This land and sea natural park, amongst Atlantic and Mediterrenean waters, is home to great natural treasures of particular significance. Characterized by the local harsh weather conditions and ancient civilizations long gone, the park hosts flora and fauna that is perfectly adjusted to the land and that results from very different natural habitats. This diversity can be directly observed in the main natural resource, the scenery, where you may find features such as cliffs and abrasion platforms on one side of Tarifa and sandy beaches on the other side. Whereas on the farthest west point of the park, at Camarinal Lighthouse, you can enjoy beautiful views of both the coast and sea, further inland, from the Pope’s Chair, you will look out into the Janda countryside and the mountain ranges of Cádiz.
Both East and West winds play an important role in the configuration of this natural spot: they build upon the land, they define the bird migratory routes and they force the formation of sand dunes. Man has always known how to take advantage of the power of these winds so as to generate clean energy or for the purposes of surf practice in all its modality subtypes. In Tarifa, internationally renowned for its windsurf, winds were able to act as natural barriers to excessive holiday urban development throughout the 70s.
The visitor will enjoy beautiful beaches like the one at Los Lances, enclosed and protected as a Natural Setting, or the one at Bolonia where its famous dune has been declared a Natural Monument. These coastal sand lands are populated by plants that have adjusted to drought and to the wind: European beach grass, juniper and the autochthonous corema album that also serves to name the nearby Lighthouse. Pine nut trees also grow in the area and these were a direct result of the application of tree planting programs in the 60s so as to contain the development of dunes, they also made use of bushes of great ecological worth for this purpose. If you explore the mountain range you will find evergreen oak, cork oak and olive trees, together with eucalyptus which were used for habitat planning purposes. Amongst the cliffs the highlight are the sea fennel, many daffodils and brooms.
However, the parks main attraction is indeed the birds. Amongst the residents, the most common one is the white stork, the bee falcon, the black kite and the griffon vulture. You can also spot imperial eagles, black-winged kites, Egyptian vultures, partridge eagles and even Peregrine falcon. This winged treasure increases with the migration season and becomes a spectacle that you can enjoy in different seasons from the several watching observatories located in the park.
The Strait waters are a predicament of significant natural worth since in this area new species are still being discovered. There are accounts of more than 1,900 marine flora and fauna species, being the loggerhead sea turtle, the dolphin and the porpoise the more usual and significant. In this setting, ideal for diving, you can enjoy the large algae prairies that are a clear indicator of the waters quality and of which oarweed stands out because of its spectacular form. To those who are interested in the marine habitat, boat trips can be booked from Tarifa or Algeciras to whale and dolphin watch.
Cultural heritage is another important attraction factor at the Park: from the numerous archaeological remains, the ancient roman city of Baelo Claudia stands out as an strategic enclave for the salt industry in the Iberian peninsula. Furthermore, the archaeological heritage in the Strait is not limited to the land since subaquatic finds are significant in the form of shipwreck remains. On the urban side of the equation, Tarifa’s town centre is key, having qualified as a Historical Ensemble.