Punta Paloma, Tarifa
Punta Paloma is the name of the headland just to the north of Tarifa that separates the expansive beaches of Tarifa from those of Bolonia. Playa Punta Paloma itself is an unspoiled paradise beach.
Dramatically high sand dunes rise up by more than 100m from the beach just to the north of Playa Valdevaqueros. Energetic visitors will climb the sand dunes to the top, take in the views and then race down again.
The dunes are the result of sand being blown from the beach up the headland, burying all the vegetation and even the trees. If you stand on the top of the dunes, you get fantastic views of the beaches all the way down to Tarifa town, across the straits to Morocco. Looking down the dunes, you can see dead tree branches in the loose golden sand and you realise that you are standing on the tops of trees.
In the 1990s the local authorities tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the sand's movements by constructing a series of wicker fences - environmentalists have called for the fences to be removed as they are now buried, with only spikes left sticking out of the sand.
Behind the sand dunes is the A-2325 road - a less energetic way of reaching the top of the dunes. The road is constantly being covered by sand, so you need to drive carefully.
ARMY CAMPContinue along the road over Arroyo de los Puerces, and you pass an abandoned sentry post - this is a former army camp. On the other side there is a small hamlet.
You can find limited parking, from where you walk down to the beach. This section of beach can be also reached by walking along the coast either from Valdevaqueros or Bolonia. You can see large rock pools when the tide is out.
Higher up on the hill is a concrete gun emplacement for three large 381/45 Vickers cannons, the same as those made legendary by the film The Guns of Navarone in Greece.
Written records dating from 1826 mention an abandoned watchtower (presumably Moorish) of which nothing remains today.
HAMLET AND RESTAURANT
After the former army camp is Paloma Baja and El Mirlo restaurant, open weekends from March to October and daily from June to September.
The cliff face of the higher section of Sierra San Bartolomé on the Punta Paloma headland is a popular rock climbing zone called Betis, located near a hamlet of the same name. The road, Carretera de Betis, is an alternative route to CA-8202 Puerto de Bolonia (a bird-watching spot) and Bar El Tropezon on the road to Bolonia.
To reach Punta Paloma from Tarifa, head towards Bolonia along the N340/E5. Turn left onto the A-2325 signposted Punta Paloma at km 74, about 15 minutes/10km from Tarifa. Camping Paloma campsite is next to this road; turn left to another campsite, Camping El Jardin de las Dunas, a beach bar and the car park for Valdevaqueros beach.