By Christine Medina
Though foreigners have claimed large strips of the Costa del Sol as their own personal patch of Spain, there is enough coastline for everyone. Where do the locals go to evade the crushing summertime heat? The Costa del Luz, which starts in Tarifa and heads Northwest to Portugal’s Algarve.
While the Costa del Sol is better-known for its large expat population, excess, and half-finished resorts, the Costa del Luz couldn’t be further from it. Imagine lush, pristine beaches, laid-back pueblos blancos and plenty of cheap chiringuitos (open-air, beach-side eateries) serving up fried fish.
My favorite local escape along the Costa del Luz is Zahara de los Atunes, a white-washed beach town located past the wind-turbines of Tarifa and through expansive fields of sunflowers in bloom. Zahara is the perfect recipe for relaxation as there isn’t much to do besides wander through the town, sunbathe on the beach, and saddle up for a cold tinto de verano at a café.
The dedicated history-buffs however will seek out the Palacio Jadraza, a 15th-Century palace built by the Duke of Medina-Sidonia to protect the local fisherman and tuna from Berber pirates as well as serve as the royal’s residence during tuna season. It is said the the author of Don Quijote, Miguel Cervantes, stayed here.
Last summer, I went to Zahara for a day-trip. I spent the morning wandering through the town, the early afternoon bronzing myself at the local beach and lunchtime devouring the local seafood at Chiringuito Iguana-Beach. I recommend going to Zahara before noon to beat the sun-worshipers to the parking, otherwise you’ll spend a fair amount of time searching out a spot in this small town. If you go to Zahara, besides lounging on the unspoiled beach, it is absolutely essential you eat tuna, it’s the local specialty!
More on planning your trip:
Contact the local tourism board website for planning a trip to Zahara de los Atunes http://www.gozahara.com/en/index.html
Christine Medina, originally from Seattle, Washington, has been an expat in Andalucia for two years. She shares her travel advice, anedotes and photographs on http://www.christineinspain.com/