Profile: Alternative Tarifa

Each year Tarifa continues to grow as a popular destination for travellers from all over and abroad. The attraction for many of us living on the Costa del Sol is that Tarifa and the surrounding coastline feels more natural, less built up and, with its surfing tradition, a bit more funky than the overdeveloped stretches between Malaga and Estepona. Now, with Chispa’s definitive guide to the alternative side of Tarifa and handy map, you can track down all the places you need for a day out or weekend away. In the words of Johnny Aprendiz of theTarifa Eco-Centre we hope this guide shows you that Tarifa is developing into “a destination for nature lovers, health tourism, sustainability and ecology, avoiding the pitfalls of over-development and consumerism.”


You’ll notice our guide is not full of ads for surf shops, but includes more esoteric venues such as the Sillos gallery, an organic restaurant and small hotel in a lovingly converted 16th century granary where you’ll find regular art exhibitions, or Girasol outdoor adventure company who organise rock climbing at full moon. When I wrote about the Tarfia Eco-Centre in issue xx my first comment was why did it have to be in Tarifa! Surely Marbella , Fuengirola and Málaga desperately needed such a place. But that was me being selfish and wanting such a great place on my doorstep, and Johnny and Alicia had their own reasons for choosing Tarifa. Now in their third year the mostly vegetarian organic restaurant, wholefood shop and book centre has been expanded with a fully renovated yoga studio and workshop space to ensure that the location is known as a real ‘centre’ not just a place for great food. 

Moving round Tarifa with our handy map will take you through the old town where you can drop in for fresh juice and a friendly crowd at Café Zumo whose book exchange is worth knowing about, pick up some great vegetarian food at the exquisite ChiliMosa, and if you are there on Thursdays enjoy their world food menu for just 10€. Try a full on blow out meal at the lovely Moroccan restaurant Souk with its beautiful relaxing décor and chilled atmosphere, before heading out of town to chill out at newly opened Pacha Mama where you’ll find regular live music throughout the summer. And if you’re self catering, apart from the Eco-Centre’s own organic shop Herboristeria Santi Veri is in the old town for all your wholefood needs including veggie burgers for the summer BBQ. If you’re after fine wines, cheeses, oils and meats Kositas Buenas nearby have a good organic selection in their excellent deli.


Tarifa is blessed with more quirky shops and interesting artisan and craft shops than most towns so shopping can be an adventure and our map includes some of the best. Kofres have a unique range of ethnic jewellery and Black Feet’s wide selection of fantastic Zen and oriental furniture and material to bring that Tarifa feeling to your home. For all your grow shop and smoking paraphernalia requirements, Little Amsterdam has been around many years now and offers a friendly atmosphere and good advice on the best products for your needs. Apart from Kite surfing, for which Tarifa is justifiably world renowned, there are plenty of other activities for our outdoor nature loving readers and you could start with Girasol who cover most of them. As well as the above mentioned night time climbs, they know all the best climbing, cycling and walking routes, offer combined yoga and climbing trips as well as other sports and therapies. Horse riding is also available through Girasol or enjoy exploring the area with Hurricane Hipica, part of the famous Hurricane Hotel just along the coast from the village on the N340. Whale watching is another popular activity but not all the companies are as ethical and environmentally minded as Whale Watch Tarifa, a non-profit organisation that have been working with marine conservation for over ten years. And finally after a busy day exploring and getting out and about, there is a complete programme of events, concerts and theatre organised by the Ayuntamiento for everyone to enjoy.

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This post is also available in: Spanish

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