Last year, 2016, it was 100 years since the miners in Riotinto, in Huelva province, set up the basis for what would become Andalucía’s first golf course. At that time, the Huelva Golf Club was created on land ceded by the English-run Minas de Riotinto company. It was situated close to the Royal Pigeon Shooting Club, in the Paseo de los Pinzones. However, the sports complex and new golf facility with the name Club de Golf Bellavista officially opened on 25 October 1976, and is the oldest course in Andalucía.
Today, the city of Huelva and the province bear little resemblance to the way they were in those days. The productive and economic sector has been modernised, along with the infrastructure, and its natural landscapes have been so well preserved that every year this area attracts thousands of tourists who are keen to play golf surrounded by nature.
Quality tourism brings positive results: proof of this is that in July this year Huelva province registered the longest average stay by tourists in the whole of Andalucía, according to information from the National Institute of Statistics which was published in August. The visitors who came to Huelva stayed for an average of 4.6 days, nearly one day longer than the rest of the region. Foreign tourism grew by about 17 per cent compared to last year, and seven new hotels have opened.
Although summer is high season for most of Huelva province, the climate is inviting at all times of year. That is why, every year, the authorities work together with private companies to promote the attractions of a destination in which golf can be combined with gastronomy, nature, beaches and history.
They are working on promoting Huelva as a destination in eastern European countries, through agreements with tour operators such as Itaka (Poland) and Travel Group Fischer (Czech Republic), and this is consolidating the province as a holiday destination in these emerging markets. Thanks to these agreements, 4,000 visitors have booked holidays from these two countries this year.
Focusing specifically on golf, the Huelva brand also had a presence recently at the St Andrews golf tournament in Scotland, which is considered the birthplace of this sport and boasts some of the oldest courses in the world.
In Huelva province there are around a dozen golf courses, such as the Isla Canela golf club in the municipality of Ayamonte, at the extreme west of the Costa de la Luz, very close to the Guadiana river and the Portuguese Algarve. Its 18-hole course has several natural obstacles and is situated right beside the beach.
Ayamonte has some beautiful beaches, and they attract thousands of visitors every year. In fact, Isla Canela is one of the best known. It is the most westerly beach in Huelva province and Andalucía, because it is situated beside the Guadiana river estuary, facing neighbouring Portugal. Isla Canela can easily be reached from Ayamonte, entering the town from the A-49 or N-431 and, after passing through the centre, heading for the H-9021. A long line of palm trees leads down to the beach, which is on the right-hand side of the course.
The Isla Canela beach is 5,500 metres long, and is actually three adjoining beaches. To the east is the Playa de los Jaraganes, the central stretch is Isla Canela itself, and in the direction of the Guadiana river, the San Bruno beach lies next to extensive marshes and dunes.
The fine, cinnamon-coloured sand (which gives the beach its name), the tranquil waters for swimming and many excellent hotels and restaurants, make it obvious why this part of the Huelva coastline is so popular. Every summer it is visited by thousands of people. However, for the rest of the year, thanks to the lovely climate, there are also many hours of sunshine to be enjoyed.
This area has also become well-known for water sports such as kite-surfing, windsurfing and paddle surfing, and there are several schools on the quiet San Bruno beach for visitors who are tempted to learn.
The proximity of Isla Canela to Portugal is another of the advantages of this beach, which doesn’t only receive tourists from Spain. It is quite common to meet people from the Algarve, who cross the river to spend some time here.
Also, although this is the favourite spot for local people as well as the hundreds of visitors from other parts of Spain, an increasing number of international visitors are coming here now, especially British, Dutch and Germans who have homes in the municipality or in the nearby area.
There is a wide range of services and numerous bars, restaurants and ice-cream parlours along the seafront, as well as several ‘chiringuito’ beach bar-restaurants, hotels and shops.
Variety of courses
The Club Bellavista and Isla Canela are just two examples; Huelva province has numerous other courses, including the Corta Atalaya, near the Sierra de Huelva, with lovely mountain views, and the Corta Minera de las Minas de Riotinto. There is also El Rompido Golf Club, next to the Río Piedra marshes, with fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is definitely the perfect destination for anybody who wants to enjoy playing golf in an area which offers all the facilities they need. It is now consolidated as a hotspot for golfers, especially as its courses can be enjoyed at any time of the year.