What to do in Tarifa
Relax, eat, sleep and .... ....
Be sure to allow enough time for these ‘activities’.
There are so many things you can do it is difficult not to overload your programme. However, please take account of the fact that in High Season (July and August) there is a lot of traffic, parking both in town (evenings) and at the beach is very scarce, places are crowded. For me, it is a question of ‘fine timing’ if you want ‘fine dining’.
For example, if you want to visit the beautiful bay of BOLONIA with its Roman ruins and idyllic ‘at the beach’ restaurants, go at 11.30, visit the ruins, eat at 13.00 (the Spanish eat later), enjoy the beach and drive back to Tarifa at 17.00 hrs. before the crowds and while you can still park in the streets in town near Dar Cilla. Come the evening, you will be so glad to be back in town, safely parked, and staying at Dar Cilla at the edge of the town where you are far enough away from the nightlife of Tarifa to expect a good nights’ sleep. You can walk to wherever you choose to eat, and enjoy a drink because you don’t have to drive.These and many other practical tips will be given to you by the Dar Cilla team.
WHALE WATCHING is very special (providing the wind is not too strong). Excellent small boats with professional and knowledgeable guides take you across the Strait nearly to the Moroccan shore as this is where the currents suit the dolphins (which you are sure to see) and the whales (which you usually see).
Morocco is so near (nearly within spitting distance of your olive stones, as one guest put it) that most of our Dar Cilla visitors take advantage of the tour we organize for them with our private guide (see A DAY IN TANGIER, click here). This is by far the most enjoyable from September through June as in July and August it is hot there and the ferries are very crowded, carrying the many Moroccans who are returning from Europe with their heavily laden cars for vacation. It takes a certain ‘mind-set’ to do this in High Season but we (Dar Cilla team) will give you our ‘personal best assessment’ when you enquire, as to how it will be at the time you want to go.
The coast here (Costa de La Luz) is known as a HIGH WIND area and is one of the world’s hot spots for KITE SURFING and WIND SURFING. Tarifa was virtually ‘discovered’ by the first generation of wind surfers (my son included) in their caravans some 25 years ago. It is still a surfers’ paradise but is pretty much a paradise in general – riding, (mountain) biking, paddle boarding, bird watching, shopping, eating, scenic drives – and of course beach walking and just beach ‘bumming’. We boast some of the most unspoilt , golden sandy beaches of Europe with wonderful sand dunes and shade offered by the umbrella pines.
Contrary to neighbouring, more built-up areas (Costa del Sol) it is seldom too hot here (a few days in July and August). I don’t even have air conditioning in my own home. The wind -Levante, hot from the east, or Poniente, cooler from the west) is a ‘blessing in disguise’ as you don’t just lie and bake (you can if you choose) but feel invigorated, and the whole area attracts the more sporty type of visitor.
What have I forgotten? What else can you do? Swim, of course. The sea is crystal clear, uncontaminated, and –to date- no jellyfish. These made their presence felt in the Marbella area last year but so far we –being at the point where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic – have been spared. Or you can swim to Morocco, but this is reserved for well-trained marathon swimmers who plan a year ahead. We enjoy having them to stay and celebrating their achievement with them on their return.
And of course we have our own castle which you can visit, built to defend Tarifa from the Moors. There are flamenco shows in several bars in the evenings. There are lots of tapas bars (one of the best is right next door to Dar Cilla) and good restaurants, and also a number of very popular discos.
There are natural mud baths and rock pools. There is a boulevard (upkeep is questionable!) leading to a long wooden walkway, great for morning joggers. Yoga courses are available. Dar Cilla has its own massage salon for a Feel Good Feeling after a long day at the beach.
It is an easy drive to Cadiz (Europe’s oldest city). It is a two hour drive to Sevilla. It is one and a half hours to Jerez (the fiesta in May is a must, and the horse shows/dressage are year round) or you can choose to go to the Domecq (sherry) family domain where there is a small tribune (best to book) from which you can watch the massive fighting bulls being herded in to the arena; not at all aggressive (they are living a wonderful life in the country), they are accompanied by huge oxen. A short dressage display by family members on the most beautiful Arab horses ends the show. Time it well (April) and you see the calves with their mothers.
Gibraltar is 40 minutes away and is understandably a ‘must’ for many British guests who feel they can’t be so near without visiting it – but be aware that border controls can take a long time, and take our advice to park in Spain and walk across the border where you take a taxi or a bus.
For me, were I to come here for the first time, the ideal ten day/ two week vacation would be to fly in to Malaga, hire a car, stay a couple of nights in the mountains (do some walking), take the white villages route to the beach in Tarifa (do some sports), go to a super luxury rural retreat to chill out (do nothing) and then have a few cultural few days in Sevilla (NOT in mid-summer, far too hot) which is a beautiful city, and then fly back from Sevilla where you will have left your hire car.
Contact us if you want more advice.
Too many people come for too few days – there is so much more to do here than meets the eye.