SW Spain

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South West Spanish Coast

Sunset in the Doñana National Park
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The South West coast of Spain extends from Ayamonte on the east bank of the Rio Guadiana at the border with Portugal to the resort area of La Linea next to Gibraltar. Known as the Costa de la Luz, this coastal region of Andalusia offers a wide range of cruising experiences, with none of its 15 coastal harbours and marinas more than 30 miles from its nearest neighbour. Famous for its beach resorts and historic port of Cadiz, the region also includes the renowned, World Heritage-listed Doñana National Park in the delta of the Guadaliquivir River, where rare species such as the Iberian lynx and Imperial eagle are sometimes sighted. From the many safe harbours or marinas along the coast, it is also possible to make inland trips to the magical cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba with their historic palaces, gardens and cathedrals. Seville can even be accessed by yacht 50 miles up the Guadalquivir River, although a lot of hard motoring is involved. History buffs can also visit the small river port of Santa Maria five miles NE of Cadiz, from where Christopher Columbus is said to have departed on his voyage to discover the New World, or reflect on the momentous sea battle of 21 October 1805 while rounding Cape Trafalgar five miles west of Barbate. Finally, the area around Cadiz is the heart of the sherry country, and the famous sherry towns of Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda are within easy reach for those who wish to sample this typically Spanish aperitif.

There are numerous options for cruising yachts seeking a sheltered berth along this coast, ranging from the smaller marinas in the sandy river estuaries of the Rio Guadiana (Ayamonte); Rio Carreras (Isla Canela and Isla Cristina); Rio Piedros (El Rompido); Rio Punta Umbria (Punta Umbria); Rio Odiel (Mazagon), and Rio Guadalete (Santa Maria) to the modern, purpose-built yacht harbours of Puerto Sherry and Chipiona and the commercial harbours of Barbate and Algeciras. Shortly due to join the list is a new 800-berth marina under construction at the town of La Linea a few hundred metres north of Gibraltar airport.


Submit the chart details that are required for safe navigation.

Radio Nets

Also see World Cruiser's Nets

Submit details of local radio Nets.

Ports and Popular Stops

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

See the Ports above.


See the Ports above.

Offshore Islands


Coastal Passages

Cruising along the coast of SW Spain is usually relatively trouble-free until a yacht rounds Cape Trafalgar in the approach to Barbate, where careful attention to forecast winds and tidal currents is needed. Until this point, a yacht sailing around a mile offshore will encounter few hazards unless planning to anchor or seek a marina berth in one of the rivers, when shifting sandbanks and shallow channels call for careful navigation and up-to-date charts. From Barbate to Tarifa a yacht will often encounter a gradual strengthening in the wind as it approaches the Strait of Gibraltar at Tarifa. The 15 mile sail from Tarifa to Gibraltar is often accompanied by fresh to strong winds and rough seas, especially with an easterly wind against the prevailing east-going current. Not for nothing is Tarifa often described as the windsurfing capital of Europe. During the summer months (May to September) the winds here are either the westerly poniente, which usually blows at around force 4-5 (although it can reach gale force in winter and early spring, when it is known locally as the vendaval) or the easterly levanter, which normally blows in summer at force 4-5, but has been known on occasion to funnel through the Strait at anything up to force 8 or 9 and render it all but impassible to smaller yachts.

References & Publications

See Spain.

Cruiser's Friends

Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.

Forum Discussions

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

External Links

Links to relevant websites.

Personal Notes

Personal experiences?

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Names: Lighthouse, Athene of Lymington

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