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Let's walk along Tarifa's most beautiful beaches !
Besides being known worldwide as the wind capital of Europe, Tarifa offers many other treasures, such as its wonderful and endless sand beaches that will not fail to move you.
Tarifa sits right in between the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic ocean. There is a myriad of beaches around Tarifa and surely there is something for all tastes. Thus, you’ll find family friendly-touristy beaches, hidden and insolite gems and of course magical spots for our fellow kitesurfers, windsurfers and surfers.
We recommend avoiding the industrialized Mediterranean coast on the path to Malaga, and rather exploring the Atlantic coast in a northerly direction. That being said, we cannot deny we are very glad to have a sheltered kitesurfing spot on this side – Palmones, next Algeciras – to which we can go to when the Levante is blowing at more than 40 knots in Tarifa. In this post, we’ll guide you alongside the coastline, in a northerly direction from Tarifa to Cadiz, in the discovery of our favorite preserved beaches and the best kitesurf/surf spots.
Want to know which are Tarifa’s most amazing beaches? Whether you like your holidays ‘farniente’, relaxing on the beach under the sun or getting your adrenaline pumped gliding over water, here is our guide of the best beaches in Tarifa and its surroundings !
There are 3 main beaches in Tarifa, extending from the village to Punta Paloma Point. Some are so long that their different areas even have their own name.
Balneario Beach & Playa Chica
The tiny beach located right next to the tip of Tarifa village, before the peninsula is called Playa Chica. This is truly Europe’s southernmost beach ! From this beach, you only have to cross the path leading to the peninsula to go from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic side, ending up on Balneario Beach.
Kitesurfing individual practice and teaching is forbidden on Balneario Beach from June 15th to September 15th, everyday until 8pm. Few visiting people will usually choose this spot, but on strong wind days from 8pm, many come to admire pro-kitesurfers training sessions. A not to be missed performance, showcasing impressive tricks and flying high jumps with the sunset in the background.
On Balneario beach, a nautic club is offering varied activities such as Stand up Paddling, Kayaking and Surfing, and you’ll also find several beach volleys grounds. Only a few steps away from Tarifa’s city center, this beach is a popular place to relax, take a (sun)bath and even to give surfing a try , as conditions allow.
Along the beach, you’ll find many bars and restaurants – ‘chiringuito’ in spanish – such as the Waikiki with its straw huts, or the Lounge-Beach with its stunning views of Morocco. From there, you’ll have a perfect front row seat to enjoy the pro-riders prowess and experience the local atmosphere.
Los Lances Beach
Los Lances Beach is divided in two parts : North Lances South – Los Lances Sur – starts from the entrance of Tarifa and kitesurfing is not authorized in this area from June 15th to September 15th. And North Los Lances – Los Lances Norte – 5km away/5 min driving from Tarifa, a wide sand beach spreading over 4km. North Los Lances Nord is one of the 2 best kitesurfing spots in Tarifa, with a designated area for kitesurfing schools and another one for independent kitesurfers.
It is a well known meeting place for most kite schools in Tarifa. Indeed, this long beach offers plenty of space for learning kitesurfing, and safely launch and land your kite. This spot works well by both sea winds -Poniente- and offshore winds – Levante, the two famous types of winds in Tarifa.
By Poniente, side onshore sea wind from the Atlantic ocean, there can be a bit of shorebreak and a rough sea, though this wind is very steady. By Levante, side offshore wind from the Mediterranean sea, rescue boats are ensuring the security on the spot. Please note that independent rider will need to buy a rescue card – between 30-60€ depending on the number of rescues – in order to benefit from this service and avoid being charged important fees in case they would need assistance from the boats.
There are two beach bars “chiringuitos” on North Los Lances beach. The Aqua, right at the parking entrance, facing the kite schools’ teaching area, and the Waves bar, further north, next to the parking exit, facing the free practice zone. These places will soon become your favorite spots whenever you need a break in between your kitesurfing sessions. Or at the end of the day, when people usually gathering there to enjoy a well deserved ‘social’ drink watching the sunset.
Whether you are driving from the North or the South, you’ll find a big free parking space, facilitating access to the beach.
Following the coast further North, right after Los Lances Beach, is Valdevaqueros Beach and Tarifa’s big sand dune. Only 8km away from the village – 10min drive – Valdevaqueros is a very popular spot among professional kitesurfers. It is often very windy there – and crowded as a result – with many kites and windsurf on the spot during high season. Among the best kitesurfing spots with Los Lances, it’s a must-stop spot where all wind sports lovers from Europe and beyond come and meet on the water.
Valdevaqueros Beach extends over 1,5 km long and is narrower than Los Lances. Consequently, it is slightly more tricky to launch/land a kite there, especially during high season when many just come to this place to enjoy a bath in the sea. There are a few resident kite and windsurf schools there, and a lot of independent riders, which can unfortunately lead to a quickly saturated spot during high season.
The beach ends at the foot of a big dune called Punta Paloma. There are nice trails to explore behind the dune, for a great walk to Bolonia, but you can also simply stroll along the coast where you’ll find a few unspoilt creeks. Many people also go there to coat their body with clay. You’ll find it in its dry form, as small pieces in the sand. Crush it into your hands with some sea water and work it until it forms a paste. Apply on the face or body for a great, natural skin care !
