If you want to rent a house in southern Spain, Arcos is ideally situated to be your base for exploring all that Cadiz province has to offer more info...
Stretching from Cadiz in the North to Tarifa in the South, the Costa de la Luz has remained largely untouched, thanks to the comparative poverty of Andalusia, one of the poorest provinces in Spain. It is still largely undiscovered by the British and German holidaymakers who have long colonised most of the rest of the Spanish coast, so there are few high rise holiday developments, and you are more likely to rub beach towels with Sevillianos than with Anglo-Saxons.
Cadiz is the capital of this forgotten corner of Spain, a pretty city perched on the end of a flat peninsula and surrounded by mud-flats and salt pans. The oldest city in Europe, it was founded by the Phoenicians around 11,000 BC, and was later used by the Carthaginians as a base for attacking the Romans in Spain, before being taken over by the Romans themselves. It later declined, and its fortunes only revived with the discovery of the Americas. Today it is still an important port, though the winding streets and pretty squares of the old town hark back to its earlier existence as a quiet provincial backwater, surrounded on all sides by battlements. The new town that stretches towards the mainland is less attractive, and lacks the charm and character of its older cousin.
South of Cadiz, the coast is a succession of long, sandy, windswept beaches backed by low dunes, and broken by impressive cliffs and outcrops of rock. A handful of small fishing towns and villages cling to the coast, buffeted by the winter winds, but in summer enjoying pleasant breezes that make the sultry heat more bearable. Not for nothing is Tarifa, at the southern-most tip of Spain, the windsurfing capital of Europe, caught, as it is, at the confluence of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, between Europe and Africa. Inland, the countryside is a beautiful, rolling rug of low hills for arable farming and occasional olive groves.
Halfway between Cadiz and Tarifa is Cape Trafalgar. It was in this bay that Nelson fought and won the famous sea battle against the French and Spanish in 1805, losing his life but decimating the enemy fleet and ending Napoleon?s hopes of invading England. Perhaps inevitably, there is no monument to the great battle, just a rather forlorn lighthouse perched on top of a small, rocky peninsula surrounded by sand dunes.
Being on the Atlantic coast so close to Africa and the Sahara, everything depends on the wind. Winters are mild, particularly when the wind is southerly, though rain and wind can blow for days on end. Summers reach the high-thirties ?C, sometimes more, though it's a little cooler here than inland.
Depending which part of the Costa de la Luz you are heading for, either Seville (just over an hour from C?diz) or Malaga (about an hour and a half from Tarifa) will be more convenient. There is also a small airport at Jerez de la Frontera, though few international flights use it.
For windsurfing aficionados, Tarifa will need no introduction. This is the Mecca of European windsurfers and kite-surfers. Traditional surfers are also well provided for, with plenty of good breaks up and down the coast, particularly at El Palmar and Ca?os de Meca, two magnets for surfers and hippies, many on their way to or from Morocco. Other sports available in the area include riding, mountain biking and scuba-diving.
For the more culturally inclined, Cadiz is full of pretty churches, museums and two splendid cathedrals (one now demoted to church status), as well as an oratorio boasting three frescoes by Goya, the only ones in Andalusia. Manuel de Falla, Spain?s foremost composer of the 20th century, was born here. This is also the city that celebrates Carnival most spectacularly, with ten days of parades, parties and fancy-dress. Further down the coast, there are interesting Roman remains at Bolonia, while just inland, the natural park of la Bre?a y Marismas del Barbate offers plenty of pleasant walking and bird-watching.