The coastline of Andalucía stretches for some 945 kilometres, from the border with Murcia on the Mediterranean to Portugal on the Atlantic. That’s nearly 600 miles of spectacular sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, rocky coves and flat marshlands. Not all beaches are the same, though, and southern Spain certainly has variety. The most eastern province of Andalucía is Almeria where much of the beautiful rugged coastline is protected as part of the Cabo de Gata nature reserve, on the edge of Europe’s only desert. Moving further west, we cross the border into Granada province and the Costa Tropical, so-called for its unique climate and production of tropical fruits. Heading into the province of Malaga, the cliffs and coves disappear, giving way to the long sandy stretches of beach in the Costa del Sol’s popular holiday resorts. Finally, as the Mediterranean joins with the Atlantic Ocean, the Costa del Sol turns into the Costa de la Luz, famous for its neverending white, sandy beaches that border the ancient city of Cadiz and the Doñana National Park in the province of Huelva. Here are just some of the finest beaches that Andalucía has to offer.
Cartaya, Costa de la Luz
El Rompido in Cartaya (province of Huelva) on the Costa de la Luz is a small fishing village, situated right by the mouth of a river estuary. It is a beach that has barely been developed as it is located in the Marismas de Río Pedras y Flecha del Rompido nature reserve. It is a perfect trip for nature-lovers. You can even get a boat to a more isolated part of the beach, if you wish.
Almonte, Costa de la Luz
This is the closest beach you will find to Seville. Although it is predominantly seen as a busy holiday resort town, Matalascañas also has more secluded parts with its white sand dunes in the Doñana National Park, where access is only by foot or bike. The main stretch of Matalascañas is popular with visitors and teenagers due to its lively atmosphere and abundance of chiringuitos and sunbeds.
Playa de la Barrosa
Chiclana de la Frontera, Costa de la Luz
Regularly labelled one of the best beaches in the south of Spain due to its average of over 300 days of sunshine per year and its deep blue waters, La Barrosa, in Chiclana de la Frontera, is a must for beach lovers on the Cadiz coastline. The beach stretches for eight kilometres and is as wide as 100 metres in some places. It is divided into three sections from the quieter stretches in the south to the busiest more urbanised area to the north. The Sancti Petri castle is visible from part of the beach.
Playa de Bolonia
Tarifa, Costa de la Luz
Just up the coast from kitesurfers’ paradise Tarifa lies the Playa de Bolonia (Cadiz province), a beach that can often be overlooked as it is a bit off the beaten track on the Costa de la Luz. This beach features a huge sand dune at one end. It’s well worth a climb to the top, for the views looking down over the tree tops to the clear blue Mediterranean. Bolonia beach also boasts the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia, as well as a couple of beach restaurants. Like the rest of the Cadiz coastline, the beach is known for its strong wind and so attracts many wind and kitesurfers throughout the year. However, it can get pretty breezy there, so check out windguru.com for information on when the ‘Levante’ is passing through.
Playa de Cabopino
(Marbella, Costa del Sol)
The famous holiday resort of Marbella has 27 kilometres of coastline for its thousands of tourists to choose their spot on. Cabopino is perhaps one of the quietest, lying in one of the area’s few non-urbanised stretches of coastline. The beach is backed by an area of natural sand dunes, known as Dunas de Artola, which have been granted protection due to their environmental value. With a section reserved for naturists, Cabopino is a pleasant change from the more crowded beaches lined with busy promenades and large hotels, so typical of other resorts on the Costa del Sol.
Playa de la Caleta
Malaga, Costa del Sol
La Caleta is considered one of the Costa del Sol’s most beautiful urban beaches, located not far from the heart of the city of Malaga. A favourite among locals and tourists, La Caleta is lined with chiringuitos (beach bars) and has all facilities within easy reach, from showers, to watersports. Heading east from the city centre, it’s worth going just a little further to La Caleta to avoid the more crowded Malagueta beach.
Cala el Cañuelo
Nerja, Costa del Sol
A beautiful cove located near Nerja on the eastern Costa del Sol, the Cala el Cañuelo is a popular place among locals for a day out on the beach. In the protected area of the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs, access to this beach is not easy, which adds to its charm.
Cars have to be parked at the top of the cliff and bathers can either climb down the winding path or catch the bus laid on by the town hall in the summer.
Almuñécar, Costa Tropical
This pebbly horseshoe-shaped beach in the municipality of Almuñécar on the Costa Tropical (Granada province) attracts a number of watersports aficionados, who head for La Herradura to go windsurfing and scuba diving. Those who decide to go underwater get the chance to check out the wreckage of sixteenth-century Spanish galleons. The Punta de la Mona beach is also in La Herradura and another haven for scuba divers. The Costa Tropical is the closest coastline to the Sierra Nevada mountains, making skiing and swimming in the sea possible on the same day during the winter sports season.
Playa de los Muertos
Carboneras, Costa de Almería
The Playa de los Muertos on the Costa de Almería is famous for being an almost totally straight strip of sand, which is bordered by the huge rocks typical of the Cabo de Gata nature reserve. Like others on this stretch of coastline the beach is quite secluded due to the difficult access on foot down steep paths from the car park. The beach is a favourite among naturists, although it is mixed. There are no facilities in this protected strip of coastline, so take your own food and water.
Playa de los Genoveses
Níjar, Costa de Almería
Also in the Cabo de Gata nature reserve the Playa de los Genoveses is a little-known, undeveloped beach. The beach is beautifully picturesque with its shallow waters, gently rolling dunes and impressive cliffs at one end. The car park is a short walk from the beach and in peak tourist season when no more cars can park within walking distance a bus service is laid on, but don’t expect anything more - it’s just Mother Nature.