Tarifa is not the kind of place you wake up in the morning and think what will I do today. No. Here you think what will I do first? That’s its beauty. You set the pace.
So many different lifestyles converge in Tarifa, it’s up to you to suss it out and find your own groove. In Tarifa the unique atmosphere is set by an eclectic crew of old hippies, hyper surfers, new age travellers and curious visitors from all over the world.
If you are a wake up at dawn and hit the beach type, the beach will greet you warmly. Maybe you demand fruit juice and coffee before facing any day, which means a visit to one of Tarifa’s healthy breakfast bars will be your first port of call. Perhaps you like to rise late in the afternoon and go for a hair of the dog. No matter. The choice is yours and all options are catered for.
With breakfast over the day can begin in earnest. If you’ve booked yourself into a three-day wind or kite surfing course, the lesson will usually begin about 11.00 am, however this does depend on the time of year and the wind. Most sessions last four hours, so expect to be free around 3.00 pm.
Kite and wind surfing are the obvious options but not the only ones. Tarifa is all about the outdoors and there are dozens of ways to enjoy it. Hiking, walking, biking, mountain climbing, horse riding, whale watching, diving, golf, sightseeing and shopping are some of them.
Tarifa’s mountainous backdrop is ideal for those who enjoy climbing, off-road biking or motor-cross. In Betis, 5 km west of Tarifa, there are more than 200 pegged climbs and dirt trails. To hire bikes or mountain climbing gear in town, head to Girasol on Calle Colon and get tips on the best routes.
The Straits of Gibraltar are home to some of the world’s most exotic, largest and dangerous sea life. Dolphins, whales and sharks abound in these waters and local companies like TuresMares and Firmm run regular trips out to sea from April to October. On average a whale watch trip will take up to four hours and with so much marine activity here, you are guaranteed to spot at least two if not more species.
Two new golf courses are scheduled to open in Tarifa in the near future but for the moment the best place to head is Montemedio. Located high above the marshlands about 30 km west of Tarifa, Montemedio is an exclusive and sprawling estate that guarantees some of the mostbreathtaking views of the region while you stroll the greenways.
Also here is the world renowned and unique outdoor art exhibition centre, NMAC. Attracting and featuring art installations from internationally acclaimed artists such as Sol LeWitt, touring NMAC is a truly magical way to spend an afternoon.
It’s also possible to horse ride at Montemedio but it’s not necessary to go that far. Just outside Tarifa at hotels Arte Vida and Hurricane there is horse riding centres. Located right on the beach, they are perfect if you fancy a trot across the dunes. Treks take place all day but the best time to go is sunset.
If history fascinates you, Tarifa will not disappoint. The old Castillo (castle) is 1000 years old and open for tours all day long. Qualified tour guides will happily recount Tarifa’s unique and glorious past as a strategic garrison.
The best way to enjoy the late afternoon is to take a shopping trip in town. The main street, Batalla de Salado is a veritable feast of designer sports stores, bijoux jewellery shops and ethnic clothing boutiques. In the charming old town you’ll find Moroccan craft ware stalls and designer interior furnishings stores sitting nicely next door to wholesome health food cafes and psychedelic al fresco bars. Laden down with shopping bags, your shopping spree can end nicely relaxing at one of these bars, leaving you perfectly posed to sample the succulent fare at one of Tarifa’s many world-class restaurants.