5 of the best beaches in Andalucia

With biblical flooding in the UK and lingering winter storms battering the US and much of western Europe, it’s not too soon to look forward to beach weather, right? Given that the southern coast of Andalucia boasts the best climate in Europe with many areas averaging more than 300 days of sunshine per year, you may be missing out on a few good beach days already. Leaving the more crowded and well known beaches behind, below is a roundup of some of the best beaches in Andalucia to help you put the worst of winter behind you.

Just east of the pretty coastal village of Nerja in Malaga Province, the cliffs rise from the Mediterranean and drop sharply in again. Much of this relatively short stretch between Maro and Almeria is protected natural land so the coast is refreshingly unspoiled, and there are numerous secluded beaches, coves and caves. This is one of the best areas for beaches on the entire southern coast (see the top three below). The sporty and adventurous might enjoy swimming along the coast in this area to discover hidden waterfalls, caves and secluded beaches not accessible by foot. Yet the best way to see it all is to charter a yacht from the nearby town of La Herradura; for example, the Catalina Morgan 45 with a Champagne welcome.

1. La Caleta de Maro

La Caleta de Maro makes for a lovely example from this stretch of coast. Situated just next to the better known Cala de Maro beach, La Caleta de Maro is at least as beautiful and all the more so for being less populated. With soft sand, crystal clear water and a peaceful environment, the beach is perfect for relaxed contemplation. This is also a terrific place to sample the excellent snorkelling in this area, where fishing boats are not allowed.

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2. Las Calas del Pino

Even more secluded than La Caleta de Maro, the beach at Las Calas del Pino is little known outside of local circles, perhaps partly due to the difficulty in seeing or accessing it from the road above. This one is definitely a nice option for the above mentioned yacht charter for ease of access, though you might not want to get back on the yacht once you find yourself on this isolated bit of paradise. At more than 350m long and framed in by rocky outcroppings, it feels even larger than it is thanks to the lack of crowds. If you can raise yourself from sunning in the sand, this is a terrific beach for snorkelling and exploring some of the adjacent caves and coves.

The nearby Playa Cantarrijan deserves mention here; however it is quite popular and in the summer months it is necessary to take a shuttle bus down to the beach. Still, with a relaxed clothing optional vibe (like many of the beaches here) and two large restaurant/bars, or “chiringuitos” right at the edge of the beach it is easy to pass the day away.

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3. La Herradura

While the beach along the horseshoe-shaped cove at La Herradura is not as secluded as others along this bit of the coast, this list would be lacking without mention of La Herradura. Though still not particularly crowded, part of the appeal of this beach is exactly that it is so easily accessible and family friendly. You’ll find restaurants and facilities conveniently located, and it is a prime location for water sports where equipment can also be rented.

4. Monsul

Further to the east in Almeria Province, the nature park around Cabo de Gata is renowned for its beauty and wide stretches of idyllic beaches. You really can’t go wrong when seeking out a beach in this region, but Monsul beach is probably the most famous of these. This thanks in no small part to the numerous Hollywood scenes filmed on the beach – remember Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The beach is so large that it never appears crowded despite its fame, and it feels timeless. Situated within designated park land there is little to remind you of contemporary life.

5. Bolonia

On the opposite side of Andalucia, on the Atlantic coast, it’s also hard to go wrong when choosing a beach. Surfers, including wind surfers and kite surfers love this entire coastline from Tarifa to the Portuguese border for the Atlantic easterlies. You’ll find them at the Bolonia beach as well, but this beach is big enough for everyone even though its popularity has been rising (the secret’s out!). It is also a popular beach with families as there are sun shades and loungers for hire along the central part of the beach, as well as a first aid point. There is so much fine sand on this huge arc of a beach that the dunes pile up to over 30 metres high on the north end of the beach and are said to be the largest in Europe.

In a large region renowned for its beautiful beaches and stable sunshine, this is by no means close to an exhaustive list. What is your favourite beach in Andalucia?

Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.

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