Andalucía's Best Beaches
Malaga. 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.
COSTA DE ALMERIA (Renowned nature reserve)
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.
The most spectacular beaches here are the Playa de los Muertos and the Playa de los Genoveses. The former is famous for being quite secluded, that a favourite among naturists. The latter is a little-known, undeveloped beach; it is beautifully picturesque with its shallow waters, gently rolling dunes and impressive cliffs. There are no facilities on this part of the coastline - it's just you and Mother Nature.
COSTA TROPICAL (A haven for winter sports)
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. The pebbly horseshoe-shaped beach of La Herradura attracts a number of water sports aficionados, who head there for windsurfing and scuba-diving. Those who decide to go underwater get the chance to check out the wreckage of sixteenth-century Spanish galleons. The nearby Punta de la Mona beach is also a haven for scuba divers. The Costa Tropical is the closest coastline to the Sierra Nevada mountains, making it possible to ski and swim in the sea on the same day.
COSTA DEL SOL (Long sandy stretches)
Heading into the province of Malaga, the cliffs and coves disappear, giving way to the long sandy stretches of the Costa del Sol's popular holiday resorts. A beautiful cove located near Nerja on the eastern Costa del Sol, Cala el Canueo, is a popular hang-out for locals. It is in a protected area of the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs, so access to this beach is not easy, which adds to its charm.
Located not far from the heart of Malaga, La Caleta is considered one of the Costa del Sol's most beautiful urban beaches. A favourite among locals and tourists, La Caleta is lined with chiringuitos (beach bars) and has all facilities within easy reach, from showers, to water sports.
Further west is the famous holiday resort of Marbella, with 27 kilometres of coastline to choose from. Cabopine is perhaps one of the quietest beaches, lying in one of the area's few non-urbanised stretches. 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.
COSTA DE LA LUZ (Legendary winds and nature)
Finally, as the Mediterranean joins with the Atlantic Ocean, the Costa del Sol turns into the Costa de la Luz, famous for its never-ending white, sandy beaches that border the ancient city of Cadiaz and the Doñana National Park.
Just up the coast from kite-surfers' paradise Tarifa lies the Playa de Bolonis, a beach a bit off the beaten track. It has a huge sand dune at one end and also boasts the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. Like the rest of the Cadiz coastline, the beach is known for its strong wind and attracts kite surfers.
If it's nature you're after, Matalascañas, though mainly seen as a busy holiday resort town, 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 Matalascanas is popular due to its lively atmosphere and abundance of bars and sun beds.