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Costa de la Luz (Cadiz)

Costa de la Luz (Cadiz)

Tarifa sits at the southern-most point of mainland Europe, where the Med meets the Atlantic. Just 14km across the Straits of Gibraltar at its narrowest point, the town enjoys spectacular views of the Rif mountains of North Africa, just across the water.

Encompassing a 10,522ha flat landscape of sandy beaches, marshes, salt pans, freshwater lakes and tidal inlets, as well as the two natural areas of Isla del Trocadero and the Marismas de Sancti Petri, the Cadiz Bay supports a surprising wealth of wildlife, given the built-up areas that are in and around it, which make up a population of around 400,000.

Created in 1989, the Breña y Marismas de Barbate park is Andalucia's second largest coastal reserve and has one of the most spectacular stretches of rocky cliffs along the Andalucian Atlantic coastline, with stunning views over the sea and to the rocky headland of Cape Trafalgar and its lighthouse.

Gibraltar's beaches can be divided into eastern and western beaches. Those on the east side tend to be sandy, while those on the west side are typically rocky. The beaches are generally praised for being clean and well-kept.

Created in 2003, the Parque Natural del Estrecho is the southernmost protected area in Europe. It is made up of a long stretch of coastline covering 18,931ha from Cabo de Gracia in the west near Bolonia and Punta del Carnero in the east, south of Algeciras.

A guide to the beaches near Algeciras. Getares is the most popular, also known as Playa de San García, is a large and sandy beach that stretches for around a kilometre to the west of Algeciras town To the west of Algeciras are four small coves with beaches with access only on foot.

San Roque is an unusual municipality in that it has some coastline to the west of La Linea and Gibraltar, where Guadarranque beach and Puente Mayorga are located, and some to the east with Alcaidesa Beach, Sotogrande Beach, Torreguadiaro Beach and Cala Sardina.

Playa de Poniente is an urban beach backed by an area of large Brown tower blocks, located to the left of the port. The beach is around 700m long with grey, medium-grain sand and an average width of just 15m. It has a pretty landscaped paseo maritimo with its own cycle lane and plenty of nearby parking.

Although Zahara de los Atunes lies within the municipal district of Barbate, these beaches are so good that they deserve their own dedicated page. Playa de Zahara de los Atunes is one of the most well-known beaches in the area, and beyond. Famous for its 6.3km-long shoreline of virtually untouched sand, this beach stretches from the little fishing village of Zahara de Los Atunes all the way south to Cabo de Plata.

The municipality of Barbate boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the Costa de la Luz inlcuding los Caños de Meca and Zahara de los Atunes. The golden sand of Playa de Zahora stretches from Playa del Palmar to the Trafalgar lighthouse at the Cabo Trafalgar. The beach is flat and rocky but protected from the strong winds in this area making it popular with those who enjoy swimming in the sea.

Although these beaches are in the municipality of Chiclana de la Frontera, they are actually located some 7km away near the village of Sancti Petri. This popular beach stretches 2.5km from the the puerto deportivo of Sancti Petri to the old watch tower, Torre de la Bermeja.

Campo Soto beach has a length of around 9km of fine, golden sand. It is well known for its excellent wind surfing conditions, thanks to the fairly strong winds on the Costa de la Luz. It is also home to a large area of sand dunes and beautiful clear waters.

Playa La Caleta is a small beach at the far end of the Cádiz peninsula, near the Viña area and is located between two old castles: Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastián. It is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Cádiz City and one of the most photographed.

Also known as the pulmón verde (the 'green lung') of the Bay of Cadiz, Puerto Real lies with the sea and marshes to one side and extensive pine forests to the other. It is home to one beach, Playa de la Cachucha, one of just two beaches located inside the Bay of Cadiz.

To the east of the Rota American naval base is the town of El Puerto Santa María which is well known for its sherry, cobbled streets and typical Andaluz architecture. The first beach to the east of the naval base is Playa de Fuentebravía. The golden, sandy beach is 1.6km long with a width of 30m and is backed by the Fuentabravía residential area.

Rota is not a major tourist center but it does boast 16 kilometres of beautiful beaches. La Ballena: Playa de la Ballena is a 2.5km beach of fine sand backed by the relatively new Costa Ballena urbanisation. The beach has a seasonal chiringuito, several kiosks and sun loungers, parasols and boats to hire. The beach can be reached by bus from Rota town centre.

Chipiona boasts some beautiful beaches, frequented by many people living in and around Seville. However, due government funding, the area is gradually opening up to international tourism. Monitjo beach is located just west of the Punta de Montijo. The sandy beach is quite pebbly in areas, with lots of seashells around for those into beach combing.

Sanlucar de Barrameda is delightful small town situated at the northern tip of the sherry triangle and is home to the first beaches of the Cádiz side of the Costa de la Luz. The first beach (i.e. the most northerly) on the Cádiz side of the Costa de la Luz is known for its calm waters and golden sand. Bonanza beach is very popular with the locals so can get busy during the summer months.