Shipspotters all over the world => Trip reports => Topic started by: PietB on July 23, 2019, 07:43:56 am

Title: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: PietB on July 23, 2019, 07:43:56 am
Hullo All

Was thinking of a trip to Tarifa (southern tip of Spain) to observe shipping passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Has anyone been there? If so, comments as to practicality of such a trip gratefully received.



Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: Pieter Inpyn on July 23, 2019, 09:11:20 am
I have never been there, but after a look with google maps I do not think it is a good place for shipspotting. The waters between Spain and Morocco are 10 kilometers wide, so the ships pass far away from the shore and furthermore: the sun is mostly south, so straight towards a camera: not good for photos.

Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: Phil English on July 23, 2019, 09:24:28 am
I've never been either but I've passed through the Gibraltar Straits on ships several times. Unfortunately, it's always been rather hazy, but whether that's bad luck or a regular occurrence, I don't know. I imagine that on a clear day you might have some success with a good camera and a 300+ zoom...


Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: davidships on July 23, 2019, 04:52:21 pm
I've been there a couple of times over last couple of years (a pleasant drive from Cadiz), and agree that haze and sun direction can combine to make it difficult (and on occasion, strong sand-laden winds - not good for the camera either). I have never bothered with passing traffic (I went there for the ferries and fishing boats)

But the shipping lanes are more-or-less either side of mid-strait, so westbound ships are probably only about 3/3½nm off. 

The nearest point would be the Punta Tarifa lighthouse, which is shown as a "viewpoint" on Google maps - but the road entrance to the island is gated as "Zona Militar", so probably not accessible easily.  A high point to the east of the town would probably add another mile to the ships.

A better reason to go there would be to take a round trip to Tangier.  Two companies (FRS, Intershipping) with fast ferries, but most have some outside access at the upper deck, it seems (at present TARIFA JET & ALGECIRAS JET (FRS), DETROIT JET & MARIA DOLORES (Intershipping).

Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: Marc Pingoud on July 23, 2019, 05:04:01 pm
I have been there - a wonderfil place but not really good for shipsotting - Too far away
I would propose you to drive to Algeciras and take a ferry to Tanger Med or Ceuta - And just to come back with the same ferry. If the weather is good, You will spot a lot of ships - Kind regards Marc

Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: Tim J. on July 23, 2019, 05:15:19 pm
Hi, I've been there too. Traffic is obviously too far away to take reasonable photos from the beach, however you do see the ships passing in both directions. Afternoon view from Mirador del Estrecho ( is impressive (again not for taking photos of ships). On the fastferries to Tanger, there is indeed access to the outside deck, but you are unlikely to hit any (interesting) traffic at the exact moment of crossing at 30+ kn, so this would be just for fun...
There are whalewatching trips from Tarifa port which take a couple of hours and went right in the middle of the straits; apart from seing some dolphins, this is certainly a very good position, unfortunately didn't do it sofar.
Also a nice daytrip to Algeciras with (slow) ferry roundtrip to Ceuta can be done, passing the port of Algeciras, Bay of Gibraltar and the Straits with better chance to see something passing than on the fastferry. So for a couple of days, would definitely recommend the place.
Best regards,

Title: Re: Tarifa - Straits of Gibraltar
Post by: PietB on July 27, 2019, 04:18:11 pm
Many thanks to everyone for the helpful advice. Thanks once again.