Shopping trips in holiday resort towns usually consist of picking up cheesy lighters, tacky key-rings and baggy t-shirts. Think beachfront bazaar and we imagine lines of gaudy souvenir shops selling loud beach towels and plastic beach balls.
BANISH your preconceptions because you will find NONE of this in Tarifa.
The shops in Tarifa take their cue from cutting-edge surf trends and ethnic sub-cultures. High style, quality fabrics, inspired tailoring, bijoux jewellery, hand-made crafts and designer labels are the hallmarks of a Tarifa shopping spree.
Despite its small size Tarifa’s shopping areas are cut in two and have two distinct characters. In one half is Batalla del Salado. This is Tarifa’s main street, where you’ll find the highest concentration of surf shops selling equipment and branded sports wear alongside numerous fashion stores selling the latest designs in outdoor, comfort, beach and club clothing.
Typical Tarifa style combines functionality with high fashion and set trends for the whole of Spain. Tarifa own brands such as Mala Mujer and El Nino have become so popular that they have gained notoriety throughout Europe. El Nino, which started just ten years ago now, has 800 outlets across the country.
Alongside the homegrown labels expect to find international brands like Quicksilver, Billabong, Nike and Diesel. Also expect to find every item of clothing needed to protect you from any weather element and for any water or outdoor sport.
From fleeces, combats, trainers and tank tops, wetsuits, swimsuits, sunglasses and flip-flops to bandanas, sweatbands, head-scarves and hair accessories, Tarifa’s got it all. Accessories are also big. For the boys, there are leather wrist bans and chunky silver rings, for the girls there’s pendant necklaces and navel rings.
Being a beach town, beachwear is especially cool. Shorts for the boys come in every imaginable style, design and colour. Bikinis likewise with towels, sarongs and bags to match. Prices reflect the international standard of the clothes and some may find it a little on the expensive side but the high quality means these are clothes that will last.
Shopping inside the castle walls in Tarifa’s old town is a completely different experience. It’s almost like going to another town. The atmosphere here is much more ethnic and is keeping with the dominant Arabic architecture.
Calle Virgen de la Luz, which leads straight down from the entrance at Puerto de Jerez has a whole range of outlets selling hand-made clothes from India, imported home furnishing and bespoke jewellery.
If you are feeling spiritual, pop into Estrellas and pick up some crystals. Just down from this shop is Ethnika, a funky fashion store selling hand sown skirts, pants and tops from the Far East. All the items are individually designed by the store-owner.
Across the way is a home décor shop with a distinctly Tarifa twist. Soft hues and soft fabrics perfectly compliment the style of any Andalucian hideaway and make best use of the southern Spanish sun. Just think flowing chiffon curtains blowing in the evening breeze and wind chimes inspired by swallows.
Being so close to Morocco, the North African country has a huge influence on the shopping options. Various craft shops sell traditional lamps, rugs, fabrics and clothes. Leather shoes and bags can also be found.
Tucked away in the alleyways is also a couple of tattoo and piercing parlours as well as select music stores. Tarifa is also famous for its chilled out tunes and CDs which originated here are played all over the world.
For its international and trend-setting selection with a uniquely Tarifeno twist, no other Spanish town can match the style and quality of Tarifa’s stores. Tarifa is a unique shopping experience.