Tarifa, in the Cádiz province of Andalucia, marks the beginning of the Costa de la Luz (the coast of light) – a stretch of luminous, unspoilt coast that runs from Tarifa to beyond the city of Cádiz, around 100km away. In the summer months the area provides a welcome escape for those left sweltering in the likes of Seville or Madrid. The temperatures here are a good few notches lower and the breezes plentiful. Starting in the town itself, there are several beaches – La Chica, Los Lances, Valdavaqueros and Punta Paloma. They cater variously to families, swimmers, kite-surfers and nudists.
By Robin Graham
The beach you’re looking at is Valdavaqueros – mecca for kitesurf fanatics. Like Tarifa’s other beaches, it is something you will struggle to find between Gibraltar and Barcelona – virgin, unspoilt coast. It is currently under threat by a plan that has been provisionally approved by a short-sighted mayor to build hundreds of homes and well over a thousand hotel beds, just off the left of this image. You can help – visit the Save Valdavaqueros facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SalvemosValdevaquerostarifa , click ‘like’ and read on for further information. Brush up on your Spanish or crank up that google translator.
An uncharacteristically calm day at Los Lances – usually the waves here are surging – great fun to be thrown around by them! Even at the peak of high season the beaches here are never busy in the evening. In such a small town it takes just minutes from anywhere to be down at the water, hand in hand.
Aficionados of Tarifa know that raising themselves a few inches off the sand makes all the difference. Therefore, people have beach chairs to prevent the sand whipping across the surface of the beach into eyes and ears. I’ve seen colours on summer nights here that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Parts of the beach flood at certain times creating mirror-smooth reflections of the sky above.
Tarifa is the kitesurf capital of Europe. The Northern stretch of Los Lances is a mess of Kite sails in the high season. Beaches closer to town are reserved for families and bathers. The wind is probably one of the main reasons, apart from planning restrictions imposed by the Natural Parks here, that Tarifa hasn’t been swallowed up by wholesale tourism and what the Spanish call El Ladrillo (The Brick); the kind of rampant development that has been so damaging to other parts of the Spanish coast and that now may be threatening Valdavaqueros. Just once or twice a year, on July and August weekends when the forecast is for low winds, it’s difficult even getting to Tarifa, such is its draw and the effect on traffic. Apart from that, we have it to ourselves.
Robin Graham lives in Tarifa and writes at www.alotofwind.com.