Stretching along the Costa de la Luz towards Cádiz, the beaches around Tarifa are long stretches of glorious sand, perfect for surfing, kitesurfing or just lazing about. Here are the six best beaches near Tarifa.
Tucked into the furthest corner of the southwest of Spain, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, Tarifa is an attractive whitewashed fishing village. Half Spanish, half Moorish, the ancient walled town has a friendly, bohemian vibe.
Despite the appeal of the town, one of the main reasons for visiting is the magnificent sandy beaches that surround it.
Stretching northwards from Tarifa along the Costa de la Luz towards Cádiz (our guide – things to do in Cádiz), miles of golden sand, segmented by steep rocky cliffs or arid grassy dunes, provide the playground for a host of different activities.
Some beaches are calm and sheltered, perfect for families with young children. Others are wild and remote with windswept, natural appeal well-suited for a quiet escape. Several have all the right facilities to enjoy a sunset cocktail.
Tarifa is known as the kitesurfing capital of Spain, and with great surfing conditions, it’s the perfect destination for outdoor adventure seekers.
This laidback, off-the-beaten-track destination feels a world away from the built-up facilities that line the beaches of the nearby Costa del Sol, and Tarifa is all the better for it.
Below is a guide to the different beaches near Tarifa and what you can expect at each of them.
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MAP OF TARIFA BEACHES
Tarifa located on a stretch of coastline called Costa de la Luz southwest Spain where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Punta de Tarifa is the southernmost tip of mainland Europe.
1 – PLAYA CHICA
Best Tarifa beach for young children
This tiny little beach is just a five-minute walk from the old town of Tarifa. As the only beach around Tarifa that is on the Mediterranean Sea rather than the Atlantic Ocean, the surf is calmer.
It’s only a small arc of sand but it’s great for young children, content paddling in the shallow water. The views are great too. On a clear day, the mountain of Jebel Musa marks the beginning of Morocco and the African continent. Tangiers shimmers in the distance.
Playa Chica is so close to Tarifa that you can easily pop in and out for coffee, lunch, or a bit of shopping in the cool outlets lining the whitewashed cobbled lanes.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA CHICA
It’s just a short walk from the centre of Tarifa to Playa Chica and there’s plenty of paid parking on the streets surrounding the old town. Spaces can fill up quickly on weekends and during the Spanish holidays, so plan to arrive early.
2 – PLAYA LOS LANCES
Best Tarifa beach for a mix of surfing and sunbathing with facilities
Playa Los Lances is a vast curve of sweeping sand facing the Atlantic. Its proportions are so big, that its been divided into two sections. The southern end (Los Lances Sur) starts next to Tarifa, while the northern end (Los Lances Norte) is 7 kilometres away at Punta de la Peña.
Between the two, Río Jara has created a large lagoon in the middle of the sand, with wooden walkways set up for wildlife spotting. It takes a good two hours to walk from one end of the beach to the other, so it’s better to decide which one to visit.
Los Lances Sur is just on the edge of Tarifa and on a still day when the wind is low, it’s a great spot for bathers. Chiringuitos, sunk in the sand, are evenly spaced along the front for a cool-off beer or local tapas meal. The sand is soft and there’s plenty of room to find your own spot, however, loungers and umbrellas are available to rent along the beach.
Los Lances Norte is much more rugged and remote. Facing straight onto the Atlantic Ocean it is often buffeted by strong winds and good waves making it perfect for surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers. The beach has a zone for bathers and another for water sports. There a plenty of places to hire equipment, take lessons and grab a bite at a chiringuito. It can get busy, but the beach is so big that it’s generally easy to find space.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA LOS LANCES
Los Lances Sur is a short walk from Tarifa.
Los Lances Norte is a 7-minute drive north from Tarifa on the N-340. Parking is available either side of a dirt track behind the beach (see map below). In the summer months, (01 July to 31 August) a microbus runs from Tarifa to Beach Hotel Dos Mares right by the beach roughly every 90 minutes.
