The southern tip of Europe
Tarifa, known for its year-round high winds, a feature gifted by its location near to the thermal playgrounds of the gods where the fury and power of the Atlantic merges with the tranquil serenity of the Mediterranean, and its close proximity to the African continent, is a town that straddles time. This town on the Costa de la Luz is a pleasure to visit at any time of the year.
With its loud proclamation as a loyal and proud supporter of the process of reconquest, that occurred over a period of some six hundred years, and its esplanades full of twee shopping centres populated by free spending northern Europeans, Tarifa is a town between cultures.
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The advantages of European equalisation appear to outweigh the disadvantages. Houses are being restored to their old grandeur, a lazy-day cafe culture is spreading slowly through the back streets and there are high quality hotels and restaurants full of customers sitting contentedly in self breeding plastic chairs that, with the rising temperature spill, amoeba-like, onto the adjoining pavements.
With the salt wind playing in your hair its easy to imagine the tantalising attraction that Spain had for the first Moorish conquerors who invaded here in the 7th century. Standing on the restored walls of the castle, the Atlas Mountains of northern Africa looming through the distant haze, provide a permanent reminder of the threat that local inhabitants of those long-gone days must have felt. Fears that lasted until Sancho IV ‘The Brave’ at the head of his fervently Christian army ‘liberated’ Tarifa from the Moors on 21st September 1292. Today, its much easier to reach the other side, in fact its actively encouraged; the high-speed powerboat eats the journey to Tangiers in just 35 minutes.
And Tarifa is one of the best places in the Iberian Peninsula to be if you’re a wind surfer. The wind rushes in from the sea and plays a tattoo on the mountains that mantle the town. Its almost as if with additional gust, another surfers’ shop blossoms from the sandy soil.
Much has been written about where to stay and what to do on the Costa de la Luz, and we offer this link from the Guardian newspaper that sums it up very well.
and here is the official website of the Diputación de Cádiz, which gives up to date information: