Winter In Tarifa…
It all starts at the furthest most point of the Spanish peninsula, then grows into something very mystic and spiritual.
The name Tarifa came from Tarif Ibn Malluk, an Arab chief, so how can it not be shrouded in mystique! The small town has a huge resonance across the world because of it’s geographical offering to the water & wind sports fanatics. The presence of which is apparent when entering Tarifa from the north end where you will find some of the biggest surf stores, kitesurf schools and anything remotely to do with water-sports back to back. Although you will find every surf related brand represented on this street, these giant stores slowly give way to smaller boutique style shops as you head further towards the town historic centre.
Within this quaint walled town, you will stumble upon many little bars, restaurants and shops that are dotted through the narrow cobbled streets. We reach Tarifa on this mid December day in our small stealth camper (very small), only used for over-nighting or between hostels! The winter sun is relentlessly piercing and warm against the crisp Atlantic north wind. I couldn’t help but go straight to the beach for a rapid session on the water before figuring out our parking spot for the evening. On returning to the town we decided to research a local hostel before taking the decision to sleep in the van. The first hostel we approached was Las Margaritas just outside the historic quarter. They were able to provide us a double room with a balcony and en suite for only 35€, so we jumped at that since a warm shower after being in the sea was most enticing! Over the next 2 days we were able to source other great accommodation bargains which rendered the van accommodation redundant on this trip. Be sure to book ahead high season and expect higher prices because the world descends upon Tarifa during the summer months.
Walking into Tarifa historic centre in the evening the streets are perfumed with local restaurant cuisine. With the winter breeze biting at your ears, the smell of BBQ grill restaurants, pizzerias and Spanish delights become too overwhelming to resist.
On the southern most street near the port entrance we discovered La Burla. This restaurant is unmistakably red in colour and very basic looking with a few bench tables inside and a street terrace outside. There is something more inviting about La Burla when you look closer. The tapas were completely home made, a different variation on the normal fare and there is a satisfying atmosphere amongst the diners. We had the most amazing diverse meal in La Burla including stuffed artichokes, goats cheese, pig cheeks, fresh tuna.. the list went on. Every dish a winner. Later we met with the chef Juan, who told us that the owner is Italian and most of the recipes are family owned recipes.
La Burla is not to be passed by. Having visited another small grill restaurant the following day we realised that Tarifa does have a few hidden jems behind the more commercial venues. We’ll keep you posted!
Apart from the sight seeing and wonderful wild sand dune landscapes, Tarifa has a spirit that is very much alive. You either feel it or you don’t. There is an underwritten tribal atmosphere, Tarifa beckons a melting pot of international visitors and seekers of something they cannot find anywhere else in the world.
On any given day with a breeze growing into a moderate wind, you will see an amazing pixelated colour pallet along the golden sandy beach of Los Lances. This streak of colours hanging in the sky makes up Tarifas own unique aurora. It’s not an Atlantic coastal mirage, it’s a thousand kites flying across the surface of the water attached to the dedicated wind junkies that are addicted to the elements that bring them all together.
We have come a long way since the 18th century when George Pocock invented the first kite-drawn carriage to save money on horse maintenance and avoid a new state tax aimed at horse ownership. Now we are freeing our spirits by harnessing a chaotic force and propelling ourselves through the waves, jumping as high as we can as the adrenaline kicks in and forces the blood to course through our veins at an accelerated rate. Although windsurfing has been a more familiar sport to see along the coastline on a windy day, kitesurfing seems to have exploded over the last 10 years becoming more accessible to all. We are also at the dawn of a new “wing foiling” sport and a new integration of kite and hydrofoil. What makes this especially interesting is the range of people approaching this sport. Almost everyone that I have seen on this trip with a wing and hydrofoil are at least 50+ years (not including school classes). This proves that this amazing sport is accessible for all to enjoy. Although it’s amazing to watch the professionals work on progressive freestyle and big air moves, there is also a place that surfing can take you no matter the discipline. Check out Lost Elementos Kite School for professional advice on your first taste of kiteboarding. Seek and ye shalt find! Tarifa is waiting ALL YEAR ROUND!
*Lost Elementos Kitesurf Shool
(see main advert page 50)
*Air Force Tarifa Surf Shop & Kite Repair
*Restaurant La Burla (near port entrance)
*Hostal Las Margaritas – Tarifa
*Hostal Tarik – Tarifa
Tlf: 711 096 354