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Questions about Tarifa

My husband and I will be in Tarifa with our two small children (a 3 year old and a 13 month old) in May. We will be taking day trips to Gibraltar and Tangier and will visit Ronda the day we leave Tarifa (on the way to Granada). This means we will have a full day to spend just in Tarifa. We had a few questions about our stay in Tarifa:

  1. So far, I see there is a church and a castle to see, as well as the Isla de las Palomas, which we plan to walk out to. I know there is whale watching, etc. I would say we would just spend a day on the beach but is the beach really a "beachy" place where a family could park in the sand for the day and hang out? I've read a lot of stuff about the wind so I wasn't sure.

  2. Can you rent a car in Tarifa? I have read some things about the beach in Bolonia, as well as some Roman ruins, but it doesn't sound like there is public transportation available to get us there...if there is, we'd love to know about it!

  3. Also, we have the option of visiting Gibraltar on a Friday or a Sunday. Which day do you think would be best?

Posted by
9110 posts
  1. Evansville, huh? There's something you people from up north don't understand about beaches. Unless you can tether those kids to stakes under an umbrella, all you can do is maybe an hour real early or real late. How about a run up to Cadiz?

  2. I'm betting that there's no major rental locations, so you'd have to deal with a local outfit. There's nothing wrong with it, but the idea doesn't suit some people.

  3. I can't see why either day would make a difference for Gibraltar. The shops and the deal to the top are going to be open.

Posted by
32 posts

Wow...not sure exactly what you mean by "you people up north" not understanding something about beaches. I assume you are saying the sun isn't good to have the kids out in? We are going in May, so I thought we might be able to escape some of the crazy heat I've heard that area has in July and August. If it's that bad in the middle of the day during May, then you could just say that. We aren't opposed to just going a couple hours in the morning or in the late afternoon or whatever. We took the kids to Florida in September of last year and had no problems being out all day. I know the sun maybe isn't the same but we were able to make it work, as I'm sure we will do in Tarifa. Just wanted to know a little bit more about the beach scene there.

I don't know if I care about a car rental agency being a big name one or not. Just trying to figure out if it's even an option to rent one there so we could see the ruins at Bolonia.

I realize the big stuff will be open either day in Gibraltar, but I've heard certain shops aren't open on Sundays. I also wondered which day was less hectic or might be better to take kids.

Posted by
9110 posts

Sorry if you took it wrong. Most people go in the summer. My error.

What you're going to have in May is maybe a high of eighty with a potential for mid-nineties. There will be no clouds and the wind at ten knots plus (the reason for the kite/wind surfing) will burn as well.

In Florida in September we're right on the front edge of the hurricane season and you could well have been under high, thin clouds that would have blocked some of the UV rays without your knowing it. Tarifa has a hot -summer Mediterranean climate (Koppen Csa) making it almost as cloudless as the mid-latitude deserts. The potential for acute sun burn has to be kept in mind.

Tarifa itself is a grim little town atypical of the rest of Andalucia. Other than the windsurfers and a few bars it doesn't offer much to the casual, short-time visitor. The beaches are unattractive and either remote up the coast or blocked by condos closer to town. Were it not for the ferry connection, it wouldn't even be a lunch stop for passing tourists.

In Gibraltar, places to buy most stuff will be closed on Sunday - - unless a cruise ship is in port, which is quite often. There isn't much of quality to buy. Restaurants and bars will be open. A couple of shops along the recreational marina will almost always be open. The cable car runs until about seven or eight and is open every day except maybe Christmas, wind permitting.

Posted by
16877 posts

On a couple of visits, I have enjoyed a half-day in Tarifa just for the old-town atmosphere, but not any particular sites. You might need whale-watching to keep the kids' attention. There's a reason it's popular with windsurfers. Some travelers have mentioned getting their legs "sandblasted" on the nearby beaches.

Auto Europe works with many suppliers, but to book through them, it looks like you'd have to pick up a car in Algeciras, not Tarifa. (Algeciras has no redeeming value other than being a bus/train/car transport hub.)

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for the info so far. I guess it depends on the wind that day as to whether or not we could do a beach day? I figured we would go into town and explore a little...just didn't know how much there was to keep us busy. I would hate to have to go all the way to Algeciras to rent the car and then on to Bolonia, but I wish we could:(

Does anyone know what time Mass is in Tarifa on Sunday? We are Catholic and enjoy attending Mass in the various churches we encounter on vacation. Also, are there any markets we could explore?

Posted by
11798 posts

I was pleasantly surprised by Tarifa. I thought it was a decent place. They are doing a lot of work rebuilding the city wall right now. I was also pleasantly surprised with some of the eating choices we found, off a really nice alley that I'm sorry to say I can't recall the name of. Tarifa is largely about the beach. It should be comfortable in May but is generally windy. A few miles West there are some coves that create wind breaks - but you need a car or stout legs to get there. Not far up the coast toward Cadiz is the Baelo-Claudia ruins. You need a car to get there as far as I know but the ruins and museum are nice, right on the coast, inexpensive and uncrowded (at least when we were there). There may be a bus tour run from the bus station in town that takes you to the ruins, those are pretty common in Spain.

Gibraltar probably doesn't matter about the day. May is high season so one day will be like the next. If you plan to take the cable car to the top and walk down, there is a wind speed limit that will shut the ride down - so you may want to check weather forecasts. We were in line when they shut down so had to use the cab option (which doesn't take you to the very top). The cab was good, especially since the driver will make sure you get to see the apes up close (which you might not experience if you skip the cab).

We had a car when we got to Tarifa. There may be a rental agency there but I wasn't looking for one.

Posted by
3696 posts

How are you getting to Tarifa.? Maybe you could rent a car in another location . I know the weather is unpredictable but I was there in May and it was terribly hot and windy at the beach. I rented in Malaga.

Posted by
32 posts

We could rent a car in another location, but we would really only need it for that one day. It is really expensive to rent it in one city and drop it off in another.

I have heard good things about the restaurants there as well, so I'm glad that it can be confirmed:)

Will definitely be checking out the mass times!

We arrive on a Thursday and leave on a Monday, so it looks like we will miss the market:(

Posted by
9363 posts

When I was in that area in early May 2012, two of the three days in the area were over 100 degrees and the sun was brutal. The sun is different there, and I would really hesitate to spend much time in the sun with really little ones.

Posted by
11798 posts

Funny, we were there in late April 2012 and it was cool but tolerable. Spain had had a cold winter and hadn't quite snapped out of it. We drove through snow on our way from Jaen to Granada a few days earlier.

If you have a car, this is a pretty nice place to stay:

http://www.hotellatorre.net/en/

It's about five or so miles from town, free parking, nice restaurant, and an overall great deal.

We had it first on the list I made before I left home, then met a bar owner in Granada who also recommended it. I'd stay there again.