Cape Spartel: A Day Trip from Tangier, Morocco to Where the Mediterranean Sea Kisses the Atlantic Ocean

Cape Spartel–the northwesternmost point of Africa where the Atlantic ocean connects with the Mediterranean sea. And if the conditions are right, you might just be able to see the two waters kiss. A mere 15 kilometers (or about a 30-minute bus ride) outside of Tangier, this nature’s reserve park, 300 meters above sea level with dramatic coastal seaside cliffs and an Arabic-style lighthouse, is well worth a day trip even with kids! Be warned though: it can be quite windy in late December.

Panoramic view of a lighthouse and a terrace overlooking the ocean.
Cap Spartel terrace and lighthouse overlook the meeting point where an ocean meets a sea. Photo: Alex Lomas/GMAP

Plato’s legendary lost island of Atlantis was once thought to be located on Spartel Bank–an island near Cape Spartel, now 56 meters below sea level. It was a hypothesis that did not hold water though apparently.

A sign in Arabic and Roman alphabet showing where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet.
Straight ahead where the Atlantic Ocean kisses the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Rayna Stefanova/GMAP.

Being at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, Cape Spartel has seen many naval battles of historical significance such as the American Revolutionary War of 1782, those between the British and French fleets, and those between nationalists and the Republicans that blockaded the Strait of Gibraltar during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

People heading towards the lighthouse surrounded by palm trees under clear blue sky.
Cape Spartel Lighthouse: a traditional Arabic lighthouse that sits at the highest point of the land (some 300 meters above sea level) that juts out into the sea.

what is there to see or do in Cape Spartel?

Cape Spartel Lighthouse (Faro de Cabo Spartel/Phare du Cap Spartel). This is apparently a traditional Arabic lighthouse that sits at the highest point of the land that juts out into the sea (300 meters above sea level).

It was NOT accessible during our visit but you could still go around it and enjoy rocky coastal seaside views. Probably best, because apparently it costs 200 dirhams (€20 euros) to get in.

For your kids? There’s also donkey rides at the observation terrace. If you need some food, rest and refreshments, there’s only one option: the named Cafe Restaurant Cap Spartel. Decent food at above-average prices (as you can expect) and it was quite packed.

Parking? Very limited spaces. If you drive, get there earlier than the rest of the tourists to maximize your experience.

Two young boys posing for the camera; a lighthouse overlooking the ocean in the background.
The boys enjoying the perfect weather in late December. . . if it were not too windy, that is.

From the lighthouse, you can walk to the SIGN that marks where the Mediterranean Sea meets and mixes with the Atlantic Ocean.

It is about 500 meters going south on the main road, so be careful with your little ones on the road. It’s a great spot for a photo shoot but very busy.

Verdant rugged cliff towards the ocean.
Follow the rugged path down to the “Rock at Sea“. Note: the beach is somewhere else. Phot: Zaiker El Mehdi/GMAP.

From the sign, you can do a little hiking and follow a more rugged path down to the “Rock at Sea“. Note: there is no beach in this area.

This is a rocky coastal cliff. But the panoramic sea view is still amazing. Just be careful with the kids on this dirt path.

If you have the entire day, from the Rock, you can follow the rugged path southbound for about 700 meters for a string of rocky coastal bar/restaurants with beautiful panoramic views of the sea and the rocky seaside cliffs.

Also nearby, not to be missed, is the Cave of Hercules. That’s our next post. ☺

Two camels with mounts on at a beach.
Camel rides at the Achakkar and Bakassem beaches about a kilometer south of the lighthouse. Photo: Amina B/GMAP.

We almost didn’t make it to Morocco. It was one of those, “We’ll do it when the weather is a little nicer”. You know, procrastination. Even though it’s only about 150 kilometers and a ferry ride away from where we live.

But one pre-Covid-19 day in December, taking advantage of winter school break, we finally made it across to Africa and saw a little bit of Tangier, Tetouan and Chefchaouen,

Glad we did seize that moment as travel nowadays during coronavirus pandemic, as you know, is proving to be more complicated and health-risky.

A rocky coastal cliff with sea view and rock outcrops.
A rocky coastal cliff with panoramic sea view where the two waters kiss.

