

RONDA

Is a town situated in the province of Málaga. It is 2 hours and 20 minutes by car from Tarifa and 4 hours by train from Algeciras. It is popular due to “El Tajo” gorge, a gorge which separates the new city, which dates back to approximately the 15th century, from the old town, which dates back to the Arabic reign. There is a viewpoint with astonishing views on the Puente Nuevo, a bridge made of stone that extends over the gorge. The legendary bullring, in the new city, dates back to the 18th century and is one of the most outstanding monuments of the city.

Ronda

ANDALUSIA

  • Huelva: Great variety of food (fish and meat). Doñana Nature Reserve.
  • Seville: It is the capital city of Andalusia, the largest province. Guadalquivir River runs through this city. There are many historical monuments in Seville such as the Cathedral, Torre del Oro, La Giralda…
  • Málaga: In the tourist area known as the Costa del Sol (Sunny Coast). It offers the possibility of visiting up to 6 different nature reserves.
  • Córdoba: Its capital city was for centuries the seat of the Al-Andalus caliphate. Its most visited monument is the Mosque. Cruces de Mayo (Traditional celebration in which the typical patios and streets are decorated with flowers).
  • Jaén: Known as the Olives land, it has a great variety of nature reserves. The cities of Baeza and Úbeda are worth visiting for their two star monuments from the Spanish Renaissance.
  • Granada: Many historic monuments (The Alhambra). Sierra Nevada (Snow sports).
  • Almería: This province is popular for its agriculture and beaches. Cabo de Gata (Nature Reserve). The Alpujarras (Sierra Nevada).

GIBRALTAR

British city bordering Spain and situated in the so called the Rock. 50 min by car / or bus from Tarifa (bus line Tarifa / Algeciras / La Linea). It is worth noting the differences on both sides of the frontier. Enjoy an English breakfast, go shopping (tax free), climb up the Rock, see the monkeys that live up there (be careful of bites) and walk through its picturesque streets among other attractions of this city.

Gibraltar monkeys / photo: Hello Lightbulb

TRANSPORTES COMES is the local bus company and offers several bus timings

Train schedules operated by the local company RENFE

7. HISTORY AND ARCHEOLOGY

Sancho IV Tarifa Castle/ photo: Carlos Hidalgo

BAELO CLAUDIA:

Archaeological site (well preserved) of the Roman city founded by Emperor Claudius. N340 highway, at km 70.2 taking the CA8202 road, less than 8km, the Bolonia cove. National Historical Monument.

From 16th June to 31st July:

  • Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Sunday and Public holidays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
  • Closed on Mondays.

From 1st August to 15th September:

  • From Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Closed on Mondays.

(Access is allowed up to 30 minutes before closing time).

Prices:

  • EU citizens: Free access
  • Other Countries: €1.50

 GUZMAN EL BUENO CASTLE

This castle stands on a high ledge by the sea. The castle owes its name to the heroic deed of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, who was the governor of the fortress at that time. In 1294 the Muslims laid siege to the castle and urged Don Alonso Perez de Guzman to turn it over. His son was their prisoner and would die if Mr Alonso turned down their offer.  Mr Alonso Pérez de Guzmán decided to sacrifice his son rather than turning the castle and its inhabitants over and he even pulled his own knife from the octagonal tower for them to kill him.

  • Monday to Sunday, from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm uninterruptedly (last entry at 6:15 pm)
  • Guided tour every day at 12:00 pm (free with € 4 adults tickets)

THE STRAITS NATURE RESERVE INFORMATION CENTRE

The information centre offers informative material and an exhibition which is divided in four topics: coastal landscapes, underwater landscapes and archaeological and historical heritage. Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

CUEVA DEL MORO (DEL MORO CAVE).

Is located in Bolonia cove and has Palaeolithic paintings and engravings (18,000 years). These are naturalistic paintings which show some horses and a mare which is in calf.

NECRÓPOLIS DE LOS ALGARBES (LOS ALGARBES NECROPOLIS).

Continuing along the 340 highway about 10 km from Tarifa, km 74 at Punta Paloma crossroads. Go past Punta Paloma campsite, about 500m. The necropolis is in the impressive Valdevaqueros cove and contains several sepulchres which were excavated in rock and date back to the Copper and Bronze Age.

