PLAYA DE VALDEVAQUEROS
10km northwest of Tarifa, a short drive along the coastal N340, sits the area´s most bustling beach. Valdevaqueros stretches 5km from a small headland (on which sits Torre de la Peña) near the Hurricane Hotel, all the way to Punta Paloma. Packed with kitesurfers and relentlessly cool, it´s a must for anyone seeking a beach with atmosphere.
Heading away from Tarifa, the beach is signposted to the left, and accessed via a dusty track. There is a small network of carparks, which cost 5€ for the day. The relaxed vibe of Valdevaqueros quickly becomes apparent, with a predominantly young crowd all heading for the sand. The scope of the beach can easily be taken in; white sands, deep blue water, and the vast dune of Punta Paloma rising in the distance. Longshore drift is actually shrinking Tarifa´s beaches, dragging sand onto dunes like these, which is bad news for local ecosystems but makes for some striking beachscapes.
Despite its beauty, it´s the crowd at Valdevaqueros that are the main attraction. The main Valdevaqueros Beach Bar serves buffet lunches (around 12€ for a meal of grilled fish/meat and salads), catering to families, whilst Tumbao beach bar serves melon mojitos and other tropical classics to the young crowd, who sunbathe on the grassy bank to the bar´s booming playlist. Food is accessible all day - once the main beach bar stops serving, Tumbao´s renowned burger stand opens, feeding the masses well into the evening. Most of Tarifa´s famous kitesurf and windsurf competitions are hosted here, drawing in huge volumes of spectators, but even on regular days, a canopy of kites forms over the water (another easy way of spotting Valdevaqueros as you approach). The wind conditions here make the surf both dynamic and safer; even during Levante winds, which blow straight offshore at other beaches in Tarifa, the bay remains quite sheltered. Surfers can simply sit on their board and drift to the dune, before easily walking back. This makes it the perfect spot both for beginners and experts wanting to practise a new trick without having to swim back to shore in sticky situations.
Rickety wooden steps lead down to the sand, and there is often someone selling Moroccan-style blankets and shawls draped over the banisters. The sea here is Atlantic, so a tad cooler than the Costa del Sol, and gets deep very quickly, making it easy to dip in and out.
Calmness reigns at Valdevaqueros, and between the beach bars, kitesurfing and small boutique fashion store Graffiti on the Beach, it´s easy to while away a whole day soaking up the buzz of this special atmosphere.
Parking is 5€.
Toilets are available for a small charge.
Tumbao: open daily, 14.00 hrs to 23.45 hrs. Tel: 607 30 48 22.
Beach Bar Valdevaqueros Tarifa. Tel: 956 23 67 05.
Graffiti on the Beach: open daily, 12.00 hrs to 19.00 hrs.
The Ion Club Center offer kitesurf and windsurf rentals ranging from half-days for 70€ to three weeks for 585€. Tel: 619 340 913.