Date of stay: June 2012
Where you stayed: Pension Correos
Travelled with: As a couple
Tour or pre planned: Pre-planned
Tarifa is a great little town on the south coast of Spain that is known for its spectacular beaches and strong winds. These two conditions have made the town famous for kite surfing in recent years, and have brought in a lot more tourism to the area. There are numerous places in the town where you can take kite surfing lessons and hire gear.
The town is built around the old quarter, port and castle with newer developments appearing a bit more inland. The old town is a maze of winding passages built to protect against the strong winds. This creates a great atmosphere among the many restaurants, cafes, bars and boutique shops. There is an indoor market that is worth checking out too. The seafood is particularly good here, even compared to other places in the south of Spain, and tuna fishing is still a major industry. There is tuna tinning factory along the beach, which might not be particularly pleasant, but at least it shows how fresh the fish is! We were in Tarifa during the Euro 2012 football tournament, the town was buzzing with the locals out supporting Spain, and we cheered on all their goals with them!
One great reason to visit Tarifa is that it is the Southern-most point of Europe. From the coast you can clearly see Africa and the Atlas mountains, and on a really clear day can apparently make out individual people along the coast of Morocco. There are regular ferry trips that take you across to Tanger where you can stay for the day or start a tour of Africa. There are also a number of boat trips that can take you out for whale and dolphin watching along the Straits of Gibraltar.
Unfortunately, one of the darker sides of Tarifa is the detention facility at the end of a walkway out to sea, where illegal immigrants from Africa are detained until they are deported. The walkway, however, does make for a nice walk where there is the Mediterranean Sea to one side and the Atlantic to the other. It is quite something to see the waves washing in from two different directions at this spot.
The beaches along the coast by Tarifa have beautiful white sand, dunes and sparkling clear water. On the first day that we were there, the wind was so strong that the sand was whipping up and stung any exposed body parts. We quickly figured out why the beaches were deserted, but the following day the wind had died down and the beach in the town was great.
We also headed along the coast to Bolonia, which has the ruins of a Roman town. I was expecting a few rocks scattered around the landscape but was so surprised by how intact it was. You could walk along the old Roman streets, into the Amphitheatre and look at the fish salting factories. There is a great modern museum built right next to it that gives a really good history of the area. Of course, the beach is great here, and we also stopped off at a little hidden gem of a beach called Punta Paloma on the way back to Tarifa, with only a few locals there because of the walk down to the beach. This is a definitely a must-do day trip from Tarifa if you are staying for a few days.
We stayed at Pension Correos, which was right in the middle of the old town, opposite the Post Office (correos).. It was very central and reasonably cheap, we went for the room with the shared bathroom and everything was fine with the stay, the rooms were clean and the staff really friendly and helpful.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour: N/A
Would you recommend your hotel: Yes if looking for cheap, clean, no-frills accommodation
Overall rating: 5 out of 5