Holiday get-away: Tarifa, Spain

Coco and her friend overlooking the sea and the coast of Marocco on Paloma beach

I have just been away on an amazing break with the kids, and I would love to tell you about it. (To put it into context, we Europeans have been having one of the worst winters I can remember and all we wanted to to was to shed the jumpers and socks and shoes and put on the flip flops and skirts.)

Tarifa is a beautiful little town on the most southern tip of Spain — it is so close to Africa you can see the Maroccan coast most days, a mere 20 km away. The town itself is lovely — it is an old walled city. But it is the surrounding beaches around Tarifa that make this place amazing — the beaches are empty, clean and beautiful, the food is incredible and cheap and everyone loves kids. It is super relaxed and the whole area has a bit of a hippy, surfer vibe to it, just what you need to let go and have a good time. I could have stayed on and on, and a week felt like 2 days, so here is just a little list of the few places I discovered (if anyone has any other tips, please do share!):

STAY:

We actually rented a house, as I went with a friend and her two children which was lovely and had everything we needed. But we did also discover some hotels, which looked really nice.

The Hurricane Hotel is a great little boutique hotel with a chilled out vibe. It has an amazing pool, a great restaurant and is right on the beach. Basically the perfect combination. It is about a 6 km drive out of Tarifa town.

Hotel Dos Mares is close to the Hurricane Hotel and maybe even a bit more child-friendly. For example, the pool has a nice, shallow paddling area. You can rent little bugalows that line up along the beach.

Camping Torres de la Pena is a nice budget option and if you don’t fancy camping, they also rent out some bungalows. The beach bar is super relaxed and literally on the beach, so kids can play while parents drink a good café con leche.

I- Escape has a few listing in and around Tarifa. I did not see any of them, but I-Escape is always a good bet. I really like the look of these natural energy powered bungalows.

The kids hanging out at the Hurricane Hotel pool.

Do:

Tarifa is a seriously sport location, all day long you can see wind- and kit- surfers sitting on top of their VW buses watching the wind for the perfect moment to take off. The place we were recommended was the Club Mistral,which gives lessons to older kids. They also rent out boards for windsurfing, kitesurfing and plain old normal surfing. You can pick up cheap body boards for kids pretty much anywhere and they are a serious amount of fun as there are little, non scary waves most of the time.

Hurrican Hipica: Horses are everywhere and there is nothing more peaceful than going for a ride on the beach. We loved the Hurricane Hipica, run by a group of super efficient girls, one of the best maintained stables I have ever seen. Violette, who has just turned 5, had her first riding lesson there and it was possibly the most exciting thing ever.

Firmm Dolphin and Whale Watching: One of our big, major highlights was a boat trip out into the straights of Gibraltar to see dolphins. We thought it was going to be a tourist trap, but it was the opposite. We were surrounded by dolphins doing summersaults all around us. It put the biggest smiles on all of our faces. It is also not unusual to see whales. The Firmm boat trips are great as they are part of a research organisation, which uses the trip to collect data and makes sure that the trips are respectful to the animals.

Since coming back and doing a bit of research for this post, I have found out that there is a lot of rock climbing to be done in and around Tarifa. There are even little rocks which could be a lot of fun to explore with older kids. I didn’t really find a website, just different blogs talking about it!

It is also very easy to jump on a boat and go on a day trip to Marocco which is a mere 20 boat ride away. It is something we sadly ran out of time to do…

Not the best photos of the kids on horses on the beach. Note the surfers in the water behind them.

Play:

Beaches, beaches, beaches, what more can one want? We stayed close to Bolonia Beach and it is very easy to understand why the Romans decided to build a town on this beach. It is so beautiful. The beach is incredibly clean and has a massive sand dune at one end that is a huge amount of fun to climb and run down.

We also visited Zahara Beach on a recommendation of an Instagram friend and did not regret it, we spend a whole morning body boarding on little waves and then had some tapas in the town itself.

Another beach between Tarifa and Bolonia is called Paloma Beach and one of the most amazing things to see is the wind picking up and the kite from the kite surfs flying up in the air  - Actually really beautiful, though I suspect I would be ripped of my surf board and fly off into the air with the kite, it looks like such a hard thing to hold on to.

Little orange tree on a square in Tarifa town.

Anyway, a lovely holiday and so close and yet a world away from the rest of Europe.

- Emilie

7 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Esther in Amsterdam | May 22, 2013 | Reply

Let’s book for next year!!!! xxx

2. Family Vacations in Spain - Fun and Sun at the BeachTravelizard Blog | May 22, 2013 | Reply

[...] Family vacations in Spain mean sun and fun at the beach. Children and parents alike love the town of Tarifa on Spain’s southern tip. The clean, spacious beaches there are family-friendly and a great place for older kids and teenagers to learn how surf. [...]

3. Stacy Ragueneau | May 22, 2013 | Reply

Oh sounds lovely… I actually thought I saw you in Ars-en ré ( where we did NOT have lovely weather) looking at merveilles lovely girls clothing. You must have a sosie!

4. Emilie | May 23, 2013

Hilariously we actually almost went to Ile-de-Ré instead of Tarifa, and I am kind of glad we didn’t. It was great to see some sun!

5. pilar | July 31, 2013 | Reply

I´m glad you enjoyed Andalucia especially Zahara Beach. Actually I have a house for rent suitable for families, . http://www.homelidays.es/zahara-de-los-atunes/casa-villa-574749es1.htm
I´d also love to make a house exchange so if any of you may be interested, please contact me at pbonano@gmail.com

6. meena | February 24, 2014 | Reply

Hi

I’m looking for a good cheap holiday for my family, my daughter will be 3 by the time we fly out. I don’t drive so is this a good place to go for non-drivers? Also where would you suggest we fly to Malaga or Gibraltar as we will require airport pick-up?

Thanks
Meena

7. Emilie | February 25, 2014

Hi Meena,
It is a great relatively cheap get away for the family and I would suggest Gibraltar as it is closer (there might be a bus service). I am not quite sure if it would work as a non driver holiday, though. It could be fine if you stay inside or close to Tarifa town and there are beaches close by. Have a great holiday, Emilie

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