8. BUYING SOUVENIRS

Photo:Carlos Hidalgo

  • BATALLA DEL SALADO STREET: Also known as “the shopping street”, this street is really popular for its sea sports shops and stores (nowadays most of them can be found in a nearby industrial estate). It roams along the newest part of the city until reaching the Arco de Jerez (Jerez Arch), starting point of the old quarter of the city.
  • ATLAS BEACH: It is a shop in the old quarter of the city near the marketplace. Manuel Caminero runs this shop where he sends pictures of the most striking landscapes of Tarifa. These photos are out of the ordinary as they show different perspectives and aerial views of this wonderful place. Many different kinds of affordable pictures which are a perfect souvenir to take home.
  • CANNED GOODS The factory premises of the city offer a great variety of typical products (canned goods) which are really popular in the area.
  • LA TARIFEÑA, CAKE SHOP. This cake shop was set up in 1956. Its products are accredited by the brand Parque Natural de Andalucía (Andalusia Nature Reserve). The most popular cakes and pastries are “El Tranvía” and “La Canastilla”.
  • LA GALERÍA DEL MAR (SEA ART GALLERY). This charming gallery is in front of the Port of Tarifa. The artist, Hauke, ​​puts on sale and exhibits his works of art made of reused sea materials.
  • CALORE COLORE. A shop where you can buy small souvenirs which stand out for their originality.

9. VIEWS AND STOPS ON THE WAY

photo:Carlos Hidalgo

VIEWS

  • Mirador del Estrecho (viewpoint): It is 6 km from Tarifa, the Mirador offers direct views of the Strait of Gibraltar and the coast of Africa. The Jebel Musa mountains, along with the Rock of Gibraltar, formed the Pillars of Hercules, which were considered to be the end of the world in ancient times.
  • El Chozo: Restaurant situated in the Camping Torre de la Peña (campsite) at sea level.
  • “Miramar” or África viewpoint: Viewpoint located next to the town hall, in Amargura Street. You can see part of the Straits, i.e. from the Spanish coast (Caleta (cove), Port, isla de las Palomas (Las Palomas Island)) to the African Coast.

FLAMENCO: The Almedina Bar, located in the historical center right between the walls, one of the entrances to the old Medina. It still conserves in its interior several of the arcs in bend. In this bar, on Thursdays you can enjoy live flamenco shows at 22:30, and whose entrance is free.

CHIRINGUITOS (BEACH BARS): These beach bars by the sea offer wonderful sunsets.

  • Tumbao: Different types of mojitos (also alcohol-free), great environment, wonderful sunsets and natural juices.
  • Waikiki: City centre, beach area.  Natural fruits cocktails, concerts, awesome sunsets.
  • Demente: Sea promenade, perfect choice to have a coffee or a soft drink.
  • Carbones 13: It is far away from the city centre although you can go there on foot. It is located at the end of the sea promenade, next to the football pitch. Cocktails, music and sunsets.

Waikiki / photo: Carlos Hidalgo

ICE-CREAM PARLOURS AND ICED DRINKS

  • Fragola: Italian ice-cream parlour located in the heart of the city,”La Calzada”, Sancho IV el Bravo Street.
  • La Tarifeña: Perfect choice at the entrance of the historic city centre for a cake or a natural flavour iced drink to get your strength back.

10. NIGHT OUT

Photo: Facebook Mombassa

This town is also well known for its nightlife during the summer season. We recommend going out at night once the crossing has finished successfully as the swimmer’s performance should be optimal. Once the crossing is finished it is time to celebrate it. Here are some trendy places in Tarifa to dance and enjoy at night:

  • La Buena Onda: First-hour venue which offers good music and a great atmosphere.
  • Taco Wey: Concerts and cocktails in the city centre.
  • La Tetería: A more relaxed atmosphere, outdoor music right in the heart of Tarifa.
  • Panamá: Cocktails made of natural fruits, alcohol or alcohol-free and background music.
  • Mombassa: Late night disco (3/4 am) with several floors right in the city centre. Latest music.
  • Café del Mar: Disco with several floors located in the industrial estate (we recommend going there by Taxi 5 €), techno, house and latest music.

This is our list of 10 things to do in Tarifa, we hope that this small guide that we have prepared for you will be of great help when it comes to enjoying this wonderful area in southern Europe. Also thank you for making responsible and respectful use of the environment. The natural places must be respected so that we can continue enjoying it all. REMEMBER: Remove and recycle waste from your stay wherever you go, use less plastics (cloth bags, no drinking straws: “no plastic thank you”, water bottle or reusable containers), contribute to the removal of plastics on our beaches (collect and throw them in clean points).

References:  GUÍA de PATRIMONIO HISTÓRICO y NATURAL de TARIFA, Alejandro Pérez- Malumbres Landa y Ezequiel Andreu Cazalla, 2013. Servicio de publicaciones del Ayuntamiento de Tarifa.

CONTACTS OF INTEREST:

TAXI: Av, Andalucía 0, tlf: +34 956 799 077

BUS STATION: C/ Batalla del salado, 19. tlf: +34 956 684 038

LOCAL POLICE: Plaza se Sta. María,3. Tlf: +34 956 682 217

TOURISM INFORMATION: Paseo de la Alameda, tlf: +34 956 680 993

AMBULATORY: C/Antonio Maura, tlf: +34 956 027 700

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