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Costa de la Luz (Cadiz)

Costa de la Luz (Cadiz)

A wonderful opportunity to get close to whales, dolphins and other sea mammals, in their natural habitat in the Straits of Gibraltar. This is the area of sea where where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet, in the narrow space between the southermost point of Spain, and the African continent.

Tarifa is a great place for birdwatching, being situated on the edge of Los Alcornocales National Park, and also on the migration route for more than 400 species of birds which fly in flocks towards the Straits of Gibraltar and across to Africa to spend the winter, and then return again in spring. 

Thanks to its ideal situation on the Straits of Gibraltar opposite Africa, where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet, with constant winds, Tarifa is already known as the European capital of windsurfing. The beaches of this historic Moorish town have also now established themselves as a world-class destination for another hugely popular, and very beautiful, wind-powered watersport: kitesurfing (also known as kiteboarding).

This impressive, solidly-built Moorish fortification, which played an important part in early Spanish history, has been recently restored. As the southern-most point of the peninsula, Tarifa was an important strategic entry point into Spain and the rest of Europe for would-be invaders, so good defensive structures were essential.

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.

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.

The San Fernando beaches are Camposoto which is 9km long 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. Playa del Castillo the beautiful 3 kilometre stretch of beach.

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.