This extremity of the beach is a relatively enclosed bay, and a nice spot that works well all year long. By Levante – Mediterranean wind – the wind is slightly more side in comparison with Los Lances, due to the beach orientation. Therefore, there are no security boats watching this zone. In all cases, if something goes wrong while kitesurfing, you’ll drift across the bay, ending up on the opposite shore – provided you do not ride beyond the tip of the bay.
By Poniente, the side-onshore wind comes from behind the hill creating a wind hole next to the dune that you should try avoiding while kitesurfing. However, this part of the spot works better in summer thanks to the activation of a thermal wind.
Along Valdevaqueros Beach, there are two big chiringuitos where having break between or after your kitesurfing sessions. The Tangana, with a rather calm and family-like vibe and the Tumbao, preferred by younger and festive crowds.Whatever your preference, they offer nice food and drinks, and some space to unwind in front of the spot.
North of Tarifa Beaches
Here is a non-exhaustive list of must visit beaches, located between 20 to 45 min drive from Tarifa village. The perfect road map for an escape around Tarifa, exploring the Costa de la Luz and seizing the opportunity to try new activities !
Pursuing your journey further north, you’ll reach a very unique place. Belonging to the municipality of Tarifa, Bolonia is a wild, preserved beach and a true windsurfing paradise. Thanks to our partnership with the owner of a school overlooking the spot, we can easily arrange windsurfing lessons and rental for you. Just like Valdevaqueros nearby beach, it also stretches until the bottom of a sand dune. Not far from here, you can take some time to visit the ruins of Baelo Claudia, a perfectly preserved roman city.
During the winter, Bolonia is also great surf spot. And if there is no wind nor waves, we invite you to rent some stand up paddles and join us for a guided excursion along the coast. We’ll guide you towards natural swimming pools ! If you wish to go exploring on your own – unaccompanied by professionals – be really careful and watch out for strong currents.
Zahara de los Atunes Beach
Zahara de los Atunes is a small fishing village located 40km from Tarifa in Cadiz province. It’s a destination of choice for a gastronomic getaway, to savor freshly caught fish, carefully prepared by local restaurants along the beach. Locally caught tuna – ‘atun’ in Spanish – is of course the local speciality. You will enjoy it in many different preparations and recipes, married with a wide variety of flavours.
Its 5km beach can easily be reached from a wooden footbridge. Unlike the alternative surf vibe you can experience in Tarifa, Zahara de los Atunes is more of a place for families, with a relaxed athmosphere. Lay back in a deck chair under a parasol, enjoy a swim in a supervised area of transparent, turquoise water, and a refreshing shower if you wish.
South of Zahara de los Atunes, there is a place called Cabo de Plata also known as the beach of ‘los Alemanes’, owing to the big bunker overlooking the sea. It’s a very nice spot for snorkeling around rock formations.
1 more km south, Atlanterra beach is not as preserved as Zahara, but offers some nice surfing sessions when conditions are favorable.
Canos de Meca Beach
Sandy beaches, rocky beaches, family friendly beaches, nudist beach or great kitesurfing and surfing spots ? There’s certainly plenty of choice and something for everyone in Caños de Meca
If you are looking for a wild beach with strong waves, look no further. The best option is Trafalgar Lighthouse beach. That being said, be really careful with the powerful streams and waves on this spot.
If you’re after a more family friendly beach, then head towards Marisucia Beach – also known as Pirata beach. You can travel there from Los Caños main road, easily spottable thanks to its nearby lighthouse. Park alongside the road – for free – and follow the wooden walkways across the sand dune to access the beach. As usual, you’ll find several restaurants and bars around, for a lunch break or some refreshments.
With Eastern winds, Varadero creek – or Marisucia – becomes a dreamy spot for advanced kitesurfers looking for nice wave conditions. You should however remain very cautious due to the numerous rocks on the right shore. The area close to the dune is free of rocks and it’s the safest entry/exist path. Never sail beyond the rocks close to the lighthouse. If the wind drops or if you face some kind of issues in the water, you’ll be pushed towards a dangerous area with strong streams, especially on the falling tide.
This kitesurfing spot is truly for experienced and independent riders, very confortable in waves and difficult conditions.
El Palmar Beach
When the wind is not blowing in Tarifa, go check out El Palmar, the most famous surf spot around .
The best surfing spots belong to Cadix region. Beaches such as Los Lances in Tarifa, Caños de Meca in Barbate or La Fontanilla in Conil, are famous among surfing enthusiasts. During the summer, the waves on these spots are perfect for beginners. Unfortunately, surfing is only allowed off swimming hours. Generally, bigger waves await for advanced surfers during the winter.
El Palmar beach, in Vejer de la Frontera, often offers 3m waves. It’s a very famous spot where a vast majority of spanish surfers like to meet. The place and its locals convey a deep-rooted surf culture and many shops and bars have specialized in surfing. While Tarifa is famous for kitesurfing, El Palmar is well known for surfing and hosts a multitude of surf schools along its straight coast. If you are looking for some surfing lessons or rental, we recommend choosing 9 Pies.
And if you feel like strolling through the small streets of a typical Andalusian village, Vejer de la Frontera is also a nice place to visit. Perched on a hill, it has the particularity of being entirely white.
Share your experience !
Any spot to recommend ? Some good advice worth sharing ?
Feel free to leave your suggestion in a comment.
After years of travelling the globe and kitesurfing along all the best coasts, I've decided it was time to settle down and share my knowledge. Sports teacher since more than 10 years, share my passion for sport activities is natural.All stories by: FRT
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