For some it is taboo, for others a philosophy of life: naked bathing produces very divided opinions. Some love it and do it whenever they can; others do not, but basically it is tolerated. On the Costa del Sol, some naturist beaches have been established since the fall of the Franco regime, and over the years other places have opened their doors for fans of what is known in some parts of the world as “free body culture”. There is now even an association which provides information on the latest news and upcoming events on its website www.anna-nudismo.es.
Nevertheless, places where you can bathe and sunbathe without clothing are mostly secluded, beyond the densely popular, extensive beaches of Torremolinos or Fuengirola. They do not always have the same facilities as you might find on textile beaches, but many of the visitors like to be in close contact with nature and can easily cope with this lack of amenities. For many an informal atmosphere free from restricting clothing makes up for a lack of bars and services.
Beaches along the western Costa
The Playa de San Julián in Guadalmar is located in the urban area of the provincial capital near the airport and the Guadalmar residential estate on the border with Torremolinos. This open beach stretches between the mouth the Guadalhorce river and the golf course, and is indicated by appropriate signs.
You won’t find too many visitors here, even in the summer, although it is very easy to get to. For visitors coming with their own vehicle, parking is available, and there are bus stops not too far away. A chiringuito provides refreshment for bathers in summer. Showers, litter bins, a public telephone and cleaning services all contribute to a pleasant day by the sea. Access is via N-340 or A-7 via the exit 232 San Julián / Guadalmar. From there, a road runs parallel to the motorway, until a sandy path branches off to the car parks at the beach.
On the beach of the Torrequebrada estate in Benalmádena, you find the Playa Benalnatura, hidden in a small bay several metres below the national road N-340. Because of its small dimensions, it can get crowded on summer weekends here. However the cosy and pleasant ambience attracts regular visitors all year round to this stretch of beach where nude bathing is compulsory.
The nudist association Benalnatura itself takes care of the beach and also runs the chiringuito and maintains the rest of the facilities such as showers, toilets, a barbecue, benches and tables, litter bins and ashtrays as well as trees and other plants. Driving from Fuengirola, take the N-340 to Benalmádena, pass the Torrequebrada casino and exit the first roundabout, heading towards the beach. The small road you turn onto also runs in the direction of Benalmádena, but parallel to the N-340. After 100 metres a sign between residential blocks points to the access via stairs to the bay. You can get there by bus from Malaga, Torremolinos or Fuengirola or by car early in the morning, otherwise parking can be difficult.
Continuing towards Marbella, the next nudist beach is the one-kilometre-long Playa Marina between La Cala and El Faro in Mijas Costa. Access to the sea from this sandy beach is a bit bumpy, as the ground is covered by rocks. The beach has, however, all the amenities that guarantee a nice day in the sun: a chiringuito provides refreshment, sunloungers and parasols are available as well as toilets, showers and bins. You can get there by taking the N-340 road towards Marbella. Use the Playa Marina exit to get to the car park. Pedestrians reach the beach crossing the bridge over the highway. There are also buses from Fuengirola, Malaga or Marbella.
A nudist's Mecca
If you continue westwards, you will come to Cabopino and Artola, once you have passed Calahonda. This narrow, open and elongated dune beach, which was declared a natural monument two years ago, is lined with pine trees and protected by wooden footpaths. Even in summer, it is not overcrowded, and is particularly popular with homosexuals. The transition from the adjacent textile beach is indicated by a simple sign. Restaurants, first aid stations and toilets can be found on the textile side, but not on the nudist beach.
You can get to this beach heading west on the N-340 from Fuengirola. Once you have past Calahonda, exit at Cabopino and just follow the signs. Cross the highway on the bridge and turn right at the next roundabout. Just a few metres further along you are led to an enormous car park. From there you have to follow a wide wooden footpath down to the sea. Private vehicles were banned from this area some time ago. At the bottom, you have to decide: wearers of bikinis and swimming trunks go left, nudists turn right.
No need to dress up
Driving further towards Cadiz, nudists also have their space at Estepona, Playa Arroyo Vaquero Costa Natura. The beach is quite narrow, but more than three kilometres long and even in the summer not overrun. The the residential buildings behind it do not limit nude bathing. Chiringuitos, sunbeds, litter bins, showers and regular beach cleaning ensure a pleasant stay, and signs clarify that the nude bathing paradise is limited to some 300 metres. This area stretches alongside the naturist hotel complex Costa Natura (costanatura.com), which is also open to non-resident customers. To get to Playa Arroyo Vaquero, exit the N-340 about one kilometre before Estepona, following the sign at a roundabout. There are several free and guarded car parks belonging to the hotel complex. This nudist spot is very popular with international naturists.
The eastern Costa del Sol
But also the eastern part of this beautiful coast offers nudism lovers many opportunities to take off all their clothes. Only a short distance from the provincial capital lies the small and pretty Playa El Candado next to the marina of the same name. The beach is equipped with showers and toilets as well as a sunbathing and parasol rental service, and in the summer lifeguards ensure the safety of the bathers. The sandy beach, which is only 200 metres long, is quickly crowded due to its reduced dimensions and the proximity to the city of Malaga. Parking is available nearby, but you can also go by bus to avoid parking problems.
Beach and campsite
Further east, in Vélez-Málaga’s district of Torre del Mar lies the Playa Almayate, a long sandy beach, which is officially declared as a nude bathing zone, although it is also a sought-after destination to numerous textile bathers. The latter have therefore extended their space. The beach is always very well kept and enjoys great popularity in good weather.
To get there, take the N-340 national road towards Nerja and take the exit just before Almayate. At the go-kart track, turn right onto a sandy track. The nudist beach starts behind the chiringuito. Parking is also available at the nudist Almanat campsite (www.almanat.es), which is reached by going straight on at the kart track. To get to the beach, you cross some grain fields. The campsite offers bungalows, a restaurant, a sauna and a swimming pool.
Take the opportunity to bathe naked on the beautiful, 350-metre-long Playa Cala del Pino which is visited by both textile and nudist bathers. The ambience is characterised by tolerance among both groups. You can get there via the N-340. Exit behind Maro at the sign saying ‘Torre del Pino’, where you can park in a canyon not far from the road. The walk down to the beach takes you about five minutes.
And close to the provincial border, we come to the Playa Cantarriján in Almuñécar. The bay where it stretches is divided into two sections: one is a mixed beach while the other one is a pure naturist zone. In the first there are two chiringuitos, as well as showers and beach loungers. To get there, take the N-340 from Nerja to Almuñécar and exit at the Mirador de Cerro Gordo a few kilometres before reaching the town. In the low season, it is possible to take the car down to the bay while shuttle buses operate between the upper parking area and the chiringuitos during the summer.
As you see, the Costa del Sol has also opened its doors to naturism and offers numerous opportunities to enjoy this particular way to feel free not only on the beach, but also in hotels.