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- 17 Dec 2019, 3 nights
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Where the turquoise Mediterranean Sea meets the rolling surf of the Atlantic, you'll find Tarifa: one of Spain's southernmost towns. Jutting out into the Gibraltar Strait, it's only 14km from Africa and has a distinctly Moroccan feel, thanks to its whitewashed Plaza de Santa María and stone medieval castle. Recently, Tarifa has become a popular spot for water sports. Kite-surfers use the area's clashing winds to glide over the waves, while sun-seekers lounge on the Playa de Los Lances beach and look out for whales.
To learn how to catch waves, stay in a Tarifa hostel with its own kite-surfing school. Many places collaborate with diving and hiking centres too, so ask at the front desk to book a tour. Other hostels in Tarifa have a roof terrace with views over the Strait towards the Moroccan mountains, and most have free Wi-Fi and friendly communal areas. There are plenty of Tarifa hostels in the town centre, as well as a few hostels dotted along the coastline. Some of these will lend you bikes to pop into town.
Right next to Tarifa's port is the old medieval heart of the town. Here the quaint winding streets are peppered with fish restaurants and tapas bars, and the 10th-century Guzmán el Bueno Castle looks out over the ocean. If you walk through the Puerta de Jerez gate into modern Tarifa, you'll be on Calle Batalla del Salado: the town's main shopping street. Many of the surf centres are here too, where you can book lessons and hire equipment.
Tarifa's location opens up plenty of unique experiences. You can have a go at kite-surfing or explore the glittering waters of the Strait on a whale-watching boat to spot orcas and sperm whales. It's also possible to take a day trip to Africa from Tarifa: just hop on a ferry to Tangier and in an hour you'll be discovering Moroccan palaces and spice markets. To stay on dry land, hike through the Estrecho or Alcornocales Natural Parks, or join a riding trek to see the rugged landscape on horseback.
You can fly into Gibraltar International Airport or Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport. Then catch a bus to Algeciras and change to a direct Avanza service to Tarifa. This will take you to Calle Batalla del Salado street. In Tarifa, you can either walk or use the local buses to get around. In the summer, there's also a minibus service that runs travellers up the 8km coastline to more remote beaches.