Playa de los Lances Natural Area
Just west of Tarifa is this magnificent 3km-long beach, the Playa de los Lances, 226ha of which is protected. The fine white sands are backed by a low ridge of dunes and the marshlands of the Jara and Vega rivers. These rivers run parallel to the beach and have created two lagoons, the Jeli and Montellano. The area is inside the Estrecho Natural Park, which stretches from south of Algerciras in the east to Bolonia in the west.
The beach is also a protected ornithological area and is superb for birdwatching, especially in winter when there are many waders in the lagoon area, and gulls, including Audouin's gulls. Its proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar means that there are also many migratory birds here too, in spring and autumn.
This is an exposed beach and strong winds in this area mean that at times the beach will be too windswept to visit.
The beach is easily accessible from Tarifa via the N340 that runs parallel to the beach. There are several car parks off this road, from where it's a short walk to the beach.
On the beach are sea medick, sea daffodils and southern birdsfoot-trefoil. Behind the beach are stone pines and Mediterranean scrubland with dwarf fan palms and lentisc.
Numerous waders are common in winter, including grey, ringed, Kentish plovers, sanderlings, dunlin, godwits and oystercatchers. During migration periods, the beach is a stopping off place for black kites, eagles and other raptors, terns, flamingos, sandpipers and storks, among others. There are also egrets, gannets, Cory's and Balearic shearwaters, thekla larks and linnets. Otters and frogs inhabit the rivers and marshland in the area.