Costa Del Luz
Nothing could’ve prepared us for the change we would see as soon as we passed Gibraltar and Algeciras. The landscape got greener and greener, the mountains changed into rolling hills, wind-turbines everywhere. The coast changed from rocky shores to sandy dunes and the water is the most beautiful blue colour against the white sand of the beaches.
After spending a few weeks on the Costa del Sol, the absence of big tourist resorts was a relief and the town of Tarifa, although obviously very popular with travellers (by the number of hostels) and busy in summer, has a very different feel to it. This white, windswept town exudes a slow pace of life; there’s no rush for anything except if the wind is up and the surf is good. Then there’s a rush to the water.
Tarifa is the most southern point in continental Europe and from here you can take a ferry to Morocco, even just for a day trip. In summer season, you can go on whale watching trips to try to spot whales, dolphins and even killer whales.
It seems Tarifa has set the tone for the towns that come after it along the coast. We stop in Bolonia, a tiny village along the coast but with a big history. Here you can see the remains of the Roman city of Baelo Claudia, with ancient Roman roads still there to walk along, a tuna fisheries industry area, a theatre, the market, a temple and the forum all still visible.
Apart from a gorgeous beach, Bolonia is home to a pretty amazing dune. It’s definitely worth a walk to the top, although on our visit the wind was very strong, coming from the east and we got sand-blasted! There isn’t much else here, but some restaurants and bars. As we were here, the only traffic we could see where campervans and motorhomes, and there were very many of those!
This coast is famous for being windy, which is why it is popular with kite- and windsurfers, and presumably is also why there aren’t any great big hotel/holiday resorts as it’s perhaps too windy for the average holiday maker. Several nights during our visit, we were certainly rocking in the wind.
We travel on to Barbate to get groceries, and find a small town seemingly all about tuna. It looks like Tuna fishing using traditional methods, called Almadraba, is a very important part of life here, and you can even visit a tuna museum. We move on however, and make our way along the coast to Cabo de Trafalgar. Stuart was keen not to miss this place as it is the coast off which the Battle of Trafalgar took place, where Nelson defeated Napoleon’s fleet in 1805. These days it’s another popular surfing beach, with very little there other than a few small campsites, some bars, plenty of hippies and a hippy market. While we visit, the wind is still up and there are hundreds of campers here to catch the kite-/windsurfing action. We manage to find a little spot to stay luckily.
One thing to note is that there are some unofficial ‘security’ guards asking for parking money… We didn’t get asked but we did see some asking others, and we read about it in the reviews. Not sure of the right course of action, but it’s something to be aware of if visiting the area.
Finally we make our way towards Cadiz. We need facilities to refresh our motorhome, so we find a campsite in El Puerto de Santa Maria. From here you can take a ferry to Cadiz, but not if you’re travelling with big dogs. Small dogs may be carried if in a proper dog carrier. You can also travel to Cadiz (with dogs) on the train from here. We have a day at the campsite doing chores and getting all our laundry done.
As the ferry isn’t an option, we drive into Cadiz the next day. We stay in the carpark in the Port, which isn’t pretty but very practical and only €3 for 24 hours. Cadiz is restricted in size as it’s on a peninsula, mostly surrounded by water. It’s got lots of history, a beautiful park and amazing, huge rubber trees. It’s nice to walk along the city walls, before heading in for some tapas and a mooch around the narrow lanes of the old town.
Next we head inland for Seville, but our time at the Costa del Luz will certainly stand out in memory, and I’m sure we will be back.