So, with two young kids in tow we spent a couple of days in Tangier already, wandering the old city, towards the historic Cinema Rif Cafe at the Grand Socco (a real good busy place to sit, enjoy Moroccan mint tea and get the beat of the city).

Entering through the decorative gates of medina, where the streets would narrow filled with street vendors, little shops and local restaurants, would bring you back in time.

We ended up at the Hotel Continental where Hemingway, the Rolling Stones and a long list of renowned guests have stayed at some point.

A young boy with a carnival mask and a FC Barcelona hat sits in a restaurant.
“I’m hungry!”; at the only restaurant near the lighthouse.

We enjoyed walking about (as much as the kids could) and stumbling upon mosques, fountains and food places.

When in doubt, we just walked uphill towards the Kasbah–the old fortified center of power in the old days.

There also was the Phoenician tombs where Hercules supposedly battled some fierce-looking giant birds and nearby iconic Cafe Hafa where seaside loungers chill and admire the peace of the sea and (in clear weather) Spain in the distance.

Two young boys wearing Santa Claus hats in the woods with a lighthouse and the ocean in the background.
Shooting video footage for our flamenco Christmas version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.

There’s also the beach. Yes, Tangier has a beach–a clean long one with an equally clean and impressive promenade where your kids can enjoy pony and camel rides.

And, of course, there’s the food like the slow cooked Beef Tagine that almost jumped out of the plate and right into our hungry travelers’ mouths.

Moroccan dishes were a gastronomical delight and cultural experience for the family–even the kids, surprisingly!

Rocky coastal seaside cliffs of Cape Spartel.
Awe-inspiring rocky coastal seaside cliffs.

We usually travel by car and, especially in the summer, we’d go on weeks-long family camping road trip from Spain to Poland and back.

For this trip, however, we chose to travel using public transportation. The main reason is we did not want to go through the trouble of being checked on the way back to Spain after a ferry ride. No car = minimized risk.

The other reason is that we were not quite sure how parking and driving is in Morocco especially since we will be booking with cheap accommodations that do not have parking spaces.

A donkey on a terrace with a lighthouse in the background under clear blue sky.
Donkey rides for kids!

We like simplicity. Dump the car and just go with the locals’ flow. Besides you tend to discover more of a place when you walkabout.

Of course, our kids can only walk so much. So, let’s NOT get too ambitious with trying to see everything.

To help with this and cover a bit more ground, we brought our rinky-dink, 10-dollar, stroller that we’ve been lugging since we left the U.S. 3 years ago for our then-4-year old.

It worked. And, it finally fell apart in Tangier. R.I.Pieces.

Palm trees in the foreground, a lighthouse in the background.
Cape Spartel Lighthouse (Faro de Cabo Spartel/Phare du Cap Spartel).

Our new adventure this time was traveling light with just 3 backpacks (1 full of toys and kid stuff) and a broken stroller for a 10-day trip using public transportation.

First, by taxis (both legit and not-so-legit-not-even-safe!!).

Then, the highly recommended 48-hour double-decker, hop-on-hop-off, savior-of-parents-at-the-frayed-ends-of-their sanity, tourist (yes, tourists like us) BUS!!!

Then, by speedy-gonzalez intercity buses to Chefchaouen and Tetouan. And, oh, of course, a ferry ride and a hitch from a friend.

Two young boys in winter clothes show off their little souvenirs in front of a red double-decker bus.
Waiting to board the big red double-decker bus. A bit of an extra cost but an efficient investment if you wanna see a lot of Tangier and the Cave of Hercules (24 kilomenters away) within 48 hours.

Tangier City Tour: The big red, double-decker, hop-on-hop-off bus saves time, energy and frustration, especially when traveling with your little ones with short legs and wanting to see as much of what Tanger offers in short time.

This is the most cost-efficient way to sightsee, as you have an option to buy 48-hour ticket and the tours also takes you to the Hercules caves and Cape Spartel at the seaside outside of Tangier, and other locations in and outside Tangier.

It is very affordable and quite fun for kids to be in the open rooftop! Costs? 130 dirhams or €13 per adult, 60/€6 per child 6-14; child under 6 is FREE).

A map of a Tangier City Bus tour with stops numbered and marked in red.

Thanks for reading. Please remember to subscribe and check out our YOUTUBE channel too! (it helps support this family’s househusband).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.