We didn’t spend a lot of time beach-going in Tarifa. The only beach we visited (on a very windy and somewhat rainy day) was the Playa Chica, the last beach of the Mediterranean Sea and the most Southern in Spain. This is a family swimming beach; in other words, no kite surfing or windsurfing is allowed.
The beach has a good view of the Isla La Paloma — a military post, which comes from a time when the Strait of Gibraltar was heavily fortified. It’s now abandoned and marked by graffiti and filled with bird poop. However, the waters around the island are reputed to be great for scuba diving and showcase a large number of shipwrecks.
On the opposite side of the road from the beach is Castillo de Santa Catalina, which stands atop the remains of an older fortress. This is a strategic lookout and is considered the highest point in the immediate area. During its lifetime, this deceptively Moorish looking building has seen many different incarnations. It’s been a military lookout, gunnery, a telegraph hill, and a meteorological station (the southernmost in Europe).
During World War II the Castillo was damaged during bombings and abandoned shortly after. It now sits abandoned and untouched atop the Santa Catalina hill overlooking Playa Chica.