Rebels Tarifa provides group or private surf lessons charged per hour. They also rent out all the equipment you need and stand-up paddle boards.
3 – PLAYA VALDEVAQUEROS
Best Tarifa beach for kitesurfing
With 300 days of wind a year, Tarifa is an excellent kite surfer destination. Playa Valdevaqueros is the best of the best. Slightly sheltered by a headland the water conditions vary from a flat lagoon to an open water chop. There are rarely waves here but the wind creates good kickers for riding. Come in the early evening or at weekends and the sky will be ablaze with colourful kites.
It’s a great place to take lessons with good conditions and several kitesurfing schools. Rebels Tarifa has a range of kitesurfing lessons available from many of the beaches around Tarifa.
Addict Kite School has a range of courses from beginners, through to intermediate and advanced. You can also rent equipment and take out some extra piece of mind with their rescue service.
There’s a small section marked off for bathing, but if you’re after a swim and some chilled sunbathing, we’d suggest Playa Bolonia instead.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA VALDEVAQUEROS
Playa Valdevaqueros is a 12-minute drive north from Tarifa on the N-340. There is a large free public car park near Tumbao. Chiringuito Tangana has free parking for guests. In the summer months (01 July to 31 August) a microbus runs from Tarifa to Camping Valdevaqueros roughly every 90 minutes.
4 – PLAYA BOLONIA
Best Tarifa beach for easily accessible white sands and turquoise waters
Playa Bolonia is a slice of paradise, and one of the best beaches on the Costa de La Luz between Tarifa and Cadiz. It’s blessed with powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters. The beach is protected by a headland, rising hills and a large dune, making it more sheltered and less windy than others nearby.
The 30-metre-high Duna de Bolonia is worth exploring, particularly at sunset. It was declared a Natural Monument in 2001 and on a clear day views stretch across to the African coast. Just next to the dune is the Roman Ruin of Baelo Claudia, surprisingly well preserved, it’s an excellent cultural stop before hitting the beach.
Playa Bolonia is over 3 kilometres long but most head to the north-western end (next to the ruins) which is reserved for bathers. This is the most beautiful section of the beach as it curves around a small bay.
There are no sunbeds or umbrellas to hire so bring what you need with you. However, there are a few chiringuitos and restaurants in the small town offering all the traditional Spanish favourites.
Further east, a small surfing and windsurfing area is zoned off just offshore from Serenade Bolonia, which is a great spot for families looking for a mix of sports and relaxing beach time. Equipment can be hired from the nearby Bolonia Wind Surfing Centre.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA BOLONIA
Playa Bolonia is a 25-minute drive from Tarifa going north on the N-340, then west on CA-8202. For the northern end of the beach, park at either of the two large car parks south of the ruins. For Serenade, there’s a large car park right next to the chiringuito (€1.50 per day). In the summer months (01 July to 31 August) a microbus runs from Tarifa to Bolonia bus station with three journeys each way a day.
5 – PISCINAS NATURALES BOLONIA
Best Tarifa beach for lazing in natural pools in the ocean
While most of the action at Playa Bolonia is at the north-western end there is one good reason to head the other way – the Piscina Naturales Bolonia. These natural pools have been formed by two fingers of rock that stretch into the sea forming a barricade from the waves.
Filled with water as the tide comes in and then heated by the sun, it’s a great place to laze in warm shallow waters which people have been doing here since Roman times.
The beach around the pools is small and nudist-friendly, so bring your swimming gear or don’t. It’s a beautiful 30- to 40-minute walk, first along Bolonia beach, then round a small headland, and finally over another stretch of sand dotted with large rocks. (See map below).
It’s best to come around low tide when the pools are most inviting and it’s possible to walk along the beach. As the tide gets higher, you’ll need to walk on the coastal path above the beach and scramble over a few rocks.
There are no facilities at Piscinas Naturales so bring everything you need and take everything back with you.
HOW TO GET TO PISCINA NATURALES BOLONIA
Park at the public car park next to Serenade Bolonia (€1.50 for the day). Walk southeast along Bolonia beach. After about 20 minutes there’s a small headland of rocks to easily clamber over and then another stretch of sand dotted with rocks.
The pools are reached after about 30 to 40 minutes. Around low tide the walk across the sands is easy, but as the tide comes in much of the sand is covered requiring scrambling over some rocks at the top of the beach. The route is marked on the map below.
6 – PLAYA CAÑUELO
Best Tarifa beach for virgin sands off the beaten track
If you are regular readers of Anywhere We Roam you’ll know we like getting off the beaten track to find a beautiful beach (like Pedn Vounder) and they don’t come much better than Playa Cañuelo where pristine golden sands are tucked between two headlands.
One side is backed by dunes and a swathe of green trees that rise up to craggy mountains. On the other, a particularly clean section of the Atlantic Ocean is refreshing but fantastic to play in. The waves are bigger at one end of the beach than the other so pick the section that’s right for you.
Come early midweek and you might have it all to yourself, although it’s no secret to the local Spaniards who descend here on weekends.
It’s a little tricky to get to (requiring a short but lovely hike and a scramble down to the beach) but that only adds to the allure. Clothing is optional and there are no facilities, just sea, sand, sun, and a slice of heaven. Make the effort to get here and you won’t want to leave.
HOW TO GET TO PLAYA CAÑUELO
Getting to Playa Cañuelo involves a short scramble down from Camarinal Lighthouse. There are two ways to get to the lighthouse.
Option 1 – Drive west out of Bolonia on the CA-8202. The road becomes a dirt track and slowly climbs. Just before a viewpoint, a sign marks the beginning of the trail to the Camarinal Lighthouse – Sendero Faro de Camarinal. Park here and hike along the dirt road to the lighthouse (20 minutes).
Option 2 – Drive via Zahara Los Atunes to the southern end of Playa Los Alemanes (45 minutes). Park here and walk up the road to the Camarinal Lighthouse (7 minutes).
Once at the lighthouse, you need to take the short scramble down to the beach (10 minutes). The easiest way we found – after a few fails – was to take the wooden steps down past the lighthouse. As soon as you pass the concrete bunker, climb over or through the wooden handrails and join a faint sandy path.
This path gently descends through the shrub to just above the beach. From here it’s a short but relatively easy scramble over rocks. Red dots help mark the way near the end, although they are not always easy to spot. The exact route is marked on the map below. Try not to carry too much – but keep in mind there are no facilities at Playa Cañuelo.
TIPS FOR VISITING TARIFA BEACHES
1 / Tarifa is not known as the kitesurfing capital of Spain for nothing. This place can be windy. Check wind conditions before heading to the beach – it’s not much fun being sandblasted all day.
2 / Many of Tarifa’s beaches do not have facilities, if you are staying for a week and want to explore all the beaches it’s worth buying an umbrella and perhaps a couple of small chairs.
3 / Public buses to the beaches only run in the summer months (01 July to 31 August). Outside these months, you’ll need to rent a car or use taxis. Parking is usually easy off-season but can get tricky on sunny weekends and during the summer holidays so always try to arrive early.
4 / If you like adventure, don’t miss the chance to kitesurf, surf or windsurf. Even if you are a complete beginner there are plenty of places offering lessons at great prices.
5 / If the weather is not cooperating don’t panic, there are loads of great things do in and around Tarifa. You can find a full list of day trips and places to stay on our Tarifa guide. (coming soon)
MORE READING FOR ANDALUCÍA
Andalucía is one of our favourite areas in Spain. With an excellent climate, world-class cities and beautiful nature parks, it’s a fantastic southern European destination. Here are more of our guides from the area.
5 best pueblos blancos (white villages) of Andalucía
Complete Guide to hiking El Torreón in Sierra de Grazalema
Our favourite things to do in Seville
Uncovering an enlightened caliphate in Córdoba
What to do in Córdoba – A 2 day Córdoba itinerary
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