Route to the capital of the Bluefin tuna, gastronomy and landscapes of dream in a weekend
Today’s trip involves exploring the southern coast of the mainland up to the traditional fishing town of Barbate. Set out early, as 36 miles lie ahead. What’s more, it’s best to sail when there are easterly winds. Head towards Tarifa, the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula and the meeting point of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Highlights of this trip include the biodiversity of the Strait, as well as the aura of a coastline battered by strong winds and currents with a notable absence of built-up areas.You can make a stop in the town of Tarifa if you fancy. Although it doesn’t have a marina, you’re allowed to tie up in the fishing harbour for a while so you can visit the nearby old town, taking a stroll through its narrow winding streets or heading to one of its wonderful beaches.
Back on the route, another stop worth making or at least approaching is the beach and village of Bolonia. From the sea, you can make out the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia, which in its heyday was a major city with a trading and fishing port, famous for the fish sauce Garum Baelo that was known throughout the Roman Empire. Bolonia does not have a port, though.
Then follow the coastline to the northwest and you’ll ultimately reach the port of Barbate, having along the way seen the fishing village and beach of Zahara de los Atunes to starboard. The marina is somewhat removed from the centre, but after a 15-minute walk you’ll be in the heart of this town and surrounded by its bustling life. You can also visit its wonderful beach and savour the local cuisine, famous for its bluefin tuna dishes prepared like nowhere else in Spain. Nearby excursions include the unmissable Vejer de la Frontera, with its fantastic views, old town, historical mills and top-rate cuisine. You can also head off to the beaches of Palmar, which are a paradise for surfers, or the quaint fi shing village of Zahara de los Atunes.
This time you’ll be crossing the Strait from east to west and back, so the most important thing to bear in mind is that there’ll always be an incoming current into the Mediterranean that is offset by outgoing tidal currents. When planning the trip, it’s paramount to take this incoming current into account. You should also bear in mind that westerly winds pick up speed when passing through the Strait, so we recommend undertaking the trip with easterly winds.
Carefully select the weather conditions for sailing, as you’ll be cruising through the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the most complicated areas to navigate in the whole world because of its weather and maritime traffi c. Pay very close attention to the ferries and cargo ships entering and leaving the Bay of Algeciras, and on the approach to Tarifa watch out for the ferries entering the port, especially in summer as the traffi c increases considerably. An important point is manoeuvring around Isla de Tarifa, which you should clear by at least 0.5 miles as there are sandbanks. In this area, the current also whips up large waves and the odd breaker.
Especially in spring and early summer, take care when approaching Barbate with the ‘almadraba’, which is the age-old Andalusian technique for catching bluefin tuna.
- Type of navigation: Coastal
- Distance in Miles: 36 Nautical Miles
- Duration: 2 day/s
- Degree of difficulty: Medium
- Terminates in base port: Yes
- Towns: Barbate
- GPS: 36°10'45.7"N 5°55'27.7"W
- Coast: Bay of Algeciras, Strait of Gibraltar and Costa de La Luz