Intro: Tarifa’s a Breeze – Tarifa, Spain Travel Guide

Playachica: The Tarifa port and the African coastline from Tarifa’s Playa Chica.

Intro: Tarifa’s a Breeze

When I told my Spanish friends that I was headed down to Tarifa for the summer they told me that I was going to go nuts. Wind, they said, the wind will drive you absolutely crazy. But I didn’t care. I’d seen the pictures. Long, beautiful stretches of white, sandy beaches, and undulating African coast seeping through the mist on the opposite side of the Strait of Gibraltar. It’s the southernmost tip of Spain and you’ve got ocean on all sides, how could you go wrong? I’d lived in land-locked places my entire life, and just the thought of living on the coast lit me up like the Spanish sun.

But even the guidebooks were against me. Wind, wind and more wind was all I read about. One guidebook even mentioned that Tarifa had, at one time, been known for having one of the highest suicide rates in all of Europe. I’ll admit that made me a little apprehensive.

Somehow, though, I managed to escape the insanity.

It’s true, the wind is ferocious. There are days when the wind is so strong the windmills lining the coastal hills can’t even be turned on. The wind makes it so that going to the beach means getting sandblasted and knocked silly by the powerful waves. On these days, the old women in town make sure to tell you to shut up the house for fear of shattering windows and doors.

But there are also days in Tarifa when the ocean’s so still and calm that you can see your toes waving carefree in the sand below you. On these days you can sit and build sandcastles without getting a face full of sand, and all you feel is the warm, soothing caress of the sun. These days come more often than the guidebooks make it seem.

But this isn’t necessarily good news for all. A lot of people who travel to or live in Tarifa prefer the wind. When most people would be inside, Tarifeños and tourists are out in the surf taking advantage of the obstacle course of waves that the current brings with it. The beaches are covered day after day with surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers, each waiting for their chance at the unpredictable ocean.

Tarifa is known as the windsurfing capital of Europe, but the town isn’t exclusively for those who want a place to ride the waves. In the summer months, people come from all of over Europe to enjoy the relaxing, small-town environment and impressive scenery that are simply hard to find anywhere else.

The Tarifa breeze may have a life of its own, but it doesn’t rule yours unless you let it.

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