TARIFA is famous for its wind, which draws in many visitors looking to participate in the kite surfing scene.
But its beaches are more than a place to practise tricks in the water: the ankle-deep white sand and, thankfully even, some sheltered spots, ensure there’s something for everyone along the 35-km coastline.
Of course, it’s useful to have a car. But can you enjoy a beach holiday here without one? Regina Roberts investigates on foot.
LOCATED right next to Tarifa old town, Playa Chica separates the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Just 10 minutes walk to get there from the heart of the old town, it is small and can get a bit crowded at certain times of day, not to mention noisy.
But on the plus side there was no strong wind, which meant it was perfect for swimming and the water was calm and clear with no kitesurfers.
The only beachfront restaurant is El Chiringuito Lounge Beach, and due to its location, it’s a little pricier than other places in town.
Playa Chica is ideal for those wanting to relax on the beach with friends but still feel the lively atmosphere of Tarifa.
Playa de los Lances
PLAYA de los Lances spans more than seven kilometres and is separated by the Rio Jara, making it an expansive beach that never feels too crowded.
While also close to the old town, the beach was a lot emptier and less overwhelming with a nice change of pace and seagulls in the sky.
It’s more windy, but was not too exposed and during the middle of the day, the wind is actually advantageous as the breeze offers reprieve from the heat.
The water at this end is not as busy with kite surfers, making it perfect for those just looking to go for a swim.
Father up on the northern part is characteristic of Tarifa’s windsurfing scene, full of brightly coloured kites filling the sky and with the continual sounds of surfers making splashes in the water.
The northern side of this beach is more difficult to get to although there’s a lot of parking for those driving their own cars.
Walking is hard and it may be best to get a taxi from the old town.
There are just as many kitesurfing schools along the northern part as chiringuitos.
This may not be the best place for those looking to simply lounge as on windy days you’re going to feel that sand in your face.
By far the windiest beach is Playa Valdevaqueros, making it popular among those wanting to participate in water sports.
A picturesque beach with large sand dunes along its four kilometres, it is backed by various restaurants offering an array of food options.
There’s a lot going on and plenty of places with music playing through speakers, with Tumbao a top pick, while on the sand, you’ll see loads of people preparing their boards for the water.
Others jump in and out of the sea or play football with friends.
Getting here if you are staying in the old town involves taking a taxi as it is even farther along the coast. However, this section of the main coast road is lined with hotels for surfers.
As a result, this beach draws in visitors from around the globe, but you’ll have to take a taxi to get here most likely, as while there are the occasional buses, it’s not easy to find out when they come or leave.
Visiting Tarifa’s old town, I wasn’t sure I’d like the beaches having heard about the amount of wind they get – my idea of the perfect beach is somewhere I can lie on the sand and read.
With no car and limited time, I was only able to get to three, but I was pleasantly surprised: Playa Chica, Playa de los Lances, and Playa Valdevaqueros, are all wonderful options, each providing a different beach experience. The southern end of Playa de los Lances was my favourite due to its quiet atmosphere and its close proximity to where I was staying. In fact, it was so convenient, I was able to visit it between meals in the old town, even pop over there for just for an hour.
But Tarifa is a place where anyone can find the right beach for them without having to travel too far away from the attractions of the old town.