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The classic Spanish tourist resorts on the Mediterranean coast has trendy and attractive new alternatives: Tarifa, Cadiz and Huelva.
Young people, celebrities, surfers, nature lovers, and all those who seek nature, high waves, beautiful beaches and sun, sun, and more sun are going to Tarifa, Cadiz and Huelva! The fantastic Atlantic coast in the southern Spanish provinces of Huelva and Cadiz, where you also find the European surfing paradise TARIFA!
Apart from a few rocky stretches, the Costa de la Luz is a continuous line of fine sandy beaches backed by pine groves. Flanked by saline and marsh, the lower reaches of the rivers present a scene that has barely changed in centuries. The name Costa de la Luz, or Coast of Light, comes from the way the sea reflects the sunlight like a mirror. This coastline preserves many reminders of ancient history. Here was the kingdom of Tartessos, where Phoenician and Greek traders landed. Later came the Romans, followed in the 8th century by the Arabs, who stayed for another eight centuries. This was also the jumping-off point for the most famous sea voyage in all history, which brought Christopher Columbus and his three caravels to the shores of America.
Inland is typical Andalusia olive-draped hill country side and two of the loveliest mountain areas in Spain - the Sierra de los Pueblos Blancos in Cadiz and the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva, in both of which the villages stand out white against the beautiful landscape.
Weather in Costa de la Luz: Weather forecast and temperatures in Costa de la Luz today: Click HERE >>
You can see Africa from many locations on the Costa del Sol when the weather is clear, but nothing, absolutely nothing can be compared to see the African coast from the wild beaches in Tarifa. It is a unique and almost magical view. When you see the African coast on the other side of the strait so very clear it gives you the feeling that you could almost reach out your hand and touch the African continent. Africa: Only 17 kilometers water and waves away from Europe. So very far and exotic and yet so close. The closer the Straits of Gibraltar you are, the stronger the feeling becomes when you suddenly see the North African Coast clearly in the distance: Africa is so incredibly close to Spain and Europe, but still so exciting and different!
Punta Tarifa provide fine vantage points from which to view the coast of Africa. Thanks to the west and east winds, Tarifa today is a paradise for windsurfing (it is the venue for international windsurfing championships) and acqualung fishing. There are three beaches: Bolonia (6 km), Los Lances (10 km) and La Plata (4 km).
Inland from the stretch of Atlantic coast between Tarifa and Cadiz are numerous ranges where fighting bulls are raised. Fourteen kilometers from Tarifa a road leads off to theEnsenada de Bolonia. Here lie the ruins of the Roman town of Baelo Claudia, now a museum, and a vast extent of white, sandy beach. Also on this stretch of the coast is Zahara de los Atunes, a fishing town of long tradition where bungalows and residential estates have sprung up in recent years.
In spring and late summer visitors to Zahara can still witness the time-honoured spectacle of tuna fishing from the shore with nets. Ten kilometers further on is Barbate, site of the famous Caños de Meca, an area of exceptional beauty with natural springs and numerous pine groves crowding almost to the sea’s edge. Hard by is Cape Trafalgar, whose lighthouse stands as a reminder of a famous battle. Only ten kilometers inland Vejer de la Frontera rears up like a watchtower, reputedly one of the most Arab (and loveliest) towns in the entire province of Cadiz. Particularly outstanding are the church of El Salvador, the Arco de las Monjas (Arch of the Nuns), the noble houses and the remains of the mediaeval defence works.
The next municipality along the coast isConil de la Frontera, a fishing town which has attracted a lot of tourism in recent years, located as it is near two immense beaches. From Conil the road runs on to Chiclana, an industrial town on the fringe of the marshland that surrounds the Bay of Cadiz.
From Spain to Africa
Ferries from Spain to Morocco crossing the Strait of Gibraltar leaves from Tarifa and Algeciras. If you are lucky you can see whales, sharks and dolphins. Africa is very close to Spain, at the shortest point it is only 17 kilometers distance between Spain and the north of Africa. That is from Tarifa on the Spanish side. Keep in mind that you absolutely must bring your passport in order to take the boat to Africa! When the weather is clear you can see the North African coast so close that it its hard to believe that it is real!
The Atlantic Coast in the South of Spain
Previously, only some few locations like the European surfers paradise Tarifa has been well-known holiday places in Cadiz and Huelva, but then often only among those who worship wind, waves and surf, and among those who are prepared to camp in tents or to live in caravans. Luxury tourism has earlier been almost non-existent on the Costa de la Luz, with some few exceptions. In Tarifa, most visitors and tourists chose camping. Although the hotels now are more common along the beautiful coast in Cadiz and Huelva the campsites are still very popular and of course much cheaper than the hotels.
The Spaniards discovered the Spanish Atlantic coast very much earlier than the international tourism. Many Spanish families and young people go for holidays along the beaches in Cadiz and Huelva, all the way from Costa del Sol to the the border with Algarve in Portugal.
Costa de la Luz means "Cost of the Light" in Spanish and the name does not mislead at all: The light is very special along the coast. Europe's southern coastline in Spain is unspoiled and wild. Long stretches of the coast are protected areas and natural parks where no construction is allowed, fortunately! Hopefully, the unique nature of the area will be preserved in its original state in the future. An example of the importance of the area's unique climate and nature is the natural park of Doñana where the flora and fauna are kept in completely untouched conditions and visits are limited and controlled. In the National Park Doñana you still find for example wild Iberian lynx, native protected chameleons, vultures, eagles and falcons, among the many unique species of animals that lives in the nature that only exists in the southernmost territory of Spain. The rich bird life in the area is like a miracle as winter approaches in the northern part of Europe. Millions of migratory birds are heading for warmer climates and all arrive to the south of Spain. Some of them to stay until spring, and some of the to rest before they continue their migration to Africa.
Sports on Costa de la Luz
All kind of sports are common on Costa de la Luz: Horse Riding, surfing, kite surfing, scuba diving, deep-water fishing, cycling, golf, hiking, and anything else you can imagine.
Interesting tours on the Andalusian Atlantic coast are almost endless:
Seville, Cadiz (Gadix, Cadis), Gibraltar, Portugal, Algarve, Huelva, Granada and many beautiful villages and small Spanish towns. For example. Barbate, Conil, Chiclana, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Caños de Meca, Bolonia, Costa Ballena, El Rocio, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez de la Frontera.
Bulls, horses, flamenco and wine, these are the essential components of the festivals of Costa de la Luz. The province of Cadiz offers three festivals that are classified as of International Tourist Interest. These are the Carnival of Cadiz, the Horse Fair of Jerez (10 to 17 May) and the Horse Racing on the beach at Sanlúcar de Barrameda (August). Classified as of National Tourist Interest are Holy Week in Arcos de la Frontera, Corpus Christi in Zahara de la Sierra and the Fair of Exaltation of the Guadalquivir in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (from 28 to 30 August).
The province of Huelva hosts the most famous romería in the whole of Spain – that of El Rocío in Almonte. This takes place at the Feast of Pentecost, but during the month of May there are numerous romerías throughout the province of Huelva, the most important being at Cartaya, Lepe and Moguer.
Andalusia is a region with many traditions and most have a strong religious connection. One of the most spectacular festivals that can be seen in Spain is the pilgrimage to El Rocio, which annually draws over one million believers in a small village in Huelva, Andalusia. The village El Rocio has over the year only a few hundred inhabitants, which gives an idea of its small size. The religious festival highlight is associated with Whitsuntide.
Jerez de la Fronteran the province Cadiz is one of the Andalusian cities with the most pure traditional Spanish character. The very best time to visit Jerez de la Frontera is in the spring when it's time for the "Feria", The local Spring Festival: Traditional clothes, beautiful Spanish horses, flamenco music and dancing, and of course fine Spanish sherry wines and traditional Spanish food are the highlights of the festival. Jerez is the sherry wines hometown. To visit the sherry producers wine cellars or bodegas is almost a must when one is in place. It is best to book a visit in advance. Most of the “Bodegas” will not let you visit the wine cellars on your own.
The name Sanlúcar de Barrameda comes from an ancient temple named Lucero after the goddess Venus, who was worshipped by the Tartessans. Sanlúcar was a key port in the voyages of discovery to America. It was from here that the ill-starred Magellan sailed to circumnavigate the world, a voyage that was eventually completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano.
In the upper part of the town one can see palace-like convents, vast bodegas and lordly mansions. Particularly fine is the church of Santa María de la O, which has a Churrigueresque altarpiece and Mudejar doorways.
Sanlúcar is set on a slope, with streets running from the once important castle of Santiago (now a ruin) down to the district of Bajo de Guía on the banks of the river Guadalquivir. Sanlucar is well known for its fine fish restaurants. The river Guadalquivir was once the regular means of travel from Sanlúcar to Seville. Today, however, only merchant ships and luxury yachts sail upriver and people prefer to make the journey by road.
Situated at the mouth of the river Guadalete, El Puerto de Santa María is a popular beach resort. It is thronged especially at weekends as thousands of people come to sit at tables out on the pavement and enjoy seafood. Most popular are sole, squid and a prodigious variety of shellfish – washed down, of course, with local fino sherry.
El Puerto de Santa Maria is a seafaring town and was also one of the home ports for the voyages of discovery to America. Worth visiting are the Vistahermosa residential complex, the Puerto Sherry marina complex and the Casino Bahía de Cadiz. Outstanding monuments are the castle of San Marcos (a 13th-century structure where Mozarabic remains are still preserved), the castle of Doña Blanca, the High Priory church, the Monastery of La Victoria and the Capuchin convent.
El Puerto de Santa Maria has some of the best-known beaches in the province of Cadiz: La Puntilla, Valdelagrana, Fuentebravía and Vistahermosa.are also famous for fabulous fresh seafood. Daily fresh prawns are served in almost all bars. The local prawns are unbeatable together with the local cool sherry wine when it's time for "tapas".
Cadiz is very special: Cadiz is where the Mediterranean Sea meats the Atlantic Ocean and where you still find the true Andalusian life in its pure state: RELAX, SEA, SURF AND SUNSHINE!
The Province of Cadiz offers an endless number of places to visit and magnificent hotels, golf courses, natural parks, spectacular beaches and unspoiled nature.
The last part of the Costa de la Luz begins at Punta Umbría. Surrounded by pine woods, the locality came into being in the 14th century when it was ordered that a tower, called Punta de Umbría, be erected to give advance warning of possible invasions. No more than a small fishing village until recently, it has now become a major summer resort. During the summer one can go to and from Huelva by “canoas”, as the locals call the boats. Nearby are Marismas de Odiel natural park and Los Enebrales nature zone, a veritable paradise for wildlife species.
Once the scene of Templar activity, this mountain area is dotted with small fortresses, a legacy of the Reconquest. There are places which were pagan before becoming Christian, legend-haunted grottoes, villages of white houses set amidst woods of holm and cork oak - and above all, the best serrano ham in Spain.
Perched on a crag shielding the lovely town of Alájar (the name means “stone” in Arabic) stands the sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles, one of Spain’s most important religious sites (and the most important in this Sierra) and a good example of how our forebears always selected the most beautiful surroundings for their devotions. The rooms adjoining the church are replete with hundreds of votive offerings, objects left over the years in thanksgiving for some favour vouchsafed by the Virgin. It was to the grotto of Alájar that Arias Montano, humanist, scientist, polyglot and researcher, was forced by the Inquisition to retire from the world of mundane things, having been saved from torture only by his friendship with King Philip II.