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Riding the waves in Tarifa

Tarifa is the most southern point of all of Europe. It is a small city surrounded by incredible nature and a breath taking view of Morocco’s rocky coastal line.

Tarifa Playa. Photo by Joanna Höglund

The city is surrounded by green hills and dense forestry, sharply cut off by long powder white beaches and a wild ocean ahead.

The radio in the car transmits Arabic music from Morocco which only adds to the overwhelming atmosphere of driving down amongst the hills towards Tarifa, the pearl at the tip of Spain.

It is said that Tarifa used to be a city that drove people mad, due to its constantly windy conditions. That was before people discovered the benefits of the climate, and the city was turned into a surfer’s paradise. Nowadays people come from far and near to ride the mounting waves created when the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean. It is indeed a stunning view and it is not hard to understand that the combination of the many different terrains is what captures the heart of people.

Duna de Bolonia. Photo by Joanna Höglund

It is quite evident how the forth growing surfer culture has impacted the city. Everywhere you turn there is either a café, shop or club named after something affiliated with surfing – they even have “surf kebab”. The residents of Tarifa seem to embrace this youth culture, as every single one bears a smile on their face, be it the woman in the ice cream stand or the old men on the benches chatting with each other. It is a really friendly environment to be in, and Tarifa is packed with thematic hostels where you meet inspiring people from all over the world.

Photo: qwesy qwesy, Wikimedia Commons

Tarifa has a very easy going nocturnal life. Within the walls of the old city lie many bars that have a little something. Walking through the narrow alleys is a pleasant experience, as people are generally very outgoing and friendly, eager to make new friends. There are groups of people sitting in doorways, drinking beer and laughing. It is the perfect example of youngsters socializing with oldies, as it is not uncommon to see a child sitting on the grandfather’s shoulders at 1 a.m., while everyone’s singing and having a good time.

The quality of the surf waters speak for themselves as the sky is often crowded with kites. The beaches are marvelous, not only the one in the city which seems endless, but also the beaches a few kilometers away. “Punta Paloma” is like a miniature desert hill that one has to climb over to access the bay below. Likewise “Bolonia” – another magnificent beach that stretches far and ends in an enormous mountain of the same powder white sand, bordered by green trees. This view will either shut you up for some time or make you pinch your arm, as if trying to wake up from a dream.

Tarifa is a Spanish treasure. It is a miniature metropolitan city with its typical Andalucian architecture intact. One important thing to keep in mind is that one does not have to be a surfer to enjoy all it has to offer. Young or old, surfer or not – it will be a memorable experience.

Africa seen from Tarifa. Photo by Joanna Höglund

Attractions in Tarifa

  • The Guzman Castle
  • The Medieval Walls
  • The Church of St. Matthew
  • The Roman city Baelo Claudia

Getting there

Bus services from Málaga, Seville, Algeciras and Cádiz.

Tourist